Thursday, November 8, 2018

Excessive Mourning

These are the notes for my presentation to the Church of Divine Guidance Thursday Night Prayerline in our study of the spirit of heaviness.  Tonight's presentation on excessive mourning acknowledges that we all grieve and mourn the loss of a loved one.  However we can grieve or mourn to the extent that it affects our ability to function and in some cases affects both our physical and mental health.  When that happens we can turn to the Scripture which offers us so much comfort, encouragement and victory.  When necessary we should also seek professional help when our reactions to loss result in a complicated grieving process.   Complicated grief is a chronic, heightened state of mourning.  This is called complicated grief (CG). Pre-existing mental health conditions, multiple stressors, emotional dependency, or substance abuse issues complicate the grieving process and increase the likelihood of a complicated bereavement disorder that may necessitate professional treatment.

Tonight I will be talking about mourning the loss of a loved one tonight but this can also apply to the loss of a relationship, employment, even material things.

mourning - the expression of deep sorrow for someone who has died, typically involving following certain conventions such as wearing black clothes.

synonyms for the word mourn : grieve for, sorrow over, lament for, weep for

One of the scriptures Minister Brenda gave me was;

Isaiah 61:3 (NLT 2)3  To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.

I want to read it again starting with verse one.

Isaiah 61:1-3 NLT The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord's favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

In this scripture which is really prophetic about Jesus the Messiah

Jesus is the he in this scripture and is represented as empowered by the Spirit to preach the liberating and life-transforming Gospel, which is good news” especially intended for the meek, the humble, and the brokenhearted. Now it's talking about believers because He will do this for the righteous because it says “In their righteousness they will…..”

This is the same message of deliverance that Jesus  gave in the second scripture that Minister Brenda gave me for the topic of excessive mourning.

Luke 4:18-21 (NLT 2)18  “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,19  and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” 20  He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently.21  Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

Keeping in mind that Jesus said that he has come to liberate or set free the brokenhearted or those who are burdened with grief;

There is no easy or "right" way to mourn a loved one. Grief is a process, not an event with a set beginning or end, and each individual experiences it in his or her own way. The grief process takes a considerable amount of time and is revisited continuously over the course of a lifetime.

Grief requires the mourner to manage and diminish the pain but never to totally eliminate it and to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of holding the deceased close always while at the same time letting them go.  After all if the deceased was saved they are now with the Lord and wouldn't come back even if it was possible and no matter how much you loved them or they loved you. 

However we can grieve or mourn to the extent that it affects our ability to function and in some cases affects both our physical and mental health.

Too Much Grief

The general guideline when assessing if a problematic behavior is developmentally normal or if it requires professional intervention is to consider the duration and intensity of the symptoms. How long have the symptoms been persisting? Are they disruptive enough that they interfere with the individual’s daily functioning? If so, to what extent?

There are few experiences that generate a more uncomfortable and powerless feeling than witnessing a loved one mourn. I’ve been there several times.  Where there is real concern that the mourner’s grief is interfering with their ability to function on a long-term basis, it is important to proceed with caution in expressing this concern to the mourner. Doing so can create distance and a feeling by the mourner that those around them just don’t understand what he is going through. Sometimes it can be less threatening and more effective to center a discussion around the needs of family members or children rather than around the mourner himself

Many people who have experienced a loss can demonstrate great resilience even without outside intervention or professional help. In these instances it is essential that those surrounding the mourner allow them to experience the full range of emotions that accompany grief and to do so for as long as they need to.

Complicated or Excessive Grief: Risk and Symptoms

Approximately 10 to 20% of bereaved persons have severe enough, unremitting reactions to loss that result in a complicated grieving process that may require treatment that includes prescription medication and counseling. A history of clinical depression and anxiety, emotionally dependent relationship on the deceased, and alcohol and drug addiction are often in the background of people who have complicated grief.  Complicated grief is a chronic, heightened state of mourning. Its symptoms can include:

     Extreme focus on the loss and reminders of the loved one
     Intense longing or pining for the deceased
     Problems accepting the death
     Numbness or detachment
     Preoccupation with your sorrow
     Bitterness about your loss
     Inability to enjoy life
     Depression or deep sadness
     Trouble carrying out normal routines
     Withdrawing from social activities
     Feeling that life holds no meaning or purpose
     Irritability or agitation
     Lack of trust in others

These things  often requires professional intervention.

At a time time when we feel such heartache, pain, and loss, Scripture, offers us so much comfort, encouragement and victory.  

A Different Reaction:

Paul tells us that we, Christians should have a different reaction to death than those who have no hope. 

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (BBE)13  But it is our desire, brothers, that you may be certain about those who are sleeping; so that you may have no need for sorrow, as others have who are without hope.14  For if we have faith that Jesus underwent death and came back again, even so those who are sleeping will come again with him by God's power.15  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are still living at the coming of the Lord, will not go before those who are sleeping.16  Because the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a word of authority, with the voice of the chief angel, with the sound of a horn: and the dead in Christ will come to life first;17  Then we who are still living will be taken up together with them into the clouds to see the Lord in the air: and so will we be forever with the Lord.18  So then, give comfort to one another with these words. 

There are two things to keep in mind;

1.    The fact that we are sad or grieving is natural.  In fact God experiences it with you. 

Psalm 116:15 (NKJV)15  Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints.

Do you remember the story about Lazarus death? 

Jesus knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead.  But when he saw  the sad faces, approached the sealed tomb, and felt the loss of a loved one the Bible said that He wept. 

John 11:32-35 NLT When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept.

Now we know that believers will be resurrected, but being apart from them causes natural pain and grief. 

 2.  The second thing that I want you  to keep in mind is that while mourning is natural, our rejoicing is supernatural.

Although we mourn and grieve, the Lord is with us through it all.  As believers, we have comfort and hope in the future:  we know that our  loved ones, if they accepted Jesus as Lord  and Savior, are with the Lord.

 2 Corinthians 5:8 NLT Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.

Scripture even calls those who are now with the Lord blessed.

Revelation 14:13 NLT And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!”

An Important Reality

Here’s the reality.  The Apostle Paul reminds us that if we believe in the gospel, we also believe in the Second Coming of Christ!  Nothing is more comforting to us in our loss than that of the resurrection  it’s the true hope that only we as Christians have. 

The scene of Jesus’ Second Coming causes us to pause in our grief to anticipate the future.

When Christ returns, He will bring those believers who have preceded us in death to earth with Him! 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NLT For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.

While we grieve their loss, surely THEY  rejoice and anticipate the day when they will be the first to see the resurrected Christ return for His people.