How Do I Deal With Unspeakable Grief?

Recently, one of the readers of this blog wrote about a time of terrible grief in her life. Hers is what I call unspeakable grief. Over the years as a pastor I have encountered many such people. In one of my first churches, I knew a family where a woman lost her husband and both children over a ten year period of time–that is what I mean by “unspeakable grief.”

How do you make it through such grief? I want you to know you can make it. Whoever you are and wherever you live, you can make it.

I want to write this both to the person grieving and to those around them. Hopefully, all of us can find help in these simple ideas.

How can we survive unspeakable grief?

First, surround yourself with people who care, pray, and won’t forget you. If you have those people, you will make it. If you don’t have those people, go to a church and tell the pastor you need people around you who will love you. He will know what to do.

In my church we call this group of people a Bible Fellowship Group. They are people who do life together centered around the Word of God and Christian fellowship. Life contains a lot of grief. They help one another with grief and all kinds of other problems.

If you are not the one grieving, look for people to help. They are everywhere.

Second, don’t put your trust in cliches. Cliches are meant well, and sometimes they are true. The problem is they don’t solve our problems. More than cliches (“he’s in a better place”) we need people who will hug us and not forget us. Those people will get you through.

A good example of this is found in the Book of Job. When Job lost his children and all his possessions, Job’s three friends came from afar and did not speak to him for seven days. They simply sat with him (Job 2:11-13). Most of the time we really don’t know what to say. Most of the things we do say don’t mean much. If you have to say something, say “I’m sorry, I love you, and I care.”

Third, ask God to reveal Himself to you and to be with you. If you sincerely do this, you will find amazing strength and help. Go to the Scripture to meet God. In God you will find your help. Tell Him you need Him and that you want to know who He really is. Instead of spending much time asking for help, spend time asking to know Him. This may sound strange, but it will help more than anything I know.

Four, grieve. I told our reader what she was going through is the toughest thing I see. Therefore, grieve. It’s good for you. Of course, you have a heavy heart.

When people ask how you are doing say: “I’m ok but it hurts really bad.” That lets people know you are going to make it, but it also lets them know this is real and it is not easy. Both of those statements are true.

Finally, I gave our reader my number and told her to call when she needed someone to talk to. When I grieve, I find I need to talk. It’s really nice to know you have someone who cares. One of the best things we can do is give someone our number.

If you’re grieving, may God bless and comfort you. If you’re not grieving, may you bless and comfort someone who is.

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  1. Ed Matthew
    Sep 12, 2012

    AMEN. Well said, a ‘must’ to remember for both sides of the equation. For it is not an ‘if’ situation, it is a ‘when’ situation for all of us on this side of eternity.

  2. The Millers
    Sep 12, 2012

    Thank you Waylon. Sometimes what is best known can be the hardest to remember in life’s difficult seasons. I am thankful for the Lord’s great love & compassions (Lamentations 3:22-26)! I am thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ!

  3. Patrick Brown
    Sep 12, 2012


    Awesome blog. Especially with the passing of my mother-in-law. I will share this with the rest of my family.


  4. Traci Hoffman
    Sep 12, 2012

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have shared this with our family. This blog post came at a perfect time for us.


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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” — Matthew 19:14 (NIV)