Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In some way or another, you’ve most likely come across these 5 stages of grief from the studies of the late psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. These have been widely accepted and discussed for decades and have evolved a bit over the years. But, from a Christian point of view, what is the truth about the 5 stages of grief? Are they biblical? And how should a Christian go through their grief?
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The emotions of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are, of course, very real. And if you’re reading this, there is no doubt you’ve experienced elements of each of these in your times of grief. Many people in the bible also experienced these kinds of emotions: Pharaoh denied God’s sovereignty as judge of his nation, Job was moved to anger in his suffering, Abraham bartered with God over Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction, Jeremiah struggled with depression over the state of his people, and David came to a place of acceptance at the death of his baby with Bathsheba. Emotions are often powerful hurdles that must be addressed to overcome grief and experience true hope and healing. If this is you today…you’re not alone. But what is the path to healing?
We all want to be able to recover from hardship and suffering: emotionally, relationally, physically, or all-of-the-above. While the 5 stages of grief are not meant to be linear stages, each of the stages aren’t necessarily a prerequisite to healing. Sure, if you’re harboring anger, for example, you won’t be able to come to a place of peace. However, the good news is that you may not have battle with each of the 5 stages on your path to healing. God desires for you to come out of your grief (Psalm 147:3). And yes, there IS a path out of grief; a path to healing. For some it is quick. Direct. Radical. For others, their path is a winding one with switchbacks and setbacks. No matter where you are in coping with your grief…get on the path to healing.
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on His law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
- Psalm 1:1-3
What will be the length of your grief season? What will be the fruit of it? As you go through this season of grief, stay planted.
The truth about the 5 stages of grief, while not being overtly biblical, is there may be some merit to them. But more importantly, there is a way to bypass these natural reactions to suffering. You can find yourself moving through your season of grief like a whirlwind and come to a place of peace!
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
- Psalm 34:18
God wants to meet you in your grief. We have a loving Father who gave us His Son Jesus who continuously showed compassion for the hurting during His time on earth. God the Father also sent us the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter (John 14:26). Yes, God will grieve with you, God will work in your grief, God will bring you out of the grief…in due season. We live in a world that says hard things are to be passed over as quickly as possible or avoided completely. However, grief can also be a blessing as it can bring wisdom (Ecclesiastes 7:4). God has a better way.
Thankfully, as Christians we do not have to grieve like others in this world. Our faith in Jesus Christ can give us a hope like no other. We have been born again into a living hope (1 Peter 1:3-9) and our trials are nothing in comparison to what lays ahead for us in heaven.
What we are suffering now is nothing compared with our future glory
- Romans 8:18
Above all else, meditate on these biblical truths and verses. While you may be in a season of grief, cling to your eternal hope. Let God meet you in your place of suffering, bring you supernatural comfort, and bless you. You just may receive things you never could have gained otherwise. No matter if you’re in one of the “5 stages of grief” or in a season of grief, know that God loves you and will be with you and bring you to a place of rest and peace.
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