How to Endure the Loss of Loved Ones
DEATH strikes suddenly. Someone you have dearly loved for years may have just died. The shock of the loss may seem more than you can bear. Grief may take hold, causing loss of sleep, loneliness and sorrow. Tears may seem to flow unrestrained from your eyes. The loss you feel may be the severest emotional experience of your life. How can you endure it? Where can you turn for encouragement and help? How can you cope with this most trying situation?
Do not think that it is evidence of weakness to break down and cry. There is an emotional release in letting the tears flow. The Bible tells us that Abraham cried, and he was a man of great faith. When his dear wife Sarah died, “Abraham came in to bewail Sarah and to weep over her.” (Gen. 23:2) His grandson Jacob grieved over the loss of his son Joseph. (Gen. 37:35) Even Jesus Christ gave way to tears. (John 11:32-35) Letting tears flow is a normal release for heartache. But, of course, it should not be something that is allowed to continue uncontrolled indefinitely.
Grieving persons need to avoid the temptation to sit and brood over their loss. Brooding does not correct or improve matters, neither does feeling sorry for oneself accomplish anything. Instead, it feeds the emotions that keep one feeling depressed. How much better it would be to engage in some productive physical and mental activity. Activity that demands the attention of the mind, and keeping busy doing things that shift the strain, bring a measure of relief.
Many persons keep the emotional wound open and irritated by trying to live in a world of memories. Some do this by keeping a home for many years just as it was when their loved one was alive, refusing to make any changes that at other times would have been quite normal. It is a vain attempt to live in the past. But all that this does is prolong the grief. How much better it would be for such persons to realize that much more happiness can be theirs if they would enjoy the present and live for the future. Continuing with life as normally as possible is a way of enduring the loss of a loved one and avoiding a state of abnormal grief. The natural process of healing is aided when the individual returns to his former pursuits and responsibilities.
Perhaps the greatest barrier to enduring the grief associated with the loss of a loved one is the tendency to dwell upon what a person lost by such death. Thinking about how lonely he is now and the things he must now do that his loved one formerly had done for him makes his grief difficult to bear. But by getting his mind off himself and on what he can do for others, he will find that his emotional wound can heal and the gap in his life can gradually be filled. There is much that a person can do to make his life worth while if he will think of other people, having a love for them as he would like them to have for him.
The Best Remedy
Without question the best encouragement that can be given to bereaved persons is from God’s Word. The Bible gives the most satisfying answer to the question, “Why do men die, and what hope is there for the dead?” In this way Bible truth helps to lessen the sorrow and grief. It gives hope, and hope aids the mourner to keep from losing control of himself. Such Bible knowledge removes the apprehension one might feel from not knowing what has become of his loved one. Through the pages of the Bible the Creator enlightens one as to what hope there is for the dead to have life once again.—Acts 24:15; John 5:28, 29.
Because of the wonderful hope of the resurrection, a Christian is not overwhelmed with tears and grief. His sorrow is not as great or as deep as that upon those who have no knowledge of the hope the Bible gives. Notice what the apostle Paul says about this: “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant concerning those who are sleeping in death; that you may not sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope. For if our faith is that Jesus died and rose again, so, too, those who have fallen asleep in death through Jesus God will bring with him. For this is what we tell you by Jehovah’s word . . . Consequently keep comforting one another with these words.”—1 Thess. 4:13-15, 18.
Those who mourn the death of loved ones can find strength in God by turning to him in prayer. God can supply the curative comfort that is needed. Going to God, along with seeking to learn and to do his will, will certainly bring healing to the aching heart.—Ps. 86:6, 7.
Many persons have heard about the free home Bible study activity of Jehovah’s witnesses and have sought this assistance in time of sorrow. One such person writes: “Having recently had a heavy bereavement in the family, I am interested in knowing if this life is all there is.” Needless to say, Jehovah’s witnesses, with the aid of the Bible, consider it a privilege to help all such individuals to understand the reason for death, the condition of the dead, and the hope for the dead, by means of a resurrection, to live in an earth-wide paradise.
Thus, while the death of someone you have loved may be the worst emotional experience of your life, it can be endured. Keep busy in wholesome physical activity. Go to God in prayer. Study his Word, the Bible, to learn the reason why people die and the hope for the dead. In your distress and sorrow, please remember that Jehovah’s witnesses are most happy to help you. Why not accept their sincere offer of help the next time they call at your home, or, instead of waiting for them to call at your home, why not visit with them at their Kingdom Hall. You will be most welcome.