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Healthy Grief

Sep 14, 2017 in Consideration

In spite of the fact that every grief process is different, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler managed to distinguish five stages of grief common for everyone: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance (Kübler-Ross). Still, every individual experiences the stages in different orders, sometimes skipping a stage, or going through one stage couple times. The same happens to a Biblical character with genuine faith in God Job who, faced considerable loss, knows that God has his reasons to act this way.

Although this all is meant just as a test, Job's situation seems to be really sad — suddenly losing everything is a hard challenge to cope with, no matter how strong your faith is. Job's grief becomes obvious in the second chapter when his friends come to support him, and he remains silent for seven days. When he finally starts speaking, he is clearly in despair: he curses the day he was born, and he wants to forget everything he knows. This might be the stage of denial, when Job feels lost, and he is not sure how to live further. However, he trusts in God and knows that one day he will join him, so everything he has here is of no real significance. Being puzzled and confused, Job finds an explanation to why this all is happening to him %u2012 if people accept all the good things from God, they should also be able to accept the bad ones. This idea looks very logical, but it is still hard to understand why God wants his children to suffer. However, Job soon realizes that he might have done something wrong to arouse God's wrath. Discussing the stage of anger, Kübler-Ross means that people might be angry with God for being cruel towards them. Again, Job is not angry in the way Kübler-Ross says. Of course, he is upset, but he never says a word about being angry. As Kübler-Ross mentions, "the anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love" (Kübler-Ross). And Job is full of love towards God. Throughout the story, he experiences a wide range of emotions, he is depressed, but he never blames God for being cruel or unfair to him.

The next stage of grief according to Kübler-Ross is bargaining. Facing a loss of what is important to them, people wonder what might have happened, if they acted differently. Nevertheless, Job's grief does not have this stage, and the explanation is simple — there are no "ifs", because he has done everything according to God's will. In chapter 31, he says, "If I have withheld anything that the poor desired, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail, or have eaten my morsel alone... if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing, or a poor person without covering then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder, and let my arm be broken from its socket" (The Book of Job). Saying so, Job knows that he has been faithful to God, so he believes that there must be some other reason for the punishment.

What Job clearly experiences is depression. Although he loves God, he does not fully understand him. When his friends come to talk to him, they speak the words they consider to be wise, but they are no helpful, and Job remains sad for a long time. In the end, Yahweh rebukes all his friends except one — Elihu, who believes that suffering is also valuable. He argues that God is always fair, and unlike men whose knowledge is limited, God knows everything. The last stage named by Kübler-Ross is acceptance, but it looks like in the Book of Job, it comes first. His faith is extremely strong, thus he knows that God is almighty and if he sends this challenge, then Job deserves it. He initially saw the test as God's fair will. Although he has the feeling that he has done everything right and gave no reason for God to punish him, Job is a believer, so for him, God's actions are not perceived as random whatever happens.

So, the Book of Job is a perfect example of what the process of grieving is supposed to be for Christians — no matter what happens, God has always got the reason to act this way. If to compare grieving of Christians to that of Muslims, one might find many similarities. Islam says that people are created to worship Allah, and he can test their faith whenever he wants. This is exactly what happens to Job —God puts him through a test and rewards him later. True Muslims know that the life on earth is only temporary, so there is no reason for grieving, because no matter what happens to people here, they can always hope for a better life hereafter. If a person loses something or someone, the best thing to do is to pray. Thus Allah will help stay strong and continue living. However, it seems that Islam is less tolerant towards grieving, because Muslims should know that everything is in hands of Allah. People should be patient even if it is death of the dear people that they face. One of the prophets said, "Our eyes our filled with tears, our hearts with grief but, we say nothing with our lips except that which pleases Allah Verily to Allah we belong and to Him we return" (as cited by Zarrukh). Muslims should understand that death is a natural process, and every human being will die — this happened even to Allah's favorite prophet Muhammad. Nevertheless, it should be easier for true Muslims to tolerate their loss knowing that sooner or later they will rejoice, if not on this planet, than on heavens.

Finally, after all suffering Job is filled with joy. All the challenges he deals with show him how much God loves him. The reader knows that in spite of letting Satan interfere with Job's life, God limits his actions, because he loves Job and considers him to be his friend. Throughout his grieving, Job talks to God couple times, but he never answers, but he gives him the most significant thing a person can have %u2012 hope, for as it can be seen from chapter 19: 25, Job knows for sure that one day he will meet God and will have a face to face conversation with him. Apart from that, when the test is over and Job has proved that his faith is unquestioning, God rewards him, doubling his previous possessions. This is particularly important for Christians, for they know that grief and joy are like twins, and they always accompany each other. Therefore, a strong faith in God helps to overcome the biggest troubles. This is very similar to Islam, which says that Allah knows what is best for his people, and if he makes them suffer, he does that only to make their further life more joyful.

As to my grieving process, it is more similar to that described by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross than that of Job. The most obvious stages for me are anger and bargaining. When someone dear to me leaves this world forever, I am angry with God and with life itself. There had been situations when I entered the bargaining stage, but since nothing happened, I returned to anger again. The stage which I have never experienced, though, is acceptance. I might get used to the fact that my life has changed, but can never fully accept it. Job loves God so much that he accepts everything he sends, but my faith is not that strong. I realize that I might not always act according to God's will, but this does not mean that the disobedience is to be punished so severely — by taking someone else's life away. The research is helpful, because it shows that the majority of people goes through the same stages of grieving, and this is normal to be angry and depressed. It also helps understand that for people with unquestioning faith in God it is much easier to endure all life challenges, because no matter what happens, one thing can never be taken away from them — their hope.

In conclusion, Job is an outstanding example of what real faith in God looks like. No matter what God does to him, Job never questions his decision. Although Job is just a human being, he manages to control his emotions and thoughts, thus avoiding some stages suggested by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. What is even more important, God never leaves him, and in the end, he generously rewards Job for his genuine faith and deep hope.

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