“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for everything: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2; 4).
According to this Scripture verse, weeping and mourning over a loss—whether that loss be of a loved one, a pet, or a dream—is a normal human experience and a part of life. Grieving, however, becomes abnormal when it continues for an inordinate length of time with no let-up. I have met people who have lost a spouse or a child and years later, they are still so overcome with grief that they cannot function properly. This is not normal behavior and must be addressed.
Whatever the cause, grief must be processed in order for the person experiencing grief to resume his or her normal life. There are several stages involved in processing grief healthfully. While each person’s experience will be different, normal processing of grief will generally go through all of the following stages and not necessarily in this order:
1) Denial. This stage is sometimes called the stage of shock. During the denial stage, the mind says things like, “I must be dreaming. This can’t be really happening to me. I’ll wake up soon and everything will be all right.”
2) Anger. During this stage, the grieving person will blame God, others, himself, or even the lost loved one for the tragedy that has occurred.
3) Bargaining. This stage of grief is characterized by making bargains with God. For instance, the grieving person may imagine that if he promises God to do something, God will return life to the way it used to be.
4) Depression. At this point, reality generally sets in and the grieving person realizes he must go on with life without his loved one , without his pet, or without his dream fulfilled. During this stage, the grieving person may experience thoughts about what might have been. He may be tormented with guilt and refuse contact with the outside world.
5) Acceptance. This is the final stage of grief. At this point, the grieving person comes up out of his depression and discovers that there is still meaning to life.
The grieving process is different for each person. Some go through it more quickly than others. Also, some go through the different stages of grief in different sequences, even returning to a stage after having left it. If however, a person remains stuck in one stage of grief for too long, other than the stage of acceptance, then that person should seek help.
There is no greater Helper during a time of grief than Jesus Christ. Since He lived on this earth, He understands our grief. Not only does He understand it, however, but He also took our grief from us when He died on the Cross: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows….” (Isaiah 53:4).
If you have been grieving for a long time—too long a time—take your grief to Jesus and give it to Him. He never meant for you to carry it. He meant for you to process it normally and then get on with your life.
You are still on this earth because God needs you here. So find out what your purpose is and then fulfill it. In so doing, you will discover that what once caused you great grief has now become a source of inspiration for helping your fellow man.
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Copyright 2015 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be published or printed in any form whatsoever without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may contact her at email@example.com to request permission. Photo Source: Public Domain Images.
Dr. Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via one of her social media venues below: