Do You Have A Problem With Unresolved Grief?
How do I comfort the broken-hearted?


1. Do you think about your losses once or more weekly, or daily?

2. Do you feel a lump in your throat when these thoughts about your losses happen?

3. Do your eyes fill with tears when you think about your losses?

4. Are you afraid you're going to lose control and not be able to stop crying about your losses?

5. Do you occasionally have feelings of being overwhelmed, or helplessness, or abandonment, or loneliness?

6. When thinking about your loss, have you recently (within the past several weeks) experienced a “panic attack?” (sweaty palms, dry mouth, hyperventilating, dizziness, tightness of chest, etc.)

7. Do you have times when you feel so angry you think you're going to explode inside?

8. Since your loss, do you swear, and before your loss, you were not accustomed to swearing?

9. Do you find yourself "snappy" and "sharp" with others, and you were not this way before your loss?

10. Do you find yourself going to the graveside of a loved one, or driving past the cemetery more than once weekly, and your loss happened over one year ago?

11. Is it more than three months since your loss, and you are withdrawn from people who formerly were your close friends?

12. Are you so energetic and active since your loss that you don’t have time to think?

If you have said "yes" to six or more of twelve above questions, you are suffering from Unresolved Grief.
You could benefit from a grief support group and/or grief counseling by a trained professional.

Courtesy of Sheepfold Ministries, Pastor Phil Roland, MA


Grief and sorrow sweep over us with each new loss we experience in life. There are the “little griefs” like the loss of a pet, the loss of a treasured object, a necessary move to a new city, or the loss of a job. We learn to accept these as a part of life, but when a treasured person we have loved all our lives dies, we experience the passion and process of grief. Most of us have been raised in families that didn’t give us emotional validation. We have grown into adulthood unaware of the dynamics of our own emotion and especially our own grief. Here is a grief counselor’s observation:

NUMBNESS – Our initial reaction to any loss is to TURN OFF our emotions. Adrenalin pumps through our blood in a “fight or flight” reaction to sudden knowledge of a loss. Grievers report they feel like their body is frozen, leaden, hard to move. Others feel a sudden detachment as though they are a “third party” watching themselves from above. This feeling can linger for days, weeks and sometimes months.

HOSTILITY – When we begin to feel our feelings after a major loss, the first emotion we regain is ANGER. The rage that normally empowers and strengthens us in the face of injury or injustice, now can become out-of-control. Anger can become the capstone that holds other more sensitive, vulnerable emotions in check. Grief related anger is a slippery thing to hold in place. Early grief anger can go in all directions.

GUILT / ANGER AT SELF – Anger turned inward at one’s own self can inhibit or stop the normal process and progress of healthy grief. It’s easier to get God’s forgiveness than it is to forgive our own grieving heart when we feel there are things we “should have,” or, “shouldn’t have” done for loved one before their passing.

ANGRY WITH OTHERS – There is much irony here. Early grief rage and anger is usually focused on the people whom we have loved and who love and value us. The old song is true, “You only hurt the one you love.”
Family – Husbands can focus their anger on wives, and wives can dump their rage on their husbands. Early grievers often feel isolated from the ones they love and need the most.
Friends – Close friends can get a full blast of our rage, and be hurt. Sensitive friends will avoid platitudes and trite clichés. Simply listening, gentle touching and “being there” help early hostile grievers the most.
DOCTORS – We have granted Doctors in our culture almost god-like status. We become enraged about what the physicians did or did not do. Physicians are sued at a terrific rate by those disillusioned about their inability to “save their loved one.” Death is an inevitable part of life. It is as natural to die as it is to be born.
HOSPITALS – Hospitals are usually viewed as places of healing, but in our culture they have become a place where people go to die. It happens every day, but we magically believe our loved ones will avoid death.
MEDICAL ATTENDANTS – Ambulance attendants, EMT’s, nurses and hospital workers deal with the dying every day. We can focus our rage on those who attended our loved ones at the last. It’s also easy to forget they are human and make mistakes.

ANGRY WITH GOD – Early grievers can inhibit or stop the process of healing from loss by remaining mad at God. God isn’t fragile. He made the universe and all that’s in it. He is not like us when we are angry with someone. He has incredible patience, mercy and love toward those who are broken hearted. He knows how it feels to be human. Remember Jesus? Tell Him about your anger. Tell Him how you feel. You don’t have to walk on eggshells around Him. Talk to Him and allow Him to hear about your pain, sorrow and loss. Only those who overtly allow themselves to mourn can be comforted. Remember Jesus’ Promise in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.”

FEAR – Fear is the flip side of anger. Anger covers fear. Great fear will be covered by great anger. The Fear of Death is the primary fear of adulthood. Death of a close loved one forces us to face our personal fear of our own death. The mind will play “instant replay” regarding to HOW a loved one has died. These “images of death” are hard to shake.

