The First Three Steps in Conquering Grief


Even in a crowd, do you feel alone?


Are you surrounded by loss?To say life’s been hard for me these last few months is an understatement. Loss piled upon loss. After multiple 800-mile trips from Tennessee to New York helping to care for my mother with her declining health, she died. Grief gripped me, but Mom had reached 92. She knew Jesus. The shell of the woman she’d become was not the woman who inspired so many.

To everything, there is a season–a time to be born and a time to die (Eccl. 3:2). Mom’s time had come. We set about laying her to rest, and our healing began.

Then in January, a little over two months later, my appendix burst. Five days in the hospital in intense pain and IV antibiotics followed. While there, my brother died while visiting his family in Australia. Complications of getting everyone and his remains home to New York delayed the healing wakes and burials provided.

In the interim, my daughter had elective surgery.

Once the funeral for my brother passed and healing could begin, my daughter’s father suddenly died.

Sheesh. Pain ricocheted through me. Grief upon grief interrupted the stages of healing. I withdrew like a turtle into my shell determined to hide from my anguish.

Then the Turkish earthquake hit. I thought of nearly whole families wiped out and the despair of the surviving members. Their pain made mine look inconsequential. (Of course, sufficient is the grace God gives for each of these). But Turkey, Syria and Ukraine made my sorrow seem insignificant. Nevertheless, pain vised my spirit.

What I felt was not insignificant. Every human will face this insurmountable brokenness. Sometimes heartbreak overwhelms us like a Turkish earthquake, and we have no recourse but to work our way through (or die, which sadly, some people choose).

So that you don’t choose death, how do you conquer grief?

  1. Grace. You need to pull close to God. During this phase of my life, I did not feel his presence even though I knew many people prayed for me. Jesus, like that tired, old poem “Footsteps in the Sand”, carried me. As the cloud lifted, I felt him once more. I stumbled to my feet and gained ground. Then, without a clue as to why, I would lose all I gained until finally healing began. Which brings us to step number two.
  2. Time. Healing takes time. You’ll never rush it. Be careful not to compare yourself to others because your grief doesn’t follow someone else’s timeline. Will you return to normal within a month? If so, fantastic! Six months? The timing stinks, but you need to heal. Others, indeed, know the agony you’re experiencing. They understand your pain because this is part of the human condition. However, no one knows how an individual heals.
  3. Be kind to yourself. Do you not feel God’s grace? Do you seem to regularly lose the ground toward healing you thought you gained? When I had my appendix out, I lay, in pain, in the hospital room for five full days. After my release, I met a man who had his own ruptured appendix. He was back at work almost immediately, pain free. Worse–he only stayed in the hospital overnight. Was he better than I? Nope. Just as our bodies heal at different rates, so too do our spirits.

Remember these three things: Find Jesus and his grace. Give yourself time. Be gentle to yourself.

Healing will come. Let this scripture be your mantra: “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and frolic like calves from the stall” Malachi 4:2.

Below is a link to one of the best explanations of the five stages of grief.

The best illustration of the five stages of grief.

Borrowed Lives

Meredith Jaynes knows sorrow and unexplainable loss. Then she finds three girls. If she turns them over to CPS, the sisters will be separated. If she takes them in? What the heck can she do with three kids?

This novel illustrates human mourning and God’s grace.






  1. God’s patience with us when, in our grief, we blame him is incomprehensible to humans. I’m truly thankful I’m not God. I don’t have the patience to deal with my own grief until faith takes over in the sound of his soft voice with its comfort.

  2. Dee Osier says:

    I’m so sorry for your losses and heartache…. I well know the pain of losing special ones in life…. I call it the “Circle of Life”… It is painful to say the least, but knowing you are strong and caring, empathetic and loving will help you heal. I find it helpful to reach out to someone having a troubled time… because it is who I am…. I couldn’t be with my Mom when she needed help…My siblings did an amazing job keeping her in her own home until that final time…We were on the phone when she died at 96. Now almost 17 yr later I find comfort in helping a nearly 94 yr old down the hall with little things….She knows she can count on me. My Mom did all she could for her Mother… and thus the continuance through me… I don’t need praise or reward… It benefits both Reverend Jane E and myself… and hopefully in turn helps 90 yr old best friend of Jane E’s, Isabelle…. It is in giving that we receive…. Faith is within… Walking the walk and talking the talk, right?

    • Carol McClain says:

      It is indeed, “walking the walk.” I, too, always find when I reach out to help others, I’m more blessed than they.
      I’m glad you amazing siblings.

  3. Jody says:

    Oh, Carol, how hard to experience loss after loss like that. I’m so glad you’re being gentle with yourself. One thing I remember a friend telling me when I was going through the loss of my husband (by his infidelity and eventually divorce) has always stuck with me. “Invite Jesus into the pain.” Of course, being omniscient, He’s already there, but the act of inviting Him made it easier to bear somehow. Thank you for sharing your story and what God is showing you in the midst of it.

    • Carol McClain says:

      Thank you, Jody. In grieving, sometimes it’s hard to “invite Jesus in” when you irrationally get mad at God. However, Jesus is fully invited in to experience my warts and all!

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