How I Sing The Hymns That Hurt My Heart

I grew up singing hymns.

I was introduced to praise choruses in my mid-twenties.

I love both.

I used to hear or sing along to them and feel them feed my spirit.

My family sang in choirs, served on worship teams and was rarely absent from church for over twenty years.  Music was part of everyday life with a special bonus on Sundays.  

dominic at gray haven

Now I find it hard to hear and even harder to sing some hymns I used to love. 

One of the most challenging is “It Is Well”-really, IS it well? 

Can I sing these words with conviction or am I lying my way through just to keep others from asking questions?  

I know the story behind the hymn-at least the part every worship leader or pastor likes to share.  Horatio Spafford wrote the words as he passed the very spot where his daughters drowned in an ocean crossing.  His life didn’t end on a high note.  It’s often introduced as an amazing testimony of victory over grief and death.  If I only cling harder to Jesus, I, too, can experience perfect peace in the midst of great trial and suffering.

it is well hymn music image

We sang that hymn in church a couple of weeks ago and I realized that it is a prayer as much as (or instead of) a declaration.

In many ways, after 5 years, it IS well with my soul.

I’ve reached a place where I can rest easy with unanswered questions and where I have finally received this blow with open arms. I’m not fighting the FACT of my son’s earlier than expected move to Heaven.

On those days, I can sing the chorus as an affirmation of truth.  

i thessalonians 3 peace

But I have days (and sometimes weeks) where life and memories and anniversaries and random stress unsettle me again. So then I sing it as a PRAYER like the psalmist who turns his heart to the only One Who can fill it again with grace, peace and hope. 

It may not be well right NOW, but it WILL be well.  

sings with song

I can trust that He who began a good work in me will complete it.

I can lean on the truth that in Christ every promise of God is “yes” and “amen”.

I know, deep in my bones, that all this heartache will ultimately be redeemed and that whatever I have lost in this life will be gloriously restored in Heaven. 

Blink of an eye heaven

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

11 thoughts on “How I Sing The Hymns That Hurt My Heart”

  1. Dear Melanie , I have read your words over the last few years and identify with you. We have so much in common. Our age and upbringing ,our family and our loss ,have made me feel as if you are a friend. Thank you for that. After my son , Hunter left us, it was difficult to return to church. He was always there waiting for us , at the door. We did return but it was many months before I could sing the songs. Hunter and I used to sing together, so many times I was overcome with tears. While raising my family, singing was an everyday part of life. While in the deep grief , I had no song in my heart. One day, while cleaning house, I caught myself singing, It is well with my soul. I suddenly stopped and began to recognize that yes it was well with my soul. Everything was not better, my heart was still broken and I was still bereft, BUT it was well with my soul. The Lord had given me a song. After that day , I could sing in church or in my home . There are still days when I do more crying than singing but many times ,those songs are a comfort to me and a prayer to my Heavenly Father. I so appreciate your writing and sharing your life with us.


  2. My heart goes out to anyone that list a child in death. I’ve lost both parents early in life and that grief alone was hard to bear. Grief, is hard, but loving someone that passed on before you is hard. Grief, to me is love, the more you live someone, I feel the harder the grief. To all the parents out there that has list a child, I say God bless you and may the loard be with you always.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I get this so much. And part of our healing is crying through those beloved songs that hurt. I often tell people that are looking for guidance when planning a funeral/memorial service that any song you choose will bring tears for a very long time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a great believer in tears as part of healing. What thoughtful and gracious advice to make hearts aware that the music will be indelibly changed when it’s used at a memorial/funeral. ❤


  4. I too love music…especially Christian contemporary. I had Thy Will by Hillary Scott played at my son’s memorial service…because that was the way I felt – “I’m so confused…I know I heard you loud and clear…so I followed through (the followed through part was my prayer to God finally giving it ALL to Him – asking Him for His will to be done with my son who struggled with addiction)…and somehow I ended up here…I don’t want to think…I may never understand how my broken heart is a part of your plan…when I try to pray all I got is pain and these 4 words…Thy Will Be Done”…now that it has been almost three years and my son’s passing is a big part of my testimony… the new song by I AM They “Scars” is my new song story for my current state of grief. I am giving my testimony at a Ladies Retreat this fall and I am going to incorporate these songs into my story…my testimony. We all have a different story and different ways of coping this this life we did not choose. Love and prayers to all.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I weep through songs at church trying to make it to the sermon, when I do go. And prayer, they have been vanquished from me. Maybe some day they’ll return. Hugs.


  6. I really enjoy reading your thoughts. They certainly are so true and I find myself thinking….wow I’m not the only one to feel this way. It will be 16 months on the 24th that my youngest son Garrett went to be with our Lord. For months I could not pray and I certainly could not sing those words of the wonderful hymns I have sang and loved my whole life. I thank God I’m not in that place now… I have healed to the point of praying and singing again, but some words are still very hard to choke out. Thank you for your blog. I enjoy it so much.

    God Bless,

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This was my son’s favorite song. We played it during his service this past August. My son also grew up in church and knew the Lord. We sang all of the traditional hymns. Sometimes I have a hard time listening to them. So hard. I lost Cody to an overdose at 26. It is well with his soul and I know where he is. Thank you for your posts. I really look forward to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. hard time even going to church. let alone sing. my soul is not well. it will be on the day I get to die. but I will never see my Lydia again. she didnt believe in God.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry dear one. It’s an unbearable burden to think our child might not be in the bosom of the Lord. I pray grace over your broken heart. It’s all I can offer. ❤️


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