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Episode 165: Walking Through Unexpected Grief (w/ Tim Challies)

By January 9, 2023Podcast

Life is full of seasons. Sometimes those seasons are filled with joy and laughter, but other times those seasons include sorrow, grief, and loss. These hard seasons may come from the unexpected loss of a loved one or a child no longer being a direct part of your family. Today’s conversation is especially for those currently walking through unexpected grief or those who love someone walking through grief.

Joining me is Tim Challies. Tim is a pastor, author, and co-founder of Cruciform Press. He had to navigate loss and grief in his own life when he unexpectedly lost his college-aged son, Nick, in 2020. As a result of walking through his own season of grief, Tim shared his family’s journey in a book titled Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God.

I deeply appreciated Tim’s openness about his story and his firm confidence in who our God is. I believe you’ll receive a lot of truth from what he has to share today.


1. Grief takes time.

There is no standard amount of time it takes to process grief. It is different for each person and each unique situation. It’s important that you don’t rush yourself through the process or judge others for needing more or less time. When your life is completely changed, it takes time to adjust to a new normal.

“At the beginning, you wonder if you can make it and by the end, you do realize that you can go on with life. We will smile again. We will find joy again. The transition from the old normal to the new normal takes different amounts of time for everyone.”

2. Don’t leave God out of your grief.

It is (understandably!) easy to get swept away with the heavy emotions of loss; however, it’s important that we allow God’s truth to guide our feelings. When we experience grief, we should look to see this season through the lens of who God is. He is a loving Father. He grieves with us. His heart is inclined toward us. God is not far from us as we grieve. When we remind ourselves of these things while we process our grief, we can remember that God is still in control and we are not alone.

“If we can keep in mind the character of God by acknowledging that He is a loving and kind father whose character is good and whose heart is inclined toward us, then we can move forward interpreting our circumstances through the character of God.”

3. Make yourself available for your friends that are grieving.

If you know someone who has suffered a loss or is grieving, it can be hard to know what to say and whether you will make things worse by asking. What is most important is to make yourself available to them. Provide a meal for them, pray with them, share your favorite memories of that loved one with them, and make sure they know that you will always pick up the phone or show up at their door if they need someone to lean on.

“One of the things that we learned is that it is very helpful for a good friend to say, ‘I will never grow tired of your grief.’”


We hope this episode has helped you wherever you are on your foster care journey. That’s the goal! If so, will you tell others?

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Meet Our Guest

Tim Challies is a pastor, author, and co-founder of Cruciform Press. He is the author of several books including Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity and his latest book, Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God. Tim’s passion is writing about Christian living, theology, and other topics to help others in their Christian walk. Tim and his wife, Aileen, live in Canada and have three children including their son, Nick, who is waiting for them in heaven.

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