Monday, January 14, 2013

Getting A Handle On Grief

As we talk about turning GOing through grief to GROWing through grief this year, one of the basics will be learning what we're talking about from a Christian perspective. Because Christ provides hope and strength for those who turn to him, we want to learn to say with the Apostle Paul, "O, death, where is thy sting?" Yet, we're human and we do feel that sting of separation and loss! As we walk together through your "valley of the shadow of death" this year, God will patiently teach us how to live through this loss.

When another young widowed pastor's wife gave me this book, she said, "I know that people will send lots of books to you as they did for me. I don't know about you, but I certainly had no desire to read them. But I did read this one and it was a great blessing! It's not thick and it is easy to read."
Grieving: Your Path Back to Peace   -     
        By: James R. White
Grieving: Our Path Back to Peace, by James R. White, became my good counselor and reference point during that first year of widowhood. I looked at it so often, and now I buy multiple copies to have on hand to give away.

Mr. White writes from experience as a hospital chaplain. He explains that the grieving process is best understood as a spiral: it includes the classic stages of grief--denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance-- but Mr. White explains that we tend to revolve in and out of them, sometimes over and over again, rather than get through one stage and pass on to another. This was such a revelation to me in the early months of widowhood! Also, the way we process and handle the grief can put us on the upward path to peace, or the downward path to despair.

This book helped me understand my emotions, know that they were normal, and know that God was right there with me. Two very simple charts helped me identify where I was at and where I was headed. It helped me put my feelings into words, and that was no small feat!

Although full of practical advice and help for a general audience (not just widows), it's a quick read, only 87 pages. Yet it touches all the important stuff, even anger towards God. It includes the tough questions--DID God allow this? and WHY did God allow this?--and handles them with honesty and compassion.

I've given away about 30 copies of this book over the years, I recommend it that highly. I love the fact that it's so short, too---because, really---who wants to read when it's so hard to concentrate? This is a great book for learning about grief and might be the only one you'd need. For my non-widowed readers, it's certainly a good one to read beforehand, or if you have friends who are grieving.

The valley of the shadow of death is a place to walk through, not a place to camp (see Psalm 23). Although we do feel that sting of separation and loss, Christians know its temporary and the best is yet to come. Grieving: Our Path Back to Peace will help us understand that truth even more. 


  1. Oh how I want to 'grow' through grief. I just lost my dear husband of 43 years on Dec. 9th and even though I know he's with God, there is a huge VOID in my life. Grief sits heavy on my chest and tears are every near ready to spill without warning.

    I just became a follower so that I can be encouraged in this new walk.

    FlowerLady Lorraine

  2. Dear Elaine, Hugs to you, I'm so sorry for your loss. 43 years is a filled-to-the-brim lifetime together and the WCP will be honored to walk you through this. Grief is heavy, and the tears do spill. We can't control them, but we can get through this and God has some amazing things ahead. Love to you, and I'll be praying for you!

  3. Hi Lorraine,

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    You will find so much support and encouragement here. I hope you will visit often. God is with you and there is a lot of support here. You won't be alone in your walk.


  4. Thank you for helping me to change my mindset on moving forward with grief. I look forward to you guiding us with your hope and inspiration.

  5. My husband went to be with The Lord 11/30/12 25 years together. I am 66, he was 59 and I am only half of what I was. I can FEEL your emptiness. People that haven't lost a husband cannot understand. They can love and care but they cannot know the emptiness. I so get you and the feelings.


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