Bereaved

Can there be anything good about illness and death?

Feelings: This is how death leaves us feeling – Fear/ anxiety/ confusion/ limited opportunity to grieve as a result of culture, gender, etc/ overwhelmed/ financial support issues/ lonely and in a situation where you didn’t plan to be/ hope then despair/ raw/ alone/ awkward/ moving on, living again, what do I do with the photos?

What does God’s word have for one who recently lost a loved one? Is there an instance we can see in scripture where God dealt with the issue of death, grief and bereavement? What can we learn from it?

Context: The following is a story about family, illness and eventual bereavement. We can see this family struggling very much like I did, as many of us do – with emotions, practical challenges and big questions.

John 11:1-7
God Loves regardless: Sickness and even death does not happen because God does not love you. God loves you and cares for you even in the circumstance of death. Jesus loved this family – Martha, Mary and Lazrus. [v.5]. They were special to him. In the midst of that love, sickness and death happened to them. Death does not happen because God does not love us. Death is the consequence of our humanity not the absence of God’s love.

John 11:8-15
Death is Real: Jesus did not gloss over the subject. He was open, honest and on point. Lazarus is dead. [v.14] Sometimes in death we want to sugar coat things. We struggle with coming out clean about death. As part of our grief we sometimes deny that death has happened. In some cases we cannot even bring ourselves to say someone is dead – we say he has left, he’s gone, he’s away. Death is real, and so is the resulting feeling of sadness, loss and grief.

John 11:16-22
God is Present: This is now in the funeral meeting. I can relate with Martha’s sentiment “if you would have been there…” Sometimes we think that if something had been done properly or if God was there it could not have happened. It is perfectly normal and human to feel this way. When death happens it does not mean that God is not there. God is there. He’s always present. God is not taken by surprise by death. He is present and sovereign over the issue of death.

John 11:23-38
God Grieves with you: Your grief and pain is not lost on God. He feels it and experiences it as you do. Jesus wept. V.35. He was deeply moved. V.33, 38. It is comforting for me to know that grief is real for Jesus. It is not an emotion, which he is unfamiliar with. This is a comforting thing for me. This because Heb 4:15 teaches me that there is no challenge or pain or sorrow that Jesus is not familiar with. He has experienced it all and can empathize with us. Jesus was moved with grief, just like I am. Jesus went on to say –

John 11:39-44
Resurrection in Christ: With all the grief, sorrow and pain, Jesus glorified God. The way he did this in this instance was to raise Lazarus. Can God be glorified in your situation? Jesus raised Lazarus from death. The grief was real, the pain was there, tears flowed and Jesus raised this man from the dead. He did this in order to point us to the fact that God the Father had sent him. In raising Lazarus the glory of God was revealed. [v.40]. The raising up of Lazarus is a pointer to the reality of death in our lives. It is also a pointer to God’s power to give us eternal life in Christ.

How then do we deal with grief? What are some practical ways we can address grief?
Loss is best dealt with when one is able to go through the entire grieving process. This is what I’d like to call grief work. You need to work through grief whenever you experience bereavement and loss.

Grief work: As I have experienced it and read – I find that a normal grieving process has 5 stages. A person needs to go through all the stages in order to be restored and able to move on in their lives.

1. Shock
Immediately after the news, the person is often surprised, numbed or overcome with the pain of the loss. Sometimes that emotional pain is so intense that it can be felt physically. The grieving person may be dazed for days; they may look disoriented and act irrationally.

2. Denial
Often at this next stage the person seems to disbelieve the loss they have gone through. They may say things like “he is going to come back,” or “she is just gone away, she will come back to me, trust me!” “He is not the one who is gone… there must be a mistake.”

3. Depression
This is the stage when the consequences of the loss start to sink in. The person may withdraw to themselves and feel a deep sense of self pity. It is not uncommon for someone to be overcome by sadness and despair. Memories of good times sometimes spark of bitterness, anger, blame and rage. It is not uncommon to experience roller coaster emotions and even disorientedness – one minute crying and another laughing and yet another full of rage. In extreme cases a griever may even have suicidal thoughts.

4. Acceptance
This is the recovery stage. The person comes to terms with the loss of their love and loved one. They are able to reconfigure their lives and get ready to move on. It is a stage of great emotional effort where one accepts the loss.

5. Moving on
This stage is just that. Moving on normally with one’s life, having dealt with the pain, loss and gained a healthy acceptance of it. The person is better able here to resume normal relationships and even love again.

