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  • Writer's pictureMelinda Eye Cooper

The Grieving in Leaving

The LORD said to Abraham, “Go from your country, your people, and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” Genesis 12:1 (NIV)

We will all grieve if we’ve ever loved. They go together. The deeper the love, the deeper the grief.

Once I read that grief is just love with nowhere to go. It’s a perfect description. We still love deeply the one we no longer have in our life.

If the order of things is right, it’s easier to deal with. We expect to lose a grandparent but when we lose a parent, sibling, or friend, it’s more difficult. Losing a child . . . well, this must be the worst. It’s out of order. Heartbreaking. Soul crushing. Horrible.

But there is also a grieving in leaving.

Maybe like Abraham, God has called us away from our hometown, our friends, and our family to a place He has for us. So, we go. It might not take long for homesickness to settle in our hearts. We miss everyone, our home, and our family.

When we moved to Tennessee (the 2nd time) I cried every time I spoke to my mom on the phone. I struggled with looking back instead of living in the place God brought me to. It took some time but eventually, the tears stopped when it came time to say goodbye over the phone.

Losing both of my parents in the last few years has been hard. But the reality is, I began losing them years ago and the grief was spread out over thirty years. That's a long time to grieve. But that’s what happens sometimes when we leave. It’s hard to understand this unless you’ve moved far away from loved ones and started living life without them near.

When death comes to the one we left behind, the grief may not be quite as stabbing. We’ve already grieved the relationship for many years prior to the death.

It doesn’t mean we don’t deeply love them. It just means we’ve already been grieving for years. A private grief where we long to be near them but it can't be. So, we grieve when we leave them after a visit. Maybe we cry for the first twenty miles of the trip home. Nobody sees our tears except God. He knows the sacrifice made on our part to follow where He leads.

If God has asked us to leave and we grieve, know that we've done what God asked us to do. We're in His will. There's purpose in His plan for our life. Most likely, we'll grow to trust Him in a way we never imagined possible. We grow closer to Him and love Him more because He is with us everywhere we go. This may be hard to see if we never leave.

Did Abraham grieve when he left? I imagine so. But God had plans and purpose for his life and it involved him leaving and following God's lead. Thank goodness he did.

We may not know God's purposes in our leaving but He does. Just like Abraham, we will be blessed because of our obedience even when there are tons of tears for years.

We always have the promise of Heaven when we're God's child. The leaving is not forever. One glorious day we will be with the ones we love again and there won't be any grief. There'll be no tears of sorrow or sadness. No more pain or suffering. Only joy and gladness.

What a wonderful day that will be.

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Katherine Pasour
Katherine Pasour
Sep 26, 2023

Your message really spoke to me. I think our grief is in proportion to our love. Great love leads to great sorrow when the loved one leaves us or when we're separated by distance. I'm thankful God gifted us with the ability to love many people and that brings comfort as we travel through the stages of grief. Thank you for your inspiring message, Melinda.


Stephanie Fields
Stephanie Fields
Sep 25, 2023

Beautiful words, especially soothing for a freshly grieving heart.


J.D. Wininger
J.D. Wininger
Sep 25, 2023

A perspective that I doubt many consider Ms. Melinda. While the grief of leaving family behind (I'll always remember leaving my adopted family in Florida when I moved up to Chicago) can be heart-wrenching, God can also use it to help us lean into Him more. I know He did that in my case. Of course, there's other times when leaving led to grief. I pray this never happens to anyone else, but divorce is a cause for grieving too. I can't say that I grieved my ex-wife so much, although later I did grieve for her life decisions. What I grieved during and immediately after the divorce was the loss of that "third person" called "the couple." It too…

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