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Grief is a natural process that we experience after suffering a significant loss. While grieving is difficult and painful, it does not have to immobilize us. We can learn to be patient with ourselves and with others during periods of grief by understanding what we are going through.
What should you expect while you are coping with grief? How will you react? Do you feel tense? Remember that crying is a healthy release of tension. Keeping a "stiff upper lip" is not only difficult, but it represses your feelings, often bottling them away only to erupt at a later time and in a way you do not expect. You may also experience loss of appetite, sleeplessness, lack of concentration, and fatigue. Alcohol and drugs only mask and delay the grief process, so avoid them. It is also wise not to make major decisions or take on new responsibilities until your grief has subsided.
Many people experience a kaleidoscope of reactions during the process of grief. If your pain is especially intense, you may even lose interest in life itself. In order to safeguard yourself against a long period of depression as a result of grief, it is critical to discover purpose and hope outside of yourself. In time, your sense of purpose will return as the pain becomes less intense.
You may also experience guilt and find yourself asking "what if." Learning to forgive yourself and others is an important factor in overcoming this thought cycle. Anger must be expressed and shared in a healthy and appropriate manner.
When dealing with grief, increased vulnerability is inevitable. You will find that grief creates change in almost every phase of life, including social structure. Grief redefines the past-but as it passes, it can open doors to the future.
It is important to know that your grief process may be uncomfortable for your friends and family. Uncertain how to ease your pain and comfort you, they often don't know what to say. If you can, let them know that it is good to talk about your loss so that they will know how you feel. If there are children around you during this time, reassure them often and express your love to them.
Consider the following ideas for managing the grief process:
The grief process at the onset is difficult, but as time passes we'll begin again to look for reasons to hope. Hope based on absolutes and an eternal future offers a comforting and motivating perspective. In the Psalms we are told, "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living." Psl 27:13,14
God promises us refreshment and hope, first through salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose again to give us all a future in heaven. If we believe in Jesus Christ, we not only have a future here on earth but we have a future in heaven with Him. John 3:36a says, "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life."
When we believe in Jesus Christ, grief soon turns to hope. Before long, we are greeting each day again with anticipation and eagerly awaiting our future with Him. John 10:28 says, "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; nor shall anyone snatch them out of My hand."
Do you believe this? Then you do not sorrow (grieve) as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13b).
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