This book is for anyone who wants to help himself or herself through the grieving process or someone who wants to help another person trough the grieving process.
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Christ Centered Ministries
This book is divided into four parts:
I. Understanding Grief
II. Stages of Grief
III. Helping yourself Conquer Grief
IV. Helping Someone Else Conquer Grief.
Relational Self Help Series
Trennis E. Killian
Copyright © 2010 by Trennis E. Killian
The print edition of this book may be obtained from www.trenniskillian.com
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible ®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB® and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of the Holman Bible Publishers.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Table of Contents
I. Understanding Grief
II. Stages of Grief
III. Helping Yourself Conquer Grief
IV. Helping Someone Else Conquer Grief
About the Author
Introduction to the Relational Self Help Series
The Relational Self Help Series addresses most issues of relationships. This series is sub-divided into five groups of subjects:
Choosing a Marriage Partner
Who Am I?
The Mature Years
Divorce and Remarriage
This list is not exhaustive, in that there may be other titles added later. The goal at present is to release these titles by the end of 2010. Once several titles have been published in single topic format, there will be collections of four titles for $9.99 for each collection. Watch for these collections to become available later this year.
Introduction to Conquering Grief
Grief is one of the most devastating of all human emotions, and it is also one of the most misunderstood by most people. That need not be the case. Grieving should be a time where we smoothly adjust to all the changes in our lives that the cause of our grief has brought about. Knowing more about grief can not only help you to make that smooth transition, but will equip you to help others to do so.
Grief and grieving do not just happen when there is a death close to you. Grief can be caused by any major loss in your life. This could be relationships, job, health, or divorce to name a few of the most common.
This publication is for anyone who is going through the grieving process. It is also for anyone who needs to help someone else go through the grieving process.
How to Use this Book
If you are seeking help for your own grieving process, please study Part I. Understanding Grief, then Part II. Stages of Grief, before you go on to Part III. Helping Yourself Conquer Grief.
If you are seeking to help someone else who is going through the grieving process, please study Part I. Understanding Grief, then Part II. Stages of Grief, before you go on to Part III. Helping Someone Else Conquer Grief.
You may also make a copy of this book available to them so they can benefit from your help and help themselves as well.
For His anger lasts only a moment,
but His favor, a lifetime.
Weeping may spend the night,
but there is joy in the morning.
I. UNDERSTANDING GRIEF
What Is Grief?
Grief is your emotional reaction to a significant loss. The words sorrow and heartache are often used to describe feelings of grief. Whether you lose a beloved person, animal, place, or object, or a valued way of life (such as your job, marriage, or good health), some level of grief will naturally follow.
Anticipatory grief is grief that strikes in advance of an impending loss. You may feel anticipatory grief for a loved one who is sick and dying. Similarly, both children and adults often feel the pain of losses brought on by an upcoming move or divorce. This anticipatory grief helps us prepare for such losses.
What Is Grieving?
Grieving is the process of emotional and life adjustment you go through after a loss. Grieving after a loved one’s death is also known as bereavement.
Grieving is a personal experience. Depending on who you are and the nature of your loss, your process of grieving will be different from another person’s experience. There is no normal or expected length of time for grieving. Some people adjust to a new life within several weeks or months. Others take a year or more, particularly when their daily life was radically changed or their loss was traumatic and unexpected.
CHRIST AND GRIEVING
Christ Has Changed the Meaning of Grieving
Christ died so that death would never again have to be the end. He died so we would have the opportunity for eternal life with Him. All we have to do is accept Him into our hearts, and we will have that eternal life with Him.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-18, Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Corinthians 15:52-54, 58, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. Because this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. Now when this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Hebrews 2:14-15, Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, He also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil—and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.
John 11:25-26, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?”
2 Corinthians 4:14—5:8, knowing that the One who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and present us with you. For all this is because of you, so that grace, extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to overflow to God’s glory. Therefore we do not give up; even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
5:1-8, For we know that if our earthly house, a tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. And, in fact, we groan in this one, longing to put on our house from heaven, since, when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. Indeed, we who are in this tent groan, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. And the One who prepared us for this very thing is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment. Therefore, though we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight—yet we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord.
