Discussions in Grief: Permission to Grieve

Grieving involves new emotions and considerations often too many to numbers. When you find yourself in overwhelming grief, you likely feel buried and lost. In this series, we slowly and compassionately look at one aspect of grief at a time from a biblical perspective for the newly grieving mother. Click {here} to read past posts in this series. 

I remember the first time I felt the guilt. It had been a few weeks since Chance’s funeral, my son who we lost at 20 weeks’ gestation, and I was alone, at home, with my two daughters, ages 15 months and 2.5 years.

The memory box the hospital gave me sat on my dining room table, I could not yet bear to tuck it away in a closet. I opened the box, fingers running across his tiny blanket, hat, and footprints marked in ink. These objects were all that remained of my son other than the memories.

Weeks prior I was pregnant and now my womb empty. Weeks prior we were making plans and discussing names and taking bets on whether the infant in my womb was another girl, or our first boy. Weeks prior we were cracking jokes about our small house and laughing while asking, “Where will this baby even sleep?”

In that moment a flood of grief washed over me and tears poured from my eyes. Yet, as I sat in my grief my mind began to play tricks on me.

I should not focus on this sadness.

I live a very blessed life. 

Have I forgotten the infertility diagnosis?

I have been gifted two beautiful daughters.

Others are childless.

My daughters bring me so much joy.

 Is my sadness a lack of faith or hope or trust?

There I sat, feeding myself a lie in an effort to ease the pain. A lie that I think we commonly fall into as grieving Christian women.

The lie that says, “Because I follow Jesus, I do not have permission to grieve.”

Sweet sister, if this thought has ever crossed your mind, if the sadness you are experiencing has ever produced profound guilt, please lean in a bit closer as we remind ourselves of truth.

After speaking with Mary and Martha regarding the death of their brother, Lazarus, Jesus let the tears flow.

John 11:35 tells us, in two powerful words, “Jesus wept.”

The God of the Universe, our Creator and Sustainer, came to earth as an infant, grew as a man, and took on human likeness. In His humility to become one of us, to eventually save us, Scripture reveals a powerful element of human emotion.

Jesus, who knew all and knows all, who knew all would work for His good, who sees and continues to see the tapestry of His plan mending together for His glory, let Himself grieve.

Jesus knew that Mary and Martha’s grief would turn to remarkable joy, and even still, He gave Himself permission to be sad, to grieve, to weep.

Our Savior set the example of how to grieve with hope, with an eternal perspective.

Tear stained eyes do not equal a lack of faith, dear one. Sadness does not infer a lack of trust in God’s plan. Jesus understands our pain and longing and deep sadness. Grief is not a sign of ungodly weakness.

Psalm 34:15 says, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry.”

When we cry out to the Lord, when we lay our grief before Him, He, with full attention, turns His ears toward our cries. What a beautiful picture. He knows our pain and welcomes our pain. Our Father does not expect us to hide our grief and surely doesn’t expect us to heal within a humanly-prescribed amount of time. If anyone understands, the Lord understands that He holds the only timeline to your grief that matters.

Beautiful mama, you have full permission to grieve, for as long as needed.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us “there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

Giving ourselves the permission to weep, to grieve, is biblical, just as laughter and celebration and Sabbath rest are biblical. Grief and sorrow are natural, human emotions we face as a result of pregnancy and infant loss, and God does not expect us to keep these hidden. Jesus welcomes our pain and sorrow.

Several months after losing Chance, I received an e-mail devotional written by Max Lucado, produced by Faith Gateway. Max’s words hit so very close to home in this tug-of-war-between grief and guilt.

Max writes: “Flooded eyes don’t represent a faithless heart. A person can enter a cemetery Jesus-certain of life after death and still have a Twin Tower crater in the heart. Christ did. He wept, and he knew he was ten minutes from seeing a living Lazarus! “And His tears give you permission to shed your own. Grief does not mean you don’t trust; it simply means you can’t stand the thought of another day without the Jacob or Lazarus of your life. If Jesus gave the love, He understands the tears. So grieve, but don’t grieve like those who don’t know the rest of this story.”[1]

As I sat reading, the tears started to come. I cried for the first time in a good while because it was as if God was using Max to say, “It’s okay. Your tears don’t mean you don’t trust My ways. Your tears don’t mean your faith is any less valid. Your longing for your son is normal. Your tears have meaning, so let them fall. Don’t hold back. Just let them fall.”

My tears should not produce feelings of guilt or shame or embarrassment because, while I claim Jesus’s path for me as perfect, I am a mommy who misses her only son. I miss my son more than words can express. I am a mommy who is sad because the son I held in my arms is no longer here for the embracing.

I was encouraged because, as Max points out, I know how the story ends. I know the secret to this whole messy thing of a life. I know that ultimately Christ died—paid the ultimate price, the ultimate suffering—and moved mountains while on this earth so that we can stand firm on hope, even in the midst of the tears.[2]

Dear Father, thank You for Your example of human emotion. Thank You for holding us and loving us and giving us permission to shed our tears. We have permission to grieve. What a gift. May we hold You close as we release our pain. May we always grieve in hope. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

[1] FaithGateway.com 2015

[2] Credit for a portion of this post belongs to Desert Song: Claiming Joy While Walking in the Wilderness, by Brittnie Blackburn

- Brittnie

Hope Mom to Baby A and Chance Michael

Brittnie lives in Sugar Land, Texas and enjoys writing on her blog and other outlets, baking, lingering coffee dates, and soaking in moments with her family. She is a wife to Brandon and a mom to Clara, Camille, and Hope Mom to Baby A (Clara’s twin) and Chance. Psalm 62:1-2 is her go to verse when she needs quick encouragement. She is author of Desert Song, and you can visit with Brittnie at her personal blog, A Joy Renewed, where she shares her faith and family, and encourages her readers to claim joy despite circumstance.

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2 Replies to "Discussions in Grief: Permission to Grieve"

  • Maria
    October 30, 2017 (12:52 pm)

    Thank you Brittnie. My husband and I lost our son MJ in May, he was 9 months old. Your blog has given me permission to just allow myself to grieve and let go of my guilt of grieving! Just this morning I was asking the Lord to forgive me for being so sad and for missing my baby. I was raised in a Christian home and school where you cried only for a moment, because if you were sad all the time and cried, that showed you really didn’t trust in the Lord and have a good relationship with Him. So thank you for sharing your story and telling us all who have lost our babies that is it ok to grieve!

  • Megan
    November 15, 2017 (12:47 pm)

    Thank you for this post! Just a couple weeks ago we lost our 3rd baby. With 1 living child, everything (and everyone) around me is pushing me to move on. I wasn’t ready to move on. Yes, I need to take care of our son, but I need the reminder that it’s okay to take time to remember my babies too. It’s not a lack of love for my son, a lack of trust in Jesus, or that I will “bounce back faster after this one.”

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