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8 Responses to “Bereaved”

  1. marytheone Says:

    The sermon today really spoke to me. i lost my father one and a half years ago, and life has never been the same. Am stuck between the depression and acceptance stages. Every time I think of him, I cry like a baby. i have not come to terms with the fact that my dad is dead. Sometimes i walk in town and hope al bump into him along the streets. i even dial his mobile number with the hope that he will pick up one day. I sort of blame God for it. I really dont know how to deal with all these. please pray for me. please.

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  2. mercy ndegwa Says:

    Death is trully painful. I lost my mum 2 years ago n it was really tragic. Mum had been unwell for long. We had stayed with her for 7 years on n off n had such a bond. my husband n kids really loved her as she was easy. Her last 3 years were of rushing her to hospital in the wee hours for admissions,carrying her into the car was what we were used to.. But we loved it. i got to hosp at 920am n the nurse told me that the doc wanted to see me,i had seen her at about 6am n she wasnt looking good but the thought of death was nowhere, i actually thought he wanted to tell me of how she was to start her dialysis n where it was to be done,. But alas! He looked straight in my eyes n said..’ sorry we ve lost Alice’..i will never forget. I was in alot of pain..and really cried. The funeral, was very sad. We all really loved her.
    mourning for me continued for about a year. I was bitter,in denial, depressed, all that. I had tearfful moments especially early morning on my way to work.
    I was better off seeing her in the room or in hospital other than knowing she was gone for life.
    I ve now recovered though we still remember her n the songs she taught my kids in kikuyu. She really blessed me n my
    household.
    That was a very releavant sermon for anyone who has experienced death of a loved one.
    I learnt the importance of good frienships
    And being plugged in ministry.txs n God bless

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  3. mercy ndegwa Says:

    marytheone,
    He is God and very faithful. Death is painful. My recovery came as i started reflecting on Gods faithfulness for letting me enjoy having a mother for 42 years. Accepting that everthing happens for a reason and our days are numbered.
    I also really got plugged into prayer ministry. Mourning with others in the situation.
    This is a painful process, will really pray for you that you will stand firm on the promises of God and he will help you accept.
    I feel you right there my sister but God is God n ever shall be. Healing is a process but you also need to be willing to move on. As hard as it may seem.
    May the good Lord bless you!!..

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  4. I lost my closest friend just over a year ago. Through this sermon, it felt as though someone clicked the refresh button on all the pain brought on by such an ill-timed loss. Like Mary, I also realized that unknown to me, I have actually gotten stuck somewhere in between the depression and acceptance stages.
    However, it also brought back some questions. What if I don’t want to let go and move on? It feels like letting go means I forget that he was here or that he was great. What should I do with all the dreams and aspirations that we shared? Do I simply give up on them?
    What if I don’t want to forgive God? How could he let it happen? He was so young. We were meant to live life long and create memories together. What about his family, still mourning a loss they all know was way premature?
    I feel the author of the poem Pst Kyama read- there could never be someone who could fill this void that he left. Not that I desire to replace him!
    It’s funny though, that even in my disappointment with God, there really is no one else I can run to for my answers or my healing.
    Thanks Pst Kyama for the sermon, I realise that I’m in an unhealthy place and I must choose to get out. For sure, I don’t know how to get out, but I’m grateful to know The One who knows the way out for me.
    I pray that God will give me the grace to accept that my friend, having been a believer is in a better place. To receive the time we shared as the blessing that it was. To realise that it is ok for me to move on, and it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate our friendship. It is ok for me to get new friends without fear of loss. It’s ok.
    But for these things, I must rely on God. For, I must confess, I don’t have the strength nor the wisdom to achieve them.
    So, help me God!

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  5. Pastor Kyama thank you for your faithfulness to God to deliver this message which I believe is a very tough one. May God bless you

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  6. Mama Trev Says:

    i cant believe October is done. Thanks Pastor Kyama for your ministering. It was such a great experience. God bless you and give u wisdom to teach even more than this. Baraka

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  7. Pastor Kyama,

    I really don’t know why God sent you ahead of what He was about to do in my life. When I received the email with this blog, I simply ignored it because I have never been bereaved. On Monday, 31st October I went to see my doctor for my monthly check up at 27 weeks. Then he diagonized me with a condition he called polyhydromnios i.e. having excess amniotic fluid. From then on, my life would never be the same again. Fast forward to Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011. Sitting in the Ultrasound room looking for a clue from the face of the radiologist on the fate of my unborn child and all I could get as usual was a blunt look with no information. Then came the worst moment of my life, “I’m sorry but we cannot find the baby’s heartbeat.” And my baby was no more. A week later I’m reading through this blog and saying, surely the Lord speaks to us mysteriously! CK

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