Loss is a common experience to everyone. Loss of relationships,  loved ones, dreams, hopes, and more. Grief is a sense of deep sadness and often emptiness which comes after sudden loss or unexpected life changes. These feelings are common and are a normal part of the loss journey.

However, sometimes when faced with traumatic loss, such as losing a loved one to terminal illness, combat violence, car accidents, or homicide, one may feel a sense of injustice has been committed against them and seek to resolve this loss.

The feelings that come after experiences like these are known as disenfranchised grief. It can best be described as “feeling like a train wreck” because it happens so suddenly and then all at once.

Disenfranchised grief often leads to what is known as “complicated grief,” or “unsolved grief,” and leaves many feeling “stuck” in the loss journey.

The story of Lazarus in the Bible is one of the most poignant when exploring how grief and loss impact others. We can find the retelling in the chapter 11 of the Gospel of John.

Lazarus, the brother to Mary and Martha, falls ill and Jesus receives word that he is about to die. Jesus gives this opportunity to glorify God through working a miracle. However, when he arrives at Bethany, where Lazarus died four days earlier, his sister Martha comes to him and says, “If you would have gotten here sooner, my brother wouldn’t have died.”

In this account, we see how angry Martha was that she knew Jesus could have saved her brother immediately. This is an example of her disenfranchised grief as she felt something “should have” been done in the moment. As the story unfolds, through Martha’s pain a miracle is performed, which leads her to trust in the power of God in her life, through Jesus.

Disenfranchised grief often causes more questions rather than bringing a feeling of closure. Often we seek answers to those moments of pain in life that don’t have easy outcomes.

However, the journey through grief and loss begins with recognizing the richness of love felt and experienced. The measure of the loss and feelings present afterwards are often reminders of how deep and full of love our lives have been for those who pass away before our time.

Christian Counseling for Disenfranchised Grief

If you’re looking for Christian counseling for grief of any kind, feel free to browse our online counselor directory to find the best counselor to meet your needs.


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