Helpful Information and Articles

Are There Stages of Grief?

Cremation & the Bible

Pet Grief

Walk Your Grief Journey with Support
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Are There Stages of Grief?

Many people believe that there are stages of grief due to Elisabeth Kubler Ross and her study of terminally ill patients published in her book On Death and Dying as a Grief Model in 1969. These “stages” of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance simply don’t exist. There are many more aspects to grieving than just these “stages”. Grief is not orderly and can be very messy. In addition what one person may experience another one may not.

One certainty that does exist in grief: uncertainty accompanied with a myriad of emotions, physical symptoms and confusion to your spirit. Emotions can run the gamut from crying and depression to laughing and carelessness even clumsiness and forgetfulness and this may continue for some time.

You may also feel physical symptoms: the inability to sleep, overindulging with food or not eating at all. Your best course of action is just being patient with yourself as your body and emotions are adjusting to the loss in your life. Another area most likely is damaged is your spiritual self.

None of these areas, emotional, physical and spiritual, being out of sync mean that you are going nuts even though many people do feel this. Each situation, (i.e. death, divorce and job loss) will be different and each person’s grief will be different as each person is uniquely created. Grief is a unique journey for each person. It is a journey never before taken by you as the person you are grieving has never died before.

When uncertain about anything occurring in your body after experiencing the death of a loved one contact your doctor and have a thorough physical. This eliminates any physical issues and sometimes emotional as many times you fear something is wrong when there isn’t. Should your physician decide to prescribe medication to help you, accept that treatment as a temporary solution as your body will heal but you must allow it and assist it in returning to optimal health. The healing process will be similar and yet different to any surgery or injury that you may have experienced.

For your spirit to heal, lean into your faith and look for a grief support group.  
Your spirit is hurting and needs healing. There are some support groups on this website which are local to Green Bay,  WI.  If you need help finding one in another geographic area contact us.  

Encounter grief head on and don’t run. It will mean labor, hard work and most likely tears but you can get to other side with the support of very understanding and non-judgmental friends as you heal. No one can tell you the stages as it simply doesn’t exist. The most important thing to remember is that your grief is not their grief as their relationship and experiences with the deceased were not yours but theirs.

Cremation & the Bible

Modern society accepts cremation as an acceptable method of disposition for a human body, but is this totally accurate and true? Some argue Biblically, using Jesus’ burial as the main reason of why it must be burial. Technically Jesus was entombed and not buried. Burial has been the most commonly practiced method until the last few hundred years, when entombment and cremation became more popular and acceptable. This shift has been largely due to the expense involved.

Cremation (kr -m sh n) is defined by dictionary .com as: “1) To incinerate (a corpse), 2) A burning; esp., the act or practice of cremating the dead, 3) n: the incineration of a dead body.” The Holy Bible never uses the word cremation but there are several instances of its use described in Scripture. In most translations, this practice is always referred to as burned or a form of the word burn when used in Scripture. Will this study solidify with certain Biblical proof that cremation is an acceptable practice to everyone? Doubtful! There are some questions that will always remain for some people. These remaining questions, in the writer’s opinion, reveal the true inner self and the fact that the person is uncomfortable with his/her own death. In addition, (the) writer’s opinion again is, he/she also possesses the absence of an absolute faith in God being able to and willing to do the miraculous. Especially being able to make the human body appear again from ashes. He did it from dirt the first time so why limit Him?

Scriptures concerning the practice of cremation are: Joshua 7:25, I Samuel 31:12, II Kings 23:20, Amos 2:1 and Amos 6:10. These five passages and the purpose for each occurrence will be examined. Scripture with the specific verse will allow you to see the verse but it will be beneficial to your understanding to read most of the verses used in context.

Joshua 7:25 . . . Joshua said, "Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day." So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.

Joshua Chapter 7:10 – 25
is specifically referring to the Sin of Achan. God viewed this action of his disobedience as being sin upon the entire nation. The end result would be all of Israel would be punished but Achan repented in verse 20 and the end result of what happened to him is in 25. In Verse 15, God clearly instructs that he (the accursed) shall be burned by fire. However, you notice that in verse 25 that this did not occur until after Achan was stoned. This was a form of punishment definitely and without question but also quite possibly a quick and sanitary way to dispose of a human body. God wanted to get the attention and further commitment of the Israelites and this method of correction would be quite effective.

I Samuel 31:11.12: 11 Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all the valiant men arose and traveled all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh and burned them there.

