This bereavement message or grief devotional was written by Julia Bruton-Sheppard, who worked many years as a Hospice chaplain. She is the author of the Seasonal Devotionals for this website.
The 3 RRR’S even 4 RRR’S of Healing
by Rev. Julia Bruton-Sheppard
In order to heal from the sorrow and pain of loss, I suggest three, even four concepts to assist us on our journey… Recognizing, Responding, Reconciling and Remembering.
Recognizing. There is a need to broaden our understanding of loss. Loss, especially for the Christian, is accepting that daily we are in the process of letting go. As we are being transformed, by the power of the Holy Spirit into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29), we are offered opportunities to ‘let go’ of character traits that are not Christ-like. Even after the loss of a loved one and the pain it causes, we can learn like Christ to trust God in all things. These opportunities of ‘letting go’ are often painful, both physically and mentally. “…though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.” 2 Cor. 2:8 Peterson’s
Responding. Grief is the painful mental response to loss. Mourning is the expressing, “going public” with our grief. God has lovingly created us with tear ducts to channel the tears needed to release our grief. “Public” expression of tears links the grieving soul to the universal conduit of compassion and concern only found in the embrace of human arms. Jesus taught, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” Matt 5:4
Reconciling. Bereavement is the process of healing ‘pulling ourselves back together’, whereby we grieve and mourn until as it is so poetically expressed in Eccl. 3:4, our weeping turns to laughter and mourning turns to dancing. After the loss of a loved one, the first year is the most difficult because you will experience many “firsts.” The first Birthday, both your loved one’s and yours, anniversaries spent without him or her. Holidays often highlight our awareness of loss. To find comfort and continue the process of bereavement or healing, it would be good to ‘celebrate’ your loved one on those special days. Take the time to talk to about your loved one with family and friends around good food and laughter. Will you cry? Perhaps, but those tears will be good tears, cleansing tears, healing tears.
Remembering. God has given us a divinely designed compartment called MEMORY. The memory has the capacity to receive, store, and recall impressions made on it, which we call MEMORIES. The memory is not stagnant. There are times when the memory frees up its information, by choice. There are times when words or events trigger the memory to release memories without our permission. Over time, the memory looses information. To heal from all loss it would be good to REMEMBER, “you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse…Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Phil. 4:8b-9 Peterson’s. Then with a breath of forgiving kindness, blow the rest away. NEVER FORGET, forgiveness is always available even after the death of a loved one or the loss anything else because the One who forgives, never dies. AMEN
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