A Biblical Guide for Grieving with Hope
Grief is an experience that one out of every one person will face. Actually, it is worse than that. We all experience grief multiple times throughout our lives. Unfortunately, the more people we love the more times we will experience significant grief.
In the midst of the pain we often ask ourselves, “To love or not to love (if we have a Shakespearean bent)?” “Is it really worth it to love if it means having to hurt like this (if we talk normal)?” Either way, we are tempted to consider not loving as the better option. In our moments of pain and confusion it just feels safer.
Dr. Bob Kellemen has written an excellent book to guide us biblically and relationally through this difficult (and often repetitive) season of life. The quality of the book is such that it warrants an endorsement from GriefShare, an organization devoted to developing Christ-centered grief support groups. They have included Dr. Kellemen on their panel of experts for interviews shown in thousands of grief recovery groups across the world every week.
There are three aspects of the book that I would like to highlight. Each makes God’s Healing for Life’s Losses an excellent resource for every pastor’s, counselor’s, and friend’s library, and an excellent guide for the person seeking to find God’s hope in the midst of their grief and loss.
Formatted for Grief: A Gift-Book Format
First, the book is purposefully user-friendly, focused, and short (only 116 pages total). In the midst of grief, concentration is difficult and processing anything is hard. A grieving person could pick up this book and not feel intimidated. That is important.
There are more ways to display an understanding of one’s audience than cleverly articulating penetrating insight. Dr. Kellemen reveals his compassionate heart for grieving people by writing a book that is accessible to people in the midst of their pain.
In and Out of Grief: Your Journey with Christ
Second, this book offers biblical markers for the journey through grief rooted in a well-developed theology of suffering. While aware of Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), Dr. Kellemen does not operate within this paradigm.
Instead, he offers eight “stages” (referred to as “markers on our journey with God”) rather than five (see bullets below). These are not merely three additional hoops to jump through. Whereas Kubler-Ross’s material has one final “positive” or hope giving stage—acceptance—after four heart-breaking stages, Dr. Kellemen traces the journey up out of grief in as much detail as he traces the journey down into the emotional struggle.
In each case, Dr. Kellemen walks with readers in their movement from the world’s typical “stage” to God’s pathway for growth in and through grief:
- From Denial to Candor: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
- From Anger to Complaint: A Lament for Your Loss
- From Bargaining to Crying Out to God: I Surrender All
- From Depression to Comfort: God Comes
- From Regrouping to Waiting: When God Says “Not Yet”
- From Deadening to Wailing: Pregnant with Hope
- From Despairing to Weaving: Spiritual Mathematics
- From Digging Cisterns to Worshipping: Finding God
Taking Grief by the Hand: Grieving with Hope
Third, the book is very personal. Not “in your business” personal, but “walking with you” personal. It contains the story of Dr. Kellemen’s own experiences with grief and the testimony of many others—including scores of biblical characters and dozens of modern-day examples. More than this, Dr. Kellemen invites you into the book with guided reflection (suitable both for individual use and/or group interaction) embedded into the book.
If you take the time to reflect and record your thoughts as you read, you will have more than practical, biblical information when you finish the book. You will have a travelogue of your journey though grief that can serve as a precious memento and an encouraging refuge during those times when the pain of grief returns (holiday, birthdays, and other special occasions).
Biblical, Personal, and Healing: Refreshing Honesty
In reflecting on the overall impact of the book, I would echo the words of Garrett Higbee (President of Twelve Stones Ministries and Executive Director of Harvest Biblical Soul Care).
“God’s Healing for Life’s Losses takes on traditional thoughts about grief and loss and turns them upside down. There is refreshing honesty about the pain of loss and the permission to be real with God and others as we embrace the mourning process together. This book is biblical, personal, and healing. I highly recommend it.”