Christian Living


Marriage 911

Coping with Grief

I am not at the top of my game. This is a simple admission as I write my weekly blog on marriage and relationships.

Having delivered the eulogy for my best friend and dear colleague, Chuck Knopf, MA, who fought a courageous battle with cancer—and lost, I am a bit beleaguered myself.

In some ways, I feel guilty for feeling so distraught. There are many fighting much larger battles than mine, as I feel the weight of losing my mother two years ago, now my best friend, and having siblings struggle with The Big C.

I’ve had friends and family remind me that life is short. We can take nothing for granted. We must value and cherish each moment we have on this planet.

In one of Chuck’s videos, he spoke of the importance of being with every feeling that comes our way—not just the nice ones. He spoke of the importance of attending to the grief that surely comes with any attachment that has been harmed or broken. He spoke of embracing feelings of sadness, feelings of discouragement, feelings of loneliness. I feel them all.

We are all in that boat. We all have relationships that are jeopardized by strife, divorce, even death. It is tempting to look around and think “There must be people who are blissfully happy, never experiencing loss or death or divorce or abandonment or grief.”

But, it’s not true.

I take comfort in the scripture: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus knew that we would face loss, grief and disappointment. He knew we would face discouragement and need peace. And so He tells us, “Take heart!” In Him, we can find peace.

For those of you who are discouraged, having fought certain battles and lost, I offer some simple counsel to cope with grief.

1. Feel every feeling.

What you are experiencing is valid. Your feelings indicate that you are alive and that something is amiss. There may be little you can do about it, or there may be much. But, it first begins with attending to what is happening inside you. Your feelings can give you volumes of information.

2. Our feelings, and every moment, is a gift from God.

While we would all prefer to experience joy and bliss, tribulations are part of life. We are going to have trouble—expect it. Yet, amidst this trouble we can experience the peace that comes from being in Him.

3. If you refuse to attend to your feelings, they will come out sideways.

Grief and loss unexpressed, or suppressed, will come out in the form of irritation, anger or perhaps even depression. As we embrace our feelings, understand them and find a healthy expression for them, we will find peace and relief.

4. Because we will have trouble, discover ways to celebrate life.

Even as I experience the losses in my life, I will seek ways to embrace the magnificence of life. I will discover ways to keep the losses I experience in perspective. The losses don’t have to define us. Even among the thorns there are roses!

5. Remember the present moment in Him.

It is only as we get stuck looking ahead or behind that we experience anxiety, or as we Edge God Out (EGO). We don’t have to fret if we remain in Him. Just as I watched my friend Chuck accept the fragility of his life, so too we can accept the fragility of our lives. I choose to do that today and invite you to do the same, knowing that the Lord walks with us through it all.

Share your feedback or send a confidential note to me at [email protected] and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on my website www.marriagerecoverycenter.com and yourrelationshipdoctor.com. You’ll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.

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