What Grief Can Teach Us

(Read in :03)“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.”~Unknown

It’s been a gut-wrenching week for our little community. Within hours, the horrifying news had reached hundreds of us. A bright, beautiful young girl from an incredibly loving family had taken her own life. We collectively crumbled, dropped to our knees and sobbed, doubled over with grief. This could not have happened, it couldn’t be true. But it was.

The outpouring of love and support for her family has been epic, monumental, amazing. The devastated family has felt the balm of kindness, prayer, and words of caring poured over them. Our entire town has tenderly wrapped their arms around them all. Over and over they hear how much their girl mattered.

Somewhere they found the courage to stagger through the worst week of their life. Somehow, the strength they needed to put one foot in front of the other came from an unknown place deep inside.  In the famous words of Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” And they did. Everyone helped.

What can we gain from knowing grief?

The aftermath of a tragedy like this leaves us reeling. How would we respond if it happened to us? We shudder to imagine. Our hugs are tighter and a little longer. We vow we’ll never take each other for granted and encourage greater kindness to all. The grief has startled us into becoming better at loving and appreciating every new day.

Incredibly, we can already see rays of light and tiny shoots of hope beginning to grow, watered by our tears. Several conversations with deep thinking people have inspired me this week. Humans have a much deeper well of resilience than we can possibly imagine and I absolutely believe it is God-given. Good will come, even from such devastation.

I dug deeply for words of healing in my own bookish way. I found an incredible commencement speech by Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook. She spoke of the sudden, unexpected death of her husband and what she learned through grieving his loss. I hope you’ll take some time to read it here.  Her powerful wisdom was born in pain.

In Sandberg’s words, “The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives.” She also learned “when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.”

Four things we can learn from grief

  1. We need to be grateful right now. Don’t wait for the shock of a loss to be thankful and appreciative of the people in your life. Realize that every day, every moment, and every person in your life is precious.
  2. To say what you want to say today. Don’t assume you’ll have the chance to tell someone you love them next time you see them, tell them now! On a personal note, I’ve always been thankful that the last words I ever said to my dad were “I love you.”
  3. Tomorrow is not promised. Life can and sometimes does turn on a dime. Don’t take anything for granted. It sounds corny but it’s important to make every day count.
  4. Life does go on and it must. It seems impossible when we lose someone we love. It’s important to know that it’s true life will never be the same but it should serve as a reminder to make the most of the life we do have. The greatest honor we can give someone we loved and lost is to live our life to the fullest. We become strong again if we continue our journey to becoming the best possible version of the person our maker created us to be.

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~Ernest Hemingway




  • Gail

    I am sorry that this family and your community had to experience this loss. Suicide is a long term solution to a short term problem – life always gets better, people come to help. And if it seems like it is too much to bear, ask other shoulders to help you. What a tough blog to write – you did it well!

  • Grant Newbold

    Betty. Gail’s comment says it well “What a tough blog to write.” Suicide is a very haunting thing. Everyone associated with the person who suicided will go over and over events and words for a very long time and search for things they should have said and done. Every parent feels great pain when hearing of the suicide of a young person. It is so hard to understand and so painful to hear and endure. I do believe though that good things can come from bad events and this is one of the worst events a parent and family can experience. Even though I don’t know any of the people involved I too feel my heart ache at this news and when reading Betty’s well written blog. Doc Newbold.

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