(How Can We Help?)

My mother died from an automobile accident 12 years ago this month. There were no resources to help me understand the painful process of grief. When my dad died 3 weeks after being diagnosed with lymphoma, I joined a grief support group. Most of us are ill prepared to deal with grief. We have been through high school and college learning how to gain in our society, but have had few, if any, lessons on loss. We have heard many misconceptions and myths about grief.

Batsell Barrett Baxter has said, "It seems strange, but an almost universal misconception is that one should avoid mentioning to the bereaved their recently deceased child or parent, husband or wife, because it might make them sorrowful. Deep satisfaction often comes from talking about those whom we have loved so deeply with sympathetic, interested friends." In our recent support meeting, the question was asked, "How do you feel about others mentioning your deceased loved one?" Every person in that meeting wanted to talk about their husband or dad. Amanda Washburn shared our sentiment when she answered, "I love it when people talk about things my dad has done. I have learned a lot of things about him after he died that I never knew."

It is important that a bereaved person is able to express his feelings from his loss in a safe place with people who understand. He needs to share his memories of when the family circle was whole. We need to only listen for him to tell his story. Silence from the listener and sometimes a hug can be more precious than words.

Dr. M. Norvel Young of Pepperdine University in Los Angeles has suggested six ways to overcome grief.

  1. Accept the sympathy of others graciously.
  2. Recognize that the pain will grow more bearable.
  3. Turn to the Bible with renewed thirst.
  4. Utilize the power of prayer.
  5. Be even more faithful in worship.
  6. Look out and see others who need your help.

On the night of Jesus' betrayal, in the garden of Gethsemane, he felt deep grief as he prayed to his Father. Jesus' death that followed has given us eternal life when we are obedient to Him. God is grieved when man willfully rejects Him.

Life in our physical body is a short span of our total existence. When I was feeling sad from the death of my husband, Lorene Turner said, "What if you didn't have Christ?" As Christians, death will come to us like a warm embrace. Roy Dunavin describes death as a birth into a new state. Death for the Christian is not to be feared anymore than is birth. When the body ceases to be, the spirit emerges.

For questions or more information on a support group please call the church office. People who have known suffering and loss have a sensitivity and understanding of life that gives them compassion and concern for others. We are concerned for you and we love you.

Myra Flippo

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 11 March 2001

West-Ark Church of Christ