My husband Brendan uttered those two words, and it felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room.
“It” is ulcerative colitis, which Bren first had as a little boy. Ulcers multiplied in his colon, forcing him to run outside and bury his belly in the snow to numb the pain. After years of failed treatments and embarrassing incidents that scarred him for life, the doctors suggested the last resort: a colostomy bag. To eight-year-old Bren, this was unspeakable. “No mum,” he said. “I think you should let me die and go to heaven.”
Later, nudged by the Holy Spirit, a friend offered to pray for him again. As they prayed, warmth rose in his stomach. He cried, “Jesus healed me!” When they returned to the hospital for a check-up, the doctors were stunned: The ulcers had vanished.
I’d adopted this miraculous story as my own, a testimony to God’s supernatural power. Here was a peek at heaven walking around my home in the form of my husband!
But now, our miracle had been stolen. I didn’t understand. Why, God? Why steal Bren’s healing? I felt betrayed. Bren did all the “right” things: He studied the Word everyday, he was the loudest singer at church, and we were even helping to plant a church at that time. Sure, we knew that our lives weren’t going to be trouble-free just because we loved Jesus, but this?
I muscled up; I needed to be strong for him and our two daughters. It was easier to harden my heart than to wrestle with the why.
Four years later, Bren is still sick, but he never uses it as an excuse to duck out of life. Indeed, his joy in the Lord is miraculous in and of itself. But Bren isn’t the only casualty.
As my heart calloused over, my joy dimmed to the tiniest spark. I became impatient. I laughed less. My creativity was evaporating. In trying to protect myself from the hard conversation with God, the scar tissue started spreading to parts I didn’t foresee.
The other day, my therapist said, “It sounds like you haven’t mourned.” Her comment stopped me in my tracks.
Mourning isn’t reserved solely for the loss of loved ones. We can mourn the loss of dreams, hopes, and expectations. But mourning presents more of a mystery here in the Western world.
When my mother-in-law’s grandmother died, in keeping with Persian tradition, she and her mother wore white for forty straight days. Ancient Jewish tradition prescribed a period of thirty days, during which one shaved their head and put away all finery. Professional mourners, wailing women, would come to your side to mark the occasion. Elders would sit in sackcloth and ashes. The cultural understanding was that mourning takes our time, energy, and spirit. There was no need to lie or pretend you were okay when you weren’t.
King Solomon, who wrote “a time to mourn and a time to dance,” also recognized that mourning was encouraged by God. The beginning of this famous passage struck me:
There is an appointed time for everything . . .
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NASB)
Like birth and death, every event under the sun is ordained by God. We’re on His schedule. When I dodged my own mourning time, I stepped out of lockstep with Him. God, in His kindness, knew I needed time to process this loss. Who was I to deny what God wanted to give? I dread going to the dark places, so I took comfort knowing I wouldn’t get stuck there because there was an appointed end to it. For those who find comfort in mourning, what an encouragement to move on to the next stage, no matter how intimidating, because God has written the schedule of our lives.
Perhaps the greatest reason to enter a time of mourning is that Jesus waits for us there! Isaiah describes a Messiah who would “comfort all who mourn.” Seven hundred years later, that Messiah declared:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4 (NASB)
Go to Jesus in your mourning, and you will be comforted. That has been my very experience this year. While He hasn’t answered my whys, He has, at least momentarily, settled my heart with His peace.
But how could mourning be a blessing?, I wondered. Well, Isaiah offers a clue:
“I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners,
Creating the praise of the lips,
Peace, peace to him who is far and to him that is near.”
Isaiah 57:18-19 (NASB)
In being comforted by God, our wails of mourning are transformed into songs of praise. Our mourning becomes our testimony. This is a truth I know from helping many women walk through postpartum depression, a dark valley I’ve traversed twice. He will redeem our time in the darkness.
Sometimes we need the encouragement to mourn. I know I did. And so, if this message resonates with your soul, hear me friend: Run to Jesus and shed your tears in His presence. It’s not self-indulgent. You won’t stay in the dark pit forever. I’m here, in sackcloth and ashes, and while I dreaded it, I’m okay. The Lord waits for me, and in our time together, I can see that someday, He will turn my mourning into dancing. My joy, once a dim candle, is slowly building, and I have hope again.Leave a Comment
Ruth Mills says
Thank you for sharing your hard earned lesson with us. You have honored God & equipped others with your words of truth & encouragement. Blessings upon blessings!
Betsy Wisler says
Praying for you and your precious family. You’re an inspiration and blessing to so many by being real. I look forward to meeting you in heaven.
Robin Dance says
There’s such a richness to the wisdom you’re sharing here, an understanding you impart from having experienced Divine revelation. Beyond encouragement, I’ve noticed that sometimes people need permission to grieve, too. We want to hurry that process along according to what we think, but you’ve helped us remember that there’s a time to mourn…and a time to move on. You also reminded me of the redemptive work of God, where he takes hard things in our lives and uses them for our good and his glory. Hard in the living of it but encouraging in hindsight. On a blustery morning, this is a good word, friend.
