About the Author

I'm the mother of two little girls, the wife of an amazing husband who'd rather play the guitar than anything else and I love to write. I spend my weekends watching my daughters ride horses and play soccer. I blog daily and my greatest wish is to see women healed...

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  1. What a topic. This morning, I’m anxious about facing my dear co-worker who has lost her baby (miscarriage) this weekend. My head and heart are spinning in every direction as to how to minister to her best.
    All I can do is BE THERE, LISTEN & HUG!
    Pray…too!

  2. recently i have held myself back from empathizing with anyone else on a meaningful level because i am afraid my own grief and pain will overwhelm me and spill over on someone who just doesn’t need it…… selfish…….

    • mmm. i understand that very much.

      it takes a lot of courage to let yourself feel deeply.

      thank you so much for your honesty. and you’ve just described me too.

  3. what a great post! I just love everything that you said. my dad died suddenly when I was 21, and even now, 4.5 years later, I sometimes am still at a loss for what to say to a friend who is also hurting. there are a few things I do know: not to say, “God has a plan,” or “it was for the best.” even when it’s true – it still hurts. don’t say it. the things I learned through my own experience were what taught me to hug a friend who had lost her mother, let her cry, and just say, “I’m sorry. I am so sorry that this has happened, and that you are hurting.” and sometimes that’s all they need.

    • Yes, yes, yes. I wish all would say these words. When I was going through a grieving period, I heard “maybe you’re not praying enough,” “just keep smiling,” “God has a plan…” when all we need is someone to just listen, someone to cry with, someone to empathize….
      And sometimes we grieve over other things lost, not only love ones passing. Those times we still need someone to help us carry that burden.

  4. Grief is such a hard thing to deal with. I lost 2 good friends to cancer that was so hard. My friend Jenni died last January she was an amazing lady who loved God so much and had cancer for 7 years. She never complained once why she had cancer, and she lived everything for the Lord a big inspiration to me.
    I also can understand and encourage others who feel they have no hope with all the stuff I went through in my childhood. Its so nice to be able to share what God has done and continue to do in my life. Thanks for your post love it. 🙂

    • i’m so sorry for your losses, Sarah. Thank you for your honest comment and yes, i’m sure that you have been able to (and will be able in the future) help others with their personal pains.

  5. Sarah, earlier this year I lost my precious Mama. Losing a mother is hard anyway, but Mama and Daddy live with us, so her daily presence in my home was gone – and that left a big hole. She was sick for about six weeks before she passed. In that time, a friend of mine would go to the hospital or nursing home and read the Bible to Mama. Oh, how Mama loved that. This friend, my precious Amy, had the time to do that because she is a homeschooling mother and so did not have to leave work AND because her mother, Ms Sandra, watched the kids while Amy was gone. A mother and daughter helping a mother and daughter. When we knew the end was very near, Amy and Ms Sandra gathered a group of women (some of whom I’ve still never met) and came to my house to clean it. I mean CLEAN it. They knew people might be stopping by, so they didn’t want me to have to worry about the house being “company clean” as Mama taught me it should be. And one lovely woman, also named Sarah, brought us enough Kleenex, paper towels, and toilet paper to last months. We finally used up the paper towels and toilet paper, but we are still working through those ten boxes of Kleenex. Mama had left instructions for her funeral, which included the reading of two poems. Amy stood up in front of the congregation and read one poem. She offered to stand next to me at the podium while I talked about Mama’s testimony if I thought I needed the support. She got in the car with us to drive an hour north to the Veteran’s Cemetery so she could read the second poem. She held my hand in the car. She made space for my tears in her life. She let’s me call her now and tell her that I miss my Mama so much. Ms Sandra gives me “Mom hugs” whenever I see her. And I will never look for a box of Kleenex again without thinking of Sarah. This is how women love each other, even when they have never had the same experience. A mop can wash away worries as well as dirt. Each gesture is BIG even if it is small. Thank God for that.

    • Carolyn,

      Your comment gave me goosebumps. Wow. Just wow.

