Grief! It’s the price we pay for caring.

No one is exempt. Grief is the universal attempt to cope with personal loss. We grieve over the loss of our job, our marriage, our pets, our youth, but especially the death of a loved one.

I remember after my mom and dad died. I thought I was okay, but it took a song or even a smell to bring back the tears. Even after many years, it doesn’t take me long to feel the loss and emptiness their death brought into my life. I’m better, but you can’t fill the void left by a loved one.

Grief is a painful process. It may involve emotional turmoil, guilt, depression, anger, sadness, helplessness, rage, loneliness, resentment, and hopelessness.

Though some think that life should get back to normal within a few months of the death of a loved one, it often takes 18 months to 2 years to feel like life is manageable.

Counselors have understood that there is a natural process of grief. It often involves 6 stages: Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

Sometimes people get stuck in one of the stages. Others never quite get to the acceptance stage. When grief becomes an impediment to normal living, something must be done.

In counseling, I have recommended five activities that help proceed through the stages of grief.

1. Think

It’s important to remember your loved one. Pull out the photo albums and take a memory trip into days past. Try to remember the good times you had with your loved one. It’s hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember. Keep remembering.

2. Write

Keep a diary or journal of your feelings and thoughts. Be honest with yourself about the difficulties you’re going through. Sometimes when you can’t talk about your loved one, you can write it down. This helps as you process through grief and read your progress.

3. Talk

Talk with others. Sadly, some people don’t want to bring up the memory of your loved one because it makes you sad. Let them know it’s okay. Sadness is part of the process. And until you work through the pain you’ll have a hard arriving at acceptance.

4. Practice Spiritual Disciplines

Spiritual disciples can be most difficult when you’re grieving. It’s a normal reaction. Since God ultimately controls all things, it is easy to blame Him for what has happened – even if unconsciously. So pray even if it is for just a few minutes. Read your Bible, especially Psalms, even if it just a few verses.

5. Stay Active

When a person grieves, it is natural to pull away. Sometimes it is a struggle just to get out of bed and get a shower. Try to exercise a little. Take a walk. Join a group. Go to church. It’s hard at first, but gets better as you progress.

I hope this helps as you process through your loss. For loved ones who know Jesus Christ as Savior, they are never lost. They are with our Savior.