Christ Has Demonstrated the Importance of Grieving
Christ showed that we need grieving in order to truly say goodbye to our loved ones who die. We need to go through the process so we can turn our attention to the rest of our lives here on earth. We must be more resolved to live our lives for Christ.
John 11 (The story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.)
Matthew 26:38, Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow—to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.”
2 Samuel 12:15-23, Then Nathan went home. The LORD struck the baby that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the boy. He fasted, went home, and spent the night lying on the ground. The elders of his house stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat anything with them. On the seventh day the baby died. But David’s servants were afraid to tell him the baby was dead. They said, “Look, while the baby was alive, we spoke to him, and he wouldn’t listen to us. So how can we tell him the baby is dead? He may do something desperate.” When David saw that his servants were whispering to each other, he guessed that the baby was dead. So he asked his servants, “Is the baby dead?” “He is dead,” they replied. Then David got up from the ground. He washed, anointed himself, changed his clothes, went to the LORD’s house, and worshiped. Then he went home and requested something to eat. So they served him food, and he ate. His servants asked him, “What did you just do? While the baby was alive, you fasted and wept, but when he died, you got up and ate food.” He answered, “While the baby was alive, I fasted and wept because I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let him live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I’ll go to him, but he will never return to me.”
Before the Time of death
Develop Healthy Attitudes in the Home
All members of our families need to be aware of what Christ taught on death and dying, grief and grieving. We need to take our own advice when we tell a small child that someone who died has gone to be with Jesus. That is truly the case for a Christian when he or she dies.
Make sure that all members of your family have the opportunity to become Christians.
Clarify Family Relationships
One of the causes of regret and even guilt for survivors is that either something was left unsaid or something hurtful was said. You need to learn to express and discuss your feelings and your frustrations. (Other titles in the “Relational Self Help Series address many of the things you need to do to keep your relationships healthy.)
When we offend someone, we should immediately seek their forgiveness. When someone else offends us, we should also immediately forgive them. Forgiveness needs to be spoken and preferably face-to-face.
One of the most important ways of preventing grief is to express your love, appreciation, and respect for all of those close to you. That way you will always have a clear conscience concerning them. You will still grieve, but you will be able to go through the grieving process in a healthier manner.
Develop a Healthy Interdependence
Healthy relationships are ones, which avoid manipulation or immature dependence on others. One of the most harmful effects of grief is when the survivor is helpless without the one who died. Healthy relationships share in all aspects of life so that when one dies the others will be able to continue with a minimal amount of grieving.
Build Friendships so that you will have other relationships to fall back on when you need them. They will carry you through your time of grief.
Keep active both mentally and physically. Never allow yourself too much time to dwell on what was or what could have been.
Anticipate and Learn about Death
Have a good theological understanding of death. Read and study the Bible passages (especially the New Testament) which deal with death and grief. Many of these passages are quoted in this publication.
At the Time of Death
Communicating the News
The manner in which notification is made is extremely important. Most hospitals and police agencies prefer to inform the next of kin in person when a death has occurred. It can be devastating to hear the news indirectly (telephone, news media, etc.). Who does the notifying and how they do it can make a difference as well.
Most of the time in the initial hours or days, the grieving person simply needs someone to just be there with a closed mouth and open arms. People always say they don’t know what to say in a situation like this. That’s exactly what you need to say, nothing. Just be there and quietly offer a shoulder or a sympathetic ear. This is all they need initially.
Sometimes it is better if you plan the funeral, sometimes not. Don’t get pushed into it if you don’t want to. If you do, having someone like a pastor who has been there for many others will help tremendously. He or she will make sure that you get what you want instead of what is being pushed by the funeral director.
Sedatives are often prescribed by physicians. Don’t depend on them for long. Any kind of medication will only cover up those emotions that you need to face eventually. The longer you put off facing those emotions, the worse it will be.
After the Time of Death
Be aware of the causes of grief. Learn what the effects of grieving are. Most importantly learn how to cope with grief. All of these are listed later in this publication. Put all this information together to help you make it through your time of grief.
The Church and Preparation for Death
God’s word and its promises can help prepare you for the grieving process. There are many Bible verses quoted in this publication that will help you. These verses are listed in each topic to which they apply.