      The beauty of womens’ hands helping other women through grief is so powerful. It’s amazing. Thank you so so much for sharing this story of both pain and hope.

      Thank you.

  6. Well….

    I’m well acquainted with grief, having lost my mom as a little girl, then my father 4 1/2 years ago. And for me, these things meant the most:

    The cards where people added a personal note;
    The texts sent from people I’d least expect;
    The people who asked what day I could use a meal, not IF they could bring one

    You’re wise to suggest for people not to ask what they can do but just offer! It’s hard to receive help sometimes and this makes it easier.

    Wisdom, sweet friend, especially considering you haven’t suffered some of the losses you’ve described.

    xo

  7. Lovely! I feel deeply for women who have lost babies in womb. two online friends baby boys were born straight into heaven at term at the same time my baby girl was born into my arms. It was heartbreaking. I read this post on broken hearted love:

    http://shineliketheson-mymotherhoodtrail.blogspot.com/p/brokenhearted-love.html

    and I feel it can apply to anyone who is wanting to really be there for someone who has loss and grief. It has spoke volumes to my heart, maybe it will help someone else to just “be” broken hearted for another.

    • My father passed 10 years ago. I was 22. It still stings some days. I’m thankful to anyone who acknowledges our loss, especially when they comment on my daughters beautiful blue eyes, they are just like her Grandpas. Sometimes it is the simple things.

      • I’m so sorry about the loss of your father, Steph. I’m sure your daughters eyes are beautiful. Its so wonderful that you have her as such a reminder of him.

        and thank you for the link to the post. =)

  8. Sarah, this is beautiful.
    Interestingly enough, I too lost a grandfather who lived in (Brownsburg) Indiana while I lived in California too. I was around 12 and it was on my birthday. We weren’t close, he lived far and we didn’t see them much.
    I have been thinking about this lately. A distant family member recently lost her baby and though I don’t know her well, I have been uncertain of what to do. If I should even do anything, feeling like an outsider, and having never walked in those shoes.
    Thank you for offering some great ideas to walk along side someone in the midst of grief.

    • So interesting, Christina. My grandfather lived in Northern Indiana. Where is Brownsburg?

      And i am with you, sometimes its hard to know what to do if someone is “far” from you. thank you for your comment. =)

  9. Hi ~ I lost my wonderful husband 3 years ago and still cry almost every day. My life is just lonely, as my children live far away. Not many people know what to do or say. My church family sent cards right away but afterward everyone stayed away. Fortunately, God sent me a friend who called at least once a week to see how I doing. We still go to lunch once-in-awhile and talk on the phone. Best of all, she comes to pick me up. At first, I didn’t have the strength to drive. If someone would offer to go with you – to church, to the grocery store, take you shopping with them, to a concert, anything… It’s so hard going places by yourself when you have always been a couple. People should not wait for you to call them and ask for things. Who wants to be asked to clean your spoutings or wax your floors? Please call and say, “Is there anything I can do for you today?” It will mean SO much!

    • what good advice, Ann. Thank you for that. Thank you so much.

      I’m so sorry for your grief.

      I am very encouraged, however, that you have had such a true friend. Thank you so much for sharing this story. How brave of you. Thank you.

  10. Thank you so much for this post. I am also a person well-removed from grief. My greatest loss has been my grandmother who I was somewhat close to and saw frequently as a child, but there was warning, and she had lived a wonderful life. I so appreciate the wisdom and thoughtfulness of your post, as well as the practical elements that have really helped me process how to help.

  11. I miscarried 5 years ago. I didn’t need anyone to do anything expect let me be sad for a little while, let me grieve, and let me go through it without putting expectations on me of how I should feel or how I should be doing. I could just be me with the people who let me do that and it was a relief.

    • i love what you said about “Let me be sad for awhile.”

      From what I’ve seen i think a lot of people expect people to “get over” pain and grief quickly. thank you for saying this, emily.

      i’m so sorry about the loss of your baby. thank you so much for your honesty and what you shared.

