Losing a loved one to death is an incredibly and uniquely painful experience. Everyone will grieve differently and learn to process through their emotions and sense of loss differently. If you've experienced the death of a family member or friend, you may be familiar with the depths of grief and the places it can take you. I lost my mom to heart disease some time ago, and I may be learning to heal from that loss for the rest of my life.
After a loved one dies, it can be hard to keep going or to see anything the way you used to. You may experience times of anger, depression, guilt, or regrets. These are all normal stages of processing grief and nothing to be ashamed of. Jesus offers comfort and peace in all circumstances, including after the passing of a loved one. Allowing yourself to experience your grief rather than suppressing it is a healthy direction toward healing your heart.
Jesus understands the pain of losing a loved one to death. The Bible tells the story about how one of Jesus’ close friends, Lazarus, died (John 11:1-44). Even knowing He would bring His friend back to life, Jesus took time to weep and grieve the death of Lazarus (John 11:35). This shows us that it's OK to feel intense sorrow, to cry, and to feel pain over the death of someone we love. Jesus' actions also prove that He understands the pain of grief and of being a human in pain (2 Corinthians 5:1–5; Isaiah 53:3).
Even if we have assurance that our loved one is in Heaven with our Creator, we are still allowed to grieve. Following Christ's example means allowing those emotions to go through us. God is there to comfort us when we miss our loved ones because He cares about us deeply (1 Peter 5:7). God never wanted death for humanity. Death is a result of the curse of sin affecting the whole world (Genesis 3:19).
Jesus offers comfort and peace in the midst of death by showing us that He has defeated spiritual death (Revelation 1:8). In John 11:25, Jesus tells us that He is the "resurrection and the life" (John 11:25). He teaches that "everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die" (John 11:26). The grave could not keep its hold on Jesus and for those who believe in His truth, death is only the beginning of an eternity with God (John 3:16-17; John 10:28; Romans 6:23). From that point on, there will be no more death, pain, or mourning (Revelation 21:4).
When we lose a loved one who did not accept Jesus, this can feel like an even more crushing despair. While we may find comfort in knowing that we will be reunited again with our Christ-following friends and family, we will not see those who have gone to the grave in rejection of God ever again. This can be an agonizing pain to endure, especially if we have extended the truth of God's grace to that person many times. The fact is that each person is ultimately responsible for their own decisions.
When we lose a loved one for whom we are unsure of their standing with God, we can be assured that God is faithful and just and will do what is right by every single person (Genesis 18:25). When we see the Lord one day ourselves, any sorrow we feel in this life will disappear. John 16:22 tells us, "You now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you."
This kind of joyful state is hard to wrap our minds around, but we can trust that "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
Something you can do when you're missing a loved one is to remember all the good times you shared with them. Remember all the laughs, hugs, fun times, and good memories. When I’m missing my mom, I think about the way her eyes would light up when she laughed at something funny I'd said. Recalling those moments and honoring their memory can bring great comfort. They may bring tears too, but that's OK. Tears are a part of the grieving process.
Talking about our loved ones with others can also help us work through those feelings. Sharing memories with those who knew them can help us feel less alone. Crying together, making art, looking through pictures, or reliving the activities and experiences we shared with our loved one can also be extremely cathartic.
Going to a graveside or a specific spot to "talk" to our loved one is not wrong. Be aware that the dead do not hear prayers but voicing what we wish we could say can be a helpful mental health exercise.
Grief can take a toll on us physically as well, so it's important to make sure that we are eating, sleeping, and practicing regular hygiene. Seek counseling if thoughts start getting unhealthy or otherwise harmful. Check in with those who care about you regularly.
Talk to God about your grief, your regrets, and whatever feelings you're experiencing (Matthew 5:4). 1 Peter 5:6-7 tells us to "humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."
God is our ultimate comforter who helps those in mourning and emotional distress (2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Psalm 55:22; Psalm 23). He is always there for you, and He loves to hear from you. God knows exactly what you are going through, and His arms are wide open for you.
Losing a loved one to death is an incredibly and uniquely painful experience. Jesus understands the pain of losing a loved one to death. One of Jesus’ close friends, Lazarus, died (John 11:1-44), and Jesus wept and grieved—even knowing He would bring His friend back to life (John 11:35). So it's OK to feel intense sorrow, to cry, and to feel pain over the death of someone we love. Jesus' actions prove that He understands the pain of grief (2 Corinthians 5:1–5; Isaiah 53:3). Take care of your physical and mental health during this time of grief. Talk to others who remember your loved one and bring your sorrows to God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Psalm 55:22; Psalm 23). He knows exactly what you are going through, and His arms are wide open.
Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.
Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two teenage kids, five socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.