The Power of Words - Grief

Grief - keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
A cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.


August 2015 - I lost my brother.
March 2017 - My two youngest children lost their father.
May 2019 - I lost my father.

I was sharing with some friends recently that it was a bittersweet process sorting through old photos from my father's house and realizing that most of the people in them were gone. Looking back at frozen moments in time that captured joy, laughter, and life of loved ones that no longer existed caused a sharp sense of both sadness and loneliness. It reminded me that my story has included too many chapters of significant loss: grief was a word with which I was all too familiar.

Yet, regardless of what felt like a perpetual season of loss, I was reminded again that there was LIFE.

Grief can be a terrifying and misunderstood state of being. It can be isolating and debilitating, but it doesn't have to be.

Grief has taught me many lessons over the years, so the list below is by no means exhaustive, but it does include the things that have resonated the deepest in my soul.

1. Loss is not contagious. You cannot be contaminated by someone else's grief, so there is no reason to be afraid of a grieving person.

2. The expression of grief is different for everyone. Some may cry, some may laugh, some may hide, and others may be very vocal and public about their pain. The way a person processes loss is as unique as they are, and that is okay.

3. It is just fine that you "don't have the words" to comfort someone in their grief. Most people dealing with a loss would rather have your reassuring and silent support than another round of platitudes that can make us question more than we already are.

4. Grief obeys no rules nor timelines.  Those who have experienced a loss know that the "year of firsts" is often the hardest to walk through, but that doesn't mean that you will not feel the loss just as profoundly and unexpectedly 20 years later.  

5. There is nothing wrong with being angry with someone you have lost. The death of someone doesn't automatically make them a hero or a villain. It makes them human. Give yourself permission to process EVERY emotion you face in the middle of loss. Healing is the goal, not rewriting the truth.

6. It is okay to question God. He wouldn't be God if He could be shaken or rocked off the throne by our questions, confusion, anger, or sadness. They are emotions and reactions He, not only knows we are experiencing, but has experienced himself. He understands that we are humans seeking answers to questions that may not have one. He is merciful and compassionate in our suffering.

7. It is vital to healing that we make room for comfort. Even when we don't feel like being comforted and want to just wallow in our sadness, we need it. We have to make room for the Holy Spirit (the great Comforter) and trusted loved ones to be there, even if they are just sitting there silently.

8. It is okay to move forward. It is not a betrayal of the dead to keep living. In fact, no matter how life may have ended, it is always better to honor it by living life to the fullest.

If grief is keen mental & emotional suffering, then it should be treated like any other mental or emotional dilemma; with grace, kindness, empathy, and as much understanding as we can muster.

What are some ways you have learned to walk through your grief back into the land of the living?


Brandi Cortes-Hickson

Wife, mom, teacher, writer, Jesus-loving Christian and digital content coordinator for Pneuma Life Church and #GirlGang.

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