I’ve noticed that when I have conversations with my friends or colleagues, there’s a marked increase in comments like, “Sheesh, life feels so much harder than before…” So many of us are having such a hard time.
I receive your emails and DM’s about your medical diagnosis, rebellious children, troubled marriages, financial stress and the loss of loved ones. In the last few years, it feels like we’ve all lost so much.
Did you know that there is a word that describes the sense of loss, sadness, depression or anger? It’s called grief.
How you handle your grief determines if you will get better in life or if you will live bitter.
When life doesn’t go as planned, it’s easy for us to get depressed, angry or both. We know that bad things will happen, but we get bitter when we hold onto what’s missing, broken or changed and refuse to let go. In the face of loss, grief plays an important role in giving us an opportunity to let go, move forward and find peace.
Can I introduce you to a biblical healing tool that I created: The “Emotional Funeral.” Here are three indicators in your life that you need to have an Emotional Funeral:
- The opportunity or experience is no longer possible, even if you want it to be.
- The person or people involved are not willingly cooperating.
- You sense that God is calling you to let it go.
You have permission to have a funeral right now, if necessary. Give God time to move out your hurt and pain in order to fill that space with His love, healing and peace.
In many cultures, grief is honored. There’s an understanding that when someone or something is lost, everyone has permission to feel the pain and sadness.
Unfortunately, in our American culture, grief is considered an inconvenience. It’s an uncomfortable emotion that we’d rather shove at the back of the line behind our need to be productive, successful or unbothered.
But grief is big. It’s loud, even when we think that we’ve silenced it. If we don’t listen to Grief, it starts to scream in other languages, like self-medicating, depression or self-harm until it gets our attention.
But, if we honor Grief, it has the potential to be a gift. Grief can become the fertile ground for new joy, hope and even purpose.
Grief plays an important role in helping us accept that pain and disconnection are part of our fallen world. The only way toward health and healing is to embrace grief, fully feel it, and then learn the practice of releasing it back to God.
We all need to grieve these days. I want to help you. If you set aside time to do the following exercise, you will feel relief from some of the tremendous sadness that is building up within all of us.
Here’s how I do this exercise. There are three steps:
Step #1: Be Real
I choose an afternoon for this experience. Then, I pack a blanket, my Bible, a notebook, and a packet of tissues. Then I drive down to a beautiful river a few miles from my house. First, I lay out my blanket on a patch of grass overlooking the water. Then I open up my notebook and begin listing all the unanswered prayers, unmet expectations, and unfilled dreams. I have to be real about what I’ve lost. On that day, I need to go through the process of letting go of lost time, lost opportunities, or lost options. Holding onto what has died isn’t healthy or helpful. Letting go is painful but important.
I’m often writing with one hand and wiping my tears with a tissue in the other. The sentences in my notebook begin with phrases such as, “I really hoped,” “I wished,” “I truly thought,” or “I prayed so hard that …” Here are some of my funeral notebook entries:
I wished that I had more time with my dad…
God, I really prayed hard for You to remove the addiction from our home…
God, I hoped so much for a chance to speak at that event…
Step #2: Remember God’s Promises
Once I empty myself of disappointments and dead dreams, I grab my Bible and my go-to verses on hope are Jeremiah 29:11 or Isaiah 61:1-3.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
I read these verses slowly and even insert my name into the verses. I reflect on God’s faithfulness and how He brought me through the difficult circumstance even though it didn’t turn out as I’d hoped.
Step #3: Release It All to God
Finally, I pray and surrender the hopes, dreams, expectations that will not be. I acknowledge that my prayer wasn’t answered as I’d hoped. This is often a time where the tears flow and big feelings rise up. Sometimes, you may not even have words to say, but you can trust God’s Holy Spirit to speak when I can’t say the words. My funeral prayer is in below.
Letting go and trusting God to bring new life from what you’ve lost is essential if you want to get better and not bitter.
Here’s the Prayer of Release:
I dreamed that (name of dream), but that dream isn’t going to come true. I really wanted it, God! And it hurts. But I need to let that dream die. I need to mourn it and move it out of my heart so that You can fill the space with a new thing for me. Amen.
What I’ve learned over the past decade of having emotional funerals is that when I let go of my dead dreams, God plants new ones in the fertile soil of faith that has formed as I fought in prayer for those dying dreams or desires.
My prayer is that when you engage in this exercise, you recognize that God can take your grief and give you healing peace and new dreams for your life.
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! LEAD A COMMENT BELOW: What are you grieving these days? Do any of those indicators apply to your life? Is this Emotional Funeral something that you think that you’d like to do?