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The Descriptions of Grief


Series: Following Jesus

Category: podcast

Speaker: Andrew VanderMaas

On this episode of Following Jesus with Christ Church pastors Andrew & Addison talk with long time member Miriam Engler on grief. Miriam has been practicing therapy in the Grand Rapids area and brings her years of experience and wisdom to the present circumstance we all find ourselves in.

The traditional five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), as outlined by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross to describe the emotional journey of preparing for the death of a loved one, plot a useful map as we transit through the uncharted emotional aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

David Kessler, who worked with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross prior to her death to update the five stages of grief in their 2005 book On Grief and Grieving, stresses that these stages are not linear, and don’t have to be done in any particular order. “One of the things that’s happened over the years is that they’ve become ‘Five easy steps for grieving’ to sort of tidy up our grief, and I always remind people there’s nothing neat or tidy about grief. It’s a very organic process,” he says. ….

This prompted his most recent book, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief, which he published in November 2019, after getting the approval of the Kübler-Ross family to update her iconic stages of grief. “Meaning is so important because many of us, after every tragedy, deal with post-traumatic stress, and meaning is really the key to us having post-traumatic growth,” he explains.

Quotes from the show:
"the dance that God has invited us always going on: the band playing the music of forgiveness never takes a break .. the real job of Christians as far as the world is concerned is simply to dance to the hidden wake the world up to the party" - Robert Farrar Capon, "Between Noon & Three: Romance, Law & the Outrage of Grace"

Scriptures from the show:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Ps 23:1)

Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth. (Ps 124:8)

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Ps 139:16)

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. (Prov 16:33)

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. (Matt 10:29)

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)

And he [Christ] is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Col 1:17)

He [Jesus the Son] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. (Heb 1:3)


  • Noticing signs of grief? We would be happy to walk with you through those. Click here to submit a request.
  • More resources from Christ Church COVID-19 Response page.

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Grace & Peace