Finding comfort after we lose someone we love may be the hardest challenge we may ever face in our lifetimes. In some cases, it can take years to come to a place of complete acceptance. The grieving process is highly personal, and the emotions to process the new reality run the gammit. The time of mourning also varies and is unique for each individual.
In searching the Bible for instances when someone grieved over the loss of a loved one, I wondered: What did they do? How did they respond? Where did they find comfort?
Below are a few ideas of healthy, heart healing ways to find comfort when we are mourning. There are a few things we can do to help ourselves heal and to find comfort in God as we grieve. If we turn to worldly distractions and counterfeit comforts, we will likely only delay our journey toward health and wholeness.
Sometimes we find comfort that only comes by way of physical touch and intimacy.
Isaac was very close to his mother Sarah. After Sarah died, the Scripture tells us how Isaac was comforted by his new wife Rebekah: "Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death" (Gen. 24: 67).
Needing to be touched and held is a natural desire when we are hurting. We need someone to step beside us and show us empathy and compassion. The act of hugging is mutually beneficial as often other family members or friends are also grieving; a simple hug helps both parties.
Even receiving affection from our pets (Rico has not made the blog in a while - so enter Rico, stage right) can be deeply rewarding and comforting.
When we grieve over the death of a loved one, we need people to help us, rally beside us, support us, cry with us, laugh with us. We need our tribe. We need empathy and tenderness in our relationships, and physical touch and affection can be a powerful step in the healing process.
Sometimes we find comfort in solitude and rest.
When Jesus's cousin, John the Baptist, was beheaded, it is written that Jesus encouraged his disciples saying, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while” (Mar 6:32). Luke writes "Taking [the disciples] with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida" (Luke 9:19).
Jesus made a habit of visiting His heavenly Father often to pray and commune with Him. How critically important to seek comfort from our heavenly Father who also gave His son over to death on a cross. Do we think He understands what we are feeling?
We can comfort ourselves a bit by slowing down and refueling our tanks. Some of us are battle weary. We are just worn out. Maybe we were the care givers for our loved ones, maybe their passing was long and drawn out. And the days following the funeral, we find ourselves positively spent, empty, and listless. Or maybe their death was sudden and unexpected. This might be a good time to pause, to face our feelings, and to recollect our thoughts as we attempt to come to grips with our new reality.
Can we seek the One who can fill our empty tanks and then rest in His presence and power?
Sometimes we find comfort when we face our own transgressions and our need for forgiveness.
King David, a man after God's own heart, had serious family issues. When he received the report that his son Amnon was dead [killed at the hand of his brother Absalom for raping their sister] "...the king arose, tore his clothes and lay on the ground..." ( 2 Sa 13:31).
Later when his son Absalom was murdered, we see David responding in this way: "The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” 2Sa 18:33
I really wonder when in the grieving process that David reckoned with his life, his missteps, and faced the consequences of his choices regarding his family. I'm sure he suffered a few, "if only's" and "why didn't I's" along the way. He may have been overcome with regret.
Many of us have unresolved guilt and regret mixed and deeply interwoven into our grief. Unfortunately, some of us are quick to blame ourselves for the death of the one we love. We think maybe there was something else we could have done to have prevented our loved one's passing. Where do we find comfort then? Sometimes when we mourn, it seems that we must also confess our fears, our regrets, our anger, our blame, our self-focus in order to move on.
After Absalom died, David mustered the courage to return to business as usual, so to speak, and to regroup the nation back in Jerusalem. Yet what can we say of David?
David penned so many of the most beautiful psalms. He poured out his heart to the Lord and consistently affirmed the truth of God's character in each song. He never wavered in His affirmations, and one might assume that this belief gave him great comfort in his humanness as he repented and mourned.
Sometimes we find comfort by praising God.
When Job received news that all of his sons and daughters had died together, his response seems supernatural to me: "Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, 'Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.' Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God" Job 1:20-22.
Job demonstrated unrelenting faith and trust. He never gave way to anger toward God or sank to the depths of self-pity, or How could you, God? or Why, God, why? Job went so far as to bless God's name. When he received the devastating news, he knelt down and worshiped his God. He found comfort in his strong relationship with the Lord.
My Grandmother is the perfect example of someone who praised God in her grief. She lost seven of her ten children and two husbands to death in her lifetime, yet she never lost her faith or blamed God. She chose to cling tighter to God each and every time. She never let go. Oh to know her private conversations with God and the comfort she received from Him. She also knew her loved ones were going to a better place.
Sometimes we find comfort when we see the bigger picture.
Jesus encouraged His disciples to rejoice in His leaving them as an act of love because He was going to His Father (John 14:28). He also reminded them that the Father would send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth..." (John 14:16). Jesus knew that sorrow filled their heart, but He encouraged His disciples, "it is to your advantage that I go away" (John 16:6).
As Christians, we have the wonderful privilege to abide in the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, Counselor, Advocate, and Intercessor. The Holy Spirit, who hears our prayers and rushes in to breathe life into our weary, saddened souls. He strengthens us and encourages us. He is always with us. He reminds us that this is not our home--we are sojourners, longing for the happily-ever-after.
...and [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes;
and there will no longer be any death;
there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; ”
In the midst of our grief, we can find blessing.
In His well-known sermon on the mount and from the list of Beatitudes, Jesus declares: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Mat. 5:4). Although being blessed when we mourn seems counter-intuitive, there is a divine promise of comfort involved.
I hope and pray that you can receive that blessing, friend and that you will count yourself grateful in this trial. And then, when the time is right, you will reach out to comfort others in their grief.
I have remembered Your ordinances from of old,
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