When we are hurting or grieving a significant loss, we may wonder if God is listening. We may want to pound our fists and scream, “Do you hear my cries?” Laura initially felt that no one (including God) might understand why she cried herself to sleep every night. Perhaps you can relate to the painful losses expressed by Laura in the below dialogue.

With a weary sigh, Laura hung her head and stated, “I cry all the time. The sadness never goes away. No one would understand why I cry. I’m not sure why I’m so sad.”

“Why do you believe no one would understand your sorrow?”

With a mixture of tension and frustration, Laura replied, “Well, I should be thankful that my husband returned home safely from Iraq. When Andy was deployed, I prayed to God every day. I pleaded with God and would daily say, ‘Please, please God, bring Andy home safe. Please do not let him die.’ Well, Andy came home and he is physically healthy.”

“Yet your heart is grieving some type of loss in terms of your relationship with Andy.”

“Oh, yes. Nothing is the same. Everything is different. I knew that there would be a time of readjustment for both of us. I’ve heard how war changes people. We were apart for months, so I was prepared for there to be some tension in terms of our relationship. However, I never imagined that I’d find myself living with a completely emotionally absent man.”

“So, you are grieving the loss of the man with whom you fell in love and married?”

“My husband used to be so very caring. I’ll admit that he captured my heart with his devoted attentiveness to my needs. Now, he is oblivious to my feelings. In fact, he is an emotional zombie with a totally flat affect.”

Laura truly felt deep grief over the loss of the intimate sharing she had once experienced with her husband. Pauline Boss in her book, Ambiguous Loss: Learning To Live With Unresolved Grief (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999) describes ambiguous loss as a situation where a loved one is physically absent, but perceived as psychologically present, or a situation where a loved one is physically present, but perceived as psychologically absent. In the situation with Laura and her husband, Laura’s husband was physically present, but psychologically and emotionally he had not returned home from Iraq.

The Scriptures affirm that God hears our cries, cares about what makes us hurt, and understands us and our situations even better than we do. We can find comfort in the truth that God will never dismiss our grief as insignificant.

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