All Posts /

You Don’t Journey Through Grief, You Journey with Grief

You Don’t Journey Through Grief, You Journey with Grief

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.Psalm 31:9

Growing up in Southern California, I learned how to surf at an early age. My friends and I would rush home after school and check the surf report and if the waters weren’t too choppy, we’d grab our boards and head toward the shore. Some days, the water would be so calm it would shimmer like glass reflecting the bright blue sky. Other days, the flags would be out, warning beachgoers to avoid the ocean, because riptides lurking under the surface made for exceptionally dangerous waters. But most days, the conditions were perfect, consistent sloping waves curling like clockwork. It’s not lost on me that waves are a preferred metaphor often connected to grief.

  • Grief, like the ocean, is full of mystery and can be wild and dangerous as well as slow and calm.

Water can wash us clean, nourish us, take us somewhere new, but it can also crush us, pulling us under with no hope of catching another breath.

We humans tend to long for a Hollywood ending, something we can use to tie up our struggle with a bow, an explanation, something to make it all make sense. Those of us who have walked the grief journey, however, know better. We know firsthand that grief is less something we get through and more something we ride like those waves.

The Hebrew scriptures tell a fascinating story of Moses guiding a community of people who’d escaped enslavement in Egypt through a desert on their way to freedom. At one point, he leads them to the foot of Mount Sinai. Everything was covered in smoke because the Lord had descended as fire onto the mountaintop. Exodus 19:19 tells us that

Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

There is a little footnote at the end of this verse in most Bibles that says,

or ‘God answered him with thunder.’

Some Jewish rabbis have a fascinating interpretation of this moment, suggesting that it wasn’t the kind of thunder that accompanies a storm, all booms and lightning strikes. No, they say this was more like a profound stirring from within. One that Moses would need to look inward to decipher. Essentially, he was going to have to translate the thunder. I have to say, there have definitely been times in my own grief journey when I’ve felt like God was asking me to learn a new language. There have been moments when it felt like I was trying to translate the thunder of my loss and rage. Can you relate?

As we embrace our grief, as we learn to breathe again, and as we release control and learn to receive the gift of healing and hope, we slowly take the rumblings of our personal experiences and turn them into something beautiful.

And in that, our grief is never wasted. We are making a more beautiful interpretation for ourselves first, and then for every person on the planet who will someday experience grief, loss, and life doing what life often does.

One of my closest friends, Adam, recently said to me, “You don’t journey through grief, you journey with grief.”

That hits different when you’ve learned to grieve well. When you’ve chosen to honor what comes up when change shows up. When you walk those dusty desert grief trails breathing in and out. When you wait and wonder, stop and rest, empty your pack, and remember to “travel lightly because you don’t need as much as you think you do.” When you realize that you are not standing still, being swallowed up by the enormity of your loss (although it can sometimes feel that way). No, you are transient, sometimes moving sideways and in circles, but always moving forward, closer to your hope and your peace.

I hope you have a place where you can feel safe and free, where you have permission to let your guard down, to settle in, to breathe deeply, to be honest with your own self. I also hope you realize that you are not alone, and while, yes, you are incredibly resilient for all that you’ve endured, you are also soft and brave and good. The loss we experience is a reflection of the love we’ve known, and the grief we express is merely a testament to the hope we have yet within us.

The race you find yourself in might not resemble anything close to what you thought you were signing up for. I get it. But you’re in it now. I know you have what it takes to make it the rest of the way. I know there will be pain and ache waiting at the finish line, but there will also be recovery, care, and confidence in yourself that you can’t begin to comprehend this side of the finish line.

May you trust the reality of Immanuel, that God is with you as you continue moving forward. May you trust yourself and the healing process as you grieve, breathe, and receive all the goodness that lies ahead for you.

  • Close your eyes and picture it: you, on the other side of your grief.

Strong. Healed. Brave.

Grateful. Confident. Unshakable.

Because while Friday can be deathly dark, and Saturday is often filled with confusion, Sunday — with its bright sunrise of fresh mercies, resurrected hopes, and new beginnings — is well on its way.

Gracious and merciful Lord, thank You that I am not alone in my distress, that even as my eyes grow weak and my soul and body ache with grief, You are with me, and You send others into my life to embody Your gifts of comfort, strength, and hope in this journey. Amen.

Listen to Steve read from the introduction

Written for Devotionals Daily by Steve Carter, author of Grieve, Breathe, Receive.

* * *

Your Turn

Are you in a period of grief? Maybe you’re still translating the thunder of your loss and rage. It’s ok. Let yourself breathe. God has not left you alone. He’s with you! ~ Devotionals Daily