grief: let’s quit comparing our pain

photo-1520857566076-67e0992b8356I lost my grandfather this week.

And to be honest with you, in the back of my mind, I thought it should have been easier than this. He was in his eighties. We knew he wouldn’t be around forever. But man, the hole is just so big, and we weren’t ready yet.

So I just have this feeling.

This feeling that those of us who have experienced loss just need to be reminded again:

It’s okay to grieve.

We all know what the Bible says about grief, right? “…Do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” [1 Thessalonians 4:13] Subconsciously, my mind took this to mean do not grieve.

We’ve created levels of acceptable grief. And we tell ourselves that others have it worse, so we should just pull it together. The world is watching, isn’t it? Shouldn’t we be different? Shouldn’t our trust in God be enough?

The answer is yes, but God never asked us to move on from loss as if it doesn’t affect us. We have hope, but guess what? We are human. God also says this:

You’re blessed when the tears flow freely. Joy comes with the morning.” [Luke 6:21]

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” [Matthew 5:4]

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” [Psalms 34:18]

There are no hierarchies to grief and loss. Your life has been altered forever, and the God of heaven wants to acknowledge that in your life. He’s asking you to trust that He’ll take care of you, that He knows your deepest wounds and needs. But He’s not asking you to move on. He never has.

He’s asking you to trust that He will walk with you, that He has a future for you even if it looks different than the one you planned. He’s asking you to hold onto hope, even as you feel incomplete. God is hoping for the broken, fragile versions of ourselves. [Psalm 51:17] It’s the most real, and the most raw. He is not looking for Christians who can prove to the world that they don’t experience emotion like everyone else. He is hoping to use you in the midst of your brokenness, just as you are. Only then can He actually make a difference for eternity.

I don’t know what you’ve been through. But I know there are enough of you who have lost your dads, your moms, babies, friends.

What if we quit comparing the size of our losses to everyone else’s? We tell ourselves,

Oh, they were older, so maybe it shouldn’t be this hard.”

Well, we knew it was coming, so I should have been ready.”

I have experienced the pain of waiting for death. And I’ve experienced the shock of sudden death. And I can tell you right now, they are both crappy. There is no winning.

So hear me. Whatever you have been through, whatever hole has been left in your heart, it matters. It matters just as much as anyone else’s pain. We live in a world of comparison, and we’ve taken it to grief and loss, too. Isn’t that the craziest thing? We downplay our own pain because of what we’ve seen others go through.

The Truth sets us free.

So be free to grieve, to mourn, to take an extra minute to acknowledge what you’ve lost today. Your pain matters, and it matters to a holy God.

But don’t forget:

There is hope.

It feels like too much for our brains to take in. How can we hope through our pain? But it’s what God does, and it’s who He is. The most reassuring truth is that we don’t have to manufacture hope. Hope is His gift to us. He breathes it over us, and we just get to say yes and grab on. We get to hold on tight to hope while the boat around us rocks and shifts and seems to drift.

So just do it all. Grieve, cry, laugh, hope, trust. Our God is big enough.

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God.” [Hebrews 6:19]

2 thoughts on “grief: let’s quit comparing our pain

  1. I enjoyed you sharing your thoughts.
    I am indeed sorry for your loss and pain – although, yes, we all will face this at some point.
    I like your realism.

    Here is an article which really helps me to deal with grief and the memories of my dead loved ones, I hope you like it too:

    https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/awake-no3-2018-nov-dec/#?insight%5Bsearch_id%5D=6d351293-ba44-40b0-8d6a-a704f267dc7f&insight%5Bsearch_result_index%5D=2

    Much LOVE,
    Paula

  2. Rachael, God used you in a great way to write this wonderful post. I lost my Dad but hardly felt any grief. I suffered so much abuse from him which caused me to quit school in 11th. grade and become a teen run-away. To begin the grieving process….I had to experience God’s forgiveness in my life FIRST. Receiving forgiveness FROM God and Forgiving my Father. It was real…needed and allowed me to move on. When my birth mother who abandoned me at the age of nine died two years ago, the same thing happened. I barely grieved her death but I wanted to. I longed for the tears to flow and feeling the loss in my life. God stepped in in a mighty way and created new memories for me and I walk in Freedom today. Today…my only struggle periodically is grieving the life I COULD have had with both my parents but I know that my story is not mine…it’s God’s….it’s for my family. Thank you being so vulnerable and reminding me that it is ok to grieve and that I need to always be reminded of Psalm 34:18

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