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People Who Never Got to Grieve

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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

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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.

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