Grief Not Allowed

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. – John 16:20

griefnotallowed.newlife

In our culture, it seems more acceptable for us to be angry than sad. Consequently, many of us stumble through life without understanding our feelings, completely out of touch with our emotions. We may be deeply grieved by a number of circumstances, but we don’t feel safe acknowledging our sadness. It’s socially “okay” for them to vent their anger, but not to explore and discuss the deep hurt beneath it.

When you feel sad, anger seems like a safe retreat. It causes your adrenaline to rush. It commands attention and demands respect. It allows you to stay in control, and it keeps uncomfortable feelings and situations at a safe distance. However your failure to grieve can actually poison you.

The Bible offers no precedent for us to suppress our grief. The Old Testament depicts many people showing real grief. The men of Israel would rip their clothes, sprinkle themselves with ashes, wear black armbands, and spend time in mourning. They would wail before the Lord without feeling shame.

That experience allowed them to express their emotions and then move on without the baggage of repressed feelings. When we don’t grieve, we stuff our disappointments and sadness, and compensate for them with other less-threatening emotions, and at the top of the list is anger. But Scripture gives you liberty to grieve, so when you need to, openly grieve!

– Steve Arterburn

To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness. – Erich Fromm

In Times of Grief

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. – Philemon 1:7

In Times of Grief

When someone you know is grieving, you want to express your love and concern. But, how do you know what to say? Sometimes there just aren’t words. But it’s important that you spend time with your friend or family member. What’s as important as anything is just showing up.

What do you say to someone who is suffering? Some people are gifted with words of wisdom. For such, one is profoundly grateful. But not all are gifted in that way. Some blurt out things that don’t really make sense. That’s o.k. too. Your words don’t have to be wise. The heart that speaks is heard more than the words spoken. And if you can’t think of anything to say, just say, “I can’t think of anything to say. But I want you to know that we are with you in your grief.”

Or even just embrace. Not even the best of words can take away the pain. What words can do is testify that there is more than pain in our journey on earth to a new day. Of those things that are more, the greatest is love. Express your love. How appallingly grim must be the death of a child in the absence of love.

Sharing in someone’s grief is no time to worry about your own discomfort and uncertainty about what to show. Believe that God will give you the words, the touch, the hug that will comfort. And you’ll be glad you shared in the moment and gave strength to a hurting soul.

– Steve Arterburn

Tears shed for self are tears of weakness, but tears shed for others are a sign of strength. – Billy Graham

Expressing Grief

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

Expressing Grief

Grief is the process that helps you release your pain and losses to God. In your grief, you come to terms with your past and you find freedom to live in the reality of the present. On the other side of grief, you’ll find hope for the future. So if you harden your heart and refuse to grieve, you’re likely to get stuck both emotionally and spiritually.

The prophet Jeremiah shared his grief and tears with God. Jeremiah lived with God’s people and pleaded with them to return to God. But his pleas fell on deaf ears, and his heart was broken. So in his grief, the prophet penned the words of the Old Testament book, Lamentations. When you read it, you’ll find that Jeremiah didn’t mince his words or hide his pain. He weeps openly and fully, releasing his emotions to God. It’s a great example for us when we grieve our own losses.

Lamentations doesn’t provide pat answers for the suffering you’ll experience. If you’ll read it, you’ll discover that it’s all right to be real, to be angry, to be disappointed with life, and to be concerned about what tomorrow holds for you. God accepted Jeremiah being angry, tired, and discouraged, and he will accept you as well. Just as God honored the tears of Jeremiah, He’ll honor yours if you share your pain and sorrow with Him. It’s likely to be the first step to bring healing for the present and hope for the future.

– Steve Arterburn

Grief  is itself a medicine. – William Cowper

I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. – C.S. Lewis

Grief at Christmas

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears, The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:4, 18

Grief at Christmas

Christmas can be a time of sheer joy, yet it can also be a time of great pain. I was recently affected by the story of a woman who couldn’t stop sobbing over the loss of her daughter as the holidays approached. She tried to put on a brave face for her healthy sons, but even three years later the grief of losing her only daughter, and along with her, many dreams, was difficult to bear.

Contrary to what some secular counselors might think, God’s word teaches there’s little peace in death. But there is hope in Jesus Christ. You see, that’s what Christmas is all about, God’s love coming in the form of a small baby to bring hope to a lonely and broken world. If you’re grieving or know someone who is struggling this season, look to the true story of Christmas and find hope. . . hope God gave us in the baby, our redeemer, Jesus Christ!

– Steve Arterburn

‘The first hope in our inventory of hope that includes and at the same time transcends all others must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.’ – Arnold J. Toynbee (1889-1975)

Helping Others Grieve

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. – Philemon 1:7

Helping Others Grieve

When someone you know is grieving, you want to express your love and concern. But, how do you know what to say? Sometimes there just aren’t words. But it’s important that you spend time with your friend or family member. What’s as important as anything is just showing up.

What do you say to someone who is suffering? Some people are gifted with words of wisdom. For such, one is profoundly grateful. But not all are gifted in that way. Some blurt out things that don’t really make sense. That’s okay too. Your words don’t have to be wise. The heart that speaks is heard more than the words spoken. And if you can’t think of anything to say, just say, “I can’t think of anything to say. But I want you to know that I am with you in your grief.

Or even just embrace. Not even the best of words can take away the pain. What words can do is testify that there is more than pain in our journey on earth to a new day. Of those things that are more, the greatest is love. Express your love. How appallingly grim must be the death of a child in the absence of love.

Sharing in someone’s grief is no time to worry about your own discomfort and uncertainty about what to show. Believe that God will give you the words, the touch, the hug that will comfort. And you’ll be glad you shared in the moment and gave strength to a hurting soul.

