My grandma just died over the Thanksgiving holiday. She was my last biological grandparent and 89 years old. Although my family could long foresee this coming due to her declining health, her death casts a new reality that will take time to adjust for many. Thankfully I was able to travel and visit her this past summer and say my “goodbye” to her then. Maybe I am still processing my emotions, but I currently do not feel like weeping. My feelings may reflect a healthy outlook as I know she proclaimed her love and faith in Jesus Christ as her Savior.
I am aware of how I feel in this moment. I also realize that others may feel differently about the same situation, so I must not project my emotions onto them. However, I think that it is possible to bring a healthy balance of grief and an “attitude of gratitude” into any difficult moment. In those many moments of loss (death, job, relationships, etc.), here is how to healthily join grief and thankfulness together:
- Realize it’s okay to grieve. Psalm 31:9 is a prayer to God noting the physical distress of grieving. This is a natural reaction God gave us (which I am learning for myself!) as part of a healthy process. So don’t try masking your healthy grief by pretending you are not sad in moments of sadness. Proverbs 14:13 warns that “even in laughter” the heart may be grieving! So be aware of how you (and others) are truly feeling.
- Quiet your inner rage. Grief and anger are two different feelings. Be discerning to not allow yourself to sin in anger just because you lost someone or something you loved. Proverbs 15:18 warns that a “hot-tempered man stirs up strife” but being calm quiets contention.
- Be still and know…your limits! Psalm 46:10 reminds us that we are not God, so we must trust in the One who is God. We can take hope and be grateful when we realize that situations are out of our control and in the capable hands of our Creator and Lord.
- There’s hope! First Thessalonians 4:13 proclaims that there is no grief for those of us who have a hope in Jesus. Good news for all of us who have lost fellow Christians here on earth as we know that we will be united again for all eternity. We can be grateful for the hope in Jesus, no matter the current woes!
- Blessings are gifts, not rights! I am not entitled to have a certain job, make a certain salary, have family near, or evade death. Instead, I do have the right to rejoice in all things as I know that God graciously gives good gifts (Matthew 7:11) and there is nothing to my merit which earns goodness or adds days to my life. The apostle Paul makes this clear from his dire dungeon when he writes, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
- “Attitude of gratitude” is infectious. With my wife’s help, I am learning to not be a curmudgeon when simple expectations don’t go the way I want them to happen. When I can express joy, I find my attitude is more selfless and grateful (not to mention my wife enjoys being around me more).
I think I am able to see the blessings my grandma was to our family, and how God worked throughout all circumstances. Ultimately I believe my grief can easily be subsided and healed by looking onward to the residual path of God-given blessings of His goodness. Thank you Jesus!
If you are interested in receiving clinical and biblical counseling, please contact myself or Tish Hedger at Emmaus Counseling.
Jesse is one of our Biblical Counselors at Emmaus Counseling. He received his Masters of Arts in Counseling from MBTS in 2014 and is a LPC in the state of Kansas. Jesse and his wife Julie have 3 children and have lived in Kansas City, Spain and Iowa.