Every day, we will hear and witness death around us. It is normal for us to grieve, especially when our loved ones die.

Yet, grief can be debilitating and incapacitating. Grief can rob one of the ability to function and the courage to embrace life.

How then can we grieve and yet not let it consume us? How can we grieve well?


“Death comes equally to us all, and makes us all equal when it comes.” (John Donne)

The one who can truly understand our grief is God.

He created us and knows us better than ourselves. We can come before Him with our tears, confusion, pain, doubts and complaints.

We can cry out to God like the psalmists did: “How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?” (Psalm 13:2)

God is sovereign and is not threatened by our questions or doubts. In times of pain, we should not think that we need to get our emotions sorted out first before we can approach Him.

God expects us to experience pain in this world and He wants us to come to Him with our pain just like the psalmists did.

God empathises with our pain, He cares for us and is acquainted with our grief. God keeps track of all our sorrows. Tears shed in private are not forgotten; God knows them all (Psalm 56:8).

In times of pain and loss, we know that we are not alone nor are we forsaken. We can turn to God for comfort and care. The Holy Spirit in us groans with us and prays for us according to God’s perfect will (Romans 8:26).


At times, we are overwhelmed with sorrow and forget God’s glorious promises in Christ Jesus.

We therefore need a community that expresses God’s love. They remind us of what Christ has won for us on the cross. So we welcome others into our lives and allow God to use them to convey His presence and care towards us when we are grieving.

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, Paul exhorts those who have received God’s comfort to comfort others with the comfort they have received from God.

When we allow God to use others to comfort and support us in times of our sorrow, we can in turn comfort and support others in their sorrows too.

While community is an important conduit to experience the grace of God, there’s a limit, however, to how others can journey with us in our pain.

We should not place unrealistic expectations towards others and become bitter when we feel they have failed to live up to our expectations.

I went back to work a week after my mother passed away. I became angry when my colleagues shared a joke around the table, I felt they were unsympathetic towards my recent loss. When my superior came to my desk to assign work to me, I felt he was being insensitive towards me.

On hindsight, I realised I was being unreasonable. How can I possibly expect the world to tarry with me in my grief? That is simply selfish and unrealistic.

Similarly, let us also extend grace and forgiveness towards those who may carelessly say or do something that hurts us instead of comforting us. It is important to look beyond their faults and discern their sincere care and concern toward us.


Jesus Christ died and rose again to save us from sin so that we are no longer separated from God but reconciled to Him for eternity.

We are now children of the living God and God’s Spirit indwells our hearts. We now enjoy a living and intimate relationship with God the Father. The Holy Spirit fills us with God’s love, joy and peace.

Thanks be to God that through His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has freed us from the penalty of sin!

On the day of His return, the trumpet will sound and those who were dead in Christ shall rise again and we shall all be reunited in the presence of God forever.

A beautiful hymn echoes:

There’s a land that is fairer than day
And by faith we can see it a-far
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there

In the sweet by and by
We shall meet on that beautiful shore
In the sweet by and by
We shall meet on that beautiful shore

So let us grieve with hope, knowing that on that day, God will eradicate sin and death once and for all. He will make all things new and wipe every tear from our eyes.

He will redeem every pain and sorrow and make them work for our eternity’s sake (2 Corinthians 4:17).


God made each of us unique and we will grieve differently.

When my mother passed away, each of her children grieved differently. Some of us visited her niche regularly to remember her but some of us avoided the columbarium because the memory was too difficult to bear.

One of my sister visited the columbarium every week for the whole year. We did not stop her, nor did we say she was foolish to do that. Though we are one blood family, we grieve differently.

Sometimes it is not theology that the grieving needs, but just love and understanding.

Grief is a very personal thing, yet it also involves the community.

As a community of Christ, we need to learn to weep alongside others. We must be careful with our words and actions.

We should not generalise pain by saying: “I know how you feel, I have gone through that before”. We should not belittle pain by saying: “Don’t be sad, something worst could have happened!”. We should not dismiss pain by saying: “Time will heal”.

As a minister, I am learning that I do not hold the keys to someone’s comfort. God does.

Rather than feeling the need to say something to break the silence, it is often better to keep silent and listen to their pain. Instead of being quick to give advice, sometimes it is better to remain quiet.

Instead of trying to say something that the grieving already knows, it may be better to focus on giving practical help.

Sometimes it is not theology that the grieving needs, but just love and understanding.

So let us learn to practice the ministry of presence and let our gentle company be a soothing balm to those who are grieving.

This article was first published on Pastor Rick Toh’s blog and is republished with permission.

  1. Recall a time of great grief in your life.
  2. Where was God in those moments?
  3. Take a moment and give thanks for each of those times.
  4. Do you know someone who’s grieving right now? Based on Pastor Rick’s reflections, how can you be a comforter to them this week?