Do they know what grief is?

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Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes our road is rocky, like this hill in Colorado. But even during the rocky times, we can find beauty and choose to love others. 

It happens every August. Children go to school for the first time. Kids start high school. Teens head to college. Young people get married or start new jobs. And their parents post about how hard it is and how much they will miss their children. They write about grieving over losing their children. “Sending my child to kindergarten is the hardest thing I have ever done!”

Then bereaved parents take to social media to complain about those parents who can’t possibly be hurting that much. After all, “I’ve buried my kid!  Her kid is simply going to college out of state!”

Sending a child to kindergarten, college, or to a new career is not the same as burying your child. I get that. Really, I do! I wish I could see Andrew move to a new state or get married. It’s difficult to see other moms complaining about things we wish our kid was doing. It can cause us more pain as it reminds us of our loss.

But my loss doesn’t mean those other parents aren’t truly hurting. They are. And they do nothing wrong by being honest about their own pain.

In fact, a friend posted an article about the real losses faced when sending a child to college. You can read it here. I posted an article about one mom’s grief over lost dreams for her child here. Both articles speak about a loss that is very different from the loss I experienced.

The pain expressed in these two articles, and by all those parents sending their precious ones to new adventures, is still very real.

And here’s the deal: We are not called to compare grief. We cannot compare our pain to the pain of others, or our loss to their loss. 

We are not to judge others in their suffering. We are to LOVE. We are called to love others, not figure out just how much they hurt compared to our hurt.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:34-35 | ESV

I have seen friends post on social media about grieving when their pet or great aunt died, their favorite car quit running, or they lost a job. I have seen a mom grieve when their son got married, not because she didn’t like the new wife, but because he was moving away.

No, they don’t grieve those things the way I grieved after losing Andrew. Losing a child is a not like any other loss I have ever known. It is not like losing a pet or sending a daughter to the mission field. The grief of losing a child is different from other grief. It hurt to the core of my being. I pray my friends never experience it.

But when they do hurt, I must have compassion for their pain.

Is their pain any less important than my pain? Are they less deserving of compassion because their pain is not like the pain of knowing I will not see my son again on earth? No! My job is not to weigh or compare our pain. My job is not to decide who hurts more.

My job is to love.

I know my friends hurt over their lost pet, grandmother, great aunt, job, or car. They grieve over their loss. We each feel pain uniquely. We grieve uniquely. And I know that no matter the source of my friend’s pain, I must have compassion for them. I must love them through it.

As a believer, I am called to care about my brothers and sisters, to love them, encourage them, and pray for them. I am not to stand in judgement of them or condemn them. I am not to stand back and say, “She can’t be hurting as much as I hurt!” 

Part of loving them through their pain includes showing them that healing is available!

As I healn and find joy again, I witness to those around me of God’s goodness and grace.

And as I love others, I begin to heal just a little more each day. I grow in grace, peace, and joy. I experience great things when I humbly walk with my friends on their journeys through grief into grace, no matter the cause of their grief. I get to see a loving, compassionate, faithful God meet their needs. Sometimes He does that through me. And I am blessed right along with my hurting friends.

As a Christ-follower, I am to consider others of more valuable than myself. I am to put others first. I am to “do unto others” as I would have them do unto me. I am to bear their burdens, not compare their burden to my own. I am to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, without judgement or condemnation.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Romans 12:15-16 ESV


Many loved us and helped carry our burden. Ron and I have healed from our pain, our brokenness, our grief in huge part because others walked with us through it. We have peace and joy not just because of Christ, but also because of the love shown to us by His Body the Church. How can I, who have been given so much grace, not give grace to others? How can we, who have been loved by Jesus, not be like Him in our attitude towards others?

Let us love others who grieve, for whatever reason. And in so doing we are the Body of Christ.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11 | NIV

14 thoughts on “Do they know what grief is?

  1. Miss Kathleen ~~ I hope I do not become so jaded and self-absorbed that I forget that – someone sending their child off to kindergarten, college, boot camp, etc. IS an extremely Tough Thing To Do for them at their state of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Bear Whose Burden? | kathleenbduncan

  3. I have to agree with my wife on this “No Comparison” absolutetly no comparison. I lost a brother – he was 14, my father when he turned 70, had to put pets down and left Shawn in Wyoming on his own. There is someting called the natural order of things and though these events are painful at no time did I want to give my life to save theirs. As a parent I would. So “Do they know what grief is?” sure but there are different levels of grief and it is insulting to even compare some of the stuff in this artical to the loss of a child. It’s been 1yr and 20 days since my son ascended into heaven.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry you found it insulting.

      My whole point is we should not compare — not when we are deciding how we respond to others who are grieving.

      My response to another grieving person should never be, “My pain is worse than yours, so I don’t care that you are hurting.”

      As a follower of Jesus, my response to any other hurting person should be, “How can I love them? How. An I help carry their burden?”

      As I begin to heal in my grief, I will be able to reach out to serve others more. And as I reach out to love and serve others more, I begin to heal more in my grief.

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      • Sorry – I get your point but this topic takes me to the place “people can say the dumbest things” and not even be aware of it. (I’m not talking about the artical). You don’t tell a grieving parent you know how they feel my Mom past away at age 92. Guess I’m overthinking the artical.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, people say stupid things. They may do stupid things. I know I did before I experienced the death of a child. I’m grateful my friends forgave me. I choose to forgive. For as Jesus said, “They do not know what they are doing.”

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          • Ya I kinda feel like that right know (saying stupid things). I’m so quilty of comparing grief… and took your article right into that comparison. I can’t help it right now, sadly, I would have little compassion for others suffering from seperation anxiety sending their kids to college. I would never verbally say it to them but I would be thinking it. It would be one of those conversations I would probably nod and walk away. If it were a good friend or family I would likely burst into tears. Still early in grief.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Oh my! How wise you are to know your own response!

            In my early grief, I’m afraid I didn’t just walk away shaking my head! I said what I what I was thinking out loud. In front of God and everyone!😳

            Some friends were comparing sports injuries as we walked a couple of miles together one night. I finally blurted out, “Well, yeah. My kid’s dead!” They just looked at me like I’d lost my mind!

            Yes, I had to repent and apologize.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much for posting this, Kathleen. I have been contemplating this a good deal over the past several months. More compassion, less comparison. More grace and love, less judgment and depracation. We are called to have compassion on people whenever they are troubled, not simply when their sorrows are considered “bigger” than our own.

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  5. Pingback: Do they know what grief is? | kathleenbduncan

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