ANXIETY – Grievers with anxiety problems are usually people with strong control needs. Anxiety occurs when a person perceives there is a threat when no particular threat is apparent. In actual body chemistry, the adrenal response puts the person’s body on high alert without them being conscious of it. Panic attacks can result from anxiety, especially in grief circumstances. Spiritually, anxiety sufferers must relinquish their lives to Jesus Christ. There are simple behavioral things a good therapist can teach grievers that will slow down or stop anxiety when it happens.

DEPRESSION – Normal grief depression can last for a number of weeks. If it persists with no other emotional responses being evident, medical help may be required. Be sure the griever gets BOTH medical help and the support of a therapist, when using any anti-depressant medication. Normal periods of depression for early grievers can be for a day or two or last for up to a week. Here is what to expect with normal, grief-related depression. It can happen on birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and special events related to the one who died. This type of depression usually lifts after the date comes and goes. Depressive episodes that last longer than this will need special attention.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Psalm 30:5b


May I Go?

May I go now? Do you think the time is right?
May I say goodbye to the pain-filled days and endless lonely nights?
I’ve lived my life and done my best, an example tried to be.
So I can take that step beyond and set my spirit free?
I didn’t want to go at first. I fought with all my might.
But something seems to draw me now to a warm and loving light.
I really want to go. I really do - it’s hard to stay;
But I will try as best I can to live just one more day.
To give you time to care for me and share your love and fears.
I know you’re sad and are afraid, because I see your tears.
I’ll not be far. I promise that, and hope you’ll always know
that my spirit will be close to you, wherever you may go.
Thank you so for loving me, You know that I love you, too,
that’s why it’s hard to say goodbye and end this life with you.
So hold me now, just one more time and let me hear you say,
because you care so much for me, you’ll let me go today.
Susie A. Jackson, R.N.
Quality Care Nursing Service
40 West Fourth Street
Dayton, Ohio 45402

Phil Roland, Grief Counselor




One of the common complaints I hear from grieving, broken-hearted people is the insensitive remarks made by well-meaning people around them.  Often, the earliest emotional responses grievers are aware of is their own anger at their well-intentioned, but misplaced words.  You are well aware of the words commonly said in funeral home calling hours.

“At least they’re not suffering!”

“Not feel bad.  They’re in a better place!”

“Don’t they look peaceful?”

“Time heals all wounds.”

“Let me quote this comforting scripture.”

            Everyone at some time or another has attempted to comfort the grieving by saying things like this.  The main problem is these words don’t bring comfort.  They add to the pain of a person who is experiencing great loss and crisis.  There are, however, positive things you can say and do to actually help grieving people at the time of their loss and pain.  Here are a few ideas:

1. Be available to grievers as long as they need you. . .

2. Allow the griever time and space to heal. . .

3.  Help the griever accept the finality of their loss. . .

4.  Give the griever permission to FEEL their feelings and express them openly.

5.  Hold, hug, or touch the person when appropriate.

6.  Tell them you love them with God's Love.

7.  Become   an  "Active Listener,"  listening  to  the  griever  for

emotional tones, and giving the person accurate, empathetic feedback.

8. Watch for increased signs of depression and accompanying           suicidal  thoughts and  inferences . . . these need referral to professionals!

9.  Help the griever  to  become  re-involved  with past friends and past activities.

10. Write encouraging messages, notes, cards, articles when you       cannot be there.

11. Encourage the griever  with  scripture  and  prayer only when      they are ready.

12.  Learn to love with your eyes.

13.  Offer to go with the griever to the graveside.

14.  Offer to accompany the griever to their church.

15.  Offer to take younger griever's kids out for a few hours.

16.  Offer to be a role model for grievers with younger children.

17.  Include grievers in your personal or family plans.

18.  Take a special dish or prepared food AFTER the first 10 days.

19.  If grievers  are  caregivers  for  elderly  adults,  offer to "spell them" for a few hours of "senior sitting."

            Friends don’t always know how to express themselves or respond to grievers. Here is a list of things you can say to grieving friends and family members immediately at their time of loss. Here are some helpful encouraging things to say:


“I’m so sorry about your loss. . .”


“You have my sympathy and my prayers. . .”


“I’m here to express my support and sympathy. . .”


“I’m concerned for you in this time of loss. . .”


“I’m here because I love and care about you. . .”


“I’m so sorry to learn about your pain. . .”


“I care about you. . .”


“I’m here for you. . .”


“When I heard about your loss, I was deeply distressed. . .”


“I’m so sorry for your pain. . .”


“You have my sympathy. . .”


“I’m at a loss for words concerning your tragedy. . .”


“Thank you for your courage. . .”


“You inspire me. . .”


“I’m impressed with how you. . .”


Rev. Philip B. Roland is the founding pastor of Sheepfold Ministries.  He has served  Kelley-Robb Funeral Home in Hubbard, Ohio for sixteen years as a grief counselor, and grief group facilitator.  Funeral Director Dennis Robb and Phil have teamed together to comfort broken-hearted people in the Hubbard, Ohio region.  Phil has a Master of Arts Degree in Pastoral Psychology and Counseling with Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland, Ohio.