  12. I have lost my grandmother…whom I was deeply connected with…when I was 11. It thrashed about my world in the worst ways, and today – though my parents are still very alive – I am going through a similar thrashing. I am going through a very different kind of grief I have ever gone through in my life before…the grief of being forsaken by my very own parents all because I am a Christian. The lack of their connection with them…and even when they do connect with me, in all it’s sterility…is ailing my heart to the point that I am going through a grieving process to a degree.

    I know that on the other end of this scenario…I will have a testimony to share one day with someone who may go through a very similar situation. For I have been privy to be able to help a couple of people through the loss of a dear grandparent who they were extrmelt bonded with, because I have been there before them.

    I also have re able to be there for others who have gone through someone I haven’t (like a miscarriage) – but my heart ached for them just the same, and I was able to just be there as a part of their catharsis in their grief.

    I truly appreciate this post Sarah…especially today. Not but an hour ago, my heart was deeply laden with grief concerning my parents…a very fresh moment happened this morning concerning them…but through a very wise, Godly woman I was able to talk with after lunch over the phone, I learned one thing so far. Grief, at any stage, is a process of healing. I just need to let the healing do it’s job…even though it will deeply hurt at times. In turn, it is for me to be available to those God sends my way to help in any way I possibly can (whether or not I can personally relate or not) through their own grieving processes…never giving up to do so, even when I may be down myself.

  13. This was beautiful as were all the comments. My mother and grandmother recently died and their deaths brought about my first true bout with grief. Because I’ve started openly talking about my struggles with the grief process, I have had other women dealing with the same thing come to me and just cry. It’s the stuff we don’t talk about, that we don’t share, that make us think we are the only one going through it. When I finally spoke of the nightmares I was having because of the thought of my mama being in the ground, it brought about a discussion with another woman going through the exact same thing but was too afraid to speak it out loud. Grief hits everyone differently and at different times. We just need to make room for other’s tears.

  14. I’ve had too many losses, so it seems, and heaven is sweeter and more precious. I lost my grandpa when I was in highschool – he always lived with us, so that was my first experience with death. I’ve had three miscarried babies, a stillborn daughter in 1998, lost my mom in spring of 2004 and our 16 year old son in December of 2004.

    And so reading what you wrote, I wished so many more would understand empathy. Most after a short time, ignore, thinking we are over grief . . . or we need to get over it, especially after the first year. They don’t understand how each mother’s day, though I am so very blessed with 10 living children, there’s still the ache of missing names from the card, and missing children from the family pictures. This past July our oldest son married. His brother, 13 months younger, should have been standing next to him. I miss what “I” think should have been the complete picture, but know too that God numbered their days.

    So when people still remember, that I miss, it blesses me so. My new daughter, walked down the aisle and handed me three roses – two in remembrance of our children in heaven & one for gaining a new daughter. She never knew her siblings-in-laws in heaven, but she remembered for me. It so blessed my heart.

    I get a few rare notes and cards on my son’s birthday . . . but most forget. I think some think it will hurt me if I was not thinking of him, so they don’t want to remind me. So the absence of words and remembering, even years later is something I know for myself personally and others, is what hurts.

    So remembering dear Sarah that left us – her parents & siblings will grieve silently until they are reunited in eternity. Especially for those that are close, remember her birthday, death date, mother’s day & father’s day, Christmas, Resurrection Day, etc. – these are the days where the sting of death still lingers on, always.

    Oh my, I’ve rambled . . . . you’ve just touched something so personal to me, and so appreciated your words and sharing. ~ Loni

  15. Sarah,

    As is so often the case with your writing, I connect deeply to this. I share your story — I have not yet in this lifetime suffered a loss of a parent, a child, a spouse, or some “heart-wrenching” type of loss. As a counselor, I often struggle with feeling as though I can offer meaningful encouragement. I love what you said specifically about holding my loved ones that much closer during this lifetime, and about hugging and holding those grieving that which I do not yet understand. Indeed, it truly is about connecting to someone through compassion and most of all, just being Christ to them. Honestly, sometimes hugging and holding is so much better than talking anyway. Just being next to someone who suddenly feels alone. There’s a whole lot of Jesus in that.

