Chapter 02 – The Effect of Bereavement
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Let’s look at this word bereavement now. I understand that the original word means something like to tear apart. Bereavement is not just the loss of a loved one. If that is all it was, most of us would get over it easily with time.
Bereavement in fact goes a lot further than that. I am speaking now about losing somebody who is close to you and who is part of your life.
The Pictures Fall Apart
All of us have these pictures of the future in our minds. As you sit right now and you look into the future, what do you see? You see yourself perhaps doing things or going somewhere.
A lot of us don’t do much planning, but we have pictures in our minds of the road that lies ahead. We have kind of got it sorted out and we think,
“If this happens I will probably do that. If that happens I will probably do that.”
So you have kind of planned for some eventualities in your life. But the one thing you didn’t plan for was that person not being there.
Every one of those pictures that you built included that person. For every slide in your mind, there they are right in the middle. You look through photos and think,
“Here we are on holiday.”
There is the slide right in the middle.
“Here we are starting a business.”
There it is, right in the middle. Whatever it was that you were planning on doing, that person is in the picture. Now suddenly it is as though a hand reached in and ripped them out of the picture.
Now you have chaos. Every one of your pictures is corrupted. You can’t sit and meditate about the future and say,
“I can see us doing this.”
Because you see there is no us doing that. We can scratch that picture.
You might say, “I could see us doing that before but now I can’t.”
All of those pictures collapse like a pile of dirt at your feet.
That is what makes bereavement so devastating. It’s not just the fact that you lost someone that you loved and who was close to you. It’s the fact that that person was an integral part of your whole life. They have been snatched out of the picture and your whole life starts to come apart.
You go into a state of total confusion. You have no future anymore and you don’t know what you are going to do. You can’t do any of the plans that you made anymore because they are no longer applicable.
That is bereavement. When a person goes through extreme grief, their life is literally falling apart. It’s like all the pictures have fallen on the ground. And now they have to try and pick them up and put them back together like a complex jigsaw puzzle.
They don’t know how to do it because they weren’t prepared for this. Can you see it? If you have been through a bereavement you know what I am talking about.
Depression Kicks In
One of the biggest effects of losing your goals is depression. Get ready to counsel someone who is in grief for depression. We have taught on how to deal with depression. If you can’t remember go back and look at it, because you are going to face people who are depressed.
They are depressed because they don’t know what they should do. They are confused, and it is like everything inside starts coming out.
I want to tell you that it is not going to be pretty, because what is going to come out sometimes is ugly stuff. You are going to have inbuilt, pent up emotions that begin to explode.
People swing the pendulum from pillar to post. They get angry and they spew. They weep and fall apart. Sometimes they show all the ugly things inside that they could control before.
Here you are, the nice pastor trying to help your member who is facing this grief and they start spewing at you. Get ready to handle it and don’t take it personally.
Their life is coming apart and they are trying to hold onto the few pieces that are left. Don’t condemn them for it or let your feelings get hurt. You might do the same if you are in that situation.
So there are all these mixed emotions in the person, and sometimes there are also unresolved feelings. Anger is of course one of the biggest emotions and they might say,
“Why did he have to go and die on me? He’s left me in a mess. I hate him!”
You might say, “I thought you loved him.”
Yes she did love him. But she is going to miss him severely, and she is angry with him for going and dying. It can happen. People do that.
Sometimes there are unresolved conflicts. Sometimes there was a fight or some conflict before the person died. Now that person is gone and it can’t be resolved because they are not here anymore.
You will have to know how to deal with anger. That is why I gave a teaching called Hurts, Anger and Bitterness. It is a bit more complicated when the person is angry with someone who is dead.
You can however deal with it. I have taught how to forgive someone who is dead and let it go. You might have to take them through that process, but we will get to that shortly.
There are often regrets where you think,
“I wish I had told them this. I also wish I had done that while they were still alive.”
You might say, “I wish I had been kinder and more considerate. I’m so sorry that I didn’t realize how important that person was in my life.”
Or, “I wish I had said that. If only I had just five more minutes to tell that person what is really on my heart and that I wanted to say. Now I can’t do it because they are gone.”
They feel a crying and yearning within that can’t be resolved.
You had better know how to help the person through this, because all of these things are welling up inside of them and tearing them apart.
There may be fear. If someone close to you dies you start listening to your own heart. You start wondering if that pain that you had wasn’t something more serious.
