Living With Loss





Ten Steps

to Grief


Dear friend,

The booklet you hold in your hands is

one in a series designed to help you with

practical “hands-on” information in your

personal search for a better life and to

help those you care most about.

No matter who you are or where in life

you are looking for answers—whether it

be marriage, health, parenting, the loss

of a loved one, overcoming an addiction,

or working through stress or financial

problems—there is help available and

there is hope.

We trust this booklet and others in the

Peacefinders series will be a blessing

to you and your family as you journey

through each passage of life.

—The Publishers

Copyright © 2011

PROJECT: Steps to Christ, Inc.

302 Foster Road

Fort Covington, NY 12937

Printed in the USA

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.

Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson,Inc. Used by permission.

All rights reserved.

y Victor Parachin

“The first twelve months after Mary died

were the most difficult, frustrating

and frightening days of my life,” recalls

David. His wife died at 47 after a courageous

battle with cancer. “I had to adjust to being a widower,

a single parent, and learn to manage many

confusing and conflicting situations during that

first year.”

David’s experience is a common one for most

people who have a death in the family. The death

of a loved one signals changes—large and small

in the lives of survivors. A loss to death heightens

feelings of loneliness, vulnerability and anxiety.

The first twelve months following such a loss

are extremely chaotic. “In grief nothing ‘stays put.’

One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always

reoccurs. Round and round. Everything repeats.

Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a


spiral?” lamented British author C.S. Lewis during

the months following his beloved wife’s death.

Here are ten tips for dealing with loss

and experiencing grief recovery.


Begin by Believing You Will Get Better

Although the initial pain when someone

dies is intense and deep, people do adjust,

recover and move forward. Consider these comments

from psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers. In

her book, Positive Plus, she shares this memory after

her beloved husband, Milton, died: “I was convinced

that nothing would ever be right again, so

firmly convinced that I could have sworn on my

daughter’s head that life would never be worth living

again. But I was wrong. Little by little, almost

without my realizing it, life did get better. One day

I found myself laughing. It was as if I had walked

out of the shadows into the sunshine. A part of me

will always be missing. But I am happy again, and

a little wiser.”

It will help if you remind yourself that God

has created you to heal from wounds. Believe

and claim for yourself these assurances found in

Scripture: “He [the Lord] heals the brokenhearted

and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). “I will

… bind up the broken and strengthen what was

sick” (Ezekiel 34:16). “As one whom his mother

comforts, so I will comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13).



and Express Your Feelings

Bereavement will force many unfamiliar feelings

on you. Do not be afraid of them. Don’t

run away from them. Express and explore them

through journal writing, in a support group, or with

a counselor skilled in grief issues. Confronting and

challenging your feelings is the only way to manage

them. Denying or avoiding the pain only magnifies

it. “A suppressed grief chokes and seethes within,

multiplying its strength,” observed Ovid, the ancient

Roman poet.



with Others in

Similar Circumstances

“The people most able to give us encouragement

in facing such sorrows and fears, not surprisingly,

have been those who have been through

similar grief,” says one man grieving the loss of his

24-year-old daughter who was killed in an auto

accident. Try joining a support group. If there is

not one in your community, connect informally

with others who have had similar loss. That can be

done through telephone contact or conversations

in homes, parks or other places.



Avoid Alcohol, Drugs and Sedatives

Following a loss to death, physicians will

often give the bereaved prescriptions such

as sleeping pills to facilitate rest or tranquilizers

to reduce anxiety. While such doctors’ prescriptions

may provide some initial relief, those drugs

must not be taken to avoid grief entirely. “Do not

take drugs for your depression if you can possibly

get along without them,” writes Nancy O’Connor,

Ph.D., in her book Letting Go With Love: The

Grieving Process. “Like alcohol and tranquilizers,

they are a crutch. You will get through your

grief faster if you are fully aware.” Always avoid

alcohol and narcotic drugs to deal with the pain

of grief.



to the Right Friends

The common experience for all grievers is

acute loneliness. Someone greatly loved is

gone and a deep, painful void remains. Rabbi Earl

Grollman, a grief authority and author of What

Helped Me When My Loved One Died advises:

“Talk to a friend. Share your feelings. Let the right

people know that you need support and feedback.