    Be blessed today, Sarah!
    ~Melissa

  16. Great post Sarah. It reminded me of one that my wife posted back on Memorial day wherein she talks about being “in grief’s waiting room” (I will refrain from posting a link simply to avoid a possible faux pas) – Just a snippet follows. For context, I lost my oldest son from a prior marriage.

    Sheila writes:
    ” I sit in the waiting room while my husband grieves. I grieve with him as best I can. I pray for peace in his broken heart, lift him up to the One who heals the most searing wounds. And I am comforted. While I can’t go with him into the holy place, he does not go there alone. “

  17. Dear Sarah,

    I wasn’t sure if I posted correctly – as it was my first time at this site – which was recommended to me by a dear friend. While you are much younger than me, I was struck by what we did have in common – I too, am a mom of two (my son is 22 and my daughter 20), and my husband is happiest playing his guitar, and while I used to be a RN, I have started writing a couple of books (I actually majored in art advertising and photo journalism before going into nursing). Anyway, I’ll repost below, and you can post whatever you see as appropriate, as I know many have expressed the same things already – but it might help them to know that they are not alone and many feel the same way –

    Sarah, the question you are asking is the same one I posed to folks while working on a book I am writing. I do believe more people want to help those who are grieving, but just do not know how. To give you the gist of some of the answers I have received are as follows: 1) Just be there physically – sometimes there is no need for much talking, 2) remember the anniversaries of the loss – and offer to do something or just be with them on that day (let’s say the loss occured on Tuesday, Sept. 3)- i.e. the first Tuesday of the following week, the first month – Oct. 3rd, the first year anniversary, holidays, special days (i.e. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, whatever is appropriate), and 3) offer them some time to grieve – take the kids if they need it, do a grocery run, cook, etc… just take care of some of the logistics of life. I heard many comments related to what NOT to do or say. Some included: 1) never to assume that just because you lost your mom, you will know how your friend feels having lost her mom. We all have unique relationships, and so we will feel a different loss. And, we all grieve differently. 2) Some said they did not want to hear Bible verses and “platitudes” because it seemed to dismiss their feelings. Instead, let them know many churches offer Grief classes, which many have found helpful – and a good friend could offer to go with them. 3) Many said that they hated people not mentioning their loved one’s name. Bringing up the person’s name and reminiscing was something that helped, although many said they were afraid it would make their friend feel sadder, but they are already thinking about them, so it helps to talk about their feelings and that person.

    A good friend also keeps track of how their friend is dealing with life for months and years later. While the average, intense period of grieving is 2 yrs., there simply is no hard and fast rule. If, at any point, your friend becomes so depressed that they begin talking about suicidal thoughts, then it is vital you help your friend seek professional help and if they refuse, then a good friend actually steps up and tells them they have no choice – because if they don’t seek help for themselves, you will. When people get that depressed, they simply are not thinking clearly enough to make rational decisions.

    Like Emily said, many voiced the need for others to accept wherever they were at in the grieving process and not to force them to rush it or to make it look like their way of grieving. Sometimes, those who seem to “not be grieving” are just going through the motions, keeping busy, and then, what seems to be “clean out of the blue”, the grief hits them like a ton of bricks. You will grieve – allow yourself the luxury of doing so – and believe me when I say, you cannot avoid it.

  18. you know what so vividly stands out to me in this post? (besides the fact that it emulates the behavior of Jesus?)

    WITHOUT BEING ASKED –

    most of us are “doers” we nurture – but it isn’t easy for us to admit or accept nurturing – we don’t want to be asked because the “auto” answer is – “no, it’s OK, I’m OK” –

    Just DO it! 🙂

  19. This is beautiful, Sarah.

    And though I didn’t read 100% of all comments… I don’t think it has been mentioned… that these are beautiful truths for women like myself who also have experienced self-induced loss(like abortion).

    Always, always… always… the comfort and healing are as you described: being Jesus to them as much as you can.

    Loss is isolating. Sin is isolating. Sin and loss combined like when I had my abortion were an extreme double-wammy of isolation. Through my healing, years of being a crisis pregnancy counselor, and from the confidences of other women they have felt the same.

