Talking can be a helpful release. Following the death of all ten of his children, as well as some other personal tragedies, the ancient patriarch Job said: “My soul certainly feels a loathing toward my life. I will give vent to [Hebrew, “loose”] my concern about myself. I will speak in the bitterness of my soul!” (Job 1:2, 18, 19; 10:1) Job could no longer restrain his concern. He needed to let it loose; he had to “speak.” Similarly, the English dramatist Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth: “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.”
So talking about your feelings to “a true companion” who will listen patiently and sympathetically can bring a measure of relief. (Proverbs 17:17) Putting experiences and feelings into words often makes it easier to understand them and to deal with them. And if the listener is another bereaved person who has effectively dealt with his or her own loss, you may be able to glean some practical suggestions on how you can cope. When her child died, one mother explained why it helped to talk to another woman who had faced a similar loss: “To know that somebody else had gone through the same thing, had come out whole from it, and that she was still surviving and finding some sort of order in her life again was very strengthening to me.”
What if you are not comfortable talking about your feelings? Following the death of Saul and Jonathan, David composed a highly emotional dirge in which he poured out his grief. This mournful composition eventually became part of the written record of the Bible book of Second Samuel. (2 Samuel 1:17-27; 2 Chronicles 35:25) Similarly, some find it easier to express themselves in writing. One widow reported that she would write down her feelings and then days later read over what she had written. She found this a helpful release.
Whether by talking or writing, communicating your feelings can help you to release your grief. It can also help to clear up misunderstandings. A bereaved mother explains: “My husband and I heard of other couples that got divorced after losing a child, and we didn’t want that to happen to us. So any time we felt angry, wanting to blame each other, we would talk it out. I think we really grew closer together by doing that.” Thus, letting your feelings be known can help you to understand that even though you may be sharing the same loss, others may grieve differently—at their own pace and in their own way.
Something else that can facilitate the release of grief is crying. There is “a time to weep,” says the Bible. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4) Surely the death of someone we love brings on such a time. Shedding tears of grief appears to be a necessary part of the healing process.
One young woman explains how a close friend helped her to cope when her mother died. She recalls: “My friend was always there for me. She cried with me. She talked with me. I could just be so open with my emotions, and that was important to me. I didn’t have to be embarrassed about crying.” (See Romans 12:15.) Nor should you feel ashamed of your tears. As we have seen, the Bible is filled with examples of men and women of faith—including Jesus Christ—who openly shed tears of grief without any apparent embarrassment.—Genesis 50:3; 2 Samuel 1:11, 12; John 11:33, 35.
You may find that for a time your emotions will be somewhat unpredictable. Tears may flow without much advance warning. One widow found that supermarket shopping (something she had often done with her husband) could reduce her to tears, especially when, out of habit, she reached for items that had been her husband’s favorites. Be patient with yourself. And do not feel that you have to hold back the tears. Remember, they are a natural and necessary part of grieving.