I remember it like it was yesterday. I was at a concert with friends when I received the call that my grandpa had died. It wasn’t a total surprise. My parents were actually there visiting him in the hospital because we knew his time was short. But none of that mattered. It was still just as hard. It was difficult finding out in front of my friends. I didn’t feel like I could grieve his loss. It wasn’t until later that I was able to let my guard down and cry.
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When we lose a loved one who knew the Lord, it can be difficult to know how to feel. We say things to each other like, “God took them home.” “They are in heaven with Jesus now.” “We don’t need to be sad because they are happily living in eternity.” In some ways, we make it hard on ourselves to grieve. I’ve lost several loved ones in my life, and each time I felt a tug-of-war in my heart. Is it okay to grieve my loss when I know they are in heaven with Jesus? Is it okay to even see it as a loss?
Grieving and mourning the death of a loved one are first found in the Old Testament. The most common length of mourning was 7 days; but in some cases, the people would mourn for a period of 30 days. Traditional Jewish customs included a special meal, grieving with family and friends, prayers, and Torah readings. Normal life stopped until the mourning period was over.
Even in the days of Aaron and Moses, they knew it was important to take the time to grieve. They knew it was crucial to the healing process.
The New Testament teaches us that Jesus knows our pain. And when it comes to the death of a loved one, He experienced it first-hand. We are told in John 11 that when His close friend Lazarus died, He wept. Now some try to speculate why Jesus cried at this moment. After all, He knew that Lazarus wasn’t truly dead and that He was about to bring him back to life. But still… He wept. At that moment, He felt grief. He witnessed the pain of Mary and Martha as they mourned the loss of their brother. Even though Jesus knew what was about to happen, He was still overcome with tears.
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” – John 11:33-36
It’s okay to grieve. Grieving is a process that teaches us how to fully surrender our pain to God so that He can heal our hearts.
God is our Healer. In every area of our lives, He longs to see each & every one of us made whole.
Looking back at the Old Testament, I can’t help but wonder if their grieving period was God’s way of allowing them time to cope and heal from their pain. If we don’t grieve our losses, we are more likely to hold the pain inside and never move forward. That is never God’s plan for our lives!
He wants us to grieve and to surrender our pain to Him. It is then that He can heal our hearts and reveal to us the truth. And the truth is that no one who “dies” in Him really dies. We will all be together in eternity one day.
Hearing this truth from others isn’t the same as God placing it on our hearts. When my grandpa died, many told me that he was in a better place. But it wasn’t until God revealed it to me Himself and gave me His peace that I was able to heal and move forward.
This is what the grieving process is all about… taking our pain to God and allowing Him to make us whole.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4
*Unless otherwise indicated, scripture quotations taken from the NASB.