When I had nightmares as a kid, my mom would walk me through strategies to help me calm down. She taught me to count my blessings and recite Bible verses until the panic receded and I could fall back asleep.
Recently, my papa passed away from cancer, and one night the grief trapped me. Here I was living in a nightmare, but I didn’t have any strategies to ease the pain. Through tears, I couldn’t help thinking, “How will I get through this?”
I needed to find an answer to that question. I needed to find ways to cope and process through my grief. So, I turned to Scripture.
Here are eight strategies I’ve found to help me deal with my grief. But before we dive in, I want to make it clear that I am not a grief expert. Please, if you need professional help, seek help. There’s no shame in that.
1. Tears Are Ok
There is nothing wrong with crying. You don’t have to act all macho. It’s okay if grief makes you want to bawl your eyes out. Not only is it okay, but tears are also good and right.
John 11:35-36 says, “Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him!’” People didn’t view Jesus as weak because of the tears He shed for Lazarus. Instead, they viewed Jesus as deeply loving toward His friend. Tears let us show the world how much we love. Don’t be ashamed of that.
2. Don’t Hurt Alone
A common symptom I’ve recognized in grief is this strange mixed feeling of longing to be alone when surrounded by people, but longing to be surrounded by people when alone. When given the choice between the two, always choose to be around people. There’s something so healing about sharing your burden with others. As Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
3. Dare to Remember
Right now, I’m at that point in grief where remembering stabs like a knife in the gut. Even happy memories pull me back into a pit of sadness. That said, it’s important to understand why those memories hurt. Again, tears of grief are just tears of love. That means remembering hurts not because the memories are bad but because they are so good. Don’t be afraid to hurt; dare to remember. Facing those memories, while painful, is part of how we process through our grief.
I’ve started playing a sort of game with myself in which every time I remember something that makes me hurt, I then must remember something that makes me smile.
4. Schedule Grief for Later
I agree with everyone who’s ever said grief comes in waves, and when those waves hit, they’re all-consuming. I can’t function. I can’t dream. I just have to wait for the water to calm, so I can float back to the surface.
But sometimes, you need to do something other than sob your eyes out. That’s when it’s best to schedule your grief for later. Imagine looking your grief in the eye and saying, “I see you and you deserve my attention, but right now I need to do ____ so I’ll cry some more after school tomorrow.” Then if you don’t need to grieve when you schedule it, you can push it out to a later time. This little strategy is a lifesaver.
5. Everyone’s Grief is Different
Everyone processes grief differently. Some people sleep for days, some people cry a lot (like me), and some people become extremely busy. Then there are those who just shut down.
It’s important to understand how you’re dealing with the loss and to not judge others for processing it differently. Just because they aren’t visibly a wreck, doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling things just as strongly as you are. On the flip side, don’t look down on others if they aren’t “handling things well.”
Also, remember that people grieve on different timelines. Some people may be able to move forward within a couple of days or weeks. Some may struggle for years. Wherever you’re at, don’t forget to think about others, too.
6. Share the Gospel
Tell people about Jesus. Tell strangers, friends, and family. Tell everyone! Because like it or not, one day we are all going to pass away, and the Gospel is the only thing that can ease that pain.
It’s crazy how much death makes me think about life, and life after death. It highlights that there’s only one thing that matters: Jesus. That’s it.
We can’t take money or belongings with us. All we can take is what we’ve done for God while we were alive. Share the Gospel. Just do it.
7. Spend Time with God
I know it can be hard when grief sucks all your energy but discipline yourself to read God’s Word and pray. There are so many questions that can be answered and comfort that can be found within the pages of the Bible.
James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” God wants to wrap His arms around you, but you have to take a step towards Him first. You might be angry with Him, and that’s okay. He can handle your grief and all the emotions it entails. Take it all to Him.
Take some time to feel the pain, don’t run from it. But also remember that life is for the living.
There are so many amazing things you are meant to accomplish while you’re here. Let your loss remind you to value your life. Let it spur you into making the most of every single second. Let it motivate you to do hard things and shine as brightly as possible while you’re here on this Earth. Let death remind you to LIVE.Grief is hard, like climbing Mount Everest hard, but by God’s grace you will heal. All things work together for good when we follow God (Romans 8:28). All things. Even the loss of a loved one. Click To Tweet
Grief is hard, like climbing Mount Everest hard, but by God’s grace you will heal. All things work together for good when we follow God (Romans 8:28). All things. Even the loss of a loved one.