God’s presence amid interwoven joy and sorrow

Words by Zammie King

Grief is an honest meeting. It is to break and become undone—to sit in the fragility of our humanity and let God hold us together. As believers, we know that death is not the end, yet the gore of pain still presses on our hearts and crushes our spirits. An unspoken tension comes with the territory of trauma and grief. How does one process and make space for despair and not make it an altar?

Since losing my mother to cancer in 2020, I have grown accustomed to crying almost as much as breathing. Sometimes, my grief appears in thundering tears, and other times in silent prayers and sobs. It has taken me a while to acknowledge that grief doesn’t have an expiry date and that pushing it away doesn’t make it gone.

In my journey of working toward healing, I have realized that hope is not a mask found in pretending that grief doesn’t exist but a balm found in the presence of God in the face of the deepest pain.

This year marks my fourth Mother’s Day without my mother. A day that would typically hold joy now stirs my longing to be met by my mother’s presence, to hear the sound of her voice and laughter, and to feel her warm embrace. This ache is too deep to articulate. I yearn to be held by her again, but while I wait, God marks the distance of her absence with His sufficient presence.

Mother’s Day holds a heavy tension of joy and grief and conjures different emotions and memories for individuals. The complexity of this tension often has made me feel there was no room for sorrow amid the bursts of joy; however, that could not be farther from the truth. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 says, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” We are all walking through different seasons, and God is present amid the celebration and suffering. 

To the one who is learning the ropes of motherhood, estranged from or without her mother—I see you. 

To the one who awaits the promise of a plus sign but remains taunted by a single line—I see you. 

To the one whose womb harboured a child her eyes never saw but remain forever etched in her mind and spirit—I see you. 

To the one who holds the weight of a goodbye said too soon—I see you. 

To the one who is a matriarch to children she did not bear—I see you. 

Whether Mother’s Day this year is a day of mourning, celebrating, waiting, honouring, hoping, or just gracefully stumbling through—I hope you witness the miracle of a good shepherd who lines both ashes and beauty with sacred presence.