Handling Deep Grief and Heartbreak {We Don’t Know How}

Today’s post was supposed to be about my weight.  I’ve been wrestling for days with what God’s saying to my heart about the 70-some pounds I have gained since my marriage crumbled.

Yet, no matter how I worded it or how deep I dug, nothing seemed cohesive.  I threw up all over the screen – a smattering of words and emotions and scripture and self-loathing.

Then, I realized…the events that spurred me to listen to God about my weight and begin again are too fresh – too raw. They simply aren’t ready for audience.

I asked God if there’s something else or if I should remain silent today…

Then, an email from a friend… this post.

And, I knew…these are the words I must share.  These are the words my heart has been screaming for months – words I could not articulate.   I have felt, and I am feeling exactly as this post describes.  And this way…

I walk into a room {rarely do I walk into a room in this season} and people scatter or avoid, looking at me with sad – or maybe rolling – eyes. It depends…on what part of the story they know or what part they think they know. It depends…on if they’ve suffered and can relate or think God’s chosen them to live in perfection as an example to all of us who can’t seem to love Jesus enough.  {Yeah, that was sarcastic and probably not necessary, but I just can’t take it out.}

I walk into a room and no one asks…How are you?  And, I feel they don’t care.

I feel they have no interest in helping me shoulder the load (as selfish as that may sound).  Selfish or not…it’s too heavy.

Because…

If you have lost someone you love or walked through a divorce, it can feel as though that furiously personal storm destroyed everything that mattered to you, and you wonder how you will survive.

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That’s why I BEG you to read THIS…{here’s an excerpt}

One might hope that the place where heartache is understood and honored more than any other would be the community of faith. But I have arrived at a more sobering conclusion:

At times, the Church has no idea how to handle deep grief and heartbreak.

Not long ago I met a woman who had lost a child in a random accident. A few months later she told her Bible study group that on some mornings she honestly didn’t think she could make it. Someone saw her cue and declared, “Just remember this verse: ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!’”

The grieving woman took a risk and voiced her pain, and instead of being heard and given the space and grace to struggle, she was silenced by a verse that clearly she hadn’t lived up to. And how could she miss the clear implication that if you’re not strong, then you’re not relying on Christ.

How unutterably sad.

God didn’t give us His Word to use like a weapon or some kind of Hallmark card we can pass across the fence and keep some distance.

It is a weapon, but one designed for use against our enemy, not against our sisters. It is meant for encouragement, not for pat answers in the midst of real pain. Just because something is true doesn’t mean you must voice that truth in all circumstances. Shortly before His arrest, Jesus told His grieving disciples, I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear – John 16:12.

His followers really needed to hear certain truths – things that would eventually help them – but hearing them at that moment  would have crushed their spirits. So Jesus held His peace.

Oh, that we would read and embrace that memo!

Why do we do that? Why do we try to “contain” those who suffer or attempt to “fix” them? Do we think suffering is an embarrassment? Do we feel personally ineffective in our faith if we can’t make the pain go away? Do we think it detracts from the power and goodness of God when one of His daughters limps around wounded?

For whatever reason, heartbreak makes us most uncomfortable…

Paul tells us that when someone walks through the kind of heartbreak that feels suffocating, crushing, and overwhelming, the body of Christ must move in to help bear the weight. No one should have to try to carry such a burden alone.  

(Click and read on…it’s good!)

Indeed.  We are all uncomfortable with sadness and suffering {What exactly do you say as you go “through the line” at the funeral home? It’s awkward.}

But, sometimes we have to pray, dig our heels in, send the text, make the call.  WE have to risk saying the wrong thing because I assure you – the “wrong” thing is often better than nothing at all.

No one wants to feel they are not welcome in the club because they aren’t happily married.  Because they’re broken. Because they’re questioning.  Because most days they do not know which way is up and some days they can’t find Jesus.

Honestly, there should be no club.  No outside and inside.  Perhaps that is the problem.

Besides, we are all broken in some way.  All sinners. All falling short…

Every. Single. Day.