    So I just wanted to slip a quiet note to encourage those that even for self-induced grieving and losses(even if they aren’t as permanent as an abortion: i.e. the death of a key relationship)… keep being the mouth piece, hands, and feet of Jesus.

    We all belong to each other in the body of Christ. And “the parts that seem to be weaker are indispensable.”

    Thank you so much for sharing His heart and wisdom through your words!

  20. I have experienced loss, but not as sorrowful as other’s losses. “Feel as deeply as possible. Carry as much as I can. And be as much Jesus as I can possibly be.” What a blessed, gentle encouragment.

  21. I lost my husband in May, last year. He was my best friend. Grief is like waves. Sometimes its quiet and peaceful and your heart can sing “it is well with my soul”. Others time it can come crashing down and you dont know which way to go and you cant breathe. When it comes to grieving, it is important that your friends and family do not ignore it. I personally did not like hearing, (or still dont care to hear it) the words, “im sorry”. Unless it was said they were sorry that I was hurting. Phone calls, cards, encouraging words are all needed. They shouldnt fade after a few weeks. People seem to forget so soon that our life is turned up-side-down. Life just goes on, but ours hasnt so soon. In grief, there are no rules!! No time frames!! Its day-by-day.

  22. …cont. – Healing comes in time, but not when your expecting it. I miss my husband more than I can explain.
    I can relate to the Journal/poem of “grief in the waiting room, that was posted.
    I have a real hard time expressing how I feel while I am still grieving. It can appear that I am fine to all, However I can loose it just by driving down the freeway, seeing his face in our photos, hearing a song, kids hurting. I am raising 5 children, so I have no choice but to carry on. BUT that doesnt mean I dont have panic attack, anxiety, and shock from time to time, even after its been a year.
    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE..If you know someone who has lost someone, Tell them that you are thinking of them and praying for them still. It still hurts so bad when I carry on and no one notices the pain that is fresh.

  23. Just to give an example of how it feels to someone who is grieving a loss. I work with a woman who lost her son when he was 5. He would now be 14. I knew it was coming soon to the anniversary, so when I saw her I told her I was thinking about her and praying for her. It just so happened on that day it was his Birthday. It took her by surprize that I would say something to her. It was a blessing to her. Then she asked how I was doing, I just lost it. I started balling. It HEALS TO BE CONFRONTED! No one has really asked me in a while. Maybe they think Im doing “GREAT”. Sad
    I hope Ive blessed someone needing the heart of a grieving person. Thanks for the opportunity.

  24. Don’t be afraid of tears. Tears are healing. Don’t appologize to people when they cry, as if you made them cry., it is ok, they need to cry and when people cried with me it was so good for me.
    When a friend called me and I began to cry she just said, “it is okay Jill, it’s okay Jill,” and lovingly waited for me to be able to talk.
    Pray about what help to offer, like cutting the grass, washing the car, picking up their kids and do it for weeks and weeks after, not just the first days.
    A card that says I am thinking/praying about you without platitudes or advice, is very nice.
    Meet/Greet the grieving spouse at church and other events as they get used to going out alone.
    My husband is a mechanic. When a close friend died he offered to maintain her vehicles from then on. He did for many years until she married again. With 4 teens and and an older car it took away most of one burden.
    Not everyone can do ‘big’ things but everyone can care somehow.

  25. perfect timing on this post. my uncle was taken off the ventilator last night. i haven’t heard anything new yet but they did not expect him to make it 24 hours. since my moms phone call yesterday i have struggled with the lack of empathy i felt. i WANT to feel for them. i WANT to be broken for them but i just haven’t been. he lives in FL and i haven’t seen them in a year or so and it feels very distant…like someone else. thank you for this. i will be praying and meditating on your words today and days to follow.

    grace and peace

  26. I’ve often thought that “I think therefore I am” should be revised to either “I feel therefore I am” or “I emote therefore I am.”

