Grief is most easily identified as a process one goes through when they encounter a loss. I had always boxed in the definition of the grief process as a process for those who had a loved one die. My box was smashed then exploded and then broke again when I started to experience grief a little over a year ago.
I was serving in a great church with great leadership and great everything. Then people started to leave for one reason or another. People that I had developed community with had left. Then one of my fellow pastors decided to step down. Then I decided to step down. My grief became overwhelming and it wasn’t a loved one I lost it was a change of life. Why am I telling you this?
- grief and depression share similar symptoms. (https://www.verywellmind.com/grief-and-depression-1067237)
- grief is mysterious. You will be going along feeling just fine and then boom it hits you again. A reminder of what you once had that you do not have anymore.
I like things to be clear and nice and neat, so when I saw the stages of grief, I was like, “yes. Check, check and check! Grief completed!” Nope. What is usually presented is a picture of the “stages of grief” and what I have experienced is messy. This is what the process of grief has looked like for me on the right:
The Bible gives us a theology on grief and here is what it has to say:
- Emotions are a gift from God. We were given emotions to be able to process the complexities of this world. Allowing ourselves to have emotions around grief is important for our healing. Jesus displayed many emotions. From weeping in John 11:35 for Lazarus, a friend he loved to anger and distress in Mark 3:4-6 for the man who needed healing.
- Fear and loneliness are connected. The Bible couples the phrase, “do not fear” with God’s presence. In Lamentations 3:57, “You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.” Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” Jeremiah 42:11, “Do not be afraid of him, declares the Lord, for I am with you…” It is clear that God understands the connection between fear and loneliness. You are not alone.
- Mourning is meant to be done with a community. The Bible shows us that there were practices for mourning that allowed those who were grieving to do it with others. Fasting, weeping, wailing and wearing sackcloth and ashes were societal ways to grieve together (Ester 4:3).
If you are going through a period of grief or depression know this: It’s OK to feel your emotions, you are not alone, let others know you are grieving or experiencing symptoms of depression so they can be with you and support you.