The Best Way to Get Through a Sad Day of Grief

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Things I've done in the past and will do in the future when an anniversary is a sad day and I'm tempted to relive painful feelings and lose hope.

Today’s a sad day for us.

It hasn’t always been sad. In fact, it’s the anniversary of one of our family’s happiest days. But now, it’s a reminder of what we’ve lost . . . that someone we love is missing.

We cherish every happy memory but on days like today, in all honesty . . . it hurts.

Maybe you have emotional dates on your calendar too.

Dates when you remember sometimes…

  • Marriages end.
  • Relationships fail.
  • Friends betray.
  • Children reject.
  • Careers fail.
  • And no matter how we fight it, our days are numbered.

Grief is part of life and sad days happen. Learning how to survive a sad day is part of the healing process for those who grieve.

So, I’d like to tell you some things I’ve done in the past and some I will continue in the future when a date on the calendar is a sad anniversary and I’m tempted to relive painful feelings and lose hope.

Things I've done in the past and will do in the future when an anniversary is a sad day and I'm tempted to relive painful feelings and lose hope.

The Best Way to Survive a Sad Day of Grief

1. Remember – God is with you.

The lead-up to a painful anniversary is often worse than the day itself. I used to watch the day inch closer like a tidal wave approaching the shore. Deep down I believed the emotions of the day would bury and destroy me.

Talk about listening to the lies of the enemy. Whew!

God is always faithful. He was with me through the days leading up to the anniversary and on the date itself. No, it wasn’t easy but I so far, I’ve survived the past so I’m confident with God’s help I will survive going forward.

“I will never forget this awful time,
    as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope
    when I remember this:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;
    His mercies begin afresh each morning.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in Him!” Lamentations 3:20–24

2. Remember – Grief is part of life.

How I wish it wasn’t true…

But grief and pain happen. Worry and fear won’t prevent it and denying it won’t make it go away.

So, let yourself grieve.

Some of the best advice I ever received was to allow myself grief or sadness appointments. I intentionally set aside 30 to 60 minutes and let all my emotions wash over me. I cry, pray, journal, and FEEL.

Then I get up and live my life until my next scheduled grief appointment. Early on they might happen daily, later . . . a little less often.

C. S. Lewis said,

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid.”

And I understand. You wonder if you are going to hurt forever.

But God has the answer…

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

3. Remember – Celebrate what was good.

Even if your grief includes a lot of ugliness . . . cruel words spoken, failed love, betrayed emotions. It wasn’t always like that.

Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t ask “what if.”

Think about good memories. Stop and celebrate the things you enjoyed. Jump over what hurt (except during a grief appointment) and remember what blessed.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ~Dr. Suess


It makes forgiveness easier.

4. Remember – Forgive again and again and again.

Forgive yourself. Forgive the other person or people.

It’s especially hard when you’re grieving someone else’s choices. But forgiveness is essential. You will never heal if you can’t forgive yourself and others.


To forgive and love them takes divine assistance.” Find out how here – 10 Steps to Forgiving that will Make You Happy. 

“Forgiveness is not a one-off decision; it is a journey and a process that takes time, determination, and persistence. Forgiveness is not forgetting; it is simply denying your pain the right to control your life.” ~Corallie Buchanan

Things I've done in the past and will do in the future when an anniversary is a sad day and I'm tempted to relive painful feelings and lose hope.

5. Remember – Focus on the people near you.

I’ve been guilty here, so I’m inviting you to learn from my mistakes.

I missed so much while grieving what was lost. There were things in life to enjoy and people who wanted to help but grief blocked it out.

Loved ones may not know what to say or how to help but if they offer, don’t deny them the opportunity to be with you and comfort you with their love and presence. Plan a coffee or lunch date. Get out of the house. Change the scenery. I promise you, it will help even if it’s for only a few hours.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” ~Henri Nouwen

It all comes down to this…

How will you and I live our sad days?

Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of His understanding.
He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28:31

Friends, grief may be the hardest pain. It takes time and grace to heal. And sometimes a date on the calendar will renew feelings you thought were past.

But . . . and this is huge!

God is with you always. He never tires. He never looks away.

God will restore your strength.

Some days you’ll crawl and some you’ll walk. Eventually, you’ll run and yes, even soar above your pain.

That’s His promise.

The Lord knows you and He understands your pain. Jesus experienced all of life with it’s pain and emotion and promised to stay with us. 

And be sure of this: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:17–18

So, on a sad day turn to God. Set grief appointments. Celebrate what was good. Forgive again and again. And spend time with the people who love you.

And trust God to faithfully comfort and heal your broken heart.

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  1. Forgive again and again and again. Yes. That is my favorite part of this truth you share here, today. As I get older and wiser, the best friendships are the ones that have required a lot of forgiveness …from both sides! That’s the stuff of life, right there.
    Happy Wednesday, from the #TellHisStory linkup.

    1. I like the way you said that a lot of forgiveness is required from both sides. That’s it isn’t it. Remembering that I need lots helps me give more than I am able otherwise. Thanks Megs, it’s always great to hear from you! Blessings!

  2. Hi Deb! I had an unexpected grief appointment yesterday…I was reminded of my loss and it hit me. But, after I had a good cry…I felt better. And, your advice is so good. I have learned to rely on God for my strength. Each day my faith and trust in Him is growing. He’s teaching me how to live my life again and has given me the compassion to encourage others on similar journeys. So, even though I don’t know “why” things happened as they did. I am focusing now on what God is teaching me, how He is growing me and on all of the beauty that He creates around me! Blessings, Joan

    1. It’s “funny” how those grief moments hit suddenly. I’m sorry you struggled yesterday. I do agree with you completely . . . we may never know or understand the why but that He is working in and through us is a blessing that gives enough strength and courage to keep moving forward. Blessings and hugs to you!

  3. Your idea here of making “grief appointments” is the best advice I’ve ever been given on the subject, Deb. March is the hardest month for me with those grief memories – one of losing my husband (20 years ago this year) and my father (three years ago). I’ll be making those grief appointments, I can assure you.
    Thank you for all the inspiration and comfort you give us, my friend!

    1. Oh, Martha, I’m so glad this blessed you. I received that advice years ago and it has been so helpful. Thank you so much for your encouragement and know I am praying God will cover you with His comfort and peace on every difficult day! Blessings and hugs!

  4. Christine says:

    This is such a meaningful post. We all know someone who is going through grief. Your advice and wisdom are just what in needed.
    Thank you!

  5. Thank you so much for this! This is spot on. We definitely need those grief appointments because that is when we allow the Lord to heal. Forgiveness is definitely a journey. Thank you so much for the reminders that God is always with us and will never leave us. He is close to the brokenhearted and that is always comforting!

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