When a loved one dies, we suffer at the deepest emotional level. The shock of our loved one no longer being present with us reminds us of our own mortality. When we grieve we do not grieve for our loved one – we grieve for ourselves. We grieve because we are reminded of how short life is; how fragile our bodies are; and how important other people are in our lives. Unfortunately, many of us wait far too long to understand the great depth of this importance.
In order to avoid despair and regain hope many attempt to find solace in religion. Their hope is that one day they might see their loved one again. However, this is neither biblical nor healthy. Using religion in this manner simply covers up the grief, and doesn’t deal with it. As humans, it is necessary to express our grief and come to terms with our mortality.
Grief is a necessary human reaction that allows us to make sense of the trauma we experience in the death of a loved one. I see far too many Christians who fail to grieve properly because of some faulty belief. When we refuse to grieve we are refusing to be honest with ourselves.
Many Christians do not know how to grieve. They confuse grief with despair and they think if they grieve, then they are denying hope. The Christian often views death as freedom for the human spirit to reside in a “better place”. Many Christians feel as though they should “celebrate” instead of “grieve”. However, these are two completely different things. The celebration is not for the living, but the dead. Grief is for the living. If you feel the need to celebrate, you should first express your grief.
Many Christians have a heavencentric mentality toward life. It’s the idea that everything on earth is bad and we look forward to escaping this reality for the next. Ultimately, this is a result of bad theology created by a misunderstanding of what it means to be “in the world not of it” and our western understanding of “salvation”.
I would like to suggest that it is unbiblical to NOT grieve. Death is natural insofar as it is the inevitable result of human fragility. We were not created for death, but for life. We were not created to leave this earth, but to inhabit it.