I Samuel Chapter 31: 1 – 13
we learn about the death and defeat of Saul and his sons on Mount Gilboa against the Philistines. Verse 12 specifically says the bodies of Saul and his sons were removed from the wall in Beth Shan and then returned to Jabesh where they were burned and the bones buried. Verse 9 states that Saul’s head was cut off. Scripture does not say this but the impression is given that Saul’s head was someplace not even close to his body. One could even say that the heads of his sons were also gone but that is not certain either, as Scripture is not totally clear as to the conditions of the bodies. The distance from Beth Shan to Jabesh-Gilead is approximately 10 miles from looking at a map.

Scripture does not tell us why cremation was done but I can see several logical reasons: 1) the head of Saul was missing, maggots and other disgusting life forms, namely insects, had without any doubt, set up housekeeping in the cavity for reproduction purposes 2) the stench from the bodies due to the rapid decay that would occur and 3) the unavailability of hiding the body of Saul and his sons and 4) the fear of possible further abuse to the body of Saul by the Philistines. All of these are speculations with absolutely no proof. However, having a degree in Mortuary Science and knowing the weather conditions that are prevalent in that area makes these possibilities seem plausible.

2 Kings 23:16, 20; 16 As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs that were there on the mountain. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar, and defiled it according to the word of the Lord, which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. 20 He executed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned men's bones on them; and he returned to Jerusalem.

In 2 Kings Chapter 23 Josiah burns the bones of the men upon the altar fulfilling a prophecy by “a man of God” (I Kings 13:1 And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the Lord…) who lived during Jeroboam’s reign, These were most probably the bones of believers of the temple which Josiah was destroying as the graves were close by. This is most probable as people were historically buried close to their “house of worship” but Scripture does not specifically state such in the previous verses (vs. 16) but gives these implications. It is definite in verse 20 as Scripture says so. This particular reason for cremation was obedience, but again involved corpses. This action also fulfilled prophecy.

Amos 2:1 Thus says the LORD, "For three transgressions of Moab and for four I will not revoke its {punishment,} because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime.

Amos 2:1 gives no clear indication or reasoning of why cremation was performed on the King of Edom. There is implication that the king was dead before fire was set as Scripture says the bones were burned to lime. There is no indication that this was a sacrifice. Some of the same reasoning for cremating Saul and his sons might be plausible but cannot be said with any form of certainty.

Amos 6:10, And when a relative of the dead, with one who will burn the bodies, picks up the bodies to take them out of the house, he will say to one inside the house, "Are there any more with you?" Then someone will say, "None." And he will say, "Hold your tongue! For we dare not mention the name of the Lord."

Amos 6:10 give one the impression that cremation was an extremely acceptable form of disposition, as it states, “with one who will burn the bodies”. .

We have looked at five different passages of Scripture, each one practicing cremation. There were some very obvious reasons for it and some not so obvious.  The obvious ones are in Joshua and 2 Kings. The account in Joshua used the practice specifically for correction of wrongdoing after stoning the guilty party. It was also an act of obedience to God. The account in II Kings is another act of obedience but also the fulfillment of a prophecy. Two of the other passages, I Samuel 31:12 and Amos 2:1 give us no logical explanation for its use. Whereas, Amos 6:10 makes cremation sound as if it was a very customary practice. The end result being that it can be concluded that God does not find cremation evil and unacceptable as many people seem to think.

We have looked at these various passages and their reasoning but some people will still have questions. They will wonder and question about what happens to the soul when the body is cremated? It doesn’t really seem to matter, as the soul does not appear to be in the body when it is buried, entombed or cremated. When Jesus returns the saints will be with him * (I Thessalonians. 3:12, 13). 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. This can be interpreted as your soul going immediately to heaven upon death.

The next thing people wonder about is where our “glorified” body will come from. People are under the assumption that it must still be here for God to use. Our earthly body is just a shell. Does that mean He needs our earthly body? I have some serious doubts on that as there have been Christians tortured, maimed, executed, burned alive, eaten by lions and God only knows what else for centuries. In fact some people are nothing but dust. Embalming does not prevent a man from decaying but retards the decay of man. If He (God) can form man from dust why can’t He recreate the body He has promised us in the end? Mark 10:27 . . .  Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible." Luke 1:37 For with God nothing will be impossible.")

According to Scripture Philippians 3:20-21 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.) Jesus will transform our lowly body into His glorious body. Exactly what does that mean I do not know but one thing I do know God can do all things, even the impossible Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.")

