Grief is a challenging and painful process. For some people, a season of grief may pass quickly, but for others, the sorrow can linger for months and even years. Often, a loss can overwhelm us.
During these times when we experience grief from losing a loved one or because of another area of loss, we can find help and support from God, those we love, and from grief counseling.
Christians need to have knowledge about grief counseling because they will experience grief in life and will inevitably encounter others who are struggling with loss.
Although many Christians feel hesitant to enter counseling because of negative stigmas around mental and emotional health, it is okay to seek help.
Grief counseling will not solve every problem in a person’s life, but it is beneficial to those who are suffering from sorrow after the death of a loved one or a major loss in life.
It Is Okay to Seek Help
Before discussing various aspects of grief counseling, we need to understand that it is okay to seek help from professional counseling. Among Christian circles, there is a stigma surrounding emotional and mental health.
Often, people will claim that any struggle with depression, anxiety, grief, or another area of mental health is a result of sin in a person’s life. Such claims sound more like the foolish words of Job’s “friends” than godly counsel (Job 4:7-8; 8:1-4).
We need to remember that God’s Word never equates emotional or mental problems with personal sin. Throughout Scripture, we read about individuals who struggled with human emotions.
For instance, Hannah suffered from depression because of infertility (1 Samuel 1:4-10). Also, David expressed his grief over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan through a lament (2 Samuel 1:17-27). Even Jesus, the perfect Son of God, wept when Lazarus died (John 11:35).
Experiencing emotional pain, like grief, is not a sin. Christians need to stop stigmatizing emotional and mental health struggles and instead join in helping people who are brokenhearted and hurt. God cares about the brokenhearted and we should too (Psalm 34:18).
Already, multitudes of believers are assisting bereaved individuals through ministries and counseling. If someone is grieving, then it is normal and extremely beneficial to talk to a professional grief counselor.
There Are Different Forms of Grief Counseling
While there are various methods that grief counselors use to help a person cope with grief, there are also different forms of grief counseling: secular and Christian.
A believer could choose to utilize either option for grief counseling depending on their situation, access to therapy, and affordability.
However, Christians should recognize significant differences between secular and Christian grief counseling.
According to Marcelina Hardy, in her article about Christian grief counseling, the main difference between secular and Christian counseling is that “Christian grief counseling is the integration of faith along with support and guidance to move you through the grief process.”
A Christian grief counselor will provide professional counseling with the integration of Scripture and a proper understanding of God. In contrast, secular counselors and therapists will not approach grief from a biblical worldview.
If a believer chooses to meet a grief counselor that follows a secular model, then they need to understand that the counselor may not believe in God, the Bible, the need for salvation, a biblical view of the afterlife, or Christian morality.
These counselors can help in the treatment of grief, but believers must exercise caution and discernment against any practices or advice that go against God’s Word.
Regularly meeting with a trusted friend, pastor, or church leader while undergoing secular grief counseling is a wise choice. Godly friends and mentors can assist the believer in maintaining a biblical outlook during the painful season of grief.
Regardless of which form of grief counseling a believer chooses, they should continue to invest in their relationship with Christ. Especially in the tumultuous time of grief, believers need to cling to the solid rock and anchor of Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:4; Hebrews 6:19).
Christians should question and seriously reconsider any method or form of therapy that hinders spiritual growth or their relationship with Jesus.
Biblical, prayerful discernment is important when assessing either form of grief counseling, whether secular or Christian. Before choosing a counselor, Christians need to pray about their options and carefully research each grief counseling service.
Grief is a Process That Takes Time
Starting grief counseling is a great first step toward learning how to cope and heal. An important note to remember, though, is that grief is a process and that it takes time to get to a place where a person can cope with their loss.
As The Recovery Village mentions in their article about grief, “Loss is experienced by different people in different ways. How long grief lasts will depend on many factors, including the circumstances of the situation that is causing grief.”
No magic number exists as to how long someone should attend counseling sessions. Believers must practice patience and remember that the amount of time an individual needs to attend counseling varies depending on the person and their situation.
Some people may need counseling for a brief time to cope with a loss in their life. However, there are others who could struggle with chronic or complicated grief depending on the nature of their loss. These individuals may need more intensive treatment over a longer period.
Believers should not expect that they will automatically feel better or that all their pain will go away when starting grief counseling.
Even after multiple sessions, a Christian might find themselves hit with waves of sorrow or guilt. In the process of grief, though, we can find comfort and hope knowing that God is there and that He “works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).
Affordable Care Is Available
A massive hindrance to accessing grief counseling is affordability. Low-income families and individuals suffering from loss may struggle to find care because of the generally high prices of professional counselors and therapists.
Scripture readily speaks against those who oppress the poor for financial gain (Proverbs 22:16, 22; Zechariah 7:10). Thankfully, organizations and ministries exist that seek to help those who cannot afford grief counseling.
Churches often offer grief counseling or support groups to assist bereaved individuals. Careful research into these programs is beneficial in finding the one that fits individual needs.
Even if a local church does not offer a counseling program, members can talk to their pastor or church leaders about local options for low-cost or free grief counseling.
The price of grief counseling should not hinder believers from seeking out help for their grief. Multiple options exist for accessing professional care, including ministry programs in churches and through local organizations.
Why Does This Matter?
Everyone is going to experience the death of a loved one or suffer a major loss in life. We live in a fallen world where death and suffering occur and affect every part of life (Romans 5:12; 8:20-22).
When Christians struggle with grief, they need to know that they can reach out to others for help. Despite what some Christians teach, struggling with emotions like grief is not a sin nor caused by personal sin.
Grief counseling is a legitimate and beneficial resource for those who are suffering from a significant loss.
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Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.