Grief: How to Respond Part IV

Greetings. Welcome to my post. My hope and desire is that you will find these posts to be informative and helpful for you. Life is a journey filled with mountains and valleys in our relational life and in our personal life. Sometimes we can predict and make something happen. But sometimes we can never predict an event or relationship difficulty and we need to adjust and cope with these curve balls. At times life can be great but as you know, life can also be difficult and challenging.

When we think of suffering, pain and grief, we also need to separate the difference between good and therapeutic suffering and pain and bad or destructive suffering and pain. The challenge and invitation is to know the difference between the two and to learn and discover the right type of healing to each one.

As a person of faith, we often hear in the church or religious world false information or feedback that maybe your bad suffering and pain is due to your own problem or maybe a God or some sort of higher spiritual power is trying to teach you a lesson. That somehow someone doing harm and pain to our life is to be interpreted as some type of a life lesson or that the pain you are feeling is due to your own fault or that people should look at the trial they are going through as part of the growth process and that they will feel better someday. In other words, bad suffering and pain is for their own good and they will be better for it someday.

For example, people often bring up the story of Job in the Bible or Hebrew text. Job was minding his own business, doing his own thing, and was experiencing growth and good things happening to him. But all of a sudden, bad pain and suffering came into his life. He was not sinning or doing anything wrong. He was an innocent man. Just like you and me, innocent people are exposed to bad things happening to them. Bad pain and suffering can be caused because of the brokenness in this world and we all are exposed to bad people out to do wrong things to us.

But Jobs friends all tried to explain his bad pain by stating he had a weak faith or lacked faith in God, and that his pain and suffering was due to some problem in his life. In other words, all his problems were based on something being wrong with his spiritual or religious state. Far too often we try to connect the dots, and come up with spiritual answers or false church explanations that sin or a weak faith is the reason why you are suffering. This type of answer or rationale only leads people thinking that they are at fault and life is trying to teach them a lesson.
But all this type of explanation is not good. When someone is diagnosed with cancer, or someone is robbed or rapped or they are in a car accident due to a drunk driver hitting them, this is not the time to diagnose or give a prescription for reasons why someone is going through something. Instead what all people need to know and experience is that someone is there for them. In other words, when bad pain and suffering hits a person, we need to give to him or her healing, support, love and comfort. We need to give strength and life support to those who are in real bad pain by helping each other through rough times. When we are hurting we need help.

So wrong suffering and bad pain needs to be cared for by love and empathy, not rationale explanations to try to figure out or give a reason why someone is going through a bad pain experience. This is not the time to say to a spouse, who has just lost their love one after ten years of marriage that God must have taken this person away from you because God needed him up in Heaven. This advice and feedback is adding more suffering and pain to a person’s life as bad pain and suffering must be because God or a higher power is out to teach them a lesson for their life. This is wrong advice and bad medicine to give to someone who is hurting. We all need to be careful regarding this type of answer or explanation to someone in pain.

So for you, what type of answers or help has helped you in your time of pain and suffering? What bad advice has someone told or given you in your time of pain that you wish they would not have told you?