Grief over a loss happens far more often than when a literal death occurs.
I can attest to the anguish and pain that comes in the wake of the death of a loved one. But there are many other times in my life where mourning and sorrow have welled up within me. There can be seasons or situations that cause deep sorrow—grief in various forms.
A loss of any kind can bring about some manner of pain. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to give ourselves permission to grieve a situation that doesn’t bear the same weight as death. It seems unjustifiable to grieve when we consider how life could be so much worse.
As much as I wanted to be overcome by hope, all I could think of were the hundreds of thousands of people who went into the hospital due to COVID-19 and didn’t return home. I wept when my aunt told me she was taking my uncle to the hospital, because he was unable to breathe. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t focus. All I could do was cry. I was so afraid of losing him, and I certainly didn’t want to be the one to say that aloud.
The news that he would be discharged to finish his road of recovery at home was unbelievable. A true miracle. I’m beyond grateful for the time we continue to have with my uncle. My world wouldn’t be the same without him, and I certainly should tell him that more often.
I keep trying to talk myself out of the pain and sorrow that I feel. But even with the blessing of life comes a new current reality for my uncle. His road to recovery will be much longer than he ever anticipated. There are many stressors that come along with any sort of health crisis, and my family is experiencing many of them. I see the pressure, pain, loss, and uncertainty about whether life will ever get back to normal. I also feel guilty for experiencing any kind of grief, knowing that so many others are mourning more than the difficulties of a season but the loss of a loved one.
Nevertheless, in the same way we would never inflict emotional bypassing on another person, we must resist the tendency to do it to ourselves.
It’s far more “acceptable” to make space for grief in our lives when it’s related to literal death, but setting these kinds of limits on acceptable grief is harmful. The bible is full of people being honest with God, even when their pain and loss seemed less weighty than death itself.
Regardless of your reason for grieving—change in physical health, relationships, life seasons, career, or unmet expectation—we should invite Jesus to meet us in this pain. He will.
Grief is an important aspect of the human experience and we should stop trying to simply move past it.
Grief Is Not the Enemy of Faith
This is the definition of grief. The list of reasons any person would experience deep sorrow is long. Allowing yourself to grieve is not the opposite of faith. Nowhere in scripture does it instruct us to trade grief for faith. One does not mean the absence of the other.