Southeastern District Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
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Blog: Practical Grief

The words written here about grief come from a good bit of training and reading about the subject but mainly from years of experience, my own and that experienced with others as they found themselves living through the “valley of the shadow”(Psalm 23) as I refer to it. I pray it might be helpful to you along with the other resources you have including your faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ and his life, death, resurrection and ascension for you.

Simply said for GRIEF is an emotional response to a loss (any loss you might think of is eligible, moving, divorce, loss of a part of your childhood, death of a pet, amputation and death of a loved one or friend.)

Here are my thoughts in no particular order:

  1. Paul’s words I Thessalonians 4: 13-14: “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” This means to me that any feelings are acceptable in our grief (feelings are not a sin) and encourages us to temper them with our faith.
  2. Eyes that don’t cry make other organs weep. Another way to say that is “tears are God’s safety valve.”
  3. Grief is like fermenting wine it continues to build up pressure in us over a period of time and will release itself here and there along the way.
  4. The first year of grief is the hardest because everything you experience will be the first tie you experience it without the person you love.
  5. There’s a good chance you will grieve for a person you fought with a lot because the energy of fighting is missed, so to speak.
  6. There is good chance you will dream more, sleep less, get sick more often and feel numb while you are grieving.
  7. Grieving people often do not speak with their loved ones about the death of a person they loved because they don’t want to upset the other person. Trust me they are already upset so you help yourself and them when you talk about it.
  8. People have some difficulty letting go of some things connected to a loved one and feel weird about keeping them. One person went into the room where their father died and smelled his pants and another could not get rid of the sweat towel her husband had on the bed head, both thought they were weird. Both called me after different periods of time saying, “I got rid of that today.. You will too.
  9. I encourage you to include all members of the family in the proceedings as death and dying is a part of life. Answer childrens questions at the level they ask them and don’t give more information than the ask for.
  10. Watch out for the “ambush.” We were singing my wife’s favorite hymn at Easter and I completely lost it 2 years after her death and had to compose myself before I started the sermon.
  11. Remember, grieving people may be hard for some people to be around, their distance is about that, more than there love for you.
  12. I had at least one person that did not want to attend the visitation or see their loved one in a casket because they didn’t want them to remember them that way. Remember you have 1,000’s of pictures of your loved one to focus on if you choose that one YOU chose it.
  13. The Anniversary of a death can be very difficult. One lady called and said she was very depressed because the dandilions were blooming and her mother loved dandelion salad. I encouraged her to make the biggest dandelion salad she could, buy a bottle of wine and have a celebration in her name instead of “grief party.”
  14. One person told me grief had ruined the last 5 years of her life. I suggested I could her her and she said, “how do you know?” I said, “ I have helped others” and if you want to talk we can do it. Long story short eventually she did come in to talk and the Sunday I left there for my next position as she shook my hand goodbye she said, “by the way I have a boyfriend.”

Remember this, the Lord is with you and your loved one who he sealed for himself in the life, death and resurrection of his Son!”

by Rev. Dave Betzner