Good Grief

“I can fix this….” My mind insisted one more time. And when I say insisted, I mean high volume, high intensity. You see, I have fixed things my whole life. And I am pretty good at it.

For two days my mind had been scanning facts, and data, and perspectives, and possibilities (I think the Bible calls this “Speculations).
“If I could just find the key…”
“If I could just get others to see what I see…”
“There is another piece of information, if I could just find it…”

The problem was that my mind seemed to be taking on a life of it’s own. Moving faster, and with greater intensity. Not only would it not be still, it was speeding up. I had been up at night and was beginning to have difficulty staying focused. This was “Thinking Differently” in a way that I wanted to stop. But it seemed that I could not.

I called a friend and trusted counselor, and described what was going on. She asked a simple question.

“Bob, what is your mind, and all those racing thoughts distracting you from? If it is racing, what is it racing away from?”.

My mind got still for a moment, and the answer came. One word. One terrible, frustrating word.



Before I say that we do not do well with grief, let me first say that I do not do well with grief. Did I mention that I fix things? As a counselor, I was always a strategist, a chess player. Let’ set a plan in motion, and get this problem resolved. Until the issue was grief. Grief is not a broken thing to be fixed, nor is it a lie to be corrected. It is not a problem to be resolved. Grief is a reality to embrace, and a valley to traverse. It is a persistent reality in a world where we choose to love, and choose not to hold back our hearts.

We often grieve in proportion to the degree to which we attach. Grieving is about loss. And to not grieve, we must reduce the way that we attribute value.

Jesus was a man familiar with sorrow and acquainted with grief. So what did He do with it? Jesus wept. The pain of loss, and the value Jesus attributed to His friend moved His soul. He did not rationalize, He did not run into a firestorm of cognitive security. He wept. He felt. He did not recite Bible verses about comfort, or make trite statements about eventual outcomes. He wept.

My racing mind would not obey my racing mind, because it was serving a different master. It had been serving a heart that did not want to grieve.

If I were not careful, I could completely abandon my heart, for the safety and refuge of my own ability to figure out and resolve problems. I was well down this path when I called my friend.

My thoughts had become a convenient, though no longer easy, way to escape grief.

So I got out a journal, and I began to write about losses. I was less than a paragraph in when my heart connected. If Jesus wept, so could I. And weep I did.

Loss is a normal part of life, and the only way to not lose is to never have. Grief is the normal way that God allows us to purge the pain of loss, and keep a healthy balance in our souls. Jesus is not afraid to be with you in grief, in fact He is familiar with it.

I am now sure that He is much more at home in grief, than He is in the teeth-gritting smile that says, “I am fine” when in reality the soul is aching.

I am learning to make a home for Jesus in a new way. Grief is good.


Bob Hemp