Healthy Grief Essay
The Book of Job is a profound story about a man who was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1). Job was a man who had a loving family, prospered and was very wealthy. For whatever reason, Satan challenged God regarding Job. Satan told God that if everything were taken away from Job, he would surely curse God. It was a “bet” of sorts. So God gave Satan the power to destroy everything Job had with the exception of Job’s life. Satan took away Job’s possessions, family and health. Unbelievably, even after all his loss, Job still fell to the ground and worshipped God. Job 1:2-20)
The trials and hardships that Job suffered were inconceivable, yet Job seemed to persevere and demonstrate resilience beyond what is human. What made the difference? Was it his faith? This paper will discuss the five stages of the Kubler-Ross grieving process. It will examine the successful example of Job’s own grieving process as it relates to the Baha’i faith. The Five stages of Kubler-Ross can be seen throughout the story of Job. According to Kubler-Ross (2013), the grieving process is comprised of five formal stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.
The first stage, denial, actually enables the person to initially endure an incredible loss. While it may seem counterintuitive, denial is actually a critical aspect of the healthy healing process. It is comparable to entering a stage of shock. The act of denial actually is a protective mechanism that helps a person cope with the overwhelming situations. (Kubler-Ross & Kessler 2013) One could interpret Job’s statement, “Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away”(Job 1:21) as a form of denial. Others may interpret it as his unwavering faith in God’s plan.
Anger is the next stage, and is absolutely essential to the grieving process. Job is seen voicing his anger, “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth, I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. ” (Job 7:11) Pain is the emotion most closely related to and buried under anger. So, in essence, the pain drives anger and anger drives change. As it relates to the grieving process, anger instigates a form of strength and can provide the backbone and structure necessary to move on to the next stage. Kubler-Ross & Kessler 2013) Although Job voices his anger it isn’t directed to God but rather the situation.
Bargaining in the third stage and is the stage of negotiating. In their mind, a person will remain in the past, and try anything to return to the way things were before. (Kubler-Ross & Kessler 2013) At first glance, it appears Job doesn’t ever go through the bargaining stage, he clearly expresses his sadness. He continues to praise and worship God in spite of the losses he is going through. However, one can observe how he clearly wishes he could return to the way things were before. He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength, who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered. ” (Job 9:4) But his sorrow could certainly be seen as a type of bargaining with God to relieve his sorrow. The fourth stage is depression, the stage where one will experience feelings of emptiness and hopelessness. Some people worry that their feelings of despair will last forever. Yet this stage is part of the natural order of loss, and a critical component of the five stages. When someone is depressed they become withdrawn. They sometimes question whether or not they should go on themselves.
The depression stage is part of the natural healing process and is a necessary step one must experience in order to heal. (Kubler-Ross & Kessler 2013) Job reveals his own deep depression he says, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope. “(Job 7:6) “Let that day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said. ” (Job 3:3) and continues to question why he survived birth and should probably never have been conceived. (Job 3:3-11). Job is feeling hopeless and is becoming depressed. He also feels his problems are ith no end in sight, and he is experiencing the thoughts of giving up.
Acceptance of his trials is evident in Job 13: 15-16 “Through he slay me, yet will I trust in him, He also will be my salvation. ” Job accepts that God is wise and puts his trust in him. This stage is about the acceptance of a new reality; people change, learn and develop empathy from their grief to move on. Acknowledging the pain and moving on doesn’t mean the past is forgotten, rather it enables the person to move forward with an open heart and a broader perspective.
Job didn’t fully understand the purpose of his trials, but he accepted the omnipotence of his God. His faith sustained him just as faith sustains people today. Job’s faith is similar to that of the Baha’i faith. Those of the Baha’i faith believe that the body, mind, and spirit grow when they are tried by suffering. Trails or tests are viewed as a gift from God. Those who have these tests and persevere will have happiness while those who don’t are cowards. They are asked to turn to God and pray when enduring these tests and be thankful. Grief and sorrow do not come to us by chance, they are sent to us by the Divine Mercy for our own perfecting” (Baha’i International Community 2013).
Job persevered and believed there was a reason to why God was putting him through these trials. Studies have shown that those who attend church, pray, and actively practice their faith actually suffer less depression and resolve their grief sooner than those with little or no faith at all. (Quick, 2012) Clearly, there appears to be a correlation between spiritual beliefs or faith, and the ability to handle stress and accept tragedies in a more positive way.
Healthcare providers, counselors, and clergy have all recognized that having a faith to cling to or a greater belief in life after death can ease the grieving process. In conclusion, having a belief in a greater power and life after death can make dealing with loss much easier. When a person has something to cling to, it can make dealing with trauma or loss more manageable. If there was no belief in life after death or no belief in a greater power, life’s tragedies would be far more difficult to deal with. It’s actually healthy to cultivate a belief in something.
Like Job, we will all experience some type of loss in our lives. Grief is a common thread to each and every person on the planet. Identifying the stages of grief, and having the resources and skills to cope with grief is crucial for handling grief in a healthy way. Everyone experiences the stages of grief. The difference seems to be faith. People who have a deep sense of faith are better equipped and more quickly navigate the stages of grief. As with Job, their faith allows them to go forward and successfully help others through the grieving process.