– Steve Arterburn

“Grief and sadness knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings are far stronger than common joys.”  – Alphonse de Lamartine

New Life Live: July 13, 2011

Play

Topics: Dating, Anger, Infidelity, Parenting Teens, Grief

Hosts: Steve Arterburn, Dr. Jill Hubbard, Milan Yerkovich

Caller Questions:
1. I’m starting to date; should I wait until my God life is stronger?
2. My pastor ran off with my wife; how can I resolve my anger?
3. My daughter can’t handle her 16yo daughter.
4. How do I talk to my 5yo niece who found her dad after he was shot?

Suggested Resources:
Healing Is a Choice
Avoiding Mr. Wrong
How We Love Our Kids

New Life Live: April 26, 2011

Play

Hosts:
Steve Arterburn, Dr. Jill Hubbard, Milan Yerkovich

Discussion Topics:
Grief, getting unstuck, marriage, adult children, sexual integrity.

Caller Questions:
1. How do I get back my joy after loss and disability?
2. I can’t move on after my recent divorce from an abusive marriage.
3. My marriage is on the rocks; what should I do?
4. Should I intervene? My 19yo daughter is living with a 33yo married man.
5. My husband attended Every Man’s Battle 2yrs ago but he didn’t follow up with it.

Suggested Resources:
Healing Is a Choice
How We Love
Grief CD

New Life Live: March 29, 2011

Play

Hosts:
Steve Arterburn, Dr. Dave Stoop, Dr. Sheri Denham

Discussion Topics:
Marriage, dating, pornography, getting unstuck, grief.

Caller Questions:
1. Dave, can you expound on “love is not necessary for marriage”?
2. Is it OK to be cremated?
3. My fiance is into porn; should we continue dating?
4. I lost 3 babies; how do I regain joy?
5. Am I wasting my time since my boyfriend won’t commit to marriage?

Suggested Resources:
Every Woman’s Marriage
Every Woman’s Battle
Healing Is a Choice

Making the Best of the Holiday Season

I. Obligations, Expectations and Responsibility

1) First off, take a deep breath and realize that the holidays, while filled with much enjoyment and excitement, are also a time of a lot of expectations, obligations and social pressures that can make it tough for some. Also remember that the holidays can symbolize painful or intense experiences in your life and the life of your loved ones.

2) You can prevent emotional let downs by being aware of certain factors that add to holiday stress.

a) Too much emphasis on gifts and not enough emphasis on people. Let time with others you love be a gift to others and yourself.

b) Assuming too much of the responsibility for events and others happiness during the holidays. This leads to exasperation and bitterness towards others who do less than you.

c) Making your Christmas “Do” list more important than having fun and enjoying others. This can leave you feeling empty after the holidays.

d) Overspending to make every gift and outfit just right. The financial and emotional debt are not worth it.

e) Old memories of people gone or passed on that have you comparing then with now. Holidays frequently bring out grief and old hurts and anxieties.

f) Unreal expectations of others or by others. “Maybe this year Mom won’t get depressed or Uncle Tom won’t drink.” or ” You should bring the kids and the pets and stay for two weeks!!!”

II. ‘Tis The Season To Be Family”

While family may be an important part of the holiday season it’s also important to realize that it is a source of stress and hurt. Here are some common family stressors that I see from my experience as a counselor.

1) Unresolved grief. This leads to a lot of sadness and depression during the holidays as mentioned before but it also leads to unmet expectations because sometimes we hope that the season will supply us with the opportunity to make up for our old losses.

2) Reading from the old family script. This means playing the old roles in the family like dependent child, smothering parent, competitive sibling or depressed grandparent. This includes not seeing your adult children as adults no matter how they act.

3) Feeling marginalized or isolated before, after or during the season. This is true for singles and married people who may not be having real connections with family and friends.

III. Dealing With Family Stressors

Here are some suggestions for making the holidays run much smoother.

1) Make plans for before, after and during the holidays. This will “diversify your portfolio” socially and emotionally and give you something to look forward to after the holidays.

2 ) Have a plan in mind as you visit and have others over making sure you communicate your plan but without being demanding.

3) Break out of the old roles and routines. Start a new tradition or include someone you have not had around in the past.

4) Without being pessimistic anticipate conflict and anxiety as well as disappointment in you and others. It’s normal & healthy to a degree to have these problems.

5) Spread out the responsibility for events and parties. Call upon others if you are the host or organizer. Don’t let it all fall on your shoulders.

6) Avoid excesses like running around, double events, too much alcohol, too many activities and too many social obligations.

7) Watch the “Holiday Have To’s” ( or should’s, would have’s or could haves ). Asking yourself “What’s really important here?” will do much to relieve stress and help you enjoy the season.

Making Way For Joy

Steve Arterburn

Most men tend to stuff.  Often, we trade our grief or sorrow for anger.  But in order to release the past into God’s hands, you must fully encounter your grief, and you must be willing to forgive yourself and others for the pain that’s occurred.  

This isn’t easy. But we can learn from some people who went before us.  Many of the Jewish exiles who returned to Jerusalem after captivity in Babylon had forgotten the laws of God.  During the exile, they hadn’t been taught his laws, so, naturally, they hadn’t practiced them.  After rebuilding the city wall and the Temple, the priests gathered the people together to read the Book of the Law.  The people were overwhelmed with grief and began sobbing because their lives in no way measured up.  But the priests said to them:

‘Today is a sacred day before the Lord your God’Go and celebrate with a feast of choice foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared.  This is a sacred day before our Lord.  Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:9-10).

The process of releasing the past requires grief and forgiveness.  Then you are given the ‘joy of the Lord’ as your strength.  This joy comes from recognizing, even celebrating, God’s ability to set you free from the past, and in doing so, a new way of life.