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7 Reactions to Grief Which May Surprise You

7 Reactions to Grief Which May Surprise You

Over the years, I’ve walked with dozens of people through the stages of grief. Grieving is mostly associated with loss—it could be the loss of a job, a relationship or even a life. Whenever we lose something we value, we grieve. It’s natural, healthy and expected.

I have learned no two people grieve exactly the same way. For me, for example, I’m often a delayed griever. I may not even cry at the immediate loss of a loved one, but in the days to come—as I process the loss—tears may flow at seemingly random times.

There are no rules of how to grieve. The only encouragement I give is to grieve with an end in mind. Grief should ultimately lead us to a deeper trust in God as we seek Him for comfort in our grief. But, the way you grieve will be different than the way I grieve.

I’ve also discovered there are reactions to grief which often surprise people about themselves. I’ve spoken with parents who see their children experience significant grief for the first time—and they are surprised by their actions. We really don’t know how we will respond in grief until we are placed in the position of deep sorrow. This is especially true the younger people are and the less experience they have with grief.

And, there are certain reactions to grief that we simply don’t expect. Everyone expects sadness, for example. But, some of the other emotions may catch us by surprise. That’s what this post is about.

Here are seven parts of grief we don’t always expect:

Regret. You wish you had spent more time with the people you lost. Or had done things differently when the business fails. You think of things you should’ve said that you didn’t say.

At some point you must reconcile the regrets with truth. Time has past. There is nothing you can do to go back in time. Back to the Future was a movie, not reality, which is why Cher sang, “If I could turn back time.” One of my lifetime and favorite verses is Ecclesiastes 11:3, “Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there it will lie.” The past is the past. How are you going to be in the future? There’s a valid question to work toward in grief.

Anger. At God. At other people—even unrational anger. Even at the person you lost.

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Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.