THE GRIEVING PROCESS

Scripture Reading: Genesis 50:1-14

“Then Joseph fell on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him.” (Genesis 50:1)

Joseph and his brothers were at their father’s side when Jacob died. Our passage today describes Joseph’s response to his father’s death. Joseph grieved — “Joseph fell on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him.” Then he entered upon a formal period of 70 days of mourning as was customary in Egypt (v. 3). In addition Joseph observed 7 days of mourning when the family came to Canaan (v. 10).

Grief is the healthy and normal response to the death of a loved one. It is important to grieve well. Christian grief is different from non-Christian grief. We do not grieve as those who have no hope — “But we do not want you to be be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as those who have no hope” (I Thessalonians 4:13). We know that our loved ones who die in the Lord are immediately taken into heaven. They go into the glorious presence of Christ.

Joseph rendered service to his father’s memory. He had Jacob’s body embalmed and then there was a funeral procession (vs. 7,9). Joseph buried his father according to his father’s wishes (vs. 12,13). Then Joseph returned to the normal actives of his life (v. 14). When we lose a loved one, there is a time to reminisce, a time to talk about the memories one has. Having closure is very important when we lose someone we love.

There is a grieving process. James Montgomery Boice in his commentary on Genesis explained this process. First, there is a state of shock. During this stage there are conflicting emotions — fear, anger, guilt, bewilderment. In the healthy grieving process these feelings will pass and one’s emotions will settle down.

Second, there is numbness, in which nothing seems quite real and the person who is grieving withdraws. In this stage a person is aware of what is happening, but is detached. The numbness is like a wound healing.

Third, there is renewed activity, an attempt to get back to normalcy. In this stage the threads of life are again picked up, and the work that had been interrupted goes on.

Finally, there is adaptation. It is evident at this point that life will not be the same as it was formerly, but there is an acceptance and recognition that there are still good experiences ahead. One chapter is closed and a new one begins.

It is important to grieve well. Some have a difficult time working through the grief process. However, believers can come through this process and can find an even greater peace through the awareness of the presence of God in their lives. Healthy grief leads us to a greater dependency upon the love and comfort of our Savior. He alone can bring healing to our broken hearts.

Lord Jesus, You are the healer of broken hearts. You bring us peace in our times of loss. You comfort us with Your loving presence. When we lose loved ones, we do not grieve as those who have no hope, for our hope is sure and steadfast because it is founded on Your resurrection.

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