They cannot bring you comfort unless you allow

them to enter your sorrow.” Be sure you confide in

the “right” people.



Ask for Specific Help

Extended family and friends will offer their

assistance but often it is vague—“Let me

know what I can do!” Review your circle of acquaintances

and then call on them. If you have a

friend who works in the insurance business, then

ask that person to help you decode an insurance

policy. If you have an automobile problem, consult

with a knowledgeable friend about the best way to

deal with it. If your roof springs a leak, talk it over

with someone in your circle of friends who knows

something about home repairs.


Refrain from Making Hasty Decisions

It may be tempting to take a long trip,

change residence, switch jobs, etc. Avoid

those temptations. Often they are ways of fleeing

from grief. Experience the pain, cope with the loss,

and begin to make the necessary adjustments before

thinking about making major changes. Also,

do not make serious financial decisions without

securing professional advice.



Your Grief

There is great wisdom in the often repeated

statement, “Grief shared is grief diminished.”

Most people who have had a loss to death


find that each time they share information about

the loss a layer of pain is removed. Gradually, grief

relief is experienced. In his book, Living With Loss,

Healing With Hope, Rabbi Earl Grollman stresses

the therapeutic importance of talking about

your loss. “In times of crisis, silence is not golden.”

Rabbi Grollman urges grievers to talk things

out with trusted friends, family, spiritual leaders,

counselors. “You may need to repeat over and over

all the circumstances surrounding your loss.”


Let Tears Flow

In his book, Born For Love: Reflections on

Loving, Leo Buscaglia, popular author and

university professor, offers this wisdom about crying:

“Tears are a form of compassionate thoughtfulness.

Each time we cry, we emerge with clearer

eyes, cleaner vision. Only recently has our culture

eased up its unwritten taboo against men crying.

Traditionally, men were expected to display granite

faces to the world. A good healthy cry can be a sign

of maturity. We’ve got it all wrong if we still believe

that crying is a sign of weakness. Real weakness is

in not allowing ourselves access to the emotions

expressed through tears.”



Maintain Hope by Tapping

into Your Faith

Although the journey through grief is

uncharted and frustrating, do all you can to keep

hope alive. One effective way to keep hope alive is

by tapping into your faith. Make an appointment

to speak with your spiritual leader. Consider this

experience of one woman whose 54-year-old husband

died suddenly from a heart attack: “When

Jimmy died I was devastated and angry at God

for this ‘injustice’. Although I had not attended

church regularly, I called the pastor. He was extremely

helpful, reminding me that it was okay to

be angry. He assured me that God could handle

my anger. The pastor encouraged me to vent my

feelings. He listened sensitively and compassionately.

Gradually, my faith deepened and became

a sustaining power in my life. As I became more

spiritually connected, I felt my anger diminish and

give way to acceptance and peace.”

Each time we cry, we emerge with

clearer eyes, cleaner vision


Here are ten “commandments” to keep in mind

which will greatly help in you recovery from grief.

Ten “Commandments” for Grievers

1. You shall remember you are a survivor.

You have made it this far and will complete

the journey through grief.

2. You shall remember you have been created

to heal from wounds.

When we accidentally cut or scrape ourselves,

healing scar tissue forms quickly. Bereavement

is a deep wound, but you will heal. God

intends for you to heal from every wound.

3. You shall remember you will be led to do

what needs to be done.

You will be given the wisdom and the courage

to do it.

4. You shall remember you are engaged in a

process of healing.

Recovery from grief takes time and often the

recovery is two steps forward followed by

one step backward.

