Tears of Gratefulness and Grief Roll Off the Same Cheek

We have had tons to celebrate over the past few months … four weddings, three showers, four birthdays, three graduations, one engagement, and two birth announcements makes for an abundant season. Most of these events centered on friendships forged during our years of homeschooling, through the community of families attending enrichment classes. We raised our kids together, which means we have been through thick and thin together.

It really is a trip to see kids walking down the aisle toward marriage that I once saw walking the halls at enrichment. Or the kids from the neighborhood that have blended into your family so long it is like seeing your very own walk across the stage for their diploma. It stirs so many emotions, you know what the moms are going through as they let go and you are overjoyed to squeeze the neck of these now grown-up kids. So proud of them (moms, dads, and kids).

Of course, this is real life; it hasn’t all been a joy ride. Over this same stretch of time, while some friends hosted weddings and graduation parties, other friends were making funeral arrangements. As one friend shares adorable photos of their grandbaby on Face Book, another friend is caught in the emotional hell of watching her infant grandson struggle through chemo.

The party invitations mingled with tragic news and prayer requests; I am without adequate words for such gratefulness and grief intertwined. Within a tight community of friends, you might be tempted to not celebrate when someone close is in pain. Maybe our need to separate gratefulness and grief is born out of our reluctance to hold the enormity of it all in our hearts at the same time.

My heart reveled all weekend as we congratulated and danced with our celebrating friends.

Today my heart aches with grief for a family burying their son who walked those same halls at enrichment … and for a friend’s sweet grandchild fighting for his own abundant life.

Such joy.

Such sorrow.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15 NIV)

This passage is under the subheading: Love. When I think of a love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13 is what comes to mind, not Romans 12, but it is in this chapter that Paul is describing the actions of sincere love.



In the same sentence, in the same breath, in the same heart. To deny one for the other would be unbalanced. Indulging only in grief leaves us jaded to hope. Only embracing joy leaves us without empathy. I love my friends, their highs are my highs and their lows, my lows. Maybe we are not meant to hold it, but to let it flow freely, allowing God to hold the enormity of it all.

In the midst of that flow, tears of gratefulness and of grief roll off the same cheek.

No recipes today, instead a song we shared years ago at enrichment classes … seems appropriate to share it again.


  1. says

    What a beautiful and heartfelt post Judy. I am so sorry I missed it the first time around but am so glad that you linked back to it so I could read it today. I have wondered many times over this year how I could ever be celebrating anything; As Syrian children starve and die in bloodshed, our (as in US) own children died in gunfire in Newtown and so many atrocities all over the world, I am sometimes consumed with guilt when we celebrate. I am not particularly religious, although I have many family members that are and I never had been more welcoming to a verse than I am today. Thank you. You are definitely an excellent example of Christian Faith being shared in a warm and obviously heartfelt way.

    • says

      Hi Geni,
      Thank you so much for taking time to write such a personal comment–it means so much. It is good to know I’m not the only one who struggles with the turbulent ride of joy and sorrow that is all around us. Peace and blessings to you and yours.

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