Heavy hearts bend a soul and the pain of lost love stifles us. Bible verses and lessons-for-life from well-meaning friends won’t help. Grief is much too heavy. So it’s hard to walk, talk, think, or see. Kind words feel like thin plastic. Poetry is hollow. Once rich colors now come in shades of gray.
Yet for someone who has also known deep pain—in losing a beloved spouse, parent, child, sibling, or friend—this shadowed pathway isn’t new or strange. They can say, credibly, “I understand.” Without adding empty platitudes.
We’re confused by how unfair it seems. And that truth presses us to a broader reflection. Jesus also suffered unfair pain. Yet hearing that he’s the “victor over death,” or the “loving Son of God,” doesn’t console. Only the recalled insight that he weeps over us. That he knew real grief as he faced death. As he took our broken choices on himself. As we made him suffer. And it’s only as we realize, from the heart, that “for our sins he died” that we begin to feel his communion with us. He embraces us in love, no matter how unfair life has been.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” [Mt 11:28-30]. His tender heart offers solace. An embrace both soft and strong. He lets us cry into his breast.
His rest also lifts our weight-weary thoughts. When we cry for insight, and shout “Why this?!” he answers with his own tears. And he whispers, “Stay here, next to me. We can answer the hard questions in days to come. For now let me tell you this much. I know your pain. And how hard life can be. I love you.” It’s in his embrace that we start to recognize how pain presses us into his love as nothing else ever will. He’s bigger than any loss.
And after his gentle embrace comforts us we can then tell others, “I understand.”