I have recently heard the argument that God forbid man to send our children into the fire. It took me several days and many hours to find this Scripture that was being quoted but I believe I finally found it. Upon some very careful research and actual investigating of Scripture giving those implications, which are found in Deuteronomy 12 and Jeremiah 7, it is referring to the sacrifices of children not the act of cremation. Sacrifice is wrong especially to idols and pagan gods. It was, in fact, being misquoted!

Nothing definite can be said that cremation is right or wrong. It appears that all practices of body disposition; burial, entombment and cremation, used today have been in place since Biblical times. Therefore, all of the practices used for the disposition of a human body appear acceptable. It is really a matter of personal choice!

All Scripture is from the New King James Version

Pet Grief

Do you feel worse about the death of your pet than some family members?  

Are you finding that your family and friends don't understand your grief?

Your relationship with your pet is unique - it’s a bond that is very different than those we share with a  human being. The unique emotional relationship and bond we have with a pet and their death produces a level of pain that is extremely difficult to describe.  

         When a pet dies, people often resort to various myths to deal with grief: 

MYTH #1 trying to move too quickly past the loss (dismissing the real impact), 

MYTH #2 attempt to replace the pet immediately.   

These are merely two myths out of six that you can explore in literature that we can supply you with.  Ultimately you will discover how you can move on with life.    

If you’ve found yourself almost inconsolable after your pet died, know that you’re normal and this group is for you.  

Contact us for further information and support.

Walk Your Grief Journey with Support

Grief support groups can be a healing resource for those who have experienced the death of someone close, but choosing a grief support group can be a very complicated decision for someone who is grieving.  Adding to the difficulty, many days you don’t feel like you are making rational decisions.  The following are some suggestions on how to navigate the process of selecting a group that will best fit your needs. 

People often look for a support group with other people who have suffered a similar loss, but in reality it is best to look for a support group that includes people who have experienced a variety of losses.   When someone has the same type of relationship as you to their loved one and has lost their loved one in death, it is likely they have the same or similar questions as you.  This may sound ideal but the problem is they can’t help you find the answers to your questions nor can you provide solutions to assist them.  A diverse group allows you to look at your questions from a different perspective and generally, the discussion will assist you in finding the solution to your questions which assists you with your healing.  Your common bond is the fact that everyone in the group have all have experienced the death of a loved one.  

Support groups and seminars presented weekly and have predetermined topics are often the most beneficial to attend.  You can attend the sessions and review the same information in a few months in most of these programs.   As a result, you will hear, see and experience things you did not grasp the first time the material was presented.  Viewing the material a second time is often helpful and informative but, being presented with information a third time is rarely beneficial. 

These programs typically gather as a large group and then break into smaller groups of 8 – 12 people for discussion.  Smaller groups permit more sharing, a sense of security and allow the discussion groups to become more intimate in connecting with one another.   

Additional advantages to this type of group typically include a workbook for you to utilize for further enhancement of your healing.  The workbook consists of daily exercises and activities helping to reinforce the subject matter presented in the video shown the previous week.  This allows you to supplement your healing in a more expedient manner and also allows you to retain more of the information.

Remember, there may be days you simply cannot force yourself to do anything and that you are the one in charge of your own healing.   Optimally you will commit to attending three continual weeks to begin your grief work.  The first week will be the hardest but continue for the next two prior to making a decision of whether the group is right for you. 

A further advantage to attending smaller intimate groups with mixed losses is you become acquainted with each other rather quickly. You may even connect with someone else in the group and go out for coffee or lunch.  These new friends in your support group will most likely become part of your own personal support system. 

Leaders and Facilitators of video based groups trust the knowledge and expertise of the nationally recognized video experts. Rarely are facilitators of these groups professionals but merely individuals, like you, who have walked the same path you are now walking. Most facilitators are just further along in their personal grief journey than you and often have some very helpful insights as they have been there. People who have been there and understand the grief journey are always the most helpful to any grieving person. Remember not all groups will be exactly the same due to the leader’s personality, training and life experiences.

Never participate in more than one grief group at any given time as you will most likely become overwhelmed emotionally.  Ways in which you can further complement your healing are by attending an occasional one-time seminar or utilizing private counseling. Grief is hard work so treat yourself gently but you must make the decision about your healing. 

 Programs that are available nationwide and held locally include programs by Grief Care Fellowship, Walking Through Grief, GriefShare and Recovering from the Losses of Life which is taught by H. Norman Wright.  Each program is DVD Based and offers hope and help while providing information and practical suggestions for navigating your grief journey.  

Curtis Benjamin 

FromMounring to Hope Director

 ProkoWall Newsletter Summer 2017