Loss and Sympathetic Grief

A friend of mine tragically lost her four-year-old niece a few days ago. When I first learned of the calamity, my heart sunk, grief rose, and tears flowed. No four-year-old should die.

I have never met the parents of this precious child, but as I processed the information and my emotions started to surge, I thought, “I wish there were some way I could transfer some of this young mother’s anguish to myself, to siphon some of the heartache.” If only hearing of the death of this beautiful girl moves me so profoundly, how extensive is the pain and sorrow of her parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles?

full of grief

Yes, I wish pain, grief, and sorrow could be measured like we measure water. And when it was on the brink of overflowing, it could be poured into someone else; thereby reducing the amount of distress felt by the original sufferer.

pouring water

I desperately want to help and at the same time recognize there is not a thing I can do (physically) to ease the discomfort, the agony.

Pain and grief are a part of life. No one can walk through it for someone else. That leaves those of us watching at a loss, feeling inadequate and ill-equipped (which probably explains why I skip out on most funeral services).

I believe God created me with an “extra-sensitive” feelings button. I easily “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “mourn with those who mourn” (Rom. 12:15). But the mourning feels unproductive and “less than.” If I had a measuring cup that magically reduced the hurting person’s misery by the amount of pain I feel for him/her, I could bear it easier.

shared grielf

But while I own no magic measuring cup, I know of One who can bear the pain—One who has borne the pain. Jesus is a “Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53:12).

My sympathetic grief need not be fruitless because I have access to the One with the answers. I have a direct line to the One who heals. I can throw myself at the throne of grace and ask for mercy to be poured out on the victim of grief. I can ask God to be the Vessel in which they pour their aches and pain. I can hope God’s healing will eventually come. I can rest in the promise that His complete healing will eventually come to those in Christ.

This is my prayer for this young couple and family still reeling in shock.

This is my prayer for those of you suffering from loss or unbearable pain.


6 thoughts on “Loss and Sympathetic Grief

  1. Thank you God for being there. It is so true that we cannot measure how others feel. I too wish I could take some of the burden. What a great way to show how you feel Barb and how the flow of pain cannot be shared. My heart is heavy for the parents and grandparents…Well said.


  2. Barb, I am so touched that you spent so much time in thought and prayer in relation to our family tragedy. God is truly healing us with every passing day! Kara was ready for heaven and we are coming to accept that the 4 years we had with her was a gift from our Creator. The road is still long but the healing has begun! Thank you my dear friend!


  3. Barb, I believe your sensitive heart is what makes you such a wonderful wife, mother and friend. What a blessing that we can pour out our hearts to God, asking him for mercy for all who suffer. A couple of nights ago I was feeling overwhelmed by all the sadness and sorrow I had heard about from various people that day. Without really thinking about what I was saying, I prayed aloud “Lord, I need you to come down and absorb some of all this pain” and almost before the words were out, my heart knew His reply: “I did.”


    • It IS a blessing and privilege to be able to petition God on others’ behalf. Glad God gave you the answer you needed when you needed it. So very true that He did/does absorb our pain. Thanks for reading and commenting.


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