The Grieving Process: Reaching Acceptance in the Midst of Grief

There is great freedom in reaching acceptance. But it does not come without a cost. Typically, you must go through a grieving process to reach acceptance. Going through this journey can be difficult, but the rewards outweigh the costs.

The Stages of Grief

There are five well-known stages of grief, and acceptance is the last one. To reach acceptance, you will go through the other steps of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression first, though grief does not always run in a straight line through these stages. You may jump back and forth between them (and some may not occur at all) before finally reaching acceptance.

Grief is not always related to physical death. It can be the death of a dream or the death of a life stage that you enjoyed. A new mother of a special needs baby may need to give up dreams for her child and the future she expected.

A recently retired man may need to grieve the loss of his livelihood and sense of identity. Both people will need to go through the stages of grief to reach acceptance in their new situations. When they take on that challenge, they can be greatly blessed on the other side.

An Example of Reaching Acceptance in the Grieving Process

Let’s look at an example of how the grieving process might play out in one woman’s life. Diane and Paul are recent empty nesters. They have raised three children together. Paul has spent the last ten years in a recovery program, overcoming his alcohol addiction that affected most of their 30-year marriage. They are looking forward to celebrating a new, happier future together.

However, Paul’s decades of drinking took a toll on his internal organs. Only two years into their empty nest journey of traveling and enjoying time with friends, Paul is diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer. He chooses to be put on hospice care rather than endure chemotherapy and radiation. After three months of hospice, Paul passes away, and Diane is left a grieving widow.

Two months after the funeral, everyone has gone back to their regular lives, except Diane. She has felt numb, telling everyone she is fine. But her anger at the slightest provocations, as when she is driving, shocks her. Diane feels withdrawn, sullen, and miserable. Finally, she reaches out for help at church. Her pastor suggests that she meet with a Christian counselor to deal with her grief.

Diane’s counselor helps her review her marriage, along with all the hopes and dreams she had to give up due to Paul’s addiction. Diane struggles with feeling like she was partially responsible for Paul’s declining health. If only she had confronted him sooner, helped him eat healthier, and more.

Her counselor helps her see that she is going through the bargaining stage, which is normal and healthy. Diane is moving past anger into bargaining, which leads to deep sadness. At this point, she joins a grief support group at church, where she connects with other widows. For the first time since Paul’s death, she feels a spark of hope despite her depressed feelings.

With the passing of holidays and anniversary dates, Diane’s grief stages of anger, denial, bargaining, and sadness resurface. But she sticks with her counseling appointments and support group meetings to weather the changes. She also stays in touch with her children and takes up sewing, an enjoyable hobby she put on hold when her children were growing up.

Diane joins a quilting guild to connect with other quilters. The guild’s show-and-tell meeting is a highlight of her month, and she gains satisfaction from working on small sewing projects throughout the week.

On their wedding anniversary three years after Paul died, Diane visits his burial site with a much lighter heart. She still feels sad, but she is no longer consumed by grief. She thanks God for all the goodness Paul brought to her life. As she drives away, she praises God for bringing her to a place of acceptance.

Your story of grief and acceptance may not look exactly like Diane’s story. But you will likely have to overcome several challenges to reach acceptance, just like Diane. Here are more types of acceptance you can attain with God’s help.

Contentment with God’s Plan

The Bible says that God’s ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). You may need to grieve about what God allowed to happen in order to reach acceptance. Once you go through the grieving process with God, you can gain contentment despite your challenging circumstances.

For example, you may not naturally like a certain aspect of your physical body or personality. However, with God’s help, you can reach self-acceptance by grieving what you wish you would have been given and accepting what God gave you. Meditating on Psalm 139 can help you understand your great worth in God’s eyes, just as you are.

Social acceptance is another common struggle that many people face. You may not feel accepted by your peers, your family, your coworkers, or other groups. If you have faced rejection, betrayal, or exclusion, you may struggle with a strong desire for social acceptance.

Rather than striving to win the approval of others, you can work on your relationship with God. When you put more trust in him than people, along with grieving what may not be possible in your relationships, you can find the peace and acceptance you seek.

Conditional acceptance is a compromise. It means that you are willing to accept one aspect of a situation but not another. For example, a newly divorced man may grieve the fact that he needs to move in with his parents while he financially recovers.

