Step Two: ACKNOWLEDGE the specific history and realness 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

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

“I will look at my life and acknowledge what has happened as my history. I will not try to move forward out of a false history or with no history. I trust that God can and will redeem what is and what has been. Evidencing my faith in God I acknowledged my specific history to [name]. This brought great fear [describe] and then relief [describe].”

For the “Grief Evaluation” document click here: Grief Evaluation

Memorize: Psalm 31:9-10,14-15 (ESV), “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away… But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutor!” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:

  • Psalm – These words were given to you by God to speak back to God because He knew you would need them.
  • “Wasted from grief… spent with sorrow” – God does not expect you to be “strong enough” to handle this alone.
  • “Soul and body” – Grief is more than an emotional experience. Physically and spiritually grief is draining.
  • “But I trust” – “But” implies that the psalmist’s trust is emerging even as facts exist that would tempt him to doubt.
  • “My times are in your hands” – The psalmist begins by turning to a truth that is beyond doubt – the matters that bombard him are beyond his control and ultimately influenced by the hand of God.

 Teaching Notes

“We kissed her cheek and straightened her sheet as if she were there. We simply didn’t know how else to act (p. 2).” Paul Tripp in Grief: Finding Hope Again

“Denial is used to block out the unthinkable, but it brings with it the fear of the unknown since you are denying the reality of what happened. As denial lessens, the pain begins to settle in; and as it does, the fear of the unknown diminishes (p. 10).” H. Norman Wright in Experiencing Grief. “Denial is a common initial grief response. I believe that this initial response can be a grace of God, allowing our bodies and physical brains to catch up, to adjust (p. 24).” Bob Kellemen in God’s Healing for Life’s Losses.

“Part of the grieving process is putting your loss into words. Talk to a friend or family member about your grief. If you are not ready to talk to someone, make a list of the different ways you are grieving. Go ahead and remember the good times… Grieve for the dreams that never came true… Allow yourself to feel the emotions and sadness and put it into words. As you do this, remember that God is listening to you (p. 6).” Winston Smith in Divorce Recovery: Growing and Healing God’s Way

“But when Jesus weeps, we see that he doesn’t believe that the ministry of truth (telling people how they should believe and turn to God) or the ministry of fixing things is enough, does he? He also is a proponent of the ministry of tears (p. 4).” Tim Keller in “Truth, Tears, Anger, and Grace” from The Journal of Biblical Counseling (Fall 2001).

“Death doesn’t wait till the end of our lives to meet us and to make an end. Instead, we die a hundred times before we die; and all the little endings on the way are like a slowly growing echo of the final Bang before that bang takes place (p. 26).” Walter Wangerin in Mourning into Dancing.