Embracing Good Grief
‘God can make something good out of our grief. Not because the situation is good, but because He is.’ – Max Lucado
The Lutheran college community I serve in Noosa is in the midst of grieving the unexpected death of a cherished coworker, educator, and friend. The pain and sadness is still palpable, even though some weeks have passed. Yet, amid our shared grief, there is a growing sense of togetherness and trust in God’s goodness.
Grief is an inevitable companion in life’s journey, one we do not willingly invite. Like a destructive wave, it crashes upon us, sweeping us into its powerful current.
Grief may be overwhelming, leaving us on the shore in the aftermath to navigate deep sorrow, anger, and guilt.
One frequently overlooked aspect of grief is ‘good grief.’ It is the process of acknowledging and expressing loss in ways that fosters healing and personal growth. ‘Good grief’ does not dilute the pain of loss. Nor does it imply a quicker path through the grieving process; rather, it is a journey God uses to lead us towards still, safe waters where we find peace, hope, and healing (Ps 23).
This concept becomes evident when we turn to the wisdom of the Bible. In John 11:35, we encounter the profound words “Jesus wept” at the death of Lazarus. Here, even the Son of God, Himself, expresses deep sorrow. Grief is not solely a human response to loss; it is Divine. This two-word verse gives us the permission to grieve.
Our leadership staff set up a memorial space in our chapel to help process the loss we have experienced in our community. Students who would have had classes with this teacher were invited to come, sit, and reflect, as they were guided in the process of good grief.
Over the course of three days, the chapel doors were left open for all students, staff, and families to visit whenever they desired. This provided a safe, reflective environment in which anyone could express their grief and seek comfort.
During this time, we saw a beautiful manifestation of ‘good grief.’ Some found solace in sharing stories and memories. Some participants shared funny stories, while others cried. Others found comfort in writing a letter, drawing a picture, or creating origami. Some simply sat alone. Others sought out these solitary figures, quietly nestling close to them without using words, just to let them know that they were not alone. We received flowers and condolence messages from other Lutheran schools and churches throughout Queensland, and we shared them with one another.
Most importantly, we gathered together for times of worship where we were reminded through 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 that as we walked through valleys of grief, we don’t ‘grieve like people who have not hope’ (v13). The hope we have is not a diversion or quick fix. We have real hope because death has been defeated through Jesus’ death and resurrection. God’s people do not grieve like those without hope because Jesus is our strong anchor, and pain is not the end of our story.
In essence, the grief that we experienced as a community has revealed unexpected blessings. By embracing ‘good grief,’ we understand that it is not an obstacle, but a path towards richer connections with each other, a deepened understanding of ourselves, and a fortified faith and trust in our good God.
READ MORE STORIES ABOUT Grief