You begin to panic. You start to worry about the future and think,
“What am I going to do? I don’t have that income coming in anymore. How am I going to handle this?”
The person has fear and worry. And you better know how to counsel people in fear and worry if you have a bereaved person on your hands, because all of that is going to be there.
You as a counselor must tie up the loose ends. You must help the person to resolve every one of those things or they could go on for years. It can affect their spiritual life and their future life and just make their life miserable.
Take it to the Lord
The first thing you have to do then is to help them to bring it to the Lord. Don’t try and solve it yourself. Just take it to the Lord.
He’s the one who cares. He knew what was going to happen ahead of time, and He has already made a plan to help you through this.
So in addition to counseling them on things like fear, worry, depression, hurts, anger and bitterness, you may have to take them through a process of confessing some of the things they feel guilty about.
Especially when you have unresolved guilt towards somebody else, you can no longer tell them,
“I am sorry. Please forgive me.”
You will have to resolve it on one side alone. But you are going to have to express it and put it to sleep. How can you do that because the person is dead?
I have shared on inner healing, how you can go back to past memories, past hurts and failures. You can then speak to the person in your memory.
Be very careful with this. We are not to communicate with the dead.
Do not encourage the person to talk to the person who died because they can’t hear you. They are hopefully with the Lord now. We are assuming that they were a believer.
If they weren’t a believer that brings other complications. But for now let’s assume they were a believer. We will look at that shortly.
So if there were hurts from the past, go back and revisit the past and speak to that memory as I have taught. You can stand before that person and say,
“I forgive you for what you did to me.”
Then let it go and resolve that side.
Resolving Conflicts and Memories
However perhaps you are in a situation where you think,
“I would like to know what their response would have been. I wish I could just speak to them right now.”
There is a way to do that. That person right now may be physically dead, but they are very much alive in the presence of Jesus. So here is the wisdom the Lord gave me with this.
I faced this first with Daphne, because she had gone through the experience where she didn’t have a chance to say to him some of the things she wanted to before he died.
A lot of things were taken out of her hands. It’s like the whole funeral and everything was almost done without her having any control over it whatsoever. That kind of left her in a place where she said,
“I wish I had a chance to do that. I wish I had a chance to say this to him before he died.”
And so as I counseled and prayed with her, the Lord said,
“Ask Jesus to give him the message.”
So I said to her,
“You just say now what you would love to have said to him. Then let’s ask Jesus to take that message to him in heaven where he is right now.”
That was amazing. As she spoke those words, the Lord gave me a vision. I saw her late husband standing with a whole bunch of people.
I believe he was always the life and soul of the party and was always chatting with everyone. So I saw him standing there in heaven chatting with everybody, and I saw Jesus come up to him and whisper in his ear.
As He did that, his face burst into a big smile. And as I shared that with Daphne it set her free completely.
You see the Lord can do amazing things. And sometimes just a little thing like that can take the heartache away from a person and liberate them in an amazing way.
As I said, don’t try and communicate with the dead. But you can speak to that person in a memory and then resolve it.
Dreams and Visions
The Lord can give you dreams and visions. I guess I didn’t really have anything negative with my dad. I always loved my dad and there were no real conflicts between us. But when my brother died, I did have a problem.
My elder brother and I were very closer. We were the first two to be born and we kind of grew up together. Then later on my younger brother and sister came along. So the two of us were kind of partners in crime and we had a closeness together.
But then he also went overseas. We lost touch and somehow we lost communication. A barrier came between us and we had some conflicts and squabbles. I said some things that I think probably hurt him and I never did resolve them.
However just before he died, he actually began to show an interest in my ministry. He was watching all the stuff that I was publishing and his heart was open. He said,
“I wish I could send you some money, but I have nothing myself.”
He had such a heart of gold, and somehow our relationship was coming back together. Then suddenly the one day his son found him dead, slumped over the computer. I suspect he was probably watching one of my videos when it happened.
I said, “Lord I never told him I was sorry.”
It just burned in me. So I gave it to the Lord and said,
“Lord, please tell him that.”
Then the Lord gave me a vision, and I saw him standing there smiling and he said,
“I forgive you.”
It is powerful stuff when you do this. Don’t deny this to your people when you are taking them through the process of grief and bereavement. There are always mixed emotions, there are always guilts, regrets and things that are eating them up.
Give them a chance to take it to the Lord, and let the Lord solve it and put it to sleep. Then once it is put to sleep it will never trouble them again.
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