Reflection of the Week - 17th October 2023

By Rev Alex Sangster, Advocate for the Assembly's Working for Justice Circle

Posted in Faith

Grief Hurts

Bible Passage Luke 22:39-46

Grief hurts. And things that hurt … can be scary.

As C.S Lewis put it in his classic book, ‘A Grief Observed:’

‘No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting.’

Because grief hurts it is often seen as a ‘problem’ that needs to be fixed, or got through, or ignored or made to go away. But grief is not a problem.

‘Grief Walker’ Steven Jenkinson says:

‘Grief is not a feeling ... if grief was a feeling it would be transitory, feelings are like weather: they are not the architecture, they come and go, even the deepest feelings are transient. But grief stays … grief is architecture, it carves you out from the inside.’

Jesus tells his grief to the olive groves and to the earth that he falls upon as he weeps in the garden. Who do you tell your grief to? And to whose grief do you listen?

After my father died, a few months later, a member of my congregation asked to meet up for coffee I prepared myself for the pastoral chat. I prepared myself to listen to her deeply, but when we had sat down, she said to me:

‘I wanted to see you today because I wanted you to tell me, to tell me about your dad.’

And it was such a simple and loving thing to do … that I was undone ... and deeply grateful.

Who do you tell your grief to? And to whose grief do you listen?


Sangster, A 2023, ‘Grief Hurts,’ Uniting Church in Australia,


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