Raymond L. Wheeler, DMin

Musings about leadership

On Grief


As I prepare to officiate another family funeral, I am reminded of something I once wrote to my daughter about grief.

It is never enough…I grieve losses too, sometimes even after decades. A passing thought, a memory, a place, a smell, a song. Each of these triggers a surge of sorrow – now perhaps not as convulsive (the intensity has waned but not the depth). Grief I once thought of as a fearful specter to be avoided, now has become an intimate counselor. Grief reminds me to be present, to be engaged, to appreciate the mundane and seemingly uneventful things in life that make up my humanity. Grief is a counselor not a friend; when I see grief approach, I don’t rejoice, I look a full look and sigh a deep sigh, but I don’t run, I sit with grief and listen to its questions, and it’s reminders to live fully – in all my emotions. So, at times I weep, sometimes I sigh, sometimes I say I don’t want to converse. Grief intrudes nonetheless, and I learn. Always though, as grief departs my friend, comfort arrives in a quiet, burden-lifting way. Thank you, comfort, for following up on my sessions with grief. I see more clearly through the tears. I feel more deeply through the sighs. I am here; they are not. I cannot change this, but I am changed by this – still.


Author: Ray Wheeler, DMin

Ray Wheeler - executive coach, confidant, mentor, leader, and friend. Ray is the author of, Lift: Five Practices Great Managers Do Consistently (2020) and Change the Paradigm: How to Lead Like Jesus in Today's world (2015). He is also an adjunct lecturer at International Theological Seminary, LIFE Pacific University, Bethesda University California, and Azusa Pacific University in cross-cultural leadership, leadership development, leadership ethics, administration, church growth, and mission in today's world. Certified leadership coach, certified Birkman Consultant, and certified in the iOpener Assessment (happiness at work).

3 thoughts on “On Grief

  1. Yes, Ray, and I would add the word “ambush,” which I learned from a friend while grieving my mom’s death. Before her passing, I had become somewhat jaded and hardened with difficult experiences in ministry. I could not remember the last time I had tears. When my mom died, I cried. I say she gave me the gift of tears. It is the gift that keeps on giving 🙂 I can get ambushed even 10 years later by a person’s story, grief, pain, or a memory. Tears come more easily now, which is a good sign of health. Thanks, Mom.

  2. Dr.Ray Wheeler I found that reading your post on grief most inspirational. I thank you and am truly blessed for the wisdom I received. I will end by thanking Jesus for always being my guide, and much more, Amen!!

  3. This is beautiful, Ray. I’m sorry for your loss. I like the distinction of grief being a counselor, not a friend. That’s a good way to describe it. Always appreciate your gift of words and encouragement. Love to you and Janice ~

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