In Pastor Jeff's Blog

Learning from sadness can bear great fruit, avoiding it can have hidden costs. – Marianne Williamson

Spring is such an abundant season, and this is by far the nicest spring I’ve experienced in my 12 years in Minnesota. But it is also filled with many losses. Jobs and economic security. Social interaction. Weddings. Funerals. Graduations. Sports seasons. The ability to celebrate or grieve important events with family. And that brief list just scratches the surface.

I felt the power of loss most profoundly as I sat with a family grieving the death of a loved one from suicide. The weight of social isolation triggered a depression darker than this man could endure.

It’s so tempting (and even culturally encouraged) to run from our pain, to stuff it, numb it or distract ourselves from it. But when it comes to pain there’s only path to healing – through it. Even Jesus wept over the death of his friend, Lazarus. Pain has much to teach us if we will listen. We ignore it to our own detriment. You cannot rush grief; you can only slow the process by ignoring it.

So, how do we move through grief and loss in a way that brings healing and renewal? Here are a few suggestions to consider:

  • Give it voice. Share your pain with a friend who knows how to listen to your heart without giving advice or platitudes.
  • Pray. Take your pain to God over and over. As Marianne Williamson says, “That which is placed on the altar is altered.”
  • Listen. Ask yourself and reflect on this question, “What is my pain teaching me.”
  • Give yourself grace. Remove the word “should” from your vocabulary, as in “I should feel this way, or I shouldn’t think that.”
  • Be patient. Grief is neither a quick nor a straight journey.
  • Hold onto hope. Grief is a dark valley but remember that valleys have both entrances and exits. And when you don’t think you have the strength or will to hold onto hope, let hope hold you.

You are never alone in your grief, even when you feel like it. If the cross of Christ teaches us nothing else it’s that God knows our suffering, meets us in the midst of it and walks with us toward healing.

Interested in learning more about grief, loss and the journey to healing? Watch this.

If you’re struggling with serious depression or having suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You matter. You are loved. You are not alone. We will get through this. Together.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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