Sight. I can tell you what grief looks like.
A young pastor from a tiny village in South Asia, bent over a shallow hole in the ground, back shuddering with silent cries after lowering his newborn into the earth.
He literally had to tear himself away when it was time to go. He couldn’t bear to leave her in the cardboard computer box, her body gently wrapped in soft cloth purchased just after her death.
Touch. Grief felt like fingertips running over a cardboard computer box. A little heavier than normal because of the infant inside.
Smell. An earthy scent. Each shovel full of parched ground slowly covered the box out of sight. It was dry season, so dust quickly rose into the air and our nostrils after hitting the box.
Grief’s Taste: salty. Tears running into my mouth. I was standing in the background silently weeping because I wasn’t sure what else to do. In the culture I was serving in, being present to weep with those who were weeping was probably the best way for me to show support as the only woman in the group. It was also my honor as these families had shown love to mine during my bedrest and miscarriage.
Burial must happen immediately for several reasons so there was no time for this family to mentally process what had just happened. No flowery, meticulously planned way of saying goodbye. We had been at the hospital visiting the family. The baby died soon after. We doubled back and spent the day with others from the church helping the father collect things for burial and then drove off to the field.
This field is where believers in Christ bury their loved ones. We all knew in only a few weeks the monsoon rains would flood everything, exposing many bodies to the elements, but none of us could bear to linger on the thought.
I can tell you what love looks like. The men who stood around the young pastor as he wept, not judging him, but bearing the burden with him and sharing encouragement from God’s word. But mostly they were just quiet. They wanted to be with their brother on his worst day.
I can tell you what hope looks like. When it was time to go his brothers in Christ literally helped him get up, walked with him, and shared loving truth. Assuring him he would not bear this burden alone, they followed through on their words over weeks and months.
The bluntness of my brother’s culture was used to remind him over and over this was not the end. There was more in life to come because of what Jesus has done for us and he would see his daughter again. The tenderness of the culture was used to remind him it was ok to grieve because sometimes grief and hope are inseparable. This is very true in our world bound by time and cursed with sin and death.
The way we grieve changes, but grief remains. The way we hope changes, but hope remains.
Everyone experiences grief, but not everyone experiences hope. I’ve heard the funeral wails of those who grieve without hope. I can’t forget them.
Today I am thankful that because of Christ, while God’s children will definitely grieve, we can grieve with hope. Our hope is certain. Even in the worst circumstances.
After a few years, sometimes the tears still come and the lonely ache resurfaces, but grief also changes. It becomes longing for our home with God and a balm for others who are hurting. If we choose, it can become kindness and softness instead of bitterness. I’ve learned this is a choice those who carry grief have to make more than once.
I read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion today. Joseph of Arimathea bought a linen shroud to wrap His body and then placed him in a tomb. My brain automatically connected this with the day we bought a small linen shroud, helped a broken father wrap his baby, and watched him say goodbye above a shallow grave.
A moment when if I’ve ever needed to know the gospel is true, I needed to know then. We all needed to know.
And it is true. Jesus paid for the sin that separates us from God with his body and blood. He spent three days in a tomb wrapped in a linen shroud, but God raised him from the dead.
We can have life too.
One day I will meet the pastor’s daughter we stood in the field grieving. More importantly her father will meet her. I will meet my Judah and Hosea who I carry in my heart, but long to hold in my arms.
Sin and death don’t have to be the end of our stories. The Good News of God bringing people back to Him through Jesus is the ultimate Truth of life. Everything hinges on it.
Everything points to it.
Because it’s true and because He is humanity’s only hope, being reconciled to God myself and taking this Good News to the world—it’s worth my life and all I have to give.
Thanks for reading!
©2017 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
1 Corinthians 15
Here is a link to an article on grief written by Debbie McDaniel:
The Reality of Grief by Debbie McDaniel at