But he reaches for acceptance by setting a 24-month deadline to move out on his own again. During that period, he will receive the counseling support he needs to rebuild his spiritual and emotional reserves.

Contentment with God’s plan usually means giving up something we deeply desire. God wants us to be honest about this. The longer you deny what you wanted, the less spiritual growth you can experience.

You may get stuck in one of the stages of grief if you don’t make acceptance and contentment your ultimate goal. However, getting stuck in a grief stage is a common problem. You can reach out for help if acceptance always seems outside your reach.

Finding Acceptance in the Grieving Process

The day you find acceptance is the day you step into the new life God has for you. But you may need help reaching acceptance. The grieving process is difficult and painful, and it may last much longer than you expected. A caring Christian counselor can help you walk through the stages of grief and find acceptance.

Often, what you are grieving about now may be related to older grief. As we can see in Diane’s story, she wasn’t only grieving Paul’s death, but also the toll that his addiction took on their marriage. She needed to work through both problems before she reached acceptance. You may also need help dealing with deeper issues from your past while you cycle through all the grief stages.

When you enlist the help of a Christian counselor in your grief journey, you have true hope of reaching acceptance. Your counselor will listen with compassion, ask thoughtful questions, and offer guidance for making new choices. By connecting with other support groups, as Diane did, you can have even greater hope of reaching the acceptance stage of the grieving process.

The team of counselors at our office is trained in walking you through all the stages of grief. No matter what life situation you are facing, you can find the hope and healing you are seeking by reaching out to us. Give us a call today, and we’ll help you reach out for acceptance.

“Grieving Alone”, Courtesy of Pixabay,, CC0 License; “Man in Plaid”, Courtesy of Nathan Cowley,, CC0 License; “Talking”, Courtesy of Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas,, CC0 License; “Counseling Session”, Courtesy of Cottonbro,, CC0 License

7 Bible Verses about Death: Finding Hope in God’s Word

The Bible teaches us that ever since Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, this world has been fundamentally dysfunctional. Sin and death and various kinds of pain and loss are grim realities that remind us that things are not the way they are supposed to be.

Friends, family members, or beloved pets die; jobs are lost; health and independence decline, homes are lost to fire or flood – grief is an unwelcome but inevitable part of life.

Though the picture may seem dark, God has not left us without instruction and comfort. In fact, there are many Bible verses about grief that can bring comfort to the grieving Christian.

7 Bible Verses about Death and Grief

If you are going through the grieving process, meditate on the following Scriptures on grief and let God’s Word give you comfort.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.Psalm 31:9

In this verse, David is experiencing deep grief (we are not told over what) that is intense enough to have physical effects on his body. Rather than wallowing in his misery, however, David pours out his heart to God, pleading for His grace.

The first step when you are grieving is to take your grief directly to God. Though God already knows what you are going through (you are not giving Him any new information), it is His will that His children come to Him in prayer with their concerns and requests.

Much as a father might see his young child struggling to complete a task and yet wait until his child asks him for help, God often waits for us to ask Him for help before He gives it. However, unlike a human father who might become irritated or might not hear his child, God always hears His children and delights to answer their prayers.

A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.Proverbs 15:13

Here we see that happiness in the heart generally produces a happy countenance, but by contrast, grief in the heart can be soul-crushing. This teaches us the truth that a person’s outward behavior is profoundly affected by the state of their heart. Happy heart = happy face. Sad heart = sad face.

We see this reflected both in ourselves and in our daily interactions with others. It is often easy to tell a person’s state by the expression on their face. Proverbs are general observations, however, meaning that this is not a hard-and-fast rule. We will see a contrasting thought in the verse we look at next.

Even in laughter, the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.Proverbs 14:13

Sometimes the outward appearance can be the exact opposite of what is happening in the heart. Though a person may laugh and smile on the outside, it may be just a mask for genuine pain and grief.

Solomon (the wisest man – other than Jesus – who ever lived) implies that this ironic sort of occurrence is normal. Sometimes, in order to cope, or because a person doesn’t want to spill their guts to someone, they need to put on a mask of normalcy that hides their inner pain.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.Psalm 147:3

Suffering from grief can be overwhelming. We can feel as if we will never recover – never move past it. The psalmist, however, teaches us that though we may be in the midst of deep and crushing grief, God has compassion on those who are brokenhearted and heals their emotional wounds.

