When You’re Grieving For Someone Who Is Still Living

My friend’s words left me nearly speechless. I’d never been able to articulate exactly how I felt, but she just had.

“It’s like you’re mourning a person who’s still alive,” she said, lying on the bed with her face propped up against her hand.

Yes, that’s exactly what it was. What it still is.

Even after I left the weekend conference we were attending and came home, I continued to ponder her words. Those words that described a relationship with a loved one who battles addiction. An addiction that consumes their life. An addiction which consumes their soul.

When you love a lost soul, you grieve for the life they could have had.

You grieve for a relationship that’s been severed in a way you’re not sure will ever be repaired. Only the person is still living.

And the grief is perpetual. There is no closure, no final conversation. But sometimes the fear creeps in and you wonder. You wonder if the brief exchange you have via text will be the last. You wonder if what they said was true, or a cover up for something they thought best to hide.

They’re living in a way which eventually leads to death, whether physical or spiritual.

When we grieve the Spirit, there’s always a slow death taking place, whether we realize it or not. We separate ourselves from the living God who loves us and desires an intimate relationship with us.

But can the Spirit have a close relationship with someone who knowingly causes him pain?

As I sat on my sofa mulling over these things on an afternoon in late October, I realized how loss affects us all in different ways. But in one shape or form, we all experience it.

The question is how will it shape us?

Will it embitter us and distance us from God or will it fuel our passion for him and make us love him more? Will it add depth and color to our story or extinguish it completely?

For much of my life, I did the former. I used circumstances in my life as an excuse to run from God and proclaimed everyone in the church was a hypocrite.

But you know what? I was a hypocrite too. I was just as needy of God’s grace and mercy as anyone. And eventually, I realized two things. First:

We’re all beggars in need of God’s grace and mercy, and it’s only by his divine love that our lives are made significant.

God doesn’t rate our sin. He despises it all. But because of the blood, we all have access to the same level ground at the foot of the cross.

Is there someone in your life who’s hurt you? Is the loss and the pain so deep you can barely articulate it?

I get it.

I’ve been there, and I still walk through it. I won’t make excuses for that person. You have permission to create healthy boundaries. You have permission to grieve for the relationship you could have had.

But can I tell you something else? You can’t fix it. And I think this is the part that often causes us the most grief because we want to so badly, but we can’t.

We have to let it go. Which brings me to the second thing:

When we grieve the living, our greatest hope comes in surrendering them to the Father.

There’s only one person who can fix a broken soul, and he’s not of this world. But we have to allow him to do it. And the person who’s broken has to make that choice.

Tomorrow, when the temptation comes to pick the burden back up, we will have to release it again. Every day, for as long as we live.

Will it be easy? No. But there are burdens in this life we were never made to carry. Let’s give them to the Father can handle the weight.

Let’s give them to the One who bore the weight already.


This article originally appeared at AbbyMcDonald.com.

Abby McDonald
Abby is a writing coach and the author of Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. Her mission is to empower women to seek God in the middle of life’s messes and to share their faith with courage. Abby writes regularly for Proverbs 31 Ministries’ daily devotions team, and her work has been featured in numerous publications. You can connect with Abby on her website where you can grab a free worship playlist to help you shift your focus toward God. You can also connect with Abby on Instagram.

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