Understanding pastors and church members can help if you let them. The key word here is “understanding.” Many people think they are helping when all they are doing is making matters worse. You don’t have to go through this on your own, but be careful who you turn to. They need to be only those you can trust to be understanding.
CAUSES OF GRIEF
Grief and grieving are the natural response to a major loss. However, any loss can cause feelings of grief, sometimes when you least expect it.
Worry about what may happen causes almost as much grief as the actual events themselves. When Mark Twain was in his seventies, he said, “I spent most of my life worrying about calamities that never came to pass.” Don’t make yourself sick worrying.
Types of Loss
Grief is typically triggered by a sudden loss caused by a traumatic unanticipated event.
Examples of such events include:
Death of a loved one
Being diagnosed with a chronic or terminal disease
Disability or loss of independence after a serious accident or illness
Miscarriage or stillbirth
The birth of a child with a birth defect
A diagnosis of infertility
Learning that your child has developed:
a behavior problem
a learning disability
a substance abuse disorder
A move from a familiar home
This is especially hard for older adults and teenagers.
An act of violence or a natural disaster.
What we believe about the big questions of life will help determine how we go through the grieving process. The most important belief is about eternity. Do you believe in Heaven and hell? Do you believe that you or your loved ones will go to Heaven.
Background and Personality
The grieving process is greatly affected by the frequency of loss in your past. It can be more painful to someone who has never experienced loss. No one ever gets used to loss, though. It can also be devastating to someone who has had much loss in their past.
What is normal and/or expected in your society, environment, or family?
Circumstances Accompanying Death
How death occurred:
Sudden death due to accident or a sudden illness such as heart attack, stroke, or aneurism will usually be much more difficult to complete the grieving process without encountering emotional problems. Closure is more difficult, especially in the case of an accident in which you may not be able to see the body until a viewing of some sort.
Long illness is often less painful and is easier to have closure. Sometimes, though, the anticipation can cause more problems than a quick death.
If the cause of death is known the normal process of grieving may continue. If the cause of death is from unknown causes, then other complications set in. There are always many questions surrounding death, but if the cause of death is in doubt, the questions will never go away.
Murder is one of the most difficult causes of death for closure to be accomplished. There will be that other person living and your loved one no longer living.
The most difficult cause of death to find closure for is suicide. Many questions will lead to many different types of guilt. Guilt is often the most difficult part of the grieving process. For survivors of suicide, grief is devastating.
John 11:33-36, When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, He was angry in His spirit and deeply moved. “Where have you put him?” He asked. “Lord," they told Him, “come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
EFFECTS OF GRIEF
Crying and sighing
Loss of appetite
Feelings of heaviness
Aches, pains, and other stress-related ailments
(If any of these pains continue for a prolonged period of time or intensify, please see a doctor.)
Sadness and yearning
(If any of these emotions continue for a prolonged period of time or intensify, please seek professional help.)
Feeling detached from others
Isolating yourself from social contact
Behaving in ways that are not normal for you
(If any of these behaviors continue for a prolonged period of time or intensify, please seek professional help.)
Questioning the reason for:
The purpose of pain and suffering
The purpose of life
The meaning of death
(Seek an understanding pastor or other spiritual leader to help you answer your questions.)
(If any of these behaviors continue for a prolonged period of time or intensify, please seek professional help.)
Splitting is admitting to the death verbally but refusing to do so emotionally and behaviorally. Sometimes this is shown through the erecting of a shrine of sorts in the home (sometimes elsewhere) to the one who died. This does not necessarily include the practice of setting crosses, flowers, or other objects on a highway right-of-way near the scene of death. Sometimes the grieving person will even converse regularly with the shrine.
To avoid the pain, some people are able to keep this type of behavior strictly within, which is possibly much more dangerous. One of the clues to this behavior pattern could be that of not allowing anyone to mention that the deceased is actually dead. They sometimes convince themselves that the person is away on an extended trip and will arrive at any moment.
Externalization is trying to avoid the pain by fixing on some object or item associated with the deceased. This is different from a shrine. The grieving person will keep the deceased’s bedroom, closet, or some other room or place exactly as it was the last time they were there. The grieving person may lay out clothing or even wear the deceased’s clothes.