How (Not) to Respond to Grieving Friends


Sara Hagerty has waded wehrough the murky waters of marital trouble, infertility, financial struggles and coming to face-to-face with a global orphan crisis that shook her theology to its core. Each of these life crises ushered her in to deeper intimacy with God--a journey she catalogues in her book "Every Bitter Thing is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things"--but the end results didn't make them any less painful in the moment. Here we discuss how she dealt with the depth of her darkest days and what she says are the best (and worst) ways to respond to grieving friends. RNS: Your book seems to be written for a predominately female audience, but I think there's something in it for everyone who wrestle with burnout, infertility, financial struggles, marital challenges? Right?

SH: Though it’s written in my voice and through the lens of my story, the opportunity to find God in the pain of unexpected circumstances and the ache of the mundane is universal. God truly is near to the brokenhearted – a sentiment we toss around but awkwardly fumble to live – and it’s this nearness that changes a person.

RNS: You and your husband, Nate, experienced the struggle of infertility. Talk about how you both experienced that uniquely.

SH: Nate often experienced pain because I was in pain. Not that he didn’t also ache for the baby that we didn’t have, but what throbbed heavier for him was watching me wait. He couldn’t access the part of me that felt like I’d missed a “rite of passage” because my body was barren. He hurt for me.

So Nate lived out the reality of his limitations within a circumstance that he couldn’t change for me. This delay shaped both of us, as we talked to God and studied His Word from within it.

I had to wrestle to discover that God was good—to me—in my barrenness. Nate had to wrestle through seeing God as a tender and near Father—not a distant leader—when he cried out to God on behalf of His wife. And we both had to wait.

RNS: In the midst of this, your husband’s business was struggling and you were facing your own losses. Was it difficult to support one another on your darkest days?