Learning to Grieve Through God’s Word

Learning to Grieve Through God’s Word

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

Loss comes in many forms and for many reasons. Certainly we experience loss when a person we love dies, but loss can also occur when a friendship or romantic relationship ends, when we lose a part of our life that defined us, or when a drastic change in lifestyle (positive or negative) causes us to change our previous environment and habits.

In this fallen world, loss is a daily part of life. I say “fallen world,” because loss was not a part of God’s original plan for the world. In Genesis 1 and 2 we see a picture of the completeness and wholeness that God intended. Loss entered the world with sin and has become part of the human experience ever since then. However, God has not left us to deal with loss alone; we can find comfort in Bible verses dealing with death and loss.


Seek comfort in the way that is right for you. 

My sister and I are very different people. When my grandfather passed, she wanted to spend time close to the rest of her family. She wanted to mother others, take care of them, and be taken care of. I just wanted to be left alone. After a day I realized that it was okay for me to feel that way. I was not being selfish by taking the time that I needed to be alone. The shortest verse in the Bible describes Jesus’ reaction to Lazarus’ death: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Even though He knew He would wake Lazarus from the dead, Jesus took the time to grieve His loss. In the same way, it is completely appropriate for each person to feel a loss in his or her own way.

Find a way to express loss in a way that is helpful for you.

Traditionally, people have expressed their loss by wearing black, but this is just one option of many. Expressing loss should be helpful for you and take a form that rings true for you as an individual. For some this might mean expressing loss through art, through meditation, or by a change in deportment (for example: wearing special clothes or not wearing jewelry). Many people reading Bible verses dealing with death find comfort in the beautiful words of Psalm 23, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” As we read these words, it is important to remember that this Psalm was David’s expression of grief, a beautiful song he wrote for the Lord.


Give yourself permission to be upset, and even to be upset with a specific person. 

In western culture we have often been told that being angry with a person we have lost is “disrespectful to their memory.” We have been told to focus on “the positive” in a difficult situation. It is good counsel not to forget the good in a person, a relationship or a part of life that is lost. However, when we have been hurt, anger, frustration and sadness are natural responses, and it is healthy to acknowledge them. Hurt between people, like loss, was not a part of God’s original design for humanity, and it is part of a fallen world. When someone or something has caused you pain, that is a symptom of our fallen world, and anger is a righteous response. At several instances in the Bible we see Jesus expressing anger towards people because of their sinful behavior. For example, Mark 3:5 says that Jesus “looked at them [the pharisees] with anger,” when they would not answer whether or not it was wrong to heal a person on a Sabbath.

Give the loss to God and give Him thanks.

It is important to grieve a loss. It is important to express the grief. It is important to confront difficult emotions connected to the loss. And after all of that, it is important to give the loss to God and thank Him that He is present with every step we take. Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit.” Our losses feel heavy to us. We need to give them to God, and allow Him to take our burdens. As we do so, we need to thank Him that He does not let us walk alone and takes each step by our side. Psalm 5:22 says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.” Knowing He will sustain us is the greatest comfort of all.

Dealing with loss is difficult. Though this is part of the reality of living in a fallen world, we can often find comfort in Bible verses dealing with death and loss. In the midst of each loss we are not alone. God has promised that he will never “leave us or forsake us”. As we face loss in different forms, we need to remember that God is greater than everything:

“The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” (Psalm 24:1).

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