Grief Shared Is Halved

by | Jan 26, 2015 | Grief, Healing | 14 comments


A driver’s license had to be the next best thing to wings. As my sixteenth birthday drew near, I feared something would keep me from getting mine. My birthday fell on a Sunday delaying my dream one whole day. With my license finally in hand, I didn’t think anything could quell my joy. I was wrong.

My smart parents didn’t want me to have to choose between being safe and looking cool so they gave me prescription sunglasses for my birthday. Daddy parked at a drugstore on the way home from taking me to pick them up. He dropped the bomb before heading into the store. “Your mama’s biopsy came back malignant—metastasized breast cancer.”

I was glad we’d picked up my dark glasses before he punched me with the news. At least I looked like I was following our family’s unwritten rule to keep emotions light. We buried Mama on Mother’s Day weekend of my senior year in high school.

What do you do with grief when you’re supposed to keep your emotions under wraps? We acted like everything was fine. TV replaced Mama’s conversation at our evening meals.

After dinner, Daddy retreated into our living room. He sat in the dark hoping the music of Hello Dolly and Paint Your Wagon muffled the sounds of his broken heart. My own sorrow leaked out on my pillow at night.

Losing Mama affected us in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Now I see that our family’s stiff upper lip mentality didn’t help us navigate our loss.

An old proverb says, “Grief shared is halved; joy shared is doubled.” In our desire to be strong for each other, we unwittingly prolonged our pain. Being able to process and share our losses with someone we trust doesn’t make the pain go away, but it helps. And if emotions spill out in the sharing, that’s okay too. Tears are emotionally and physiologically beneficial.

It takes courage to be honest about our pain and let someone into our tender areas. Some caring people don’t handle pain well. They jab our wounds with pat answers and spiritual platitudes, which feels as good as poking an open wound with a bony finger.

But stuffing pain doesn’t work either. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4, NIV). When we’re honest with God, a trusted friend, and ourselves, we experience comfort in our pain. We also experience closeness.

Jesus is the friend who truly understands our losses. Deep emotions don’t offend Him. He wailed over Jerusalem and sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Invite Him in to your pain.

Click here to comment here.


Debbie W. Wilson


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  1. Pam payne

    Thank you Debbie for your heart felt message; for sharing your sorrow and pain. I am sharing it with a dear friend who is sitting by her dying mother’s bedside at this very moment. I am so thankful that we can look forward to that final “family reunion” when we will all be reunited and together forever!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Pam. I hope it ministers to your friend in her time of loss. And the promise of a family reunion is a great comfort!

  2. Hap

    Debbie, thanks for sharing that story. I remember your mom’s funeral. I must have been at Ga. Tech but home for mother’s day. She was a lovely person and she was laid to rest in a beautiful spot. Love, Hap

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Hap. You are right. Her grave overlooks the waterway and is surrounded by beautiful moss laden oaks.

  3. Marilyn Couch

    Debbie, thank-you for sharing.
    I’ll look forward to meeting your
    Mama in Heaven. Her greatest
    pain was probably leaving you.
    My Aunt Alma, who suffered much in her life, use to tell me that some things were too deep
    for tears. I wonder if they are the tears God keeps in a bottle –
    those that are cried but never reach the surface. Thank-you, too, for your prayers and visits this past week.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Marilyn, I love that thought, “some things were too deep
      for tears. I wonder if they are the tears God keeps in a bottle –
      those that are cried but never reach the surface. ” We are very thankful Doug is doing well.

  4. Dianne Cochran

    Debbie, thank you for sharing about grief. The journey can be two steps forward and three back, especially if other deaths occur during the grieving process.

    • Debbie Wilson

      You’re right, Dianne. It is almost as if the first deep grief is felt with every subsequent one.

  5. Marilyn Couch

    Debbie, here’s a song that speaks of deep pain. It’s called
    “Jesus, The Lord of the Lonely Inside” ——————–

    “There is no sorrow that God cannot heal; there is no damage that He did not feel –
    Moment-by-moment He’s there where you hide – tenderly holding you close as you cry.
    Jesus, The Lord of the lonely inside; Jesus, The Lord of all love crucified.” – M.K.Blanchard

  6. Ann

    Oh Debbie I’m sorry that happened to you. I lost my mom but I was much older – 28. It’s never easy and yes, sharing with someone you can trust with your emotions can definitely ease the grief. It’s always nice to have someone with skin on (as I’ve heard it described) even though Jesus is always with us and understands every detail perfectly. I completely understand the stiff upper lip thing too as that’s how my dad was as well. It makes it so much more difficult and lonely than it has to be.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Ann, you were young when you lost your mother. I understand my dad’s reserve, but you are right. It didn’t help him or us. The times I’ve wept with someone over their grief or my own have been some of the sweetest times. Thankfully when my dad lay on his death bed he was willing to grant us one honest conversation. We laughed and cried together and connected deeply. It helped to be honest about our grief and say good by. I treasure that memory.

  7. Keita Ikeda

    Grief and sorrow – whether through sin, someone else’s sin, or because whatever disappointments – are holy (meaning set apart) and sanctified things, I believe. Scriptural references are scant few, but I think there is some wisdom in only sharing with those whom we trust, and not to be trampled under feet by those who are careless. We only know Jesus wept very few times, or at least shared with us very few times he wept through the scripture, when He had all the reason to weep, being a Holy God living in a fallen world.

  8. Earle Finley

    Debbie, if that is a pic of you in your youth, I found it difficult focusing on grief, only a joyful heart at Larry’s good fortune!

    PS If that doesn’t happen to be you, no confession necessary, as you have grown better looking with age and much wiser, I’m sure.

    • Debbie Wilson

      No, I had lighter hair. But I was smiling like her!

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