Ecclesiastes 3:4 (NIV)
“…a time to weep and a time to laugh,
…a time to mourn and a time to dance…”
This past year, we experienced a death in our immediate family. It has truly been one of the most difficult years of ministry so far.
Unfortunately, life does not stop…children don’t stop…school doesn’t stop…ministry doesn’t stop. It certainly would have been nice if we could have stopped for a few weeks and allow ourselves to grieve the loss. But the reality is, is that life continued on and we had to keep going too.
Dealing with personal grief is a tricky thing, it comes and goes and you keep dealing with it over and over again never really seeming to get finished with it. Not only that but, each person grieving deals with it so differently.
When you are done with a situation, there is a sense of finality. When a marathon runner finishes a race, they stop running after a 5K. With grief, it just keeps going and changes and morphs into another “phase”.
That person deals with it one day at a time, in their own ways. Things trigger the remembrance of the loss when other people die and the smallest thing (smell, sounds, a song) trigger it again and it gushes out like an unwelcomed guest. It’s very hard to control too. We think we are strong and have a handle on it and something triggers it and causes us to feel it again.
So, how do we, in ministry positions, deal with grief while we are serving the Lord? We have these same issues as everyone else but, that doesn’t stop John from calling with marital issues, or Sue calling because she needs counseling. How do we continue to give out while this bittersweet monster called grief is looming like a big cloud over our heads?
We all need to grieve, God gives us grief as a tool to say goodbye to our loved one. It is important to travel this road because it brings healing as we depend on the Lord to be our sufficiency. We are in desperate need of the Lord’s comfort daily or we will not make it.
One thing that has been especially helpful in dealing with our loved one’s death has been asking the Lord to talk to them for us. Our loved one knew the Lord and we rest in that comfort that they are in eternity with the Lord and we will see them again in Heaven. What a comfort to think that our loved one is up there chatting with Jesus and we can pray to God and ask him to talk to them on our behalf. Writing out feelings through journaling, a letter, songs, poems, counseling (etc.), are also helpful ways of dealing with grief.
Release comes through these conversations, healing comes slowly and we become stronger, less fragile over time. I don’t know if feeling the loss will ever really be gone (?), the severity of the pain seems to lessen over time and turns to acceptance.
I believe that God has greatly protected us through this season. He has orchestrated different moments to deal with our grief. My relationship with my husband has even deepened in a new way and found comfort just holding one another and crying together. This death has also helped me to bring comfort to people in the church that have also lost their loved ones and understand their pain in a new way.
It reminds me of a passage in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV):
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
Perhaps you have been in my situation and can share in the comments below ways which have helped you to deal or cope during seasons of grief.