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Coping with Death: 4 Ways to Lessen Loss

The grief that accompanies the loss of a loved one is as inevitable as death itself. Dealing with the stages of grief is an intensely personal process, one that often includes spiritual questions and connections. Here are four ways that faith can help you weather the grieving process:

Accept your grief

Pain. Sorrow. Anger. Numbness. They’re all natural reactions when coping with the loss of a loved one. None are wrong. Experiencing the stages of grief is part of being human. 

Death and sorrow are necessary

“To every thing there is a season,” the Bible explains, “a time to be born, and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:1–2). There are times to mourn and to weep, and it is feeling these emotions that allows us to recognize and ultimately appreciate joy and laughter. Knowing that death and grieving are necessary does not soften bereavement, but it can sharpen appreciation for happiness—in the past and in the future. Grief is not a weakness, an imperfection, or a sign of wrongdoing. It is a necessary part of mortality.

Express your feelings and accept comfort

It is part of God’s plan that you will experience grief in life. But it is also His desire that you seek comfort. “Blessed are they that mourn,” taught Jesus, “for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). It is possible to feel relief from your sorrow when you rely on God and others.

Express your grief to friends

When Lazarus, a friend to Jesus, fell sick and died, the community went to his sisters Martha and Mary “to comfort them” (John 11:19). Accept the service and listening ears of people around you who want to help. Sharing your loss, your hurt, and your anger is important when dealing with grief. Even Martha conveyed her frustration that Jesus had been away when Lazarus died. Jesus, who “loved Martha, and her sister” (John 11:5), wept with her. 

Express your grief to God

Jesus did raise Lazarus from the dead, but in the moments before the miracle, He prayed to God, His Father. His example of calling on God to seek help and solace is one of many in the scriptures. Shortly after the death of his beloved father, Nephi—a Book of Mormon prophet—prayed to God, knowing he would receive comfort, for his “heart [was] broken” (2 Nephi 4:32). Paul encourages you to pour out your heart to God because “he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Ask questions and search for answers

As much as coping with death can draw people closer to God, it can also cause some to question His plan. This too is part of being mortal. You can take your questions to God in prayer. “Ask, and it shall be given you” (Matthew 7:7). God also provides answers in the holy scriptures. Here are some common questions when dealing with death and answers you can read in the Bible and Book of Mormon:

Why can death be so unfair? Why does God let bad things happen?

Some people have a hard time reconciling tragedies and suffering with the goodness of God. After all, God is omnipotent, right? He could save us from pain, sickness, accidents, and death. But overcoming hardships is what shapes your character. Suffering can strengthen you for future challenges. It can make you more sensitive and willing to sacrifice for others. You may be better able to appreciate the Atonement of Christ. As Paul in the Bible acknowledged, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

What happens after death?

“If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14). Job in the Old Testament asked what most every person coping with the loss of a loved one aches to know. The uncertainty of death can add to grief. But Job answered this question confidently: “Though … this body [be destroyed], yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:26). Because of the Resurrection of Jesus, “in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Again and again we are reassured that “the resurrection might pass upon all men” (2 Nephi 9:22).

Where do people go when they die?

Death is the separation of a person’s body and spirit. After death, one’s physical body returns to the earth, but what about the spirit? The Book of Mormon explains that “the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life” (Alma 40:11). In the Resurrection, all spirits will be reunited with their own bodies that have been perfectly restored and will be brought to stand before God for judgment (see Revelation 20:12).

Will I be with my loved ones after death?

Yes. When Jesus was dying on the cross, a thief who was also being punished asked the Lord to remember him in heaven. “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). You too will be with people you know and love in heaven.

Find peace in faith

God knows how you are feeling. He “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,” and “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him” (Hebrews 4:12–13). God feels sorrow when you do, He mourns at your grief, He wants you to be happy—and He’s made that possible. Here is how to find his comfort:

The Holy Spirit brings peace

Called “the Comforter” in the Bible, the Holy Spirit has the power to “comfort all that mourn” (Isaiah 61:2). People who experience this divine comfort describe it as warmth, fullness, calmness, spiritual burning, or even a tingling sensation. It is the fulfillment of God’s promise, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27).

Jesus overcame death for all

Because of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, “the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ. He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death” (Mosiah 16:8–9). Death is just a “sting” in the course of life. We all will be resurrected and can be with our families and loved ones again.

You are promised joy

“Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Happiness is God’s very purpose for your life and that of your loved ones. Joy will not be constant during mortality, but you are promised that ultimately “sorrow and mourning shall flee away” (Isaiah 51:11). God knows you. He hears you. “And God shall wipe away all tears from [your] eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

The pain of grief is real—but so is the peace that comes from God. If you are coping with the loss of a loved one, surround yourself with every resource for support and peace. By searching for answers from God through prayer, by reading in the scriptures, and from those who support you, you can find real hope and comfort.

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