The Unexpected


A miscommunication in texting with a friend last night turned out to provide a much-needed laugh. Her text came through to me asking where Batman lives. I responded with “Gotham City?” and was confused when she wrote back, “Whatttt???” Then she realized that the word she had written was auto-corrected and changed to Batman. I had a good laugh as I then understood the weird and the unexpected conversation.

There are times in life when we are faced with the unexpected. It might be an unexpected conversation, the sudden appearance of someone, a surprising reaction from others, or an unpredicted outcome at work. The longer you live, the more you come to understand that there are surprises and you are often left to deal with the unexpected in life.

Grief is oftentimes unexpected. Even if your loved one had an illness which led your family through months of difficulty and their final passing may have been eminent, the actual diagnosis was probably unexpected as well as unwanted. While you realize that sickness, sadness, and death are part of life, when those events invade your daily routine, they catch you off-guard.

So how do you handle the unexpected things in grief? Is it possible to regain your footing against the intrusion made in your life and upon the plans you had for your future? Yes, you will survive the grief and the unexpected turn that you are now facing. Will it be easy to do so? Of course not. No one who has experienced grief and loss will tell you the journey is easy.

So how do you face the unexpected things of grief? I believe that God uses the first few months to numb you from the pain. I know that there are actually many details in those first few days of grief that I do not have clear memories of. A sense of auto-pilot takes over and the necessary arrangements are made with the help of family and friends. So while your journey has taken an unexpected detour, you somehow are able to function and survive by the grace of God.

As time moves forward and your world changes and little daily adjustments are made, the numbness begins to wear off and you suddenly feel the unexpected weight of your pain. These are hard days to face. You awake to some mornings where you want to choose to stay in bed rather than get up and face your day. Doing this once in a while can actually be a healthy and necessary “mental health day.” Recognizing what you need to refuel and function well in your grief is important. As long as you don’t spend each and every day staying in bed and avoiding life all together, an occasional day off is recommended.

Grief also has a way of throwing road blocks in your path. Oftentimes, an unexpected thing will be a trigger that threatens to throw you back into the depths of your sorrow. The ability to be flexible and give grace where needed is likely to help you through these little surprises of life. While you may want guarantees, there are few of those in life. Learn what things you can give up and what items are non-negotiable to you and your journey will be likely be smoother as you move forward in your grief.

Surprises can endanger your sense of well-being too. Feeling paralyzed by fear and doubt can be very real as the unexpected appears now and then. Work hard at not giving power to these surprises. They are just slight hiccups in the bigger picture of your life. Keep your eyes focused on your goals and desires and upon where you are headed, not where you have been.

In all of this, remember that God desires to strengthen you and hold you up when you feel you can go no further. I read the following verse a few months ago and have come to appreciate its promise that God goes before me to ease my trek.

“Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low;

the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” Isaiah 40:4 (NIV)

Until next time –


When the unexpected happens, Grief Letters is available for you to purchase. Having hope and purpose is not impossible when facing loss and pain. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief. Place your order today!


Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.