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Grief is complicated

This is what I have come to know in the core of my being, that grief is complex, and knotty, and has many intricate layers. It has no simple fix, there is no get-well-quick program, and no mere words that can alleviate the way that grief and sorrow can embed into our soul.

Yet in our grief, God remains. Time is the greatest healer, a cliché that we have all heard, but within this truism there is an element of veracity. With time, emotions can settle, life goes on, circumstances can change, there is a greater chance - with time, that something could come along that brings with it joy and even perhaps opportunity to heal.

On the other hand, time can be the greatest destroyer. With time comes erosion, not just of the bad, but sometimes the good. Time can erode the strongest of wills. We have all seen how unresolved grief has a great capacity to cause deep rooted bitterness, and an inability to see the forest for the trees. Time has a remarkable way of clouding judgement, when we succumb to our grief without hope of reconciliation, or at least the courage that one day, upon the grief our lives may rebuild. Grief is complicated.

Yet in our grief, God remains.

In my own life, grief has looked like mental illness, it has looked like isolation, it has looked like unexplained behaviours, difficult conversations, broken relationships, an eating disorder, and a grappling for control. Grief may have looked like these things in my own life, but grief has a multifaceted nature, especially in how it expresses itself in our lives. This can look very different for each person. Grief is complicated.

Yet in our grief, God remains.

Symptoms of grief have an uncanny ability to cause even further misery. Alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, broken homes.. all symptoms of unresolved grief, but all just that – symptoms of something greater. The symptom is typically not what needs resolving, although dealing with it is important, but true healing is found at the root. However like a tree, it has a chaotic interconnected root system, buried deep within the dirt. Grief is complicated.

Yet in our grief, God remains.

I sometimes wonder whether grief is a collective human experience, whether we all have grief. Can it be measured or compared? Why is one persons wound another persons bruise? Why is it that some people can be victorious over their pain, whereas others medicate so that they won’t feel that pain? Why is grief so complicated?

Yet in our grief, God remains.

In a world of therapy, self-love, and self-help, we are searching for answers to our pain, a pathway to a cure. The wisdom that gets spurted from Instagram influencers, body-positive personalities, and personal coaches, can actually work. This may seem surprising, but it comes with a hitch, in that it only helps us to the extent that we are able to put into practise their advice and repeat and repeat and repeat it – everyday. For those who are grieving this can be nearly impossible. Grief is so darn exhausting and complicated.

Yet in our grief, God remains.

Where do we find hope, when it seems like grief has overcome? The promise of the healing hands of time, or the simple 12 step program is a good start, but where can we land? If you’re acquainted with grief, perhaps even a veteran - familiar with the marks of war, you would know that in those moments, what is needed is a place to rest and to know true peace. A peace can never be found in a bottle of wine, a syringe, or a block of chocolate, no matter how frequently we partake.

This kind of peace can only be found in God, because in our grief, he dwells. He is there in the dirt, fighting right along side us, calling us home. He is there in our tears, when we cannot find the words to speak. He is there in our anger, when we act out of our pain. He is there in our loneliness, when we feel as though no one could possibly understand. He is there when we have no hope, to guide us to the light. He is there in the love we receive from those around us, slowly healing our hearts. He is there whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not. He is there, offering us a way out. He may not give us a quick fix, or an easy road, but He is offering us His hand, we just have to reach out to take it.

Revelation 21:4-5 promises that ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”.

God remains in our grief. Perhaps we just need to see him there.


Lifeline: 13 11 14 If a life is in immediate danger please call 000 FHE is of the opinion that readers should follow the medical advice of their GP regarding medication and treatment


Ella is an assistant Pastor and radio presenter. She is passionate about good coffee, early mornings, farmers markets, and creative expression.

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