When a loved one dies, we grieve. And many struggle with how to get through the difficult time of loss – how can we cope? Some who grieve feel stuck, like they’ll never get over a loss. Times of sorrow and suffering can prod us to ask the big questions of life: such as “Why am I here?” or “If a man dies, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14). Don’t shy away from these questions. Searching for answers is itself healing.

This Easter, this article will cover three keys to coping with the death of a loved one for Christian believer. The first and foundational key to coping with the death of a loved one is to: (1) LOOK TO THE BIBLE for hope, answers, and comfort in a time of loss. The Bible has the answers to the big questions of life. When we look for guidance about death and the grief that surrounds the loss of a loved one, we ought to put God’s word at the center of our focus.

The Bible is special in that it gives us a glimpse of what happens after death. When we lose a husband, a wife, a child, or a close friend, we can turn to the Bible for encouragement and comfort — for where else can we get real answers? When we, flesh-and-bone mortals, are deeply mourning the loss of a loved one, we know the Bible gives us truth and hope.

Millions of evolutionists live in fear of death because they have no hope. They believe philosophies that teach them that death is the end, forever. Others are terrified of the afterlife, because they are afraid their loved ones are suffering intense torment right now in hell. And they fear that they, too, will meet such a fate.

Fortunately, the real purpose of life is not to be snuffed out forever and drift off into nothingness. Jesus came to Earth over 2,000 years ago to die on a cross to pay for OUR sins. Easter is the holiday where we celebrate the day Jesus rose from the dead. Not only did He defeat sin, He defeated death! So, we who trust in Jesus, can have eternal life too.

If is interesting to me that the Bible never tries to prove the existence of God. It assumes the existence of God. In the Old Testament, the Bible recognizes that only a fool would try to deny the existence of God. You remember David, i.e., King David, David and Goliath, David and Bathsheba??? David said, “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)

What about the New Testament? You remember Paul, i.e., Paul the Apostle, Saul of Tarsus, who wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament (the Epistles of Paul). Paul said, speaking of what we now call evolutionists, “They became vain in their imaginations. And their foolish hearts were darkened. And professing themselves to be wise, they actually became fools.” (Romans 1:21)

Without God, foolish man has to devise an explanation on how life exists without a cause. And the best man has been able to come up with thus far is the impractical, impossible and imbecilic theory of evolution. Have you ever wondered how it is that you were able to walk? Here is one of the explanations that has been offered for the development of the legs:

“Once upon a time millions of years ago, back when the Earth was covered with primordial ooze, and this cell had developed to the place of a worm-like creature, as it made its way out with the ooze and out of the waters, and onto the land, those fish-like creatures coming onto land, flipping itself around on this foreign environment, scratched itself on the coral reef, or upon the rock. And that scratch developed into a wart like a peonage, which continued to develop and grow until it became a leg with feet and five toes. After billions of years when the second leg also developed you were able to walk instead of hop.”

Tell that to a kid and they won’t believe you. We were created. But when foolish man, who comes with a pre-suppositional base that God does not exist, tries to explain the phenomena of life apart from God, there’ll be all kinds of foolish speculations. It takes much, much, much more faith to believe in the evolutionary theory than to believe in creation, i.e., “In the beginning — God.”

The evidence of God in creation is overwhelming. How can you have creation without a creator??? How can you have the intricate designs in every life form without a designer? How can you have the complex life codes in the DNA without intelligence? The odds of the first DNA molecule being formed are beyond chance. Order doesn’t rise out of disorder. Our logical minds tell us that if there is creation, there’s got to be a creator.

Yet, the pain of losing a loved one is real. But we can take comfort, knowing that there is a purpose for suffering and that death is not the end. When you suffer the painful loss of those close to you, don’t despair. There is hope. There is a future. The second key to coping with the death of a loved one is to: (2) SEEK TO UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF LIFE. Our whole life has been built around a plan that God is working out.  

To truly understand death, we first must understand the meaning of life. Why are we here? What does human life mean? We are not here by accident. We are here for a purpose — and that purpose gives us hope. Paul explains, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

The truth is, we are children of God. In the beginning, God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness….So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them….” (Genesis 1:26–27). Do you realize what that means? It means that we are eternal beings, i.e., children of God. We have the opportunity to live with Him in the spirit realm, in His Family, forever.

It means we are on a totally different level of existence than the animals. We were made to have a connection with God, a connection that gives us a destiny so much greater than that of any animal on Earth.

I used to have a dog, a white Lab named Shiro. She loved going for walks around the neighborhood. I’d would go outside and say, “Get you leash.” And she’d run all over the yard until she found her leash, and she’d bring it to me and drop it at my feet. I’d say, “No, hand it to me.” So she’d pick it up and hand it to me. She was a very intelligent dog. And yet, she’s a dog.

She couldn’t comprehend abstract thinking. Before going on a long vacation one year, I patted her head and said, “Shiro, we’re going on a vacation for 10 days. But don’t worry, we’ll be back. In the meantime, you’ll be staying at the kennel.” However, she couldn’t understand time, she had no comprehension of these types of things. When we got back, she was so mad that she didn’t go to my wife for a couple of weeks.

But God has created man “in His image” with the capacity of understanding. It must be that God wanted man to understand His existence and that there is a purpose to this life. This life is a time to grow in character — God’s character. We are here to come to understand God and His purpose and turn our hearts to Him.

So, we don’t just live our lives aimlessly, with no regard for tomorrow. We live for Christ, to be conformed to His character — and if we do that, accept His sacrifice for our sins, and humbly ask Him to guide our lives, we’ll live forever. What an opportunity! The purpose of our physical life is to prepare for eternal life. How amazing — we shall be like Him, and we shall see Him as He is.

Still, we grieve — we are sad. We feel heartbroken and may feel a profound emptiness.
Sometimes people want to hide during mourning and sorrow, and in doing so, they often pull away from individuals in their life who could help them the most. Though we may feel tempted to retreat within ourselves, a vital key to coping with the death of a loved one is being surrounded by people who love us is extremely helpful to working through the grieving process.

When death occurs, the third key to coping with the death of a loved one is to: (3) REACH OUT TO OTHERS and accept their efforts to comfort us. They may not always know what to say, and there may be awkward moments — but they’re trying to help, and it’s good to accept that help. As human beings, we need one another! And that is especially true during times of distress and loss.

Often, family and friends gather to lend support and encouragement. Eulogies about the deceased may be given by those who were close to them. We are saddened by the occasion and may shed tears — but on the other hand, remembering the life, accomplishments, and even a humorous anecdote or two about a loved one is healing and therapeutic.

Sometimes, we can forget that children and teens also experience distress when they see a grandparent or other relative dying. They might be confused about what’s happening, especially if they are very young. Some may be confused by their own emotions. Others may not even show emotion. They may act out their feelings inappropriately and misbehave.
Be careful, if you are one who wants to comfort someone else who is grieving, that you allow that person the time and space to grieve. The Bible says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4) When you reach out to those who grieve, be sure that you are doing so to help them work through their grief and move toward healing.

Finally, when coping with the death of a loved one: (4) Make sure to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. It’s easy to let down on the habits that keep us strong and healthy. We might lose sleep. We might lose interest in exercising. We might be less careful about what we eat. But taking care of yourself physically is actually vital in working through a time of grief. Happy Easter!!!


Judd Matsunaga, Esq., is the founding partner of the Law Offices of Matsunaga & Associates, specializing in estate/Medi-Cal planning, probate, personal injury and real estate law. With offices in Torrance, Hollywood, Sherman Oaks, Pasadena and Fountain Valley, he can be reached at (800) 411-0546. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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