Working Your Way Through the Pain
Bible Reading: Romans 8:26-30
We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28
A month after Amy’s dad died, her friends, who had been so sympathetic at first, didn’t seem to care so much anymore. She was still a jumble of emotions when they started saying things like “It’s time to move on,” and “You have to think about other things,” and even “Snap out of it!” Amy wondered what was wrong with her that she couldn’t just shake the pain.
What no one explained to Amy was that when tragedy strikes so close to home, you can’t escape a powerful emotion called grief. In fact, there’s a pattern of grief most people go through. Grief can last weeks or months, but people often pass through five clear stages. Knowing these stages can help you or a friend understand the swirl of emotions that people experience when tragedy hits:
Often the first response to grief is denial. You can’t believe such a terrible thing has really happened. One of the ways your mind tries to handle grief is to think, No way. This isn’t happening to me.
The second stage of grief is anger. You start to ask, Why did this happen? When you don’t find a good answer, you might lash out at people you think are responsible, at the person who died and left you alone, and even at yourself, thinking you are partly to blame.
The third stage of grief is bargaining. You want relief from this awful event. You promise you’ll do anything for God if he will just fix the situation and make the pain go away.
Another stage of grief is depression. You realize you can’t undo the tragedy. You feel overwhelmed with sadness—and maybe fear, anxiety, or loneliness.
The final stage of grief is acceptance. As time goes by, you start to accept the reality of your loss and begin to put life back together.
It’s normal—and healthy—to experience the five stages of grief when you experience a sad event in your life. Some of those stages may come and go and come back again. There’s nothing wrong with you or your powerful emotions. And in time your grief will give way to better feelings—a certainty that God loves you and is still in control of your world.
TALK: What are those stages of grief all about? Could you use that knowledge to help a hurting friend?
PRAY: God, help us understand the swirl of emotions we feel when we face horrible hurt. Help us know how to help our hurting friends through their grief.
ACT: You might not need this information today. But tuck those five stages of grief in your memory, because sooner or later you or a friend will face the powerful emotion of grief.