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FIRST-PERSON: Grieving with hope


Grief. I’m not sure that I ever really understood grief until the last few months. It is one of those emotions you can read about, study or discuss but can’t really understand until you personally experience it. After losing my wife to pancreatic cancer seven months ago, I’m still coming to terms with what it means to grieve.

From a theological perspective, I find great comfort in knowing my wife is in heaven. As a person of strong faith in Christ’s propitiation for our sins, I know Kay is happier now than she has ever been. She is experiencing the joy of worshipping Christ in a more real way than ever before. She is no longer in pain. This DOES give me real comfort. But that knowledge does not fully alleviate the sense of loss I feel at no longer having her by my side. 

I miss having a best friend who knows all the inside jokes that we would chuckle about with each other. I miss having deep conversations with the one person who knew me better than anyone else. I miss her advice and even miss her challenging my thinking when she disagreed with me. I miss playing backgammon with her. I miss beating her in Jeopardy and losing to her in Settlers of Catan. I miss having someone to go on adventures with. I miss her cooking! I could go on and on. There is so much I miss now that she is gone. Knowing my wife was a Christian and is now in heaven makes my sorrow less intense, but it does not take away the full pain of her loss.

I am reminded often of 1 Thessalonians 4:13: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” Until I lost Kay, I often viewed that verse as a promise of alleviation of grief. Now that I have experienced, and I am still experiencing, profound grief after losing my wife after 35 years of joyful marriage, I read that verse differently. It does not say believers will NOT grieve. It says we will not grieve like those who have no hope. We believers do grieve, but we grieve with hope!

We find hope in knowing that we will see our believing loved ones again. We find hope in knowing their lives, even though shorter than we had wanted, had meaning and purpose, and made a real difference. We find hope in knowing that the lessons we are learning about grief help us relate to others in a whole new way. Since Kay’s passing, I find incredible hope in hymns about heaven, even though in the past many of those hymns seemed abstract to me. Now they feel very real. I find hope in knowing Christ is that friend that sticks closer than a brother. My life is filled with hope, even while I experience profound grief. After seven months, some parts of my life are more filled with a sense of loss than ever, but other parts of my life are filled with more hope than ever. This is the reality of grief in the Christian’s journey.

If you are going through grief at the loss of a loved one, don’t let anyone tell you it is time to get over it and move on with life. I’m not sure I will ever get over losing my best friend. But I do find great hope for the future, both my future on earth and knowing the reality of a future eternity.

If you have a friend going through grief, don’t be surprised when they are sad even months or years later. It does not mean their faith is weak. It does not mean they have lost all hope. It just means they are remembering the person they loved and miss the time and experiences they shared together. This is what it means to grieve, but to grieve differently than those with no hope.

    About the Author

  • Terry Dorsett