The Loneliness of Grief

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We no longer have a graveside service in at least 50% of the funerals I do. Not so often do we pull over to the side of the road and wait out of respect, until the funeral procession files by the opposite way. Covid has relegated many memorial services to private family affairs, perhaps live-streamed over the Internet. Grief on a screen. No sitting up with the dead, and a potluck dinner for the family is no longer a guarantee. Funeral customs are changing, and it remains to be seen what conclusions the younger generation will draw and how their behavior will change the way we view death.

One thing, however, has not changed = The Loneliness of Grief.

John Marsden said, “There’s nothing lonelier than grief. Sometimes I wanted to cry out… ‘Please, please look at me. Help me! Can’t you see how unhappy I am?’ But… they would have gathered around making soothing noises… maybe offering me tissues… and none of that would touch the deep dark ocean that circled silently inside…” 

While grieving the death of his wife, C.S. Lewis asked, “What do people mean when they say, ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good?’ Have they never been to a dentist?” The dentist’s drill, while an instrument of intense pain, ultimately brings health. The drill of grief fosters healing in our lives by raising ultimate issues and eternal questions such as “Who is my true beloved?” and “Where is my real home?”

As believers, we know that a much better day is coming when God himself will wipe every tear from our eyes. On that day “There will be no more death or MOURNING or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).

Until then, in some way, we will grieve our losses. The ultimate wish would be to have our loved one come back or that we would wake up and have our old job back or spouse back. Often these things are impossible. But there’s a new normal in our lives and the old normal is usually forever gone. 

The sooner we can accept The Loneliness of Grief, the better off we will be. Thus, we try to adapt and adopt new habits and friends to ease the pain and loneliness. And perhaps now will be the time when we return to healthy choices of the past like gathering with church friends, returning to community involvement, or throwing ourselves into a worthy project. 

When death, divorce, or demotion comes, THEN we find out what the life we have built can withstand. It’s not what happens to you, but what happens to what happens to you, that tells your life story.

Reach out and get the help that you need. The Loneliness of Grief does not have to be the final word!

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Doug Greenway

These blog articles are written by the retired minister and former educator and counselor, Doug Greenway. He'd love to hear from you with your comments, questions, or suggestions for future topics. You may reach Doug at

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