7 Reasons You Need to Build Your Grieving Muscles

February 19, 2020 | 0 comments

Those of you who lift weights will be familiar with “lower body” and “upper body” days. The thinking is that by targeting the lower body one day, you can rest the upper body, allowing the muscles to recover. Having upper and lower body days also allows for you to focus on one area instead of trying to do so much that you end up doing nothing.

If last week’s Skill Building Thursday focused on the upper body of Celebrating, today’s workout is targeting the lower body: your grief muscles.

Without both, you end up out of balance with either strong legs and puny arms, or a strong upper body and chicken legs. In extreme, neither is attractive. Here are 7 reasons you need to build your grieving muscles.

1. Grieving forms you. Grieving is not as fun as celebrating. Cross-cultural workers are not adept in celebrating, often to avoid being overcome by pride; but many also dodge grieving to try to escape pain. Grief can be like pounding waves, which over time influence the contours of the shore. It is important to trust that you are like the beach, and you will not be overcome by grief.

2. Grieving trains you to look for and identify loss. Too often people have been trained to see loss primarily as “someone who has died.” And while death is a loss, it is not the only loss you, your family, or your ministry experience.

3. Grieving shows that something mattered, be it a person, a season in life, a place, or an experience. When you grieve, you are honoring what is gone.

4. Grieving prevents you from getting stuck. Grief is like the washing machine of your soul, without it, you do not process the losses you experience on the field, and they can become stuck. As the days turn into weeks and months and years, you might find yourself becoming numb, experiencing a dull ache, or notice that resentment is always there. Most likely, if you hunt for the cause, you are stuck because of an unprocessed loss.

5. Grieving softens your heart and opens your mind. Jesus wept at the news his friend Lazarus had died. Jesus wept over Jerusalem and the corruption he saw. Jesus wept in the Garden of Gethsemane knowing he would suffer. Grieving keeps you tender towards the people you have come to serve. Grieving moves you when you see injustice. Grieving is the tenderizer of your hands, heart, and soul, keeping you in touch with the human condition.

6. Grieving lets others join in. As we said last week, in his letter to the Romans, as Paul was commending them to put love in action, he encouraged them to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Let your family, teammates, neighbors, and supporters grieve with you and look for opportunities to grieve with them.

7. Grieving creates space to experience the full range of emotions. Instead of sucking you in like a vacuum you can’t escape, grieving is part of the path to a rich and full life. Every little baby can experience all emotions. Just think about that for a minute, isn’t that beautiful! But too often children are not taught how to experience all emotions, so they bottle up what they don’t know how to handle. They grow up, and God calls some of them to the field. It is never too late to learn about your emotions!

As one made in the image of God, celebrating and grieving are a part of your glorious inheritance. To be a fully integrated human, we all—every single one of us—need to build our celebrating muscles and our grieving muscles.

Since today is lower body day, what do you have today that you can grieve? Think back to January and list three things you can grieve.


Whether living in proximity to physical harm, in an area prone to natural disasters, with inadequate health care, or risking a future that might not include a spouse or children, this workshop is for you. When you purchase it, you will have lifetime access.

Photo by whoislimos on Unsplash

Amy Young

Amy Young

Life enthusiast. Author. Sports lover. Jesus follower. Supporting cross-cultural work.

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