    My Gram died this pat Friday. She was 93 on 25 September and had very few aging issues until she hit 87. But after that she broke several bones in about a year and continued to have falling incidents. Finally she moved in with my Mom and I moved there (when she was 90) to help care for her for 8 months–that was a gift. But she was ready to die then–so she said without depression or regrets. But she could still get around with a walker and really only needed me there in case something happened. But this year was different. She had been bedridden for months and could not longer walk–even sitting in upright could cause her to pass out.
    I sat with her those last hours and sang hymns to her and though I do and will continue to miss her, I am so overjoyed and relieved for her.

    When my husband left the first time he was afraid Gram would not longer love and accept him. I told her and her response was “But that woulnd’t be Grace.” I told her of that later and she did not remember saying it; she didn’t think it sounded like her. But I knew it sounded like the woman I had always known her to be. Gram and Grandpa taught us all Grace by example.

  27. Having lived on the other side of grief that you have Sarah (dealing with deep loss early in life), I appreciate your perspective very much. There is pain in the silence of not acknowledging what happened, even in small ways, so your encouragement to acknowledge and participate in others’ losses is right on target. As I read through the comments, it is obvious that everyone needs and desires to tell their story. That is why an occasional, intentional acknowledgement or question about the loss allows the story to continue, for the book not to be shut. When the book is shut and the life goes out of the story, your connection to those you’ve lost fades, and so does your hope for being certain that those around you know. How Christ-like it is to actively seek out those who have experienced a loss and make sure they know you care. A good encouragement for me in light of having lived with loss, I can share my story through my actions. Thank you! A short footnote ~ my parents were killed in a car accident when I was 21. I am now 56. My loss has been overshadowed by my own children, their spouses, and now 5 grandchildren. The story continues, the book is not shut. I can love and enjoy them to replace what my parents missed getting to do, not just what I missed. God is faithful to teach me and turn sadness into joy!

  28. Sarah, this is real blessing in words right here. As someone who lost her parents at a young age I have brushed up against grief more than most. It has colored so much of my life and one of the most difficult things to deal with is people in my life that don’t know what to do with that part of me. Thanks for admitting that you don’t really know what to do with that part of so many of us. On the flip side thanks for recognizing that there is so much that you can do for those of us who walk bent under grief. You’ve captured that so well in this post.

    I always think of grief like scars- they are always there, but somehow they fade with time. Some scars fade more than most- I fear mine are not as faded as I’ve pretended. We’ve all got scars and grief, whether it be from the loss of a job, relationship, calling, or real physical death, it is something that we all find ourselves limping along under at some point. I think about grief a lot this time of year as our part of the earth loses leaves and we lose time and night grows longer. Might we find each other reaching out with arms strong to fold laundry and cook meals and love well those whose limp might be more pronounced these days.

    Heaps of blessings on you and your struggle to love well and empathize with those who hurt deep- I’m struggling right there with ya sister.

  29. i lost my first husband several years ago and i admit to struggling to express and feel empathy; mainly because it takes me right back to the pain and sadness i felt back then. so while i can understand what someone may be going through; especially when it’s similar, it’s very easy for me to hold back out of fear from wearing my own emotions all over again.

  30. I lost my mom when I was 7 years old to Lupus. I have since experienced several other losses throughout my growing up and also now as an adult. Looking back, as a 7 year old kid, I had no idea why God was taking away my mom. But slowly over the years He began to reveal his faithfulness. I have been able to cry with others, empathize with others and simply make myself available to a hurting friends needs. We all go through different types of loss, at different stages in life, and I think the key is just making yourself available to another hurting heart. This could be a shoulder to cry on, someone who will just sit and listen, making a meal, etc. Beautiful post & words. Thank you!

  31. and never, ever say “I will get to it tomorrow.” we all learned this with Gitz’ journey about tomorrow’s. the best thing from a far is a hand written note, card that the loved one can hold in their hands. a lost kindness in these social media times.

    lovely post to make one think, we need that.

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    czemu ze mną…
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    niebiosa naa wschodzie. Frodo, otulony
    kocem, obejmował kolana, uważając na martwego psa jak i również po.