It was obvious she had loved her father deeply and he had loved her. Now she was sitting in my office hoping to work through some of the deep pain and sadness associated with his death. This is the first she had talked about him out loud to another person and with the words came a rush of tears. She looked at me as if to say, “See, it just hurts more when you let yourself feel it. Why does it have to hurt so much?” I looked at her with compassion and simply stated, “I wish you did not hurt so much. But without grief there could be no love.”
I knew that statement sounded odd so I went on to remind her that the loss of things that have no value to us may be inconvenient or irritating but those losses do not evoke any deep emotion or anguishing grief. However, as soon as we choose to enter into those amazing and deeply satisfying relationships that are possible only because of love, we also unknowingly agree to experience the pain and sadness that will be associated with the potential loss of that incredibly valuable relationship.
Is it possible to avoid the pain of grief in my life? I suppose. But it would mean never loving or being loved by anybody – and I think most of us realize that is too high a price to pay. So we agree to love – and to grieve – even as Jesus did.
It was important for the young lady in front of me to understand that there were probably two layers of emotion connected to her loss. The “bottom” layer was the pain and sadness legitimately associated with the very real loss of her father. This is the same emotion that caused Jesus to sob at the tomb of Lazarus. The friend he loved was dead and Jesus missed him. And there is little I could do help this young lady with this layer of pain. The passage of time would lessen it, the presence of family and friends might soften it, but ultimately the knowing comfort of Jesus would be the most critical factor – so I quietly led her to Jesus.
However, there is usually another layer stacked on top of this bottom layer. It feels very much the same and adds to the weight of grief until it is almost overwhelming. But this accumulation of feelings is based on misbeliefs or lies, which means it can be lessened, even resolved with truth from Jesus. For instance, as I gently probe presenting emotions I have heard people state strong beliefs such as these: “It is my fault she died;” “If I had only been a better father;” “Without him here to see me do things, nothing is worth doing;” “I am incomplete without her and I cannot go on;” “I am all alone now.” Beliefs like these can be presented to Jesus for His perspective and corrected with His truth – and the negative emotions attached to them will dissipate – and the less that is stacked on top of the “bottom” layer, the more hopeful life will become.
(Interestingly, these same two dynamics are present with loss in any relationship, be it through death or divorce or abandonment or whatever.)
The Lord tells us to comfort one another. Perhaps this update will assist you in being more effective in doing so. God bless you today.