Grief is the natural expression of loss in your life that creates a void. It is a painful, sorrowful emotion at the loss or impending loss of someone or something that has deep meaning for you.

We are all made up of three parts—mind, body, and soul. These parts are each unique and different, yet each part affects the other. While mind, body, and soul each have different function they each affect the other. Throughout the Psalms, King David shows the impact of grief on his whole person: “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.” (Psalm 31:9 ESV)

What does the Bible say about grief?

Grief is an emotion given by God. It is a way for us to express deep sorrow and pain at a loss. Throughout the Bible we see God’s people express this deep emotion. David expressed grief throughout the Psalms. Even the disciples were grieved when Jesus told them that he would be betrayed and killed.

“The disciples were filled with grief.” (Matthew 17:23)

In our broken world, grief is an emotion experienced by everyone at some point throughout their lives. In our grief God is near. He sees your pain, walks with you through it, and gives his purpose and presence to it.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

Characteristics of grief

Grieving is often an unpredictable process. It affects all aspects of your life—emotional, physical, mental, social, and spiritual life. Everyone grieves differently, but in order to heal everyone must walk through the process.

Grief can be engulfing, and it can feel like you are only treading water going nowhere. Grief can be characterized by feelings of isolation or feeling like you are just going through the emotions. You can feel resentful towards God and keeping asking why. Anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness are also feelings the accompany loss.

Every person is unique in how you process grief. It takes time for the healing to occur. Working through grief and the emotions that accompany it is not easy. It is most often the most difficult thing you will go through. God is with you during this season of sorrow to provide comfort in your pain and strength when the grief is overwhelming.

“My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” (Psalm 119:50)

The role of emotions

We all have a need for love, significance, and security. When we experience a loss, this causes one of these needs to be unmet, which causes grief. Life is full of losses. We all experience loss throughout our lives, but we don’t need to be controlled by them. When we experience grief, our hearts can get stuck in sadness. If we bury these emotions, we delay the healing process.

When you grieve you can experience sadness, numbness, shock, confusion, anger, or exhaustion. All of these feelings are normal for the grief process.

Working through grief and the emotions that accompany it involves connecting to the past, accepting your present, and adjusting to the future. Accepting unwanted loss may consume all your energy. Rather than trying to fit into someone else’s idea of what you should be feeling, focus on God through your season of sorrow.

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8)

Ministering to those struggling with grief

Grieving is a difficult process. Someone experiences a deep loss but also need to process all of the changes that accompany the loss. Working through these changes can extend and intensify the grief process. As well as all the emotions that accompany grief.

Helping someone through this process can build up, bring comfort, provide encouragement and hope. When comforting someone who just experienced a loss, communicate sympathy and support. Provide small acts of kindness to those who are struggling to handle the everyday responsibilities in addition to the emotional impact of the loss.

Renewed hope and healing can powerfully impact those experiencing pain and sorrow. Paul wrote that God is the “God of all comfort.” God does not comfort sparing but abundantly.

“Just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:5)