Processing Loss, Pt. 2

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars, 
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!” 

(Fyodor Dostoevsky)

We looked last week at a few questions that jumpstart the journey to grieving well. Today, we’ll finish up. Before we do, though, let’s establish a reasonable foundation for this exercise. Why make grieving a priority at all?

As we saw earlier, we encounter losses all the time. Refusing to mourn has a host of consequences: we don’t learn anything; we substitute temporary numbness for healthy closure; we stunt ourselves emotionally and spiritually; we miss out on an opportunity to identify with Jesus; we pile up residual baggage around us, negatively impacting present and future relationships; we dis-integrate our minds from our hearts; we lose a huge part of Scripture that walks God’s people through the valley; and we experience physical stress and/or loss of mental stability.

Seems like a worthwhile endeavor, right? For sure. So let’s pick up where we left off.

What are some things I definitely don’t need?

Sometimes it’s easier to make a “not to do” list—things like taking on extra responsibilities, shame, impatience, legalism, etc. A good rule of thumb here is to look at how God treats His loved ones who are in pain and then think about the opposites.

Who could help me process this?

God has wired us to need one another—to weep with those who weep, to lift each other up in prayer and encouragement, to share burdens. Besides your besties, who could you recruit for this season? (The deeper the grief, the more robust your team should be.) What mentors has the Lord given you? Who do you know who has walked through a similar situation and might be wiling to share?

What resources are available to help me process this?

Are there books, blogs, videos, articles, etc. that speak to the issue at hand? Ask your pastor if he has any worksheets or other suggestions he’d recommend. For dealing with a weightier loss, what support group or counseling options are in your area? Do you have processing tools you’ve forgotten about?

What might grieving well look like for me?

How will you know when you’ve finished processing? When you can talk about it without crying or feeling angry? Or maybe when you can enter back into the realm of whatever you lost wholeheartedly? Take time to dream about what you’ll look like on the other side—will you be wiser? More compassionate? Filled with a resilient faith? The Lord is up to something beautiful in the middle of these ashes.

This is brave and holy work you’re taking up. In the whole processing process, stay alert to the imminent presence of God. He’s never asked you to navigate pain alone, and He won’t start now.

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