Monday, March 10, 2008

Dealing with Bereavement

Anastasia posts the following, which I'm shamelessly quoting in its entirety. Excellent Christian counsel on mourning.

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13)

My dear Demetrios has pointed out to me that there is a right way to deal with sorrow, and there are some wrong ways.

Wrong way: try to forget it. Distract yourself. Keep busy. Put the deceased out of your mind and hope that eventually you won’t think about the person any more. Of course, this doesn’t work, and would be brutally inhuman if it did.

Another wrong way: Try to console and content yourself with happy memories. But Christ did not die so that we might have memories. It’s the person we want! Not memories. (This point also has important implications for the Mystical Supper; it’s Christ Himself we want, the Person, not merely memories!)

Another wrong way: Be a stoic. Numb yourself to it. Nature does this for us at first; that’s why, for a time, we say, “It hasn’t hit me yet,” or, “It doesn’t seem real.” We are unable, immediately, to respond with appropriate emotions. But the numbness, the sense of unreality, is supposed to wear off shortly. Eventually, as we gain the inner strength, we need to face the issue head-on and let ourselves have those emotions. Otherwise, we harm ourselves.

The right way, for a Christian, is to understand that we still do have the loved one, even in that person’s repose. It’s as if he were in another room, with the door closed, but he is still there. Love is stronger than death. We still love him and he still loves us. And as the Holy Spirit indwells us here on earth, how much more does He fill those of us in heaven, through Whom we all have sweet communion. We not only still have our loved one, but also have him more securely than before, because now he is sealed. He will be the Lord’s forever, with no more possibility of falling away; and he will be ours forever, with no more possibility of our becoming estranged or drifting apart. Now, on his side, at least, there is no more barrier to perfect communication.

The Christian way to deal with death, whether one’s own or that of one we love, is to remember that Christ has conquered death on behalf of everyone.

"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the last day upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." (Job 19:25-16)

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die." (John 11:26)

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. (I Corinthians 15 :3-8)

Anastasia Theodoridis, Kyrie Eleison)


  1. Anastasia Theodoridis said...

    Thank you, Pr. Hall, for reprinting this. I hope it may help others in my position.