Comfort in the Midst of Grief

Chapel

On Sunday, October 4th the campus of Dallas Baptist University learned of a significant tragedy that occurred during the early hours of that morning. In an accident involving five DBU students, two freshmen, Karina De La Rosa and Kaitlyn Kotzman lost their lives. Our campus has been struck with grief, a natural response to loss.

C.S. Lewis stated in A Grief Observed, "I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out not to be a state but a process." It is a normal reaction to desire a "How to Grieve" handbook with all the steps listed out with crystal clarity. The truth is, there is no right way to grieve. Experiencing the loss of a student, friend, a classmate, a daughter, or a sister will produce a myriad of emotions, and sometimes the best thing to do is simply allow the waves of emotion to come.

Grief has a purpose. It is designed to help us recognize what has been lost. In doing so, we are then able to heal. Healing does not mean we replace what was lost. I have heard it said that healing in grief is like "sewing up a wound and growing accustomed to the scar." We cannot replace the lives that were lost, and we should not try to do so.

While the grieving process may vary depending on the individual, people tend to experience the five stages of grief, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Initially, many students, faculty, staff, family, and friends may have experienced a sense of shock after hearing the news. Others may have been overcome with sadness and a deep sense of loss. Others may have worked to handle logistics and details of what the following days would hold. Some may have experienced all those things. There is no wrong way to grieve. No matter how you do it, it is important to allow yourself to grieve, to feel, and to remember.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we do not "grieve as others do who have no hope" (1Thessalonians 4:13). God comforts us in our sadness (Matthew 5:4). Karina and Kaitlyn were believers in Christ and they followed Him and loved Him with all their heart, soul, and mind, as testified by their family and friends. While we mourn the loss of their presence on earth, we celebrate that they are with God. They are with their Father, who though "you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy" (1 Peter 1:8).

Following an event like this, many of us may have wondered; What now? We've cried together, we've remembered together, we've prayed together. Now, what do we do? We honor their lives by not only remembering them but remembering Who they lived for. These women lived and loved so that others could find their life in Jesus and be loved by Him. We honor their lives by seeking to live in intimacy with God. We honor their lives by living with the knowledge that our next breath is not promised. This sobering truth compels us to share the gospel with those who do not know Christ. It propels us to forgive those who have wronged us. It reminds us to cherish our loved ones and count each moment as a gift. Gifts are not promised or earned. They are freely given by our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are hurting, know that you are not alone. If you are grieving, know that it is right and good for you to do so. The DBU Family seeks to come together to remember Karina and Kaitlyn. We come together to praise God for their lives and eagerly anticipate all He will redeem by bringing them to their eternal home.

References:

https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/

https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/894384-a-grief-observed

Written by Dr. Jordan Davis

Dr. Jordan Davis is the Director of Counseling and Spiritual Care at Dallas Baptist University.

Written by Nicole Parker

Nicole Parker is the Counseling Center Coordinator at Dallas Baptist University.

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