10 episodes

Stories of loss and heartache, exploring the various ways of experiencing God’s kindness and care through ordinary means of grace. No one can fully prepare for grief, but we can open our hearts to the experiences that come with it, and in our openness find comfort in the presence of God.

Surprised by Grief Christianity Today

    • Religion & Spirituality

Stories of loss and heartache, exploring the various ways of experiencing God’s kindness and care through ordinary means of grace. No one can fully prepare for grief, but we can open our hearts to the experiences that come with it, and in our openness find comfort in the presence of God.

    Sponsored: Leaving a Legacy

    Sponsored: Leaving a Legacy

    This sponsored episode of Surprised by Grief is brought to you by CT Creative Studio in partnership with Inheritance of Hope.
    When Andrea Hansen was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2019, she knew her family would need help charting a course through her illness and beyond. She and her husband Brian turned to Inheritance of Hope, a North Carolina-based nonprofit that offers faith-based support and legacy building retreats for families facing a parent’s terminal diagnosis. Through Inheritance of Hope, families find patient and caregiver support, groups for their children, and guidance for the hard road of dying.In this episode, Andrea and Brian join Daniel Harrell and author Clarissa Moll to discuss how Inheritance of Hope opened their dialogue around death and helped their children process grief. As the Hansens intentionally focus on God’s gift of today, they find hope and joy in the midst of suffering.
    Surprised by Grief is a production of Christianity Today.
    This episode is sponsored by Inheritance of Hope.
    Produced by Mike Cosper
    Written by Daniel Harrell and Clarissa Moll
    Edited and mixed by Mark Owens
    Music by The Porters Gate
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 32 min
    Love Calls to Love

    Love Calls to Love

    Time doesn’t heal all wounds. But if you’ve lost a loved one, you learn that time and experience reshape you. As the months and years pass, you’re faced with the task of embracing the new you while honoring the bonds you shared with your person who is gone. How do you find a life you can love again? What does that transformation look like? When do you know whether to take off your wedding ring, sell the house, or start a new relationship?In this episode, Daniel Harrell and author Clarissa Moll deep dive into conversation about the life we long for after loss. They discuss how time separates us from our loved one’s death, what it takes to release regret, and how grief can open us up to love extravagantly. Daniel and Clarissa talk honestly about how love continues after death and how that love can become a wellspring for new life after loss.
    Surprised by Grief is a production of Christianity Today.
    Produced by Mike Cosper
    Written by Daniel Harrell and Clarissa Moll
    Edited and mixed by Mark Owens
    Music by The Porters Gate
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 34 min
    The Ministry of Showing Up

    The Ministry of Showing Up

    Grieving people often say that loss clarifies what’s important in life. An encounter with death can help us reorient our priorities, reorder our affections, and restore our sense of purpose. Grief offers us the opportunity to release our reliance on structured programs and embrace messy, embodied presence as the real gift we offer one another in the valley of the shadow. In this episode, Daniel Harrell and author Clarissa Moll discuss the ministry of showing up—how welcoming death and dying to Christian spaces can help us become better neighbors, how the pandemic shutdown can offer us new perspectives on congregational care, and how intergenerational worship pictures fullness of life in Christ. Daniel and Clarissa talk about re-envisioning pastoral vocation as ministry of care, slowing down to engage with older saints in our churches, and how we can rediscover the quiet joy of being present in the midst of busy lives.Whether you’re devoted to vocational ministry or just want to learn how to show up better for hurting people in your life, this episode is for you.
    Special guest author Dave Meuer shares his story of caring for his mother-in-law during her declining years with Alzheimer’s disease.Dave Meuer is the author of New Every Day: Navigating Alzheimer’s with Grace and Compassion.
    Surprised by Grief is a production of Christianity Today.
    Produced by Mike Cosper
    Written by Daniel Harrell and Clarissa Moll
    Edited and mixed by Mark Owens
    Music by The Porters Gate
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 47 min
    Letting Grief Come to Church

    Letting Grief Come to Church

    When a loved one dies, local churches often mobilize to provide meals and funeral services. But spiritually rich grief care is more than printing bulletins and delivering casseroles. Death invites each of us to acknowledge our finitude and recognize the depth of God’s kindness to us in Christ Jesus. How can these lessons we learn from loss shape our church culture? What can churches do to become more grief-aware?In this episode, Daniel Harrell and author Clarissa Moll discuss how the diversity of the church’s gifts can provide vital support for grieving people after a loss. Daniel and Clarissa talk about the challenges of pastoring through personal grief, how Jesus meets us uniquely in suffering, and how congregations can grow in their empathetic care for hurting people in their midst.A unique mixture of devotional conversation and nuts and bolts practicality, this episode offers listeners encouragement as they welcome grief into the pews each week.
    Special guest, John Witvliet of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship discusses the value and vitality of funeral worship and why the Psalms are a great place to start when designing a service in memory of a loved one.
    Surprised by Grief is a production of Christianity Today
    Produced by Mike Cosper
    Written by Daniel Harrell and Clarissa Moll
    Edited and mixed by Mark Owens
    Music by The Porters Gate
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 54 min
    Surprised by Hope

    Surprised by Hope

    After the death of a loved one, we often feel compelled to say something. But, what to say? Lacking rich words of consolation, we fall back on platitudes, motivational quotes, and spiritual soundbytes only to discover our words ring hollow. Nothing, it seems, lessens the pain. 

    In this episode, Christianity Today’s editor-in-chief Daniel Harrell and author Clarissa Moll discuss how we can deliver hope that actually helps in the face of heartbreaking loss. Daniel and Clarissa talk about why acknowledging mystery brings comfort and how grief shifts as time passes. They share their own wrestling with faith in grief and how after loss, love infuses our lives with hope.

    If you’re wondering how to walk with a loved one experiencing loss, this conversation will offer you practical insights for becoming a companion in sorrow. If you’re grieving, you’ll find understanding and encouragement as you press forward into your new life. Pat and Tammy McLeod, Harvard Cru chaplains and authors of Hit Hard: One Family’s Journey of Letting Go of What Was – and Learning to Live Well with What Is, share their story of ambiguous loss and their 12-year journey to discover hope in the midst of tragedy.

    Surprised by Grief is a production of Christianity Today.
    Produced by Mike Cosper
    Written by Daniel Harrell and Clarissa Moll
    Edited and mixed by Mark Owens
    Music by The Porters Gate

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 46 min
    Suffer the Little Children

    Suffer the Little Children

    Chances are, a child in your care at Sunday school, on the baseball diamond, or in the classroom has lost someone they loved. Research estimates that 1.5 million children in the U.S. will lose one or both parents by the age of 15. Almost 8 percent of children will lose a sibling during their childhood. Children suffer the loss of loved ones—parents, grandparents, siblings, classmates—just like adults do, but their experiences differ significantly from the adults around them.Between their two families, Christianity Today’s editor-in-chief Daniel Harrell and author Clarissa Moll parent five children. In this episode of Surprised by Grief, they parse out the differences between childhood and adult grief. With honesty and vulnerability, Daniel and Clarissa talk about parenting children through loss and what our children can teach us about resiliency in the face of tragedy. Whether you’re a coach, teacher, or relative, this conversation highlights an often overlooked subject, offering encouragement and practical help. Our special guest, Abbie Abbott shares her story of losing her mother to lung cancer, a journey that prompted her to reflect on her mother’s own childhood grief experience.
    Surprised by Grief is a production of Christianity Today.
    Produced by Mike Cosper
    Written by Daniel Harrell and Clarissa Moll
    Edited and mixed by Mark Owens
    Music by The Porters Gate
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 47 min

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