by Kim Johnson
Experiencing a significant loss in life causes an emotional reaction called grief. And there are few things that affect us more than losing something or someone we love, especially through divorce. It doesn’t matter who initiated the proceedings. Grieving will be part of the process of emotionally adjusting to the changes and disruptions that come.
A Personal Experience
Grieving is a personal experience. Your journey through this pain will be different from someone else’s. And, there is no “normal” period of time required on the path. Some people will adjust to a new normal within several weeks or months. Yet, others may take a year or more particularly if their life is radically changed.
Faith and Grief
For those who hope in the Lord, we turn to Him for comfort. Even so, there is still pain from this loss. And unfortunately, there can be an unspoken expectation that faith in God means pain should be handled and dissipated quickly. It’s as if faith somehow exempts anyone from hurting. So, rather than allowing for the painful process, it’s tempting to circumvent grieving with distractions like busyness, people or even prayer. While prayer is powerful, using it to avoid sorrow might postpone the grief but there’s ultimately no escaping it. Grief will not be denied and eventually erupt unless time is taken to stop, feel, and let it take place.
Understanding the feelings and symptoms experienced during grieving can be helpful. Shock, numbness, sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, or fear are common. Yet, there may also be moments of relief, peace, or happiness followed by depression and sleeplessness. The process is unpredictable. Because of the ups and downs, isolating yourself from others may give you a false sense of control. Don’t buy it. It’s important to be with others and to give yourself permission to express your feelings. Self-talk, writing, creating art or music, or exercising are all good ways of venting the grief.
Jesus is an excellent example of someone who grieved. In Scripture we see He experienced emotions without denying them. In Luke 19, He wept over Jerusalem, and in John 11 He wept at the death of his friend. Both times the tears were a result of His grief for something and someone He dearly loved. Jesus clearly conveyed raw emotions that had nothing to do with His faith, but everything to do with sorrow and heartache. So why do we expect ourselves to process through momentous loss as easily as cooking a microwave dinner? In reality, there is no normal and expected period of time for grieving because every situation and every experience is different.
Grief is Good
Reading 1 Peter 1:7, Peter tells us to rejoice even when suffering trials. So, we may have the impression there should be more smiles than tears in our loss. That’s just not true about faith and grief. One does not supersede the other, but rather they coexist. Faith in God does not give joy instead of pain, but joy in spite of it, even when there is sorrow, tears or grief. There is no substitute for grieving. It is always appropriate to emotionally process through loss of any kind. How much time it takes is not the question, but whether it’s done at all. Grief is always good.