Grief Course 1

“The Losses of Life”

Welcome!   I hope you were able to pick up a copy of the book “Recovering from the Losses of Life” at a book store.  You will need this book starting Session Two.

Let us pray before we start:
Lord, I thank you for this opportunity to meet online.  In Jesus’ name I invite you to be with us now.  I ask you to help us concentrate, and I ask you to open our eyes and hearts to enable us to see you.  Amen.


                                                         DON’T WORRY, IT’LL CHANGE.
                                                         DON’T WORRY, IT’LL CHANGE.”
(Malachi 3:6)

That sums it up!
Our life on earth is full of losses and changes, just look at the weather and the seasons and time:

  • You lose the sunshine to gain the rain, you lose the rain to gain the sunshine.
  • Spring changes into summer which changes into fall which changes into winter.
  • Night follows day, day follows night, and with every passing minute you age, from
    birth to death.

Life is like that:  It constantly changes, and it is often unpredictable.

You lose one thing to gain another – for better or for worse!

Changes include loss, and loss is a major adjustment in life; one that we would rather avoid.  And yet, it is inevitable.  And since loss is both, inevitable and everywhere, the unchanging God comes in Jesus to offer solid hope and healing.

In Luke 4:18-19, when Jesus characterized His earthly ministry and discussed the types of people He came to serve, He said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”  (Jesus quotes from Isaiah 61:1 ff)

In your grief, you are poor and alone, brokenhearted, captive, blind and bruised.  God accepts you as you are.

This online course will benefit people who have:

  • lost a loved one through death, divorce or a break up
  • lost their reputation or good name as a result of unfavorable publicity, slander, gossip, or criticism
  • are aging
  • are moving, face emigration, are refugees
  • loss of health due to illness, accident, lifestyle
  • lost possessions as a result of theft, fire, accident or bankruptcy
  • lost a dream, goal or an ability
  • lost a child or grandchild because of abortion, or suicide
  • lost a child because of miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death
  • lost custody of a child because of divorce or other circumstances

This online course is offered for two reasons:

  • Preventative:      Some of you will take this course to prepare for the future
  • Reconstructive:  Some of you take it to heal of the present and past.

There are many today who believe that the pathway of life ought to be smooth and fair.  Many expect “smooth and fair” to be the norm.  For many any upset, loss or crisis is something out of the ordinary.  But, perhaps it is the other way around:  the smooth, comfortable times of life are in reality a bit abnormal.  Fortunately, the bible presents life as it really is, namely full of trials and difficulties.

Listen to this:
“… a wise man built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock… The foolish man built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

Life’s storms will come, the waters will rise.  No “if’s”, only “when’s”!  Whether we will stand or are swept away will largely depend on the spiritual risks we choose to take daily:

  • Spiritual indifference, or
  • Trust in God

Often the waves of life seem to sweep over us, we seem to drown.  We feel alone.  Thank God, the Christian faith is not based on feelings!

Before we address “grief”, let’s define Loss, Crisis and Trauma:


  • LOSS is defined as the failure to keep, preserve, or maintain.  
    It produces an ache, an emptiness, a sadness.
  • CRISIS is defined as the turning point in a situation; a time of danger or anxiousness.  
    It throws a person off balance and into a state of panic and defeat.  It contains a loss.
  • TRAUMA is defined as the condition produced by a physical or psychic wound or injury.
    Trauma is wounding.  It’s an event outside the range of normal human experiences which
    leaves one with the feeling “I can’t get over it.”  A major loss is part of this experience.

Each of these impacts our physical body as well as our emotions.
Are you aware which organ of our body is affected the most?
It is the brain.

The brain has 2 sides.


  • The left side of the brain is factual, logical, rational.
    It houses language skills, is linear, objective, stores practical information, remembers names.  Metaphorically:  a computer.
  • The right side of the brain is experiential, intuitive, nonverbal.
    It is focused on patterns, simultaneous, dreaming (brainstorming) spontaneous, subjective, implicit.  It stores emotions (nostalgic), connotative, remembers faces.
    Metaphorically: a Kaleidoscope.

It is the right side that is impacted by loss, crisis and trauma.

When LOSS impacts the right side or emotional part of your brain, you still function fairly well.
Loss can cause some impact on the left side.

When you experience a CRISIS, both sides of the brain are impaired and you don’t function very well.  In a crisis at first you are numb, disoriented, can’t think clearly, your ability to process information is limited.  Your emotions have been impacted and may be a bit deadened for 24 to 36 hours.
But when the impact effect has diminished, you feel with an intensity that overwhelms you – anger, fear, sadness, rage, guilt, you question ‘why’, etc.

With a TRAUMA you are totally impacted.  Trauma has the power to disrupt how you see life and can even alter your brain chemistry.  There may be memory deficits and even damage to brain structure.



Loss, Crisis and Trauma impact the brain from right to left.
Recovery moves from left to right, making sense cognitively of what happened.

Allow me to touch briefly on the body’s chemistry:
Your “autonomic nervous system” handles vital functions like breathing, blood flow, pulse rate, digestion, and elimination.  In a crisis or trauma situation it gets alerted and causes you to sweat or stop digesting your food, increasing your pulse rate and blood pressure, dilating the pupils of your eyes, and it signals the release of hormones like epinephrine (adrenaline).  Epinephrine in turn aids or halts all those responses as well as triggers the release of sugar stored in the liver to provide an extra boost of energy in an emergency.

