ODJ: the rules of grief

August 18, 2014 

READ: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 

A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance (v.4).

Two years ago, I held my father’s hand as he drew his last breath. Since then, as I’ve struggled to figure out what a world without Dad looks like, I’ve learned and relearned a few things about grieving.

I’m learning that it’s okay to grieve. Solomon observed that there’s a time for everything, including “a time to cry” and “a time to grieve” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

I’ve learned that the first rule of grieving is that there are no rules. Grieving is neither neat nor orderly. There’s no clearly defined path or timetable to follow. Different aspects of grief (the painful separation, disbelief, anger, guilt, hopelessness, etc.) fade in and out of our hearts with no discernible pattern. And there’s no way to know how many times we’ll experience any particular aspect or so-called stage of grief. 

I’m learning that just because you feel or wrestle with something once doesn’t mean you’ll never do so again. Most people experience several recurring feelings and questions as they grieve, sometimes as if it’s for the first time. As C. S. Lewis observed after losing his wife, “For 
in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats.”

As crazy as it makes me feel sometimes, I’m learning that I need to mourn. According to Jesus, comfort awaits the griever (Matthew 5:4). I’m learning that leaning into the pain of loss opens me up to lean on God and others for comfort. 

Finally, I’m learning that Paul was right when he wrote that Christians grieve with hope. For it’s the hope of seeing our loved ones again when Jesus returns that helps to make bitter loss bearable (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). Jeff Olson

365-day plan› John 11:1-36

Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 and consider what it says about God’s comfort in the midst of the loss of a loved one and other life challenges.
Why is it important for us to grieve? How can God use grief to draw us closer to Himself?