4 Steps to Heal From Grief

A pastor friend of mine has gone through some difficult days over the past few years. He had several personal health crises, then a really good friend of his had a his own health scare. On the heels of that, a member of a core family in his congregation faced a serious illness, and he sojourned with that family for over a year until the person passed away. All of this happened while he was leading his congregation through COVID-19 and the stress of repeated shutdowns.

My friend experienced loss upon loss, which has led to grief. Often with grief comes anger and its extremely dysfunctional cousin, rage. Psychologists refer to these intense emotions as bereavement anger. As a result of grief, the brain is profoundly changed. Traumatic loss is perceived as a threat to survival, which results in defense mechanisms being activated.

Over the past two years, we all have taken hit after hit, experienced trauma upon trauma, and have had very little time to heal. We are all on edge. We must turn to Jesus and, if necessary, to trusted Christian counselors to recognize our grief and acknowledge the source of our pain. Grief and loss must be faced, and doing so takes time. There is no such thing as a shortcut through grief, as much as we may pray for one.

As long as those of us who claim to believe in Jesus respond to grief like everyone else, our light will be hidden and our salt will be bitter. But if we are willing to do the hard work of not only recognizing our grief but intentionally seeking healing, I believe people will be drawn to our light like a moth to a flame.

Here are four steps we can take with God toward healing. Practice these at least once every day:

  1. Invite the Holy Spirit to journey with you in prayer.
  2. Practice writing. Writing your feelings down will enable you to recognize progress and process your feelings safely.
  3. Find a quiet place. I like relaxing music and low light. Slowly breathe in deeply over about 30 seconds and release it equally as slowly.
  4. Get Creative. Having a creative outlet helps distract your brain from the pain while allowing you to process it.

Perhaps we could learn from the journey of the man at the pool of Bethesda. Instead of laying around waiting to get healed and spewing our grief on those around us, we need to get up and take Jesus’ healing hand. The world needs Jesus, and the church is God’s chosen messenger to deliver the good news. Only after we are healed can we be the light and salt of the earth Jesus called us to be.