Why do we grieve?

If you’re grieving the death of someone you love, you’re probably searching for answers to some of life’s most challenging questions, including the ‘why?’ of death. When my beloved husband died in 2004, I was desperate to understand what happened. I needed answers before I could receive comfort and move forward in life.

If you think about it, we all have a story. “We spend our years as a tale that is told” (Psalm 90:9 KJV). What I’ve found is that grief teaches us is the value of sharing our story. I hope you’ll join our online forum to share your story with me and others who are grieving. I’ll respond personally to your questions or comments if you’d like to Ask Julie. In the safety of our community you’ll discover that you are not alone in your grief.

On this new website, I’ll post a grief devotional each day. In the blog, we’ll consider many of the emotional, spiritual, and practical aspects of grief. Together we’ll explore what it is we’re experiencing and feeling as we join hands and hearts to share - our story and our grief

Let’s start today with why we grieve. After my husband Leighton died, I knew that in order to go through grief, I needed answers to the ‘how’ and ‘why’ to make sense of the all-consuming experience of my grief. Sound familiar?

After several weeks of delving into the medical records and researching his illness, I figured out the medical answer to ‘Why did he die?’ - he got sick. One answer led to the next question, and then the next. But why did he get sick?  Did he get sick and die because his body was old? He was only 73 - still vital and active in life. Finally I realized the answer lay in a combination of genetics and biology. And although I sorted out the ‘why’ of his illness, the ‘why’ of my grief was another matter entirely. 

If you think about it, grief is nothing more and nothing less than the human response of our heart, our soul, and our spirit to the death of one we love. Our mind and body also react to death, sometimes in new, unexpected ways. The reason we respond so emotionally and, for some of us, so viscerally is that we grieve because we love. If we did not love, our heart would not be broken by death.

Think, too, about this question: Would you forego the love you shared to avoid the pain of grief?  No, surely not one of us would insulate ourselves from the joy and glory of love just to avoid the possibility of loss. I can’t imagine it. When we grieve, we're so profoundly grateful for having known a love so great and deep that when death touches our lives, we can do nothing for a while except grieve. The more we love, the greater our grief.

Perhaps you’re grieving the death of a beloved husband or wife or partner. You may be grieving the untimely, tragic death of a precious child. Perhaps you’re grieving the loss of a family member or wise parent or the death of someone serving our country. When we step back for a moment, we see that our grief is perhaps the most heartfelt expression of our love beyond death. Grief comes from love. Grief springs from love. Grief arises from a surrendered, selfless love. Grief is the eternal connection of our love to the one now lost to us in death. Why do we grieve? We grieve because we love.

Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.
—1 Corinthians 13:7-8 JBP

Keep me this day, O God, in the safety of your love. Amen.

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