Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dealing with Grief

When we face the loss of a loved one it is natural for us to grieve.  Jesus Christ said to His followers in His Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted."  When we encounter a person with grief we can only have compassion for their sorrow.  This is how we express our love and understanding.  It is not necessary to say much: "I am sorry," a hug, a feeling of empathy for the sorrow they experience.  

For Christians this sorrow should not last long. We can remind ourlselves of the Passion of Christ and how He accepted the Cross for our benefit.  In His death we learned of the Resurrection and the promise of eternal life.

Elder Macarius says,
In the ground of the Christian heart, sorrow for the dead soon melts, illumined by the light of true wisdom.  Then, in place of the vanished grief, there shoots up a new knowledge made of hope and faith.  This knowledge does not only wash the soul of all sadness; it makes glad.
Ponder these words: 
Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed; and: If our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (II COr 4:6, 5:1).

Reference: Russian Letters of Spiritual Direction, p 41, 45 


  1. there seems to be three currents in popular culture
    1. deny grief - "just get over it" We are uncomfortable with grief. Seeing others grieve reminds us that grievous things happen and can happen to us. We don't like this information. We often see this in the form of very thoughtless things that are said that are somehow supposed to be comforting (in the same way that Job's friends were comforting)
    2. manage grief - figure it out, delineate it's stages, make it predictable, give us an illusion that we have control over it. This helps us not be afraid of our own grief. It is also mostly an illusion.
    3. indulge grief - while it is important to have and work through our grief and cannot expect it to magically go away, there are those who indulge in rather bizarre behaviour because they are grieving. Grieving becomes an excuse to act on impulses that are better not acted upon.

    In my experience the hardest grieving have been those young ones who unexpectedly are cut off before their prime. In my experience, it helps to not isolate (even though we feel sometimes like crawling into a cave). It helps to find safe people to talk to who don't feel like they have to "fix" my grief.

  2. For Christians this sorrow should not last long? The reality is the grief is there. Pushing it aside and ignoring it because we're "supposed to" doesn't address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual toll that death takes on a person. This blog entry does little to give the Orthodox Christian advice on "dealing with grief." Instead, it gives a conveniently-placed quote on why Christians shouldn't grieve, and I can hardly say this is helpful. Poorly done.


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