The Heavy Lifting of Grief

It’s been a while since I lifted weights at the gym, but I know I need to get back to it. I much prefer cardio, because I can zone out, to some extent, once I get my heartrate where it needs to be.

In many ways, grief is like weightlifting. We don’t want to experience grief because it’s hard and emotional. Grief hands you a weight, rather than your choosing to lift a weight. And unlike weightlifting at the gym, grief requires you to carry that weight longer than you’d like.

Following are thoughts on the heavy lifting of grief:

Grief is Exhausting

For the last few days, I haven’t felt well physically. When I woke up this morning, my first thought was Jim will come upstairs in a few minutes to check on me. In the next moment, reality hit me. That reality felt like a weight too heavy and exhausting to bear.

Some days, everything is hard. Reading takes more effort than I have. Writing the dozens of thank you notes left to write feels like a mountain too high to climb. Getting ready to go somewhere requires manufactured energy. The only activity that is easy is staring.

The heaviness of grief is physically taxing. Remember that. Be kind to yourself, making physical rest a priority.

Grief is Personal

Grieving a sudden death is different. No opportunity existed to say final words.

When you’ve watched a loved one decline over a period of months, or years, some of your grieving occurs in an extended period. However, the finality of death moves that grief to a new level.

Each person’s grief journey is unique. Don’t let anyone place an arbitrary timeframe on your grief and make you feel as if you should adhere to it. Give yourself grace to follow your personal path of grief where it leads, no matter how long it takes. Just be careful not to allow grief to overtake your life and make you miss moments of joy and peace.

Grief Multiplies

During these days, I am reminded of the complexity and multiplicity of grief. Your current loss is multiplied as you remember others no longer present in your life.

My multiplied grief involves missing my parents and grandparents. I also miss family gatherings, the music, laughter, and joy.

Even though multiplied grief is heavy, allow it to happen. Pick up multiplied grief, and then put it down, just as you would a weight between sets.

Grief Comes in Waves

Like the rush of an incoming tide, grief comes in waves. Sometimes a grief wave slaps you with a crash, knocking you down, and pulling you under. Other times, grief rolls in softly, with overlapping memories and waves of emotion.

Waves of grief often roll over me in church, surrounded by my choir family. Early morning is also a time of grieving, when reality is new all over again.

Grief Has an Indefinite Endpoint

The endpoint of grief is different for each person. I remember my mother-in-law saying, “You never ‘get over’ the loss, you just learn to live with it.”

Letting go of the weight of grief is a gradual process. Grief is a hard, heavy, weighty, hefty burden, but the Helper, the Comforter, with whom all things are possible, is there to lighten the load. Remember, this burden will not be this heavy forever, so don’t give up. Take grief as it comes, knowing, in time, grief will moderate. Trust the Holy Spirit to help you sustain forward motion as you walk through the valley.

“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear” (Matthew 11:28-30 TPT).


Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including:,,,,, Focus on the Family,,, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).

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  1. You come to mind often, dear Candy. Praying for you as you lean into Jesus in this new and unwanted chapter in your life. I praise Jesus for your open hand and heart to share the tough places. I know each blog post is a lifeline to someone experiencing the heartache of the death of a loved one. How precious that you have Jesus in this walk and may those waking this path without him, hear of His love for them.❤️❤️

  2. Your words ring so true Candy. I’ve had the shock of sudden grief when at 18 my brother was killed by a drunk driver. Then the grief of losing David who struggled for 21 years with his cancer. Being prepared either way is as you said like heavy lifting. So thankful for God who sent the Comforter to help me through it both times. Family and friends and my Comforter.
    Keep it going Candy precious one.

  3. Candy, weightlifting and grief….what an accurate analogy. Thank you for sharing and for being transparent on your journey. Lifting you up in prayer.

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