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Grief and Bereavement

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"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Matthew 5:4

Crisis involved with loss of other human being is the intensive of all types of crises. This paper I will be talking mainly about grief through people loss, as it is something, which happens suddenly, and which can also lead into intense grief. In this paper I want to also talk about how we as a Christian and especially as a pastor will be able to cope with or help a person that is undergoing this grief situation. This is because many of the times when we see someone undergoing this kind of crisis of grief, we tend to ignore it or we try to take over the grief to ourselves. Worst of all this when we try to convince the person that is in this crisis that it is not there at all.

Grieving is an overall response to a number of different kinds of problems. Grief is not something that people is bound to experience but something that has consistently occurred in the lives of many. A loss may not necessarily initiate an experience of grief. But if there is an attachment emotionally to that loss then there might be grief. Grief is a part of human life.



What is Grief?

According to Webster's Dictionary Grief is mentioned as intense emotional suffering caused by loss, misfortune, injury or evils of any kind, sorrow, and regret. Grief is considered to be a normal response to loss of any significant thing or person. Grief brings about a lack of meaning in the life of the person he, or she feels empty and sadness fills in. There are two kinds of grief and these are Normal grief and Morbid grief.

Normal Grief

It is seen as when individuals or family members who have been deeply affected by a death or anticipated death, who are able to openly grieve with each other and accept help from others as they experience the various stages of the grief process. Some of the symptoms seen in this kind of grief, empty feelings, sighing deeply, lack of appetite, overeating out of tension, unable to sleep. Sometimes there is a struggle with the way one feels about his or her relationship with the Lord. Some of them feel like God is has gone away from them. Most of them have trouble rejoicing in the Lord. Sometimes they over spiritualise the loss and hold back the question of God's involvement in the loss.

Morbid Grief

This kind of grief takes place or happens to those individuals who experience loss at a much deeper level, and who display psychological and physical symptoms that, if unattended, could result in serious physical, emotional, and spiritual problems. This kind of grieve is the one which has to be looked most into. As this has greater danger of affecting the individual physically and emotionally. The symptoms of this kind of grief are as follows:

a. There is an inability to express emotions as in the normal grief. This causes to have still extreme feelings for the loss and those affected by it.

b. In addition to the symptoms of the normal grief, these kinds of individuals tend to show more pathological symptoms like: intense depression, anger and loneliness. When these kinds of people are not properly attended, they tend top have a number of other physical and mental problems, like asthma, heart problems, suicidal thoughts and attempts, and other illnesses.

c. In morbid grief, the person suffering has a serious struggle with his faith in God, often resulting in not attending the church anymore. Most of them change to becoming sinners; they find fascinations in cult practices to get in contact with the dead ones, etc.



The purpose of this chapter is to look at the relationship between the process of grieving and pastoral counselling. This understanding of the grief process is very important for a pastoral counsellor as he is responsible for both families and individuals. There are three phases of the grief cycle and they are as follows:

Phase 1: Shock and Denial

Switzer in his book, The Minister as crisis Counsellor; describes the shock as numbness. Switzer explains this phase with the help of the study which was done by C. Murray Parkes on twenty widows where he interviews them at the end of first, third, sixth, ninth and thirteenth months after the loss of their husbands. He found out that even after a year thirteen of the widows denied the death of their husbands, they had difficulty in believing the death.


The symptoms which follow this phase are the following, panic, initial denial, uncontrollable tears, screams, tightening in the chest, inability to calm down, pacing the floor etc. Religious person may tend to openly cry out to God for help. And others curse God or ask questions like, "where were you, God?" How could a loving God do this to us?" Etc.

Pastoral Approach

The pastoral counsellor who is dealing with this initial phase must be able to act in the sense of love and clear understanding of the situation. May be you want to move the grieving person or family to a different place, like a hospital, or to the church so that the griever can express his grief more openly and honestly without disturbance. Even when the griever is showing denial, the counsellor should make sure his availability to the person. The care and love of the pastoral counsellor by attending to the needs of the griever during this initial stage opens door for further help in the next phase.

Phase 2: Disorganisation and Despair

This middle phase of loss include emotions that result in depression and despair. During this stage the griever feels very little hope and he or she has a greater sense of separation.


In this phase one has to deal with a various kind of deep emotional feelings like: Anger - when the reality that there has been a loss sets in the mind of the griever, he or she tends to have deep cutting anger. Guilt - this is when the griever feels as if he or she has not done enough for the deceased. Bargaining - this is when the griever starts to temporarily denies



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