5. You shall remember you are not required

to apologize for your feelings, emotions,

tears, etc.

It is not your job to make other people feel

comfortable by denying your need to grieve

in whatever form your grieving takes.

6. You shall remember you are not lacking in

faith because you feel the pain of grief.

You may still feel deeply the wounds of loss,

even when your faith is strong.

7. You shall remember you must nurture your


Provide it with ample rest, healthy balanced

meals, and exercise.

8. You shall remember to flow with the process

of grief.

Don’t try to manipulate it.

9. You shall remember God sends people

your way.

There are people who sincerely want to help.

Reach out to them from time to time.

10. You shall remember … this too shall pass.

If you’re in need, look over this list

carefully and make it an important part

of your thinking and healing. Or share it

with a friend or neighbor in need.



Comfort From Scripture

Psalm 23

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He

makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads

me beside the still waters. He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for

His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the

valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;

for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff,

they comfort me. You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my

head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness

and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Psalm 147:3

“He heals the brokenhearted and

binds up their wounds.”

Ezekiel 34:16

“I will… bind up the broken and

strengthen what was sick.”

2 Chronicles 16:9

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and

fro throughout the whole earth, to

show Himself strong on behalf of those

whose heart is loyal to Him.”


Matthew 11:28

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are

heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I

give to you.… Let not your heart be

troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord

Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all

comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation.”

Here are the Characteristics of People Who

Will be Helpful in Dealing with Grief:

• They listen more than they speak.

• They do not pass judgement on you or your


• They do not tell you how to feel.

• They don’t change the subject when you talk

about your loss.

• They are accepting of you.

• They do not respond with cliches such as: “He’s

in a better place now.” “It was God’s will.” “You

can get married again.”


• They do respond with supportive, sympathetic

statements such as: “I’m sorry.” “How can

I help?” “What can I do?” “This must be very

painful.” “Tell me more.”


Loving God,

I ask you to do Your work of love in my life and

to heal my broken heart. Be with me day by day and

give me strength for living and grant me comfort for

my distress.

Gracious God,

Help me to truly believe that it is Your fervent

will and deep desire that I be whole again. Help me

to know that I will not always be in the darkness

but that soon I will once again walk in the light.

Empower me to trust You for my healing and recovery

from grief.

Gracious and Loving God,

I am not strong enough to deal with this pain,

I am not wise enough to know what to do, I am not

courageous enough to keep going on; but You have

the strength, wisdom and courage I need. So, I trust

You to guide me and strengthen me day by day.



The following are some national organizations

which provide information and may offer local

self-help support groups. If you have access to the

internet, many of these organizations also have

web sites which you can find by searching under

their name.


601 E. Street NW

Washington, DC 20049

(888) OUR-AARP (687-2277)

The Compassionate Friends*

P.O. Box 3696

Oak Brook, IL 60522

(877) 969-0010

* This is a national self-help support group for parents

who have experienced the death of a child from any

cause at any age.

Hospice Foundation of America

1710 Rhode Island Ave, NW Suite 400

Washington, DC 20036

(202) 457-5811 or (800) 854-3402


Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors*

National Headquarters

1777 F Street NW, Suite 600

Washington, DC 20006

(800) 959-TAPS (8277)

* Provides ongoing emotional help, hope, and healing

to all who are grieving the death of a loved one in

military service

Please visit for a

complete list of online resources and links

to other organizations that can help.

Other titles available in

the Peacefinder book series:

You Can Stop Smoking

Addiction Free

Ten Ways to Improve Your Marriage

A Dozen Ways to Defeat Loneliness

Hope in Times of Trouble

Money Management

Stress Management

Survival Tips for Single Parenting

Successful Parenting

Living with Loss

The Healing of Sorrow

Life After Death

Medical Miracle

Gentle Ways to Ease Depression

To order additional titles, visit our online

bookstore at

or call 1-800-728-6872.

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