Step Three: UNDERSTAND the impact of my suffering.
Below is a video from the “Taking the Journey of Grief with Hope” seminar of The Summit Church (Durham, NC). For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.
NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. Summit members can pick up a copy of the notebook in the church office. For those outside the Summit family, you can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at firstname.lastname@example.org (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).
“I used to fear my grief and would not look at it, so I expected myself to live as if my loss never happened [describe]. I can see how my loss has affected me [describe]. It was wrong to interpret the impact of suffering as sin or weakness. God is more gracious than that and I must agree with Him and not my fears. The impact is starting to make sense and help me see life differently [describe].”
Memorize: Psalm 102:2-7 (ESV), “Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call! For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace. My heart is struck down like grass and has withered; I forget to eat my bread. Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my flesh. I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places; I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:
- Psalm – God gave you these words to speak to Him. He knew you would need them and wants to care for you.
- “Do not hide” – Suffering makes God feel far away and like he doesn’t care. The psalmist felt it too.
- “My heart is struck down” – Grieving well does not mean we are unmoved throughout the experience.
- “I am… I am…” – Grief is more than an emotional struggle. It is an identity crisis. Who am I now?
- “I lie awake” – Night time was hard for the psalmist too. God heard him in the dark and he hears you too.
“It’s not just the loss of your loved one that is so painful. It’s all the other losses that occur because of this one. The way you live your life, love, sleep, eat, work, and worship are all affected. Often the death of your loved one brings up not just grief for what you lost but also for what you never had or never will have. There is a loss of the present as well as the future (p. 24).” H. Norman Wright in Experiencing Grief.
“I think I am beginning to understand why grief feels like suspense. It comes from the frustration of so many impulses that had become habitual. Thought after thought, feeling after feeling, action after action, had [my wife] for their object. Now their target is gone… So many roads lead thought to [my wife]. I set out on one of them. But now there’s an impassible frontier-post across it. So many roads once; now so many culs de sac (p. 55).” C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed
“The death of a child is likely the most tragic of griefs as it appears so unnatural to the life cycle. The impact of a child’s long-term illness and death has profound impact on the marital relationship. Studies found that in cases where the children were hospitalized, 70 to 90% of those marriages resulted in separation or divorce (p. 370).” Sharon Hart May in “Loss and Grief Work” in Caring for People God’s Way edited by Tim Clinton, Archibald Hart, and George Ohlschlager.
“A child will also revisit the event of death and the ensuing grief as she matures. At each stage of emotional and cognitive development, she understands the universe with more maturity. As she does so, she will also seek to understand this important event better. This means that two things are true about helping a grieving child. First, the task is never finished until the child reaches adulthood. Second, everything you say now is a building block for a more mature understanding later (p. 27).” Judy Blore in “How to Help a Grieving Child” from The Journal of Biblical Counseling (Winter 1998).