Anytime we lose something or someone special to us we experience grief. Grief is our natural emotional response to loss of any kind. Many people are facing this right now through the tragedy of the bush fires here in Victoria – the loss of friends, family members, and loved ones, as well as the loss of homes and possessions.
There are many stages of grief that most people go through. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, in her 1969 book "On Death and Dying", describes five discrete stages that most people go through when dealing with grief or tragedy. They are known as the five stages of grief.
- Denial – "I feel fine … This can't be happening to me!"
- Anger – "Why me? It's not fair … How can this happen!"
- Bargaining – trying to change what has happened in some way.
- Depression – "I feel so sad, why bother … I feel like I'm going to die … What's the point?"
- Acceptance – "It's going to be okay … I'm going to make it …"
These stages apply to the death of a loved one, but also to other losses such as a loss of employment, income, home, or a relationship (such as a marriage ending in divorce). These stages don't necessarily come in order nor are all stages experienced by everyone.
Thankfully, we serve a God who is familiar with grief (Isaiah 53:3), who identifies with us in our pain, and who offers us comfort and strength to make it through (see 1 Corinthians 1:1-7). In addition, the comfort of family and friends is also essential. Let people talk, let them grieve, and help in practical ways.
P.S. Click here for a few of my own thoughts as I had to deal with the grief of losing my mother a number of years back.
"Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted" [Jesus – Matthew 5:4]
"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us." [The Apostle Paul – 2 Corinthians 1:1-7. NLT]