Mourning to Dancing Part 2

Testimony from reader…

Dear Dr. Stan,

Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to read your book.  As I mentioned, when I first received and read it I was in a fog.  Though there was great information, I really wasn’t thinking clearly enough to say anything about it, well almost anything.  Just reading the book was a blessing.

 Susan Slusher, Director

Christian International Equipping Network

Santa Rosa Beach, FL

In Proverbs 13:12 it states;

     “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

Whether one experiences a loss suddenly or over a prolonged period of time, a loss affects our hope — hope that we would have another vacation, hope we would see grandkids together, hope that I would finally get the job I wanted. Hope deferred, certainly makes one sad, but life does not have to be hopeless, even when we have suffered a major loss. We always have hope.

There are all types of losses…and there is hope regardless of the type or intensity of the loss. These losses may include: the loss of relationships in general, more specifically the loss of a friend, separation of husband and wives, loss of children, divorce, separation from animals, loss of a job or status, etc.  

     “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.”  Psalms 30:11

 Regardless of the loss, grief and mourning are the natural reactions to the loss, but in time we can experience life again; it requires process, grace, faith and time.

Mourning in American Culture

Part of the average person’s difficulty with grief and grieving is that our American culture no longer validates our status as a griever.  There are few helps or symbols (such as a black armband) to acknowledge that you are grieving beyond the funeral.  Society has taught us that overt displays of grief are not acceptable past a week or two after loss.  Many men and women who have lost a loved one later complain that there is subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) pressure placed upon them to get over the loss, to “behave normally” as if nothing has changed in their lives.

People continue to receive messages from their family, friends and employers to “get a grip,” “get on with life,” and “it’s time to get over this” as soon as two or three weeks after a death of a loved one.  Americans haven’t learned that people suffer deeply, emotionally, and sometimes physically, even though they may not be showing overt symptoms of grief.

Most other cultures are far more realistic about how long mourning requires. Many have the custom of dressing in black for up to six months or a year. It is the Orthodox Jewish custom to offer formal prayers daily for 11 Hebrew months and to mourn for 12 months.

If you would like to give your family, friends, and employers something that explains your grieving behavior, consider using this letter.

My Dear (Family, Friends, Pastor, Employer…)

As you know I have recently experienced the death/loss  of my (               ).

This loss is devastating to me, and it will take time for me to work through my grief.  Sometimes I fear that you may expect me to heal quickly, but grief cannot be rushed.

I will cry more often than usual for a while.  My tears symbolize the release of my feelings and are a healthy sign that I am recovering.  These tears are neither a sign of personal weakness nor a lack of faith or hope.

Because my emotions are heightened by the strain of grief, I may seem irrational at times.  Please be patient and forgiving, if I become irritable and angry for no apparent reason. Grief comes in unpredictable ways and sometimes at inconvenient moments.

I know that you are probably at a loss for what to do or say to help me.  There are no magic words you can say to take my pain away.  Touch me or give me a hug to let me know you care.

Please don’t wait for me to call you.  I am often too overwhelmed to think of reaching out for help.  I need you more than ever in the months ahead, but my pride sometimes prevents me from telling you.  Give me space to heal, but don’t allow me to withdraw from you.

Pray for me, if you wish; but pray that I will find the courage and the strength I need to deal with my grief constructively. Faith is necessary in every area of life, and the process of grief is no exception.

If by chance you have had a similar loss, please share it with me.  It will not make me feel worse.  Grief shared is grief diminished.

Telling me to “cheer up, it could be worse” makes me feel discounted and angry.  This loss is the worst thing for me right now.  But I will heal and live again.  While there are still painful days ahead for me, I will not always feel as intensely as I do now.  One day I will be able to laugh again and find new joy in living.

I appreciate your concern and caring. Your understanding and support is a gift, which I will always treasure.


I have told many fellow mourners that grief can be a gift, especially when someone tries to be too nosy, too helpful, too…well you know, and telling them to leave you well enough alone can always be excused, because we are grieving — use it as necessary!

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.  Psalms 30:5

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