Aarti Sequeira says
Thank you Robin ❤️
This is very encouraging to me this morning as I realize I’m mourning the loss of my mom as she slips further into her dementia. Blessings and Thanks, Aarti.
I’ve been trying to mourn several losses in the past year, but I’m having the most difficult time releasing my tears.
It’s been 4 years since my bestie passed and I am still finding myself mourning every single day. My mom passed away 2 years ago this month and my dad passed last April. So much loss and I feel as if I can’t even get a moment to look for joy. I know death is inevitable and is part of life, just didn’t want it to all come at once… This year I will look for the smallest joy in everything. Thank you for sharing this message!
Aarti Sequeira says
Oh Maylee. That is indeed a lot. I read a definition once of joy, the joy that Jesus gives us. It’s not so much a feeling, as a reaction and a resolution… like a buoy in the ocean. No matter how big the waves, it always pops back up, ready for whatever comes next. We pop back up because we know that God is our strength. I’m praying you’ll find a pocket of joy, the feeling, today… and joy, the strength too.
Beth Williams says
P:raying for you sweet sister. So much loss in such a short time. Asking God to comfort you & give you a sense of peace & calm to your weary soul. May you feel Jesus at your side walking along with you as you mourn & grieve these losses.
Donna Valeri says
Wow! This touched my heart and soul. I have ulcerative colitis and it has altered my life tremendously! I have mourned the loss of my health and all that it has taken away from my family and me. I have had some dark days and during the numerous hospitalizations, the pain in my husband’s eyes was sometimes worse than my physical pain. It has been rough, yet it has forced me to rely more on God and my faith. I count my blessings and thank God each day instead of cursing and crying, “Why me?” There are some hard days and I am also blessed with a brilliant GI doctor that is also tenacious and recommends treatments. When one fails (and most have) he’s ready with the next one. We have also seen a colorectal surgeon because we must be prepared for the inevitable. And still, I thank God, and focus on the good stuff – the simple acts of kindness that I find somewhere in each day… I have learned to trust Jesus and be grateful no matter what.
Aarti Sequeira says
Tracy N. says
I never thought of mourning as part of how we feel. I tell my students when they have strong feelings that it’s okay to feel them. After I allow them to mourn, and comfort them, they find the strength to make it through the rest of the day. And we try again tomorrow.
Aarti, your words struck a nerve with me today. I have been battling the loss of my life’s work and I have felt unworthy of the mourning because my loss is so small compared to the great losses so many others face. Your words today are a solace because they are an invitation to mourn and to realize that the mourning brings me to a new day and a fresh me because the Lord is present in the mourning and in the new day. Thank you!
Aarti Sequeira says
Yes! It’s ok to mourn, and it’s safe to do so under His wings. It’s like we try to avoid it — for good intentions! — and yet it’s the one thing we sometimes need to do in order to move onto the next thing He has prepared for us! May He bless you richly.
Thank you for this beautiful message. I am grieving over my health and possibly going on disability.
Jes Thomas says
Yes, for some reason our culture does not encourage us to mourn. Instead we need to “be strong “. But how can we be some thing we are not unless we are just faking it. I love that the Psalms has such real emotions and crying out to God is one of them. I’m thankful Jesus got emotional and gives us permission to be emotional as well. For there, we will find healing.
Christy Herring says
I so appreciate your Holy Spirit inspired words , my heart is touched, my understanding is better . I lost my oldest grandson in March 2021 , my heart is so crushed but the hardest part of losing him is watching his mother, my daughter, completely destroyed with grief . God is taking her through. I am sending this to her , I know it will help her too. Thank you Aarti for sharing❤️
Thank you, Aarti, for bringing forth this perspective of mourning. So many people can relate and may have lacked time to mourn over a situation or loss of something other than a loved one . Your transparency and encouragement helps us to live in courage’s by the power of God. God bless you!
Sandy R. says
Thank you for this personal and touching post. You describe a few different cultural modes/methods of mourning but didn’t elaborate on how you mourned – what you did to facilitate your mourning. Your description of:
“As my heart calloused over, my joy dimmed to the tiniest spark. I became impatient. I laughed less. My creativity was evaporating. In trying to protect myself from the hard conversation with God, the scar tissue started spreading to parts I didn’t foresee.” is exactly what I’ve been going through since 2017 when a chain of heartbreaks, deep disappointments and loses began. Someone else had mentioned that it sounded like I needed to mourn but also didn’t help with any suggestions on how to do that. I would deeply appreciate any books or other sources your could recommend on how to mourn.
Thank you so much,
Aarti Sequeira says
Hi Sandy! You know what? I’m just starting the process… I think just being willing to sit, in His presence, with my feelings… that’s mourning. Allowing myself to cry or be angry or just sad… that’s mourning. I’m sure there isn’t just one way, and that He has a particular mode for you that’s tailor made to who He made you to be.
Thank you Aarti. I’ll work on figuring out how to sit in His presence and finding what He has in mind for me.
Hugs ❤️ ✝️
Thank you for this beautiful encouragement. In the recent loss of my good health, I’m seeking the Lord for strength, and thanking Him for joy despite illness. Your words are a lightening bolt “aha!” for me, what importance there is in mourning my health and letting God hold me and comfort me. Thank you Aarti.
