Q: What is grief?

A: Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be.[1] Intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.[2]


Q: What are some common causes of grief?

A: Some recognized causes are: divorce or relationship breakup, loss of health, losing a job, loss of financial stability, a miscarriage, retirement, death of a pet, loss of a cherished dream, a loved one’s serious illness, loss of a friendship, loss of safety after a trauma, selling the family home.[3]


Q: What are the five stages of grief?

A: They are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.


Q: Does everyone handle grief the same way?

A: The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.[4]


Q: What is the difference between grief and depression?

A: Grief can be a roller coaster with the right variety of emotion and a mix of good and bad days.  With depression the feelings of emptiness and despair are somewhat constant.[5]


Q: How can we cope with the loss of a pet?[6]

A: Given the intense bond most of us share with our animals, it’s natural to feel devastated by feelings of grief and sadness when a pet dies. Grief for animal companions can only be dealt with over time, but there are healthy ways to cope with the pain. Here are some suggestions: Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, reach out to others who have lost pets, and look after yourself.  If you have other pets, try to maintain your normal routine. 


Q: What is healthy grief?

A: Grieving is invaluable, and it's a skill that can be used throughout your life in many situations. If you understand how to grieve now, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary heartache down the road.[7]


[1] Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., “Coping with Grief and Loss,”, December 2014. (Accessed January 22, 2015).

[2] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, eds., Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[3] Smith and Segal, “Coping with Grief and Loss,” (Accessed January 22, 2015).

[4] Jon Radulovic, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, November 17, 2011.​. (Accessed January 22, 2015).

[5] Smith and Segal, “Coping with Grief and Loss,” (Accessed January 22, 2015).

[6] Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Robert Segal, M.A, “Coping With Pet Loss,”, December 2014. (Accessed January 22, 2015).

[7] Glenn Lutjens, Living with Healthy Grief, Focus on the Family, 2000. (Accessed January 22, 2015).

Grief and sorrow are normal human emotions. Jesus grieved and felt sadness.


Luke 19:41-44 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. "For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, “and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."


Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.


Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.


God uses sorrow and grief to prevent greater loss and bring about repentance.


2 Corinthians 7:9-10 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.


Grief and Sorrow often have a greater purpose


John 16:20-22 "Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy." A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. "Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. 


Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.


2 Corinthians 4:8-10 We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-- always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.


Grief and weakness can become our strength


2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


Isaiah 61:7 Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.