This is not to say that God makes everything better and that the source of the grief goes away. Rather, as Saint Augustine once said, “Oh Lord . . . our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”

God heals broken hearts by giving Himself to His brokenhearted people. We find healing and rest for our souls when we find our comfort and satisfaction in Him.

Even 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.Psalm 23:4

David, the “sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1) was no stranger to grief. Many of his Psalms deal with the subject in depth. In Psalm 23, possibly the most well-known of all of the Psalms, David describes the rest and peace that God provides.

Even though David is facing death (whether his own or that of someone else is not specified), he finds his comfort in God’s discipline (God’s “rod”) and guidance (God’s “staff”). In other words, God is taking care of David through daily correction, instruction, and wisdom.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.Matthew 5:4

Next, we come to a verse about grief in the Bible that has caused a lot of confusion over the centuries. Contrary to much popular exposition, the phrase “those who mourn” in this verse refers to those who mourn over their sin. These people will be comforted because their sins will be forgiven.

This makes sense when we think about the nature of “blessedness” and mourning. “Blessedness” means a deep-seated joy, which would appear (at first glance) to be contrary to mourning. However, if one is mourning over their sin, then they can have this kind of joy, knowing that God has forgiven them.

Though this verse does not directly address grief and loss, there is a secondary sort of application to those of God’s children who mourn over traumatic events. They will be comforted both in this life and in the life to come as they come to a deeper knowledge of God and grow in likeness to Christ. Their comfort will derive from the fact that their sins are forgiven and that any grief and pain that they suffer in this life is temporary.

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 affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.2 Corinthians 1:3-4

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the people of the church at Corinth who were apparently suffering from affliction of some kind. Paul tells them that God is the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort,” meaning that He is characterized by compassion and is the source of any comfort that they experience.

Next, Paul tells the Corinthian Christians that God brings comfort to them in all of their afflictions. This is a precious promise! God does not leave His children to flounder aimlessly and wallow in their grief. He ultimately brings comfort to them by giving them Himself!

However, God does not merely comfort His people so that they will merely live happier, more joyful lives. He comforts them so that they can bring the same comfort to others who are going through affliction and grief. In other words, comfort in our times of trouble is never an end in itself. It is to overflow from our hearts as we reach out to others who are suffering.

Loss can strike God’s people unexpectedly, so the time to get the proper perspective on grief is before it hits. Figuring out what one believes about God, His sovereignty, and His comfort while in the midst of grieving is dangerous. If a person’s heart is not firmly grounded on the precious promises of God, times of grief can completely destabilize and overthrow their faith.

This is not to suggest that the grieving process will be easy, however. God can and will teach His people many things as they grieve, all of which are designed to make them more and more like Christ.

If you are struggling with grief, seek out a trusted friend or your pastor for wise counsel. If these are not available, however, a Christian counselor can come alongside you and help you work through the grieving process. Don’t wait – get help today!

“Grief”, Courtesy of Marquise Kamanke,, CC0 License; “A Grief Observed”, Courtesy of Yuris Alhumaydy,, CC0 License; “Remember”, Courtesy of Matt Botsford,, CC0 License; “Cross”, Courtesy of Maria Oswalt,, CC0 License

How to Navigate the Five Primary Grief Stages

Grief is an incredibly difficult thing to go through. At some point, we are all likely to experience it in some form – whether through the loss of a loved one, the breakdown of a relationship, or even a personal failure. You may have heard of the “stages” of grief.

These are often used to try and define the different coping mechanisms we employ in response to grief, as we come to terms with loss and heartache. But they are by no means one-size-fits-all – people will experience grief in very individual ways.

Simply put, there is no one right path of grief, and you should never feel under pressure to conform to one particular way. David Kessler, an expert on grief, writes that the stages of grief “are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling.”

He suggests that they are not merely some sort of “stations of the cross” to be performed in order. In fact, not everyone experiences every one of them, or if they do, it is not in a set order. He hopes the stages of grief will provide a knowledge of the landscape of grief, better helping us to handle the loss. Grief will be as unique as the individual experiencing it.

