Move from Grieving to Healing
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2004 4 Feb
Grief touches all of us as we walk through our fallen world. There's pain everywhere, and we can't help but experience it - through the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, injury or illness, an unfulfilled dream, etc.
If you look beyond your circumstances to God, however, you can discover the hope that will help you move from grieving to healing. Here are some ways you can move beyond your grief to the God of all comfort:
Recognize and identify your grief. Acknowledge the experiences that have caused your deep sorrow. Ask God to help you better understand why you feel the way you do.
Allow yourself time to go through the stages of grief. Expect to deal with shock, denial, emotional outbursts, bargaining with God, loneliness, depression, guilt and acceptance. Don't be surprised by what you feel, and don't blame yourself for feeling it. Understand that it's all a natural part of grief.
Focus on God instead of your circumstances. Choose to think about who God is instead of how depressing your circumstances are. Read Scripture to remind yourself about the different aspects of God's character - loving, strong, merciful, etc. Remember that God is bigger than your circumstances, and He is ultimately in control of them. Know that hope comes not from an absence of struggles, but from knowing God's nature.
Be honest with God. God already knows how you feel, and He wants you to stay in communication with Him. So don't be afraid to express your doubts and fears to Him and ask Him hard questions.
Choose to believe that you can heal. Make the decision to believe that your tragedies can become opportunities for growth. Remember that God can bring good out of any bad situation. Ask God to give you a spark of hope to start a fire of healing in your life.
Look at your life from an eternal perspective. Ask God to help you see your life from His perspective so you can better understand how He will accomplish good purposes through your current pain.
Live one choice at a time. Rather than becoming overwhelmed when you think of how much healing you still need, decide to follow God's leading gradually, one choice at a time. Continually pray for the grace you need to do so.
Abandon wishful thinking. Accept the reality of your situation without trying to deny it or manipulate it to give yourself false hope. Realize that you can't change the past, and that sometimes it's not possible to restore people or things you've lost. Know that your life won't the same as it was before you experienced your tragedy. But know that God can always bring about healing transformation for your future.
Discern the difference between reality and truth. Understand that your emotions are real, but that doesn't mean you can use them to accurately determine what constitutes truth. Look to the Word of God and Jesus Himself for guidance, rather than shifting emotions. Know that even if you feel worthless or helpless, you're not, because the Bible and the Lord say you're a person of great value who can receive help directly from God.
Pray! Make prayer a regular habit. Know that when you communicate with God, you're inviting Him to pour out His healing into your life.
Set priorities. Deal with urgent necessities before other issues. Don't try to accomplish lots of big tasks while you're grieving. Rely on God's grace to help you accomplish only what He wants you to, and be content with that.
Read Scripture. Study passages that describe how Jesus handled tragic situations. Read God's promises and meditate on them.
Embrace positive thinking. Focus your mind on positive thoughts and avoid negative ones. Whenever a negative thought comes into your mind, replace it with a positive one and ponder that positive thought.
Forgive. Choose to forgive people who have hurt you. Ask God to help you do so. Enjoy the freedom you experience when you do.
Get enough rest and sleep. Know that your body can focus its energy on healing while you sleep.
Eat a nutritious diet. Avoid foods with lots of sugar and refined white flour, and eat wholesome foods that will boost your energy level - like fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grains.
Get moving outside. Get enough exercise and sunlight to maintain healthy moods.
Share your burdens with people who care. Surround yourself with a strong social support network of friends and family members with whom you can talk about your grief and healing.
Consider counseling. Look for a trained professional who can help you if you feel stuck in one of the stages of grief. Ask someone in your church's office to recommend a good pastoral counselor.
Keep a journal. Regularly write down what God is showing you as you move closer to healing.
Use your talents. Serve other people in need to take your focus off your own problems. Pursue a hobby or take a class to develop a new skill.
Adapted from One Foot on a Banana Peel ..., copyright © 2003 by Jane E. Harber. Published by Xulon Press, www.XulonPress.com.
Jane Harber became intimately acquainted with grief after the death of husband Ray in 1988. In the 15 years that followed, 16 additional family members and friends passed away. Other crises occurred as well, any one of which could have devastated Jane and her children, Christian and Brianna. During those years, Jane worked in prison ministry, and she became a licensed belief therapist in 2001. She now works at providing in-home care for senior citizens in the west Texas area.