Does the falling short have consequences? Yes.  Always.

Regardless…

We all need people surrounding and loving us.  Reminding us that we matter to God and others.

And, you are, friend.  You are loved by Him.  And so is the person you’ve been avoiding.  So is the person who hurt you.  So is the person that you’ve failed.

Do you need to send a text?  Check in on the one who is hurting?  Or, perhaps just say…I love you. Thinking about you.

I do.  I need to get better at looking out and not in.

At being the Church.

{Just a side note…I love the church/Church).  I really do.  I hope you don’t hear judgment of the church or others here. Instead, I pray you hear encouragement to come alongside others even when you have no words, no answers, no understanding…nothing.  We are called to shoulder the load and to walk alongside.  That’s when God works best anyway.}

 

 

Comments

  1. I love your beautiful words! I to have been through a divorce. It was so many emotions to go through and I still go through as I am remarried now but having to co parent with my ex. I certainly found out who my friends were and unfortunately I was not really welcome at my then church anymore. It took me too long to let go of my hurt and anger with how I was treated but I finally have. I have a new beautiful church family. I pray that you will continue on your journey with God and not let others words, opinions, or judgements sidetrack you. Thank you for being so raw with your words and letting others “see” you.

    • Thanks for commenting, Mariah. I will never understand “not welcome at my church.” Ugh! So glad you found a new church family!

  2. Krista Yurchak says:

    True words have been spoken. You are right words that you stumble over are better than saying nothing. The church (those who call themselves believers not the structure) need to step up to the plate. Thanks for sharing this.

    • You’re welcome, Krista. May we all “step up” as Jesus asked us to – shouldering others’ burdens and loving them well.

  3. Thank you Sarah! This needed to be said. Since my husband died, there has a been a noticable silence from some in my life…some I would have expected to be there first and foremost but weren’t…not a card…not a call…not anything…I have had more support from online friends whom I have never met but who have now become some of my dearest friends because they have helped me and stood with me and cried with me through the hardest year of my life. Rejection hurts…I don’t know if I can go back to church. My relationship with Jesus is stronger because He hasn’t abandoned me…He never abandons you. Stay strong in the Lord. He is really the only one that will give you the peace you seek through those rough nights (and days). Thinking of you and praying for you…because I really do understand. Your words speak straight to my heart hon.

  4. I love you, Sarah. You always speak truth. If I were with you right now I would just hug you because I am so very sorry you are hurting.

  5. It’s astonishing how fickle and self-centered we, humans, can be. I know I have been so wrapped up in my own life that I fail to walk alongside the struggling ones around me. I am grateful for the army that journeyed with me through my own dissolved marriage, the loss, the hurt, the disorientation of learning a new way of life. I pray your own army rises soon. Hugs, always –

  6. I don’t hear judgement. I hear a need for training. I have experienced this vacuum of comfort with several different losses, where people of faith are simply at a loss for what to say or do. It is enough to not let a person feel alone, to make eye contact, to sit with, etc. There is no magic wand to dispel the pain, but we don’t need to increase it by adding alienation to it.

    • Love this, friend. We do “increase it” when we add alienation. It makes those who are hurting hurt more. We can all do better!

  7. Mary Kay says:

    Sarah, I appreciate you so much. I’m so grateful that God has allowed me to get to know you through WOP. I knew you were hurting when I saw you at Valley of the Angels, but I didn’t know how public it all was. We walked through this with our daughter who was 3 months pregnant when her husband left her, now four years ago. I was so disappointed in the church that began to make excuses for him and ostracized her. Thankfully, she has a new church family. She went through all those stages of grief that we learn about in psychology, but thankfully she is having more good days than bad days. As her mother, I probably said things that I should not and should have done more listening, hugging, and repeating over and over again, “I love you!” Again, thank you for your honesty.

    • Thanks much, Mary Kay! Praying for your daughter and her precious child. So glad to hear she’s found a supportive, safe place to call “home”!

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