Grief can be incredibly lonely. Despite your best efforts, you may not be able to fully explain how you feel, making it an extraordinarily isolated place to be. That said, there are some recognizable elements of the grieving process that can be common to many people.

Indeed, it is important to become familiar with these, so that you are prepared for when they hit. Again, it is vital to stress that there is no “right” way to grieve, and each person will develop their own individual methods of coping.

Christian Hope for the Grieving

While it might feel as if no one truly understands what you are going through, the Lord knows everything there is to know about it. Indeed, not only does God promise to come close to us in our pain and heartache, but he also declares, in Revelation 21:4, that “He will wipe every tear from [your] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.”

Christ knew the depths of earthly grief and can identify with our deepest pain. At the grave of Lazarus, the Bible says that “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Of course, Jesus went on to resurrect Lazarus, demonstrating his ultimate power over the “final enemy” of death.

The Longterm Process of Grief

Grief is a process and should be viewed in the long-term. Too often, we look for a “quick fix” or the ability to rush through the prescribed “stages of grief,” failing to give ourselves ample time. It is important to note, however, that even with all the time in the world, the pain may never fully leave you.

Grief can be a long process, and though the pain may ease over time and as you deal with it alongside friends, family and a trained counselor, it may always be with you.

It is worth looking at the latest version of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), which is used by mental health professionals to analyze and diagnose their patients. In the part about depressive disorders, it has a caveat that demonstrates how important it is to distinguish between grief and actual mental disorders:

“Careful consideration is given to the delineation of normal sadness and grief from a major depressive episode. Bereavement may induce great suffering, but it does not typically induce an episode of major depressive disorder.”

Death is an Amputation

So, with this in mind, it is important to point out that there should never be an “end goal” for grief – it is a process that must be managed carefully and sensitively. A trained counselor will assist you to move forward in your life while always honoring the person lost.

Theologian and writer C.S. Lewis, who lost his beloved wife, wrote that “the death of a beloved is an amputation.” He also wrote of how no-one ever truly “gets over” a loss like that, but that they learn to adapt to their new life without having the person around.

In his book, A Grief Observed, Lewis wrote: “He will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones, and he will always be a one-legged man. There will be hardly any moment when he forgets it. Bathing, dressing, sitting down and getting up again, even lying in bed, will all be different. His whole way of life will be changed. All sorts of pleasures and activities that he once took for granted will have to be simply written off.”

Grief and love are intimately related. You only grieve someone so much because you loved them so much.

Grief is Not Just About Death

When we think of grief, our minds often jump to the aching loss of someone we love. But as we mentioned earlier, there are plenty of other life events that can cause you to experience a season of grieving.

Examples could include:

  • Loss of a pet
  • Loss of employment
  • Loss of physical or mental capabilities
  • Separation from someone you love
  • End of a friendship or relationship
  • Infidelity
  • Divorce

These are highly emotional events and may evoke a reaction of grief similar to the death of someone close to you.

The Five Grief Stages

With that being said, it is worth looking at a few of the more prominent aspects of grief to gain a more general understanding of the grieving process and what it usually looks like.

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of death from her book “Of Death and Dying serves as the most significant work in this area. Though somewhat trivialized through the years, these aspects are still incredibly helpful to understand when exploring the topic of grief. She defined the five grief stages as:

1. Denial

Denial is a typical reaction to the immediate shock that hits you when something emotionally devastating occurs. It can be a way of coping that can help us to get through a loss during those painful and traumatic moments.

2. Anger

Though it may seem counterintuitive, anger may at times be helpful because it helps us release our emotions, instead of merely turning numb. Though the anger may be directed at any number of different things, it is always rooted in pain.

3. Bargaining

This reaction is likely to be an initial attempt to rationalize what has happened. Of course, that is impossible to do – what has happened cannot be undone. Nevertheless, our human nature will try its very best to do something to rectify the situation. We cling to any hope that tells us the situation could possibly be reversed.

4. Depression

When some time has passed, depression often sets in. The initial shock has worn off, and you are left feeling bewildered, sad and hopeless at the devastating loss.

