Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.
You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
John 16:20 (NIV)
Grief is the most equal opportunity experience in all of life. At some time, everyone will know the sorrow and pain of grief, our human response to the death of one we love. The reason we react physically, emotionally, and spiritually to death is that we grieve because we love. If we did not love, our heart would not be broken by death.
In 2004, my beloved husband, Leighton Farrell, a United Methodist minister for over fifty years, died ninety days after the sudden, unexpected onset of pancreatic cancer. He was the great love of my life. When he died, my heart shattered into a million small pieces.
Only eight short months later, my father died. So, in rather quick succession I lost the two people I loved most in the world. My heart was utterly and completely broken.
For many weeks I was certain I would die of a broken heart. I was dazed, confused, and angry, in complete disbelief that Leighton could get sick and die so suddenly, without any real warning. Emotional and physical brokenness was the inescapable reality of my grief for many months.
I also found myself in frightening, unfamiliar spiritual territory. Yet over time, what I came to appreciate was that my soul had survived Leighton’s death largely intact. I realized that grief is not a crisis of faith, it is a crisis of the heart. When we grieve, generally it’s not our faith that’s broken, it’s our heart. What I’ve learned about grief is a fundamental truth of life and death: we must grieve in order to live.
The journey through grief has instructed my life in the truth of Romans 8:28 (RSV), “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” When Leighton died, I felt that something good must come out of his tragic and untimely death. The only way this seemed possible was to write about the pain and suffering of this enormous loss to my life and find a way to share in the experience of grief with others. And although I’m not a therapist, a pastoral care specialist or clergy, as a lay grief facilitator and author, I believe that those who seek comfort and inspiration in grief best identify with an authentic point of view.
As you journey through “the valley of the shadow of death,” I hope this website and the Beyond the Broken Heart resources provide the comfort, support, and encouragement you need to guide your way back to renewed hope and fullness of life. Our online community is an outlet for sharing your emotional isolation and loneliness with others who understand your grief and care about you. It is my prayer that you will experience both personal and spiritual growth as your broken heart is transformed through God’s healing grace.