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Unfortunately, it's something we're all likely to experience in this life: the loss of a loved one. It may yet be a future event for some of us, but when it occurs it can easily knock the props out from beneath us. Coming to terms with this absence—now made permanent in this world—of a beloved family member or friend is a process different for each of us. Grief and our individual expressions of it are unique and sometimes seem to be without end.

The good news is that the power of God is abundantly available to each of us when sorrow and anguish cloud our faith and weaken our trust. An upcoming booklet from Lutheran Hour Ministries, Grief: When Sadness and Hope Meet, will illustrate how through His Word, His Sacraments, and the fellowship of the church, God can step in and calm our quaking hearts.

Author Dr. Bruce Hartung, who lost his mother decades ago, knows there is no fixed time-table for the pain of losing a loved one to cease. "A few would wonder why I was still so affected, given so much time had passed. 'Time heals all wounds,' they would say. The inference I took from this kind of response was that perhaps there was something wrong with me from which I had not fully recovered. After all, why was I still feeling such a sharp sense of loss over the death of my mother more than 50 years ago?"

For his answer he turns to German theologian and Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote, "There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. ... It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve—even in pain—the authentic relationship. ... But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain."

Grappling with grief is best encountered as a joint process-one where committed family and friends are there to help the grieving individual through his or her ordeal. Even then one can get stuck in grief. Moving beyond this debilitating phase frequently requires becoming proactive in one's journey forward and taking charge of their thoughts. For instance, instead of reciting a litany of self-defeating jabs, the grieving person should seek to replace this internal monologue with more uplifting, edifying affirmations that acknowledge God is in control—even though the grief may still sting.

In the end the grief we experience over the death of a loved one is an emotional journey peculiar to each. There are no hard and fast rules for getting through such an ordeal, and as individuals we ride it out to the best of our ability. Regardless of the person's reaction, however, God is there in the middle of it, ever available to comfort and bring us through our suffering and tears. Though life has dealt us a terrible blow, we know His grace is sufficient, capable of healing even the heartache of our loved one's absence in this world.

Grief: When Sadness and Hope Meet will be available soon. Check for updates on the booklet's release.

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