Dan Trathen DMin, PhD Clinical Psychologist & Certified Business & Life Coach

Grief in a Still Frame

By Daniel W. Trathen, D. Min. Ph. D.

The Christmas season can be a tough time of year for many. There are not many of us, who have been personally affected by losing a loved one, who can’t remember exactly where we were when we got the news that a famous person or a loved one had passed away. The still framed picture is etched in my mind where I was when I received the shocking news that each of my parents and in-laws had died. I have been with many people in the hospital or in their home when loved ones were edging toward the next life, but I was caught off guard by the slow motion “fog” I felt when I got the difficult news. I knew that it was normal, but I am not so sure I was ready for the journey that I began that day. As much of a help as my ministry and psychological training and experience had been, I did not remember focusing on the “Five Stages of Grief” made famous by Kubler-Ross. I found myself examining my own life and calling out to the God I have known and loved as He carried me through that unexpected journey. I could not have always described Him carrying me, however, as I looked back on the intense emotional pain and “fog”, I recall just going through the motions and emotions of life, ministry, and family. It was because of the grace of God that I was lovingly picked up and carried until I was able to walk again. In fact, some days, I recall walking and being carried in the same day. It is difficult to know what to do when we are in such intense pain and loss. God tends to pick us up and carry us in His everlasting arms. If you are struggling with feelings of sadness from a significant loss of a person you loved this time of year, I offer these verses from God’s word for you to read, meditate on, and wipe your tears with.

(Ps. 23:4,6;116:15; Prov. 3:21-26; 14:32; Is. 25:8; Lam. 3:32,33; Ro.14:8; I Cor. 15:54-58; II Cor. 5:1; Phil. 1:21-23; I Thess. 5:9,10; II Tim. 4:7,8; Heb. 2:14, 15; 9:27; Rev. 21:4).

It has been several years since I lost my parents and in-laws. I think of them often and we display their pictures in our home for our memories and those of our adult children and grandchildren. I was looking at our Christmas tree the other day and my memory was renewed by seeing ornaments my family had on their tree when I was a child. The memory took me back to those times for a moment. I distinctly remember the “picture” of where I was and how I felt, but now it is only one picture in an album of our life together. An album that I review from time to time with happy, fun, and sad feelings, however, God is also in my album and the picture I have of Him tenderly carrying me brings great comfort as it strengthens my faith. I look at all the picture when I pick up this family album these days, but I stop to linger and give thanks when I see the “still framed” one where God is carrying the broken hearted. May God comfort each of you who have lost a loved one this year and in years past. As you look at your Christmas tree, family albums or photographs may His presence surround you, wipe away your tears and carry you through this Christmas season.

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