Grief is defined as the emotion of loss. It is manifested by anguish, sorrow, regret, and a powerful longing for someone or something that is lost. Constantly reliving the past, feelings of failure, incompleteness, and even disillusionment can accompany grief.
When a loss has been experienced and can be defined such as in the case of anticipated loss of a loved one or friend the grief can last months or even years before the loss is accepted and we began to proceed with our new and changed life and lifestyle.
But in the case of a missing person or a missing loved one and there has been no contact it is almost impossible to not keep reliving the loss because there is no closure. Even in the case where there is ongoing abuse and the individual has no one and nowhere to go there is a grieving process. We cannot shake the feeling of hopelessness because we cannot visually identify our loss and lay it to rest. The four or five steps to grieving can be experienced not in the same order and we can even find ourselves to ski around going to a wishful acceptance to defiance to blaming ourselves back to anger and defiance back to a skeleton of acceptance. This is a mind’s worst hell.
There are those who tell us to get on with our lives. We ask what do they know? We can get offended easily and I have known friendships to be broken over a friend just trying to help and the only thing they can say is, “Just get on with your life.”
Grief cannot be legislated. You cannot promise or bargain with yourself that you are going to “get on” with an aspect of your life or more positive reactions. So what can you do?
Validate your grief. Confess that it is real. Acknowledge that you have been a victim of a loss. These emotions can become more real as time goes by and loss turns into mystery and we have time to “investigate”, ask questions, and become annoyed by the lack of concern of law enforcement or others. Nothing can move fast enough for us.
Be human. Be angry. Admit to yourself, to God, and to a close friend your feelings. You have experienced a great loss and in the case of a missing and sometimes presumed deceased loved one whom you haven’t found this cycle repeats itself and so should you grow in the Lord and ask for his help in grieving through your loss. Do not be ashamed to grieve or hurt or experience all the emotions that come with grief.
Here are some of the emotions that we deal with. See if you identify with some of these.
1. It has been months even years since your loss and you still are unable to overcome the panic, self-blame, or feelings of hopelessness.
2. You find yourself going from one extreme to the other. Yesterday you were a bucket full of conversation. Today you care not for anything.
3. When you hear others talk of good things or the goodness of God you tend to become cynical. Even this emotion is justifiable becuase God knows our frailty. This is human. In these circumstances it is not uncommon for the words of cheer and uplifting to not have the same effect that they once had. But these people still love you. The Bible says that the father of lies is Satan. Satan is the father of deception. The most active segment of Satan's anatomy is his mouth. He lives to lie to you. In these moments he tells you that God is dead. That God never existed. That if God loves then why would He allow this to happen to your little baby or your teen age son or daughter or a spouse or friend. Yet, in spite of this truth there is one thing God still does not do.
God does not violate or over ride man’s will. The Bible says it rains on the just/believers and on the unjust/unbelievers. God is not going to strike a sexual predator with lightning to prevent him from slicing the back screen door and prying open the back door with the intentions of extracting a sleeping 3 year old child out of her bed. God does not violate the will of the world. The world has to make the decision to accept Christ on its own will or volition. God does not go around holding onto door locks or filming the kidnapping and rape of a 12 year old for future evidence. God doesn’t point and say that the offender went into that barn. God does not dial 911 and give the location of a missing person or the abductor. God does not violate the world’s will as bitter as it feels and unjust as it seems.
Satan will use these awful experiences to cause you to lose faith in a real God and seek comfort in a brown bottle or a shot of coke. God loves you and he is looking at you. He loves you. Stop the blame game. You could not help what happened. Later, if you find that there exists a small sign that you might could have prevented something with forethought you still must not condemn and blame yourself because God does not condemn you. You are still loved, accepted, justified by God, and accepted into His family of beloved. God does not forsake us because of what we could have done, didn’t do, or could have done better, or just because we make a mistake. Such as in the case of rape. Just because a woman decides to wear her favorite skirt and blouse to the party does not give society the right to blame her for a rape based on what she was wearing. Rape is wrong. Spousal rape is wrong. A woman is not wrong and should not feel guilty for resisting the advances of a man, spouse or not, when he forces himself on her. Marriage and love are all about giving not taking. We have freedoms. And neither man nor individual has the right to violate our space, home, and family, because of what we do or say. No means no. We are humans. Psalmist David told God,” You know that I am but flesh and blood.”
4. You might not be as outgoing or as interested in former projects as you used to be.
5. You dwell on the unfairness. This is rightfully justified because you cannot get any information from law enforcement or a judge ruled in favor of the criminal. You are going to feel like everybody is unfair. These are times when we embellish judgments on all men and see the whole world as a useless place to be.
6. You were active in church. You were an encourager. You were a New Testament disciple named Barnabas which means “Son of Consolation.” You had a word for ever individual that came to you with a need for uplifting. Now you feel totally distant, maybe even cut off from God. My friend you are not cut off nor are you distant. God said he will never leave you nor forsake you. Just because you cannot feel the presence of God at a time like these doesn’t mean that God has become unfaithful to you and left you. Our suffering does not offend God and our cries and tears do not get on his nerves. God is an individual we can depend on. He will not run out when the going gets tough. He is always on time even though we may doubt and question his timing sometimes. He is just as close and he is carrying you through these troublesome times.
I want to tell you that it is okay to hurt and grieve. In well meaning but still ignorance we often tell those who are grieving the loss of a loved one or grieving a missing loved one to just get up and get on with life. We tell them that the best thing is to get on with a normal routine. If they lose a living love relationship we tell them the guy was a jerk anyway. I think the most shallow thing to tell someone who is hurting and their mentality toward God is already being challenged is “just pray about it.”
I believe God reveals Himself to us in the most extraneous ways when we are at our deepest and darkest selves.
Don’t rule out anything when it comes to God’s mysterious ways to minister to you in your suffering today.
Sharing groups are a common occurrence today and growing. My heart hurt so badly as I read the blog from the individual on grief. It has spurred me to think about opening sharing groups in my area exclusively for individuals who have suffered to loss of a loved one or missing a loved one or friend, or is going through abuse of any kind.
We pray for Peace4 today and we pray for you. We love you and God loves you.