3 Invaluable Books For Christians Who are Grieving
Ten years ago this month my life changed forever when my mother and father were hit by a drunk driver. My mother was killed instantly and my father ended up spending three months in the hospital. My parents had come to visit me in Flagstaff and on their drive home they were hit by a man that not only was drunk, but according to police reports was possibly trying to commit suicide.
In the coming hours, weeks, and months I experienced shock, disbelief, grief, rage, guilt, sorrow and depression. During the first year I cried at least once daily.
I was very blessed to have a close relationship with my mom. We spoke on the phone almost daily, if not more than once a day. I got more in twenty-eight years than some people get in a lifetime. She was the quintessential Proverbs 31 Woman. My mother always put God first. She desired to follow His will. My father, my sisters and I were extremely blessed to have a woman in our lives that put us before herself. She worked hard to keep our family and herself nourished and healthy. When my sisters and I grew older she returned to the workforce to be a reading disability teacher. She worked hard to take care of her students while making sure her home and her family were well taken care of. Truthfully, we did not realize how blessed we were.
On the night of the accident, from the moment my sisters and I arrived at the hospital my dad was in, we were very blessed to be surrounded by amazing friends and family. Even so I felt quite alone. It was an extremely difficult time but it has made me stronger in so many ways.
Grief can be experienced for a multitude of reasons and in many different ways. Death, divorce, change, or injury can cause one to mourn. The way one person grieves may not be the same way as another person…but it is important to grieve. In the weeks after my mother’s death I stumbled upon and was given books that helped me through the grieving process. If you are grieving or know somebody that is grieving, I hope the following books can be of help.
3 Books to Help with Grieving
I remember the week after my mother passed away I was sitting on the floor of a Barnes and Noble. The funeral was over, so friends and family were starting to return to their homes and for the first time I found myself completely alone, not knowing what to do.
I was sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Christian book section looking for an answer or some comfort. As I sat there feeling lost, a woman, that had been my mother’s friend and one of my youth group leaders, walked up. She had lost her mother at an early age as well and was looking for a particular book for myself and my sisters. A Grace Disguised was that book.
A Grace Disguised is the story of how, in one tragic moment, Jerry Sittser lost his wife, his mother, and one of his daughters in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. Jerry Sittser and two other children survived the crash. In this book he writes of struggling with his feelings, faith and emotions while trying to care for his other children. He writes about his realization that he alone had the “power to choose the direction my life would head” and that he would face the darkness that tragedy had brought because he believed that if the darkness was avoided an even worse darkness would arise in the future. He also contemplated the matter of forgiveness and letting go to allow God to deal with punishing wrongdoers even while wrongdoers need to be held accountable for their actions.
I found this book in an airport bookstore on my way home to Flagstaff after my mother’s funeral. I have a tendency to find solace in books. I remember looking around wondering how people were walking around living their lives without a care in the world, when I was just trying to hold it together from one moment to the next.
Cindi McMenamin wrote When Women Walk Alone for women of all walks of life that are struggling with loneliness or solitude. Single and married women can both feel alone depending on the circumstances. McMenamin suggests, and I completely agree, that times of loneliness and solitude are invitations from God to draw closer to Him.
The day that I was at the airport I also found The Power of a Praying Woman by
Stormie Omartian. The book is organized into thirty topics of prayer, including Lord,
Comfort Me in Times of Trouble and Lord, Set Me Free from Negative Emotions. The author includes pertinent scriptures and stories from her own life to help the reader develop a deeper relationship with God and understand His plans and purposes. She also presents prayer as a source of comfort, help, and strength in our daily lives.
In the prayer for troubled times, Omartian explains four possible reasons why we experience difficult times: so God’s power and glory can be revealed through us, to purify us, as a discipline, and sometimes we are just caught in the middle of the enemy’s work.
After my parents’ accident, I began to experience anxiety for the first time in my life. I also experienced anger towards the man who killed my mother, even though he also died in the accident. Where was justice, I would ask myself. I even experienced fear.
Death had attacked my family, and I suddenly felt Death lurking in the shadows.
Invisible but present. In the prayer for dealing with negative emotions, Omartian shares seven ways to not allow negative emotions rule you.
1. Refusing to be anxious.
2. Refusing to allow anger to rule you.
3. Refusing to be dissatisfied.
4. Refusing to allow envy control you.
5. Refusing to be depressed.
6. Refusing to be bitter.
7. Refusing to be hopeless.
How To Overcome Grief
At some point in time every person will experience some degree of grief or sorrow. In the Bible it says there is a time and a place for everything.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 KJV
The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. There is no particular order or time period that a person might experience each stage of grief and can return to a stage already experienced at any time. Grieving can last days or can last months and years. Holidays and special occasions can quickly cause a person to grieve again even if years have passed in normalcy. Christians have a hope that there is life after death and that sorrow and grief are temporary.
And 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.
Revelations 21:4 KJV
And because of our hope in the midst of sorrow our testimony can help others that are grieving.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NASB
There are days are harder than others. She would have gone crazy when it was time to plan my wedding. Often I look at my children and think that my mom would have loved them so much. She was such a wonderful Grandma to my nieces and nephews and I wish my children would have gotten the chance to meet her. Yet I know she is in heaven and I will see her again.
More Information about Grief
Are you or someone you know struggling with grief? Here are a few links with more information about overcoming grief.