5. Acceptance

Acceptance doesn’t mean that we have forgotten about what happened and have totally moved on with our lives. Instead, acceptance comes when we face the stark reality of the loss and figure out how to live with what happened.

Focusing on the Four Tasks of Mourning

Another helpful model for understanding grief stages comes from William J. Worden. In his Four Tasks of Mourning, he sees a more active role for the person who is grieving, rather than merely floating passively through the grief process.

This model can assist people in moving beyond the denial that is frequently experienced in the immediate aftermath of the death of a loved one. Worden believes that intentionally trying to work through the four tasks is absolutely essential in order for “equilibrium to be reestablished.”

The four key tasks are:

1. Accepting the reality of the loss

2. Working through the pain of the grief

3. Adjusting to life without the deceased

4. Finding a lasting connection to the deceased while also moving on with your life

Getting Help

If you or someone you know is facing grief, contact a Christian counselor guidance, support, and reassurance as you process your pain. Counseling is a protected and confidential space in which you can express your grief whatever way you feel. A good counselor will both honor the profound depth of your grief while also providing support as your process your loss.

“A Private Grief”, Courtesy of Nicholas Bui,; CC0 License; “The Road Ahead”, Courtesy of Johannes Plenio,; CC0 License; “Grieving Man”, Courtesy of Tom Pumford,; CC0 License; “Lightning Storm”, Courtesy of Jeremy Bishop,; CC0 License

The Benefits of Christian Grief Counseling after Losing a Spouse

There is arguably no harder life change than losing your marriage partner. Whether your spouse died suddenly or after a prolonged illness, you are left in a familiar yet devastated world. Understanding the natural aspects and steps of grieving can be beneficial as you begin the process of living life without your partner.

Acknowledgement of the Loss

The first response to the loss of a loved one is that of thinking, “they really aren’t gone, are they?” As you grieve, you gradually move from this initial response to a more intellectual acceptance that your spouse is gone and they will never return.

This knowledge also becomes your new emotional reality – e.g. when you remember that your partner is no longer there to turn to, or when you expect familiar words, gestures or responses.

Such habits of togetherness only serve as painful reminders of your loss. This explains why some people suffering from the loss of a loved one reportedly “see” their departed spouse in public places, only to realize later on that it was someone else with a striking resemblance of their loved one that merely conjured memories. Seeing someone you mistake to be your loved one usually brings a ray of hope, a temporary thought that your loved one is not gone after all.

The Need for Expressing Grief

Experiencing the pain of loss is another natural and important part of the grieving process. It includes being willing to not only feel but also express your hurt and any other emotion brought about by your loss.

Grief is a painful experience and it is normal to be overwhelmed with sadness.  Feeling the pain and grief of death helps you to process the different aspects of your loss. It is normal to feel alone because as the bereaved spouse, you are now alone in the relationship.

These strong emotions play an important role in helping you come to terms at an emotional level that your partner is no more. Sometimes, some upsetting and uncomfortable emotions might also emerge. Anxiety, anger, despair, guilt, regret and even depression may surface. These typically reveal the difficult parts of the relationship between the deceased and the bereaved.

Finding Hope in Pain through the Cross

For believers in Christ, death is more than a natural event. We were actually created to be immortal but as a result of sin, death comes upon mankind. We not only die but we also go through the pain of watching loved ones die.

Nonetheless, the death of Christ and his conquering of sin give us the hope that death is not the last state for us and our loved ones.

Christian Grief Counseling for the Bereaved

Friends, family and everyone else in the support system of the couple (like social groups and a church family), should help support the person that loses a loved one. However, after three or four months of grieving, the bereaved spouse is often encouraged to move on with life or at least adjust better.

Naturally, the loss will hit the left spouse harder than it will hit other people. When the initial shock of the loss of a loved one begins to fade off, at a time when they would really do with more specific support, the support almost always declines. This is an ideal time to pursue Christian grief counseling in Newport Beach to find the necessary additional support and guidance.

“Grief”, Courtesy of Claudia,, CC0 License; “Gone”, Courtesy of Ian Dooley,, CC0 License; “Prayer”, Courtesy of Ben White,, CC0 License; “Grief”, Courtesy of Kinga Cichewicz,, CC0 License