Research data indicates that people suffering from a crisis or trauma encounter chemical imbalances in their brain which causes brain cells to miscommunicate with one another.
Scientists think that a deficiency in serotonin may cause the sleep problems, irritability and anxiety associated with depression;
a deficiency in norepinephrine, which normally regulates alertness and arousal, may contribute to fatigue and depressed mood.

This class is going to deal with loss and grief.  Here are the definitions of words that will be important for us in this course:

  • GRIEF is defined as intense emotional suffering, caused by loss, disaster, misfortune, etc.: Acute sorrow, deep sadness.
  • TO MOURN is defined as to feel or express sorrow.
    Mourning is the expression of grief.  The word is derived from a Gothic verb meaning “to be anxious”, and it comes ultimately from an Indo-European base meaning “to remember, to think of”.  Mourning involves remembering and thinking of what is lost or of the deceased, and this makes you feel anxious or uncomfortable.
  • BEREAVE means to leave in a sad or lonely state, as loss or death.
    In Old English, the word meant, to deprive or rob.
    One mother said after her daughter’s death, “I feel as if I was robbed of my most precious possession.”  The bereaved are survivors of a recently deceased person and are those in mourning.

The author of the book “I Can’t Get Over It”, Calvin Miller, described the difficulties of loss and grief:
“Grieving and coping with losses are among the most difficult aspects of human existence.  Emotionally, grieving is such a challenge that most people tend to avoid it at all costs.  Many get angry at a time of loss.  How much easier it is to be angry than sad!  When you are angry you surge with adrenaline. You feel so powerful and strong, you are certain all you have to do is vent your rage and you can finally get what you want.

But,” Miller continues, “when you are grieving, you feel like a collapsed balloon.  The pain of loss engulfs you and you feel vulnerable, defenseless, and weak.  And you hurt.  You hurt so much you feel like you are dying inside.”
There are variations in the area of loss because what we value varies from person to person.  Loss does reflect values.
The way in which we grieve varies between cultures as does the value of mourning.

  • In our society we not only overlook losses, but fail to identify them and especially struggle to avoid the greatest loss in life – death.
  • Some societies such as the Fiji Islanders are death-accepting.  Dying and attending behaviors are an integral part of life.
  • There have been death-defying societies such as those in early Egypt.  The pyramids were built to take care of the Pharaohs after death.
  • North America, including Canada, is an example of a death-denying culture.  There is a refusal to confront death as evidenced by a very few rituals to cope with it.

Calvin Miller said, “The more secular a culture becomes, the more we address death as an abnormality to be regretted.  In Scripture death seems to be presented as part of life (and not the end of life), and in the New Testament it is presented as . . .  ‘victorious end of the pilgrimage’.  Death is a changing of residences, the bartering of protoplasm for spirit, the exchange of temporality for immortality.”

We read in Revelation 21:1-4:

In North America,

  • many people go to great length to shield themselves from aging and death.
  • people are sent away to homes and hospitals to die by themselves.

In North American terminology

  • we ‘pass on’, not die.
  • we are ‘laid to rest’, not buried.
  • we do not perform funerals, but ‘celebrations of life’.

In North America we prefer to skip Good Friday to get to Easter, so-to-speak.

Katy Butler, author of “Unspeakable Losses”, said, “As a culture, we seem to have an intolerance for suffering, we tend to want those who have experienced a loss of any kind to get on with their lives
as quickly as possible.”
Because of this attitude, people are not taught how to grieve over any kind of loss.
That is what this course is about.


Please, take a moment and work thru the following questions.

Perhaps you have a friend who would join you for some discussion?

“Grief and Loss – What is Your Opinion?”

1. Grieving is more difficult when people “give in” to their sorrow. Agree/Disagree?
2 A threatened (example: a cancer thread) loss is more difficult to handle  handle than a tangible loss. Agree/Disagree?
3. Time will eventually heal all wounds or loss.  Agree/Disagree?
4. A mature Christian will not grieve over a loss as long as a non-believer.   Agree/Disagree?
5. It can be healthy to deny a major loss in our life for a period of time. Agree/Disagree?
6. There are some people who do not need to grieve, even after a serious loss.     Agree/Disagree?
7. The pain of your loss may be just as intense a year later as during the initial few days after the loss occurs.   Agree/Disagree?
8. A Christian is not as likely to get as angry at God over a loss as a non-believer. Agree/Disagree?
9. It is best to replace something lost as soon as possible in order to help the grieving process.    Agree/Disagree?
10. There are some losses in life that are more difficult to handle than the death of a loved one.      Agree/Disagree?
11. Asking “WHY” during a loss reflects on the depth of a person’s faith. Agree/Disagree?
12. A persons belief system will affect the way in which he/she grieves.  Agree/Disagree?
13. Grieving for more than a year is abnormal.        Agree/Disagree?
14. All suffering we experience in life is God’s will for us.  Agree/Disagree?


















Let us conclude this first session with a short prayer: 
Compassionate Lord, we are lonely, broken-hearted, stuck, blind and bruised.
We need your healing touch.  Amen


Session 2