Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”
God has a purpose and a plan for everything that enters into the life of a believer. He also has a timetable for His plan to be accomplished. We just need to get on God’s time schedule during our times of pain.
Knowing that God has a plan and a timetable doesn’t make our pain go away. There is no set expiration date on grief; it is different for everyone. People try to establish a time limit on sorrow, a year or two, however, we cannot set an artificial timetable on a person’s grief.
Everyone is different. We grieve differently and for different amounts of time. Pain will diminish with time, but it never goes away completely. We should not ever rush through grief. Sabrina Black is quoted in the book, Grieving with Hope: Our society says, “You should be over that. That was two weeks ago; that was two months ago.” The tendency is to put on a mask and pretend you’re okay. But, you have to be honest with people and let them know this is not helping. You need to say, “This is what I feel. I need to experience this. I’m planning to get to the other side of it, but I’m not there yet.”
Grief comes upon a person like a wave on the seashore. When it happens, there is nothing you can do to stop it. It will come upon you at the weirdest times and circumstances, most times when you don’t expect it.
Then there are the times that you can see the storms of grief on the horizon, such as holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions that you know will be hard to get through. The first year you handle them the best you can. Thanksgiving was only a month and a half after our son, Johnny passed away. It is always a big holiday for us as a family. That year we just went to a restaurant. Joann didn’t want to cook and be happy at home, so we adjusted to the grief we were all feeling.
The “firsts” are very hard to get through; however, it is very common for the second time through a special occasion to be worse than the first. This is because you are not in shock anymore; you are anticipating the event. The memory of your lost loved one, coupled with the anticipation of the grief you felt the last year, makes the pain feel deeper.
As a compassionate shepherd, try to be aware of those that are without a loved one over holidays. Send a card or make a call, letting them know that you recognize they are hurting at that time. You have no idea what an encouragement that can be.
Counseling others through times of grief is a very emotional work, but the shepherd is expected to be up to the task. Remember, we won’t have any magic words to take away someone’s pain but, being in a place to bring comfort is invaluable.
If you are grieving, take the time you need to grieve. If you want to be a help to someone that is hurting, take the time to be there for them. Time is a valuable commodity, use it to the glory of God.
The above is an excerpt from the book I wrote, “The Compassionate Shepherd” available on Amazon. The Compassionate Shepherd