The phrase “Good Grief” is an occasional euphemistic statement in the Peanuts cartoon. It was a way for some of the charters to express their surprise at a mistake or alarming action taken by Charlie Brown.

“Good Grief” seems to be an oxymoron. How can grief, the expression of deep sorrow, ever be good? It got me to thinking about the phrase “good grief.”

Could I ever remember a time of “good grief.” Yes. In my life in ministry and personal life I have encountered grief on a number of occasions. Grief has resurfaced in the last week or two with the experience of the death of members of Pilgrim Church and friends. I felt the sense of loss along with everyone else. In my grieving I was reminded of earlier times of grief: serving at memorial services and the death of my first wife to cancer, and I found good grief.

The good grief for me was to affirm with the loved ones and for myself that in the midst of our grief God was at work in comforting us through the Holy Spirit and the support of the community of faith. Those who faced the loss of a loved one from a faith perspective could be comforted in remembering the great times with the loved one. In the mourners and my own remembrances the person continues to live in us emotionally and spiritually.

Expressing grief with the faith that God was at work varies from the grief of those with no faith. I observed in several memorial services; those family members who did not have a faith foundation where inconsolable. Their grief did not provide closer. Grief for the person of faith serves a purpose as it brings healing and comfort.

My prayer for all of us that our grief may be good when we invite Jesus into our suffering and sense of loss to be comforted and find hope in moving on in life. Amen.