In this broken world in which we live, bad things happen that are out of our control. While we don’t like to think about loss, we do need to know how to cope with it when it happens. In the past few weeks, I know several people who experienced sudden loss. Loved ones who died unexpectedly, job loss, property loss and devastating family news.

Sudden loss is different than expected loss in several ways. There is no time to prepare for the unexpected. The last interaction you had with a person may not be positive, leaving you with guilt and regret. At times, sudden loss can hit you when you are alone, away from a support person or group making it harder to cope. Because it is unexpected, there are more questions, and the shock may last longer. Finally, sudden loss can be tragic, making it difficult to recover.

To move through sudden loss:

Acknowledge your feelings. Don’t pretend that because you are a Christian you don’t feel the pain. People express grief in different ways…some cry, get angry, feel nothing at all, some even smile. Sudden loss just feels unfair. So, anger does well up and you may blame anyone around you –it’s often not logical, but the anger is protective of the sadness that you can’t bear constantly.

Embrace the pain. The Lord grieved the death of his friend Lazarus even though he knew he would see him again. Jesus wept. He embraced the pain.

Allow the pain to turn you towards God, not away from Him. Don’t turn to substances, or other unhealthy distractions. God allowed Job to cry out in pain and even blame him for a world His creation messed up. As Philip Yancey points out, God was not on trial in the book of Job, Job was on trial for his faith. Keep the faith despite the pain. Job 1:21 says, “…the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” He trusted God no matter what came his way. Faith is what we don’t see. God can take our pain and transforms it for His glory.

Keep your routine as much as possible. It does help to try and keep a sense of normalcy as much as possible. Go about your routine, but if you can’t at first, don’t pressure yourself. Take your time, but try to work back to a routine. Bathe, change your clothes, comb your hair, and get out of bed.

Join a grief group if you need help: Some people may benefit from a grief group like the onesGrief Share offered in many churches. Grief Share is a Christ centered, video-based support program. It helps to share your journey with others who have experienced loss as well.  You won’t feel so alone in your grief.

Remember: Psalms 30:5 tells us, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” Eventually, the intense pain will relent. Also, we have the hope of seeing our loved ones again. Until then, Revelation 21:4 reminds us that one day, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Coping with sudden loss

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