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People Who Never Got to Grieve

Have you lost something and never grieved it? Many of us have experienced terrible pain at some point in our lives, but life just kept going. We buried our hurt just to survive. But it’s there – still tender to the touch. It may be years later now, and the question remains: What do we do with …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Have you lost something and never grieved it? Many of us have experienced terrible pain at some point in our lives, but life just kept going. We buried our hurt just to survive. But it’s there – still tender to the touch.

It may be years later now, and the question remains: What do we do with those buried feelings? Hannah Richardson shares a story that illustrates the point. She is in Uganda helping refugees.  


Recently when I was playing with kids at the camp, a young boy named Steven*, took my hand and said “let us go.” He led me to a shaded spot behind some buildings.

I had built trust with Steven by this point and felt the Lord prompting me to tell him how loved he was while we had the rare chance to be alone.

I already knew his story. His father killed his pregnant mother in front of him. Then his uncle took revenge by killing his father. This little boy and his five other siblings were then brought to live at the orphanage. 

As we sat down, I looked him in the eyes and asked him, “Steven, do you miss your mom and dad?”

“I miss my mommy.” His eyes started watering.

He didn’t miss his dad because his dad hurt his mom.

I told him, “Your mom misses you so much. She loved you with all her heart.  She is watching over you and your brothers and sisters.”

In that moment I saw a shift in his eyes. I saw a piece of his heart he had kept hidden behind anger all this time. He lost it. He hunched over and started sobbing.

“Do you want me to leave so you can be alone, Steven?” I asked

He said, “No. I want you to stay.”

So for the next 45 minutes, I held him. My heart broke a million times over as I hugged him and prayed. That’s all I could do.

I told him over and over how loved he was. By his mother, by me, and most importantly by our Father. I spoke the words that were laid on my heart to say to him and Jesus started healing some of those wounds he had been carrying.

As the tears rolled down Steven’s face I could see a layer of pain being healed. His gaping wounds had been masked with anger for so long and Jesus was breaking down that barrier.

It was a painful but beautiful sight to see. To have the privilege to be a part of. I can’t heal the gaping wounds left on him and his siblings. Only Jesus can do that.

I am thankful I was able to watch even a small but miraculous part of that healing take place. 

*     *     *     *

So, your story may not look like Steven’s, but your buried pain is real. You have lost things that were dear to you. You have lost people you loved. And maybe you didn’t get a chance to grieve. 

God designed us to love. We come alive when we love others and feel their love in response. And grief is the normal response to loss. It needs an outlet. Cut off that part of you and you also cut off the part of you that experiences the joy of loving.

If there is something that was dear that you lost, consider taking the time to journal about it. Steven experienced trauma and great loss. Your pain is no less real and it needs you to feel it.**

** More about how to grieve here and here.

* We changed his name for this post.

Comments (3)

  • How marvelous. That that precious lady would sit there with that precious child of God and hold him and grieve with him. There is nothing more beautiful than that. That is a picture of how Jesus Grieves with us when we are grieving. But sometimes it takes somebody with arms to help us open up and pour out those tears. I’ve had one or two rare chances to do that with people since I lost my precious Angela hope. Sometimes I feel like I need that again and I pray to God that I can do that for others. Lord use me please please use me to do that for others. I experienced times when this precious girl that I meant or sometimes she just cries and cries and I am so thankful to be there. Nobody needs a Band-Aid or for you to get out your tool chest when you start to cry all you need is someone there to hand you tissues and let you be yourself 100%. How else can we grieve? Some people are trapped and can’t grieve unless someone helps open that door. Open that trapdoor for others and allow them to see the light and love of Jesus because that is really truly what makes us be able to cry to be able to heal to be able to function again and feel whole. Not just because someone tells us we should feel whole. Not just because someone gives us all the right scriptures. Jesus gave us emotions for a reason. I am so thankful for this most beautiful beautiful story. I wish I could meet both of them. Someday I want to be able to minister like that. Austin is a mission field though and I thank God for every opportunity that I have. The nations are here in Austin Texas. SETH, YOU are one of a kind. I look forward to meeting you up in heaven. Every time I see one of your articles my heart feels warmed and comforted and filled with hope.

    Your sister,

  • Seth, I just want to join your team. I wish I knew where the office was and I would come and say can I volunteer for free? I know that sounds totally dumb. But there’s something about this ministry…….like Jesus Walking On Earth.

    My heart hungers for more truth. Yet so much of the time I feel like I’m so tired and I can’t break through. And yet the Lord pours his love on me and I fall apart at the seams. There is nothing better than knowing Jesus. Pray that God will show me how to reach to and learn from the homeless here in this city. The city has a huge huge enormous amount of homeless people everywhere. In East Austin there is a precious place called Community First. I got to volunteer there recently and a dear sweet woman showed me her home. This woman had been homeless for 12 years living under a bridge in Austin. Now she has a little tiny home. This man who got out of prison used to be on drugs had a vision for 30 acres and now they are building little tiny homes for these homeless people who are no longer homeless and this community is totally beautiful and amazing.

    Look up : Alan Graham- Homeless
    Less is scratched out on the front of the book. Because they have finally come home. This is a permanent dwelling for the homeless people who will not have to leave. They have a communal kitchen they have a church they have a huge bathroom with showers it’s very special.

  • A couple months ago I was asked if I was grieving a significant loss. I said, “No, but I expect to.” Yet here I am several months later honestly wondering when it’s going to hit me.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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