Thank you for sharing such intimate information about your family. You help put a new perspective to daily struggles. God bless & comfort you, your husband & daughters.
Melodie Van Ameyden says
Amen. Your words encourage me
Aarti, thank you so much for sharing. It blessed my heart to read your words. Said a prayer for your husband and your family! God bless you, friend!
Kawanda Edwards says
I absolutely love this and I find comfort in know that God said he will never leave you nor forsake you. Through our time of troubles, heartache, pain and suffering He is always there.. Glory be to God!!!
Becky Keife says
Aarti, I’m so glad your therapist pointed you to the delayed gift of mourning. (Though surely it doesn’t feel like a gift most of the time.) But I love how you pointed out that the gift is that Jesus meets us there. His comfort is real. And the grief won’t last forever. I’m so sorry for what your husband and family suffer through. Praying those sparks of joy and hope fan into a flame, warm and bright this year.
Kathy Walker says
The type of grief you’re talking about is often called ambiguous grief. You’re not mourning the loss of a life but the loss in your life of hopes and dreams you had for yourself or someone you love. In our culture, we don’t usually don’t recognize this as true grief, but it is very real. In my case, I have mourned the loss of certain expectations of my daughter’s future after years of serious mental illness.
Thank you for sharing this and pointing out the biblical support for all kinds of mourning.
Beth Williams says
Praying for sparks of joy & happiness in your life this year. Why do we in Western culture feel we have to be strong & just get over it? Our losses hurt & sometimes that hurt goes deep down. We need time with Jesus to start that healing process. Plus it is in our mourning that we are comforted by God. It is with the comfort we received that we can comfort others. Don’t rush your mourning. Take all the time you need to sit with God & cry out to Him. Our mournings can be our testimony of how God got us through.
Tori Milburn says
Thank you for sharing this! I have gone through many losses in the past 6 years: loved ones, my career and my marriage. I have been depressed, and while I know Jesus will see me through all of it, I have not allowed myself to fully morn the losses. I felt I had to be upbeat and positive around others. I know that the Lord will turn my mourning into joy and give me experiences to share with others! May God continue to bless you! Tori
Today, you brought me peace
Barbara Nelson says
Thank you for this encouragement. I have just gone through 51/2 months of watching my husband die of a brain tumor and am in the midst of mourning his death. We had been married 44 years and were months from retirement. He was my life long friend and love. Mourning is so difficult at points. Sometimes I find myself as a wounded child, crawling back to the Father broken. My dreams, my plans are gone. My life is entering the latter years. I, too, have deep why’s. Yet I choose to trust God and keep my praise going up, my hope is still in His promises.
Suzanne Al-Idelbi says
Such a beautiful article. You are spot on- mourning is necessary and Christ will meet us there. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for sharing this personal journey. I been working so hard to trust on the lord during a difficult time but feeling defeated. I need to mourn the loss and rest in his arms. Your message gave me the freedom to cry and mourn. Thank you.
Melissa Valencia says
There have been SO many losses in my life in the last few months. I feel like I am in a constant state of grief and morning and I can’t seem to find God there at all. He just isn’t meeting me there and the words of scripture seem empty and meaningless. I am definitely in the pit of despair and my joy is gone.
Your msg has brought hope to me.. My family is s broken one.. I cry… Almost every day and offer my tears to the Lord.. I know a day will come when these tears and sadness will be turned into dancing thanks Aarathi.
Tacey Jones says
I am so sorry that your husband has to deal with this! I imagine that friends have offered all kinds of solutions and I sincerely hope that I don’t offend you. My intent is only to offer you hope if my suggestion does indeed offer some hope. Am in the midst of reading a book entitled Food Saved Me written by Danielle Walker.
She, too, has ulcerative colitis and has suffered, too, from flare ups. She has written several cookbooks that have been on the New York Times bestseller’s list. May it offer your husband some help and hope. She has had medical treatments too!
God bless you both. May he find healing again with no flare ups!!
Thank you for these words and telling your story.
Leslie Williams says
Aarti, your words lately have been straight from Jesus to my heart. Your word silence, resonatea with me as my word was given as peace. This does resonate with me. I lost my dad in 2020 to a heart attack. In the midst of it, God was working on pursuing my heart to come back to Him. (I foolishly turned away)
I don’t feel as though I mourned properly and I am not even sure how to do that. Then in November, my childhood best friend died and I have really struggled with that as well. I want to mourn but I feel stunted. I want to run to Jesus but I honestly don’t know where to begin mourning. I’m praying for guidance.
Helen Alfonso says
Excellent !!! very inspiring message
Anna Mariee Nichols says
More of this article needs to be seen, I just happen to stumble on it. When I was mourning for the sixth time I had to get help because My mourning came out side ways and everyone thought I was crazy because I mourned so long and hard. I have a Best Friend who just lost Her Husband and I told Her what would happen and She saw Me when I went through My last mourning. So l sent this article to Her, praying it will give Her delivererance, healing, understanding and freedom in the Lord. Praise God both of Us are saved and have a relationship with “GOD,” Thank You for writing this. It minister to Me