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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

A Grief Alternative

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For most people grief is a feeling they experience when someone near and dear to them has died. Others may consider grief a process they go through when they've lost something meaningful, such as their home to a fire or their health to a disease. Still, some may say it's related to something more abstract such as the loss of one's innocence or desire in life. All these definitions have a common denominator: a person actually possessed something before losing it.

In speaking with friends, I'm beginning to see grief and the process one goes through very differently. Grief also involves the absence of something one never possessed in the first place. One can grieve over not having what others naturally experience in life. Take, for instance, a woman unable to bear children. She never had the experience most women do. Or what about a single woman who never marries? She never knew and loved a husband to even experience what losing one is like, yet her pain is no less valid. She, too, must come to terms with grief when years have passed and age hinders her likelihood of ever marrying and having a family of her own. Perhaps she will have an unconventional family, but the traditional milestones women undergo in forming a family are beyond reach. This, too, is something one mourns, especially when there is a daily reminder that hundreds around her have experienced this "normal" rite of passage.

It's important to recognize that grief may not necessarily take the usual route, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It's important to acknowledge grief's presence in one's life. Then and only then can you be open and honest with your emotions. This provides an opportunity to consider God's perfect plan for your life, that despite it looking different than what you anticipated, you still hold significant purpose and value on this earth.

Validating your own experience is necessary, but being thankful for it can help turn your grief around. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Rather than fretting about the "should have and could have" moments, you can begin to look back instead with a new appreciation. In this way, grieving can be a gift, causing you to collect the God moments in your life, cherish them, and affirm how He's used you in ways others may not have been. Maybe what you never experienced afforded the ability to do what others never have. Maybe you've traveled the globe, obtained a degree, written a book, or had the freedom to pursue other interests. Maybe you've cultivated unique friendships or had amazing ministry opportunities.

Whatever the case, grief causes you to see and feel life differently. Rather than focus on what you never had, maybe it's time you start seeing with fresh eyes what you have experienced. This can be reason to give thanks to God in a personal way that only you can!

 

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