When our sense of safety is rocked by loss, our lives change. The things we took for granted may no longer be the same. And with each change, we might experience grief. Grief is a powerful emotion that needs to be processed or we can become emotionally stuck.

When you experience loss, identify it and begin the grieving process. During that process, be careful not to minimize your feelings. For example, it’s OK to grieve the loss of your pet. No, it is not as serious as a person dying, but it is a significant loss for most people. During grief, allow full expression of emotions that may come and go. Regulate those feelings but don’t hide or suppress them. For some, writing down feelings can help. Others need to talk out feelings of grief.

Grieving involves letting go of what we can’t control. And this is no easy process. It involves cycling through stages of grief. First, we may deny that anything has changed. Once we move into the reality of the loss, we may become angry and upset that things have changed. This gives way to bargaining and sadness until we finally reach acceptance. This cycle is not linear. The stages can come and go and resurface at unexpected times.

Perhaps the most important aspect of grief is to find a way to make meaning out of loss. A new sense of purpose can emerge when you pick up the pieces to move forward after loss. You often discover what is important in your life. Hopefully, you develop patience, compassion, and empathy for others. And in the suffering that accompanies loss, you can grow deeper in your relationship with God. However, if you turn away from God during times of loss, you can grow bitter and disillusioned.

While none of us ever wants to welcome loss, we do need to embrace it. It will be a part of our lives this side of heaven. However, the way we respond to loss can make us stronger and more resilient.

Thankfully, as we move through the emotions of loss, we eventually heal. We hurt less, even though loss remains. During healing, it helps to remember good times-those family vacations, birthdays and celebrations, the funny conversations around the dinner table…allow those memories to surface. Sharing grief is how we heal.

Despite loss, we hang on to hope. 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.” And we will once again see those we love. Our tears will be gone, and our grief will cease. Until that time, feel the loss and don’t lose hope for a better day.