Stages of Grief

While degrees of emotion vary from person to person, grief almost always runs this course:

  1. Initial shock.
    1. The moment when the news first comes, either over the phone or in person.
      1. Sometimes this initial shock leaves the survivor stunned, numb to the huge surge of feelings rushing in all at once.
    2. A time of uncontrollable weeping.
      1. No matter how strained a relationship with a loved one may have been, after tragedy strikes we feel an overwhelming sense of lose.
      2. There is no opportunity to make everything right, to say one last good-bye.
      3. Tears flow like a river.
    3. A sense of guilt and regret.
      1. The survivor things, “If I had only done this or that, it wouldn’t have happened.”
        1. Self-blame sets in almost immediately.
      2. The Scriptures consistently teach that the days of our life are numbered, predetermined by God Himself. (Psalm 90:12; Job 14:5; Psalm 139:16-17)
    4. Feelings of anger toward God.
      1. “What have I done to deserve this? If God is really all-powerful, why did He permit this to happen to my loved one?”
        1. Such intense emotion emerges partly out of frustration, partly in defense of the deceased.
      2. Normally, such anger doesn’t last long.
        1. Scripture warns about anger. (Eph. 4:26-27)
      3. A spirit of defeatism.
        1. “I just can’t go on without him.”
        2. Many will go into an extended state of grief, withdrawing and cutting off almost all social contacts.
          1. Hopefully, this period is short, however.
        3. The period of healing.
          1. This is the period or admitting one’s loss and starting the journey of adjusting to it.
            1. As sudden and tragic as death always is, the survivor realizes the daily functions of life must go on.
          2. During this period larger changes must be made: the final disposition of the clothes and personal effects of the deceased, perhaps the sale of a house, possibly the move to another city or state.


If a reasonable period of time has passed and you are still in the depths of sorrow, remember that grief can teach us some very valuable lessons.

Robert Hamilton wrote:

I walked a mile with pleasure,

She chatted all the way,

But left me none the wiser,

For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with sorrow,

And ne’er a word said she;

But Oh, the things I learned from her

When sorrow walked with me.

While we learn little from bliss, we can learn much from sorrow.

What are some of the lessons to be learned from sorrow?

  1. Sorrow serves as a reminder of the brevity of life.
    1. Someone has rightly observed that life is a moment between two eternities, (James 4:14).
    2. Stacked against the spectrum of eternity, the few years we have here on earth are but a moment.
      1. We need to be reminded of that so we don’t become lax, but rather stay useful for God.