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Family Matters 05/25/20

Remembering the Fallen: Handling Grief and Loss

Memorial Day, American flag at a cemetery

This weekend, we celebrate Memorial Day and remember those who have given their lives for our freedom. Thank you to all the families for your tremendous sacrifice.

In a moment, our lives can be changed when loss enters the picture. Losing a brother during his military service was not easy for me. And I know it is not easy for others.

You may have a personal story of loss and suffering unrelated to military service. It might involve a stepfather who was sexually abusive, a mom who died from breast cancer, parents who divorced, a father jailed on drug charges, a depressed mother unable to care for her children, abandonment, chronic illness, rape, or domestic violence. Loss, suffering, and trauma occur daily in our fallen world.

Suffering is a universal experience. Jesus wept when His friend Lazarus died. Jesus too suffered His own pain that led to death.

We don’t know why good people suffer. We simply know how to respond to suffering and what God has to say about it. In order to cope with loss and trauma, we need to:

  • Grieve and mourn. Confronting the intense motions that accompany grief is not easy, but God's promise is that we will be comforted (Matthew 5:4). The feelings of shock, anger, depression, bargaining must be experienced rather than avoided. Ask God to give you the grace to work through them. And remember, joy will come in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
  • Share your loss. Grief must be shared. Healing often comes in telling the story. Jesus wept with his friends Mary and Martha over the loss of their brother. We are hard-wired to connect to each other in grief.
  • Accept support. You need the support of family and friends. Don't isolate yourself. Allow other people to serve you in your time of need.
  • If the loss or suffering involves forgiveness, do it. Don't get stuck in grief because of unforgiveness. Eventually, bitterness will develop. Forgiveness is necessary to heal. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt you even if they don't deserve it. Remember God forgives you when you don't deserve it.
  • Read scriptures on suffering and loss. To quote Twila Paris and her powerful song, "God is in control." Nothing happens away from His watchful eye. When you are His, there are several reassuring promises despite the pain we experience.

Sorrow and mourning will disappear and be replaced with gladness and joy. Isaiah 51:11

Rest will come when we give the burden to the Lord. Matthew 11:28-30

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