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The Purpose of Grief

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars. The deeper the grief, the closer is God.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Loss needs to be grieved. It’s necessary to weep over a loved one who has become ill or has passed, to mourn the rejection or betrayal by those closest to you, to lament over a job loss, or experience disappointment when an expectation is not met. We each process loss differently, but what is crucial is that we walk through the grief.

I cried myself to sleep at night, after my dad died, feeling all alone in my sorrow. I’d burst out in tears when a memory flashed into my mind, after I experienced post-traumatic stress from what I saw in the war-torn city of Kabul, Afghanistan. Friends helped me get through PTSD by listening to my stories and validating what I felt. I processed my heart by writing in my journal, accompanied by many tears, the year before we moved to Wichita.

Grieving is never to become a destination, the final place you unpack your bags and make yourself at home. Instead, grieving is a place you’re passing through when you’re trying to get somewhere else. Grieving is the helpful process by which we transition from “what was” to “what will be.”

We need to grieve loss to cross the proverbial street, to get to the other side. It’s imperative we feel our emotions and weep so we can move forward. It’s not healthy to become stuck, or too comfortable with grief, like snuggling under a warm, soft blanket. Grief is most beneficial when we keep moving through it.

God’s word is full of promises to those who grieve. Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Mourning gives us the opportunity to be comforted by God. Psalm 30:5b encourages us that grieving is temporary. “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 126:5 gives us hope. “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.”

The purpose of grief is transition, the passage of change from one condition to another. If you’ve experienced loss, please grieve it. Don’t keep sorrow inside. Get it out in a constructive way so you’re able to move on in life. 

“Even the saddest things can become, once we have made peace with them, a source of wisdom and strength.”

Frederick Buechner

Relevant Reflection:

Reflect on God’s promises as you grieve your loss.

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