Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
The Bible teaching about grief management brings great comfort to believers. Just last year my uncle Wayne died and went to heaven. I still miss him very much. I miss his stories about WWII when he was in China, the advice he gave me – and just hanging out with him.
The feeling is a sadness, longing, loss, and yearning to see him. Sometimes there is anxiety, a sense of despair, and loneliness. I dearly want to see him again, but I can’t – in this life time.
The painful feelings sometimes swept over me like huge surfs curling up on a beach – then fading away. Gradually, as time went on, the intensity and frequency diminished. That is grief. Maybe you have experienced these feelings.
There is no “right” way to grieve. Every culture has its own unique expression. Sometimes it takes six months or so before one can get on with life. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. It depends on the individual.
For this Bible study about grief management, I invite you to look at the phases, how to manage them, and the Christian advantage.
Phases of Grief
In 1969, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross divided the process of dying into five stages. They are similar to wading through the morass of grief by the one left behind. Later research affirms that people do experience these stages in the dying/grieving process, yet not necessarily in a lock step fashion. Rather, people oscillate between the various phases.
Here are the stages, and knowing them helps in the grief management process.
•Denial and isolation is one phase. People tend to first deny they are dying, or that their loved one has died. Numbness sets in. They first refuse to accept the reality. However, when faced with the facts, they eventually accept the truth.
•Anger is another phase. It is the, “Why me?” phase. Or, “Why did they leave me?” Sometimes the anger is expressed toward others – and even God.
•Bargaining is a third phase. Usually the bargaining is with God. For the dying person, the negotiation is, “God, give me a few more years, and I will serve you.”
•Depression is a fourth phase. The person becomes quiet, depressed, sad, and not want to speak with people. The reality is sinking in.
•Acceptance is the fifth phase. People accept their inevitable fate, and begin to get on with life in the case of grief.
One thing the survivor must do in grief management is deal with the immediate intense emotions, practical issues of the funeral, and financial problems of the moment. Talking and praying helps to manage the emotions. Going over the events of the death, by journaling or talking with others, will release the emotions and help put things into perspective.
Accepting the loss is done by putting things into proper perspective. It is hard to do at first, but your new life will emerge.
Another task the survivor must do is to adjust to the future. If this is you, your niche in your financial and social world will change. A widow who loses her husband’s pension will face difficulty. If you suddenly find yourself single, other couples may want to shy away from you – especially if they view you as a competitor for their companion or spouse.
The lingering feelings will remain. Reminders of your loved one will always be there, and it will be hard to go sleep in an empty bed at first. It is important, when you are ready, to get on with your life. Find something to do in your church or community organization. Stay busy – not to deny your loss, but to rebuild and replace it.
For example, Aunt Enid, who is in her 80’s, went back to work part time in the county court house after Uncle Wayne died. But, she did give up the farm chores!
For those ministering to the grief stricken, it is sometimes best to just be there, and encourage them to talk, vent, cry, or laugh – whatever it takes. Let them talk and work things through in their mind. It is not the time to teach theology, however. That comes later.
It is important in grief management to encourage them to trust God when there seems to be no good answers to the devastating loss. As appropriate, pray with them and read an encouraging Scripture passage – maybe their own favorite verses. Otherwise, try Psalm 23, which has given hope to millions through the centuries.
The Christian Advantage
The Bible teaching about grief management indicates there is an enormous advantage to being a Christian. The ultimate answer boils down to hope, because death has been defeated in Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 51-58). Let me show you some advantages.
Relying on God
You can draw upon the power and presence of God for strength to sustain you in those dark moments of despair and loneliness. He said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Again, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones” (Psalm 116:15). The survivors can gain strength and hope from God from this fact.
Entrance Into a Different Realm
Life does not stop with death in this world. Christians go to heaven. Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Paul said that after death, we will, “be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8), which is a much better place to be (Philippians 1:23).
This may strike you as somewhat corny, but I have asked myself, “How will I know how to get to heaven. I don’t know where it is. Will I get lost?” Well, the question might not be so dumb, because I found the answer.
Jesus said of the poor man, “Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22). Problem solved. I will have an angelic escort. All Christians will.
Paul addressed the issue of separation and loss in grief management. He said it is not permanent (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The picture is that of Christ’s return and our resurrection day. Those who have died will be reunited with those remaining alive on earth. This promised reunion is designed to, “comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18) by giving hope.
We can summarize the Christian advantage to grief management this way. You and I can gain emotional and social support from other Christians. We can gain personal strength thorough our relationship with God. We can put meaning and perspective on the death by looking to the hope of the future.
The future consists of being alive and present in heaven with Christ and other believers who traveled on before us. The other believers include our loved ones. Our experience is not that of loss, but a temporary absence in which our loved one went on a trip to a place that we shall soon be ourselves.
For Uncle Wayne, I shall again see him, and be able to hang out with him. To that I am grateful to our common Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Esmie and I wish you all the best, and pray this Bible teaching about grief management will be of help to you, and those to whom you minister.
BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS:
1. What does God think about those Christians who die (Psalm 116:15)?
2. What do you think about death?
3. What happens to believers when they die? How would this influence a grief management program?
4. According to what you have learned in this study, and 2 Corinthians 12:1-7; Matthew 25:34;
John 14:1-3, what clues can you pick up about the nature of heaven?
5. What kind of hope do non-Christians have (1 Thessalonians 4:13; Luke 16:22-31: Matthew 25:41-46)?
6. How does your answer to question five make you feel? Explain.
7. How does your culture deal with grief?
8. Do you believe you will see your loved ones again who have died? Why do you believe this way?
9. In addition to what is in this Bible teaching about grief management, what other advantages can you think of for the Christian?
10. What stands out to you the most in this study? Explain.
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