When Grief’s Stinger is Stuck in Your Throat

by | May 17, 2023

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”
Washington Irving

I stare at this photo, in an effort to transport myself back to the moment.

Remembering what it was like to hold his hand…feel the warmth of it encircling mine with a firm yet gentle grasp…

and hear his voice.

Especially when he said, “Deanna.”

I loved it when he said my name!

I never got tired of it.

My God, if I could only hear it live, ten thousand more times!

I recorded it so I could hear it for the rest of my life, over and over and over.

I didn’t even care how many times he asked…

“Deanna, will you get me a popsicle?”

“Deanna, what are you doing?”

“Deanna, sit down over here, and let’s talk…”

“Deanna, what are you doing today?”

“Deanna, are there any cherries?”

“Deanna, are you okay?”

“Deanna, let’s listen to music…”

“Deanna, are you still there?”

“Deanna, I need you to help me with this…”

“Deanna, what’s for dinner?”

“Deanna, how can I help you?”

“Deanna, let me fix it.”

“Deanna, get me some coffee.”

“Deanna, get me some black toast.”

“Deanna, what time is it?”

“Deanna, is anybody else stopping by today?”


We sing a worship song at our church called Thank You Jesus for the Blood, by Charity Gayle. I happen to be the one who does the solo. There’s a solo line in the song that says, “Death has no sting, and life has no end, for I have been transformed by the blood of the lamb.” Every time I get to the words, “death has no sting,” I get a catch in my throat and typically have to stop for a second.

I hate that I do it!

I really do.

I remember getting stung by a bee a few times as a kid, and a stinger still being in me, and having my dad remove it.

Once it was out, a baking soda paste went on it.

We have been singing this worship song for quite a while, but Easter Sunday was the first time I was able to do the solo without those words catching in my throat and my voice cracking or me having to stop for a second. I realize the whole church must notice when I do this, as it’s unorthodox for my voice to crack mid-song or for me to stop. Easter Sunday was my victory day of sorts, in being able to sing the line without stopping. Prior to that morning, it was so hard to get that line out of me without it catching in my throat, because frankly, death was still stinging. Oh, I hate goodbyes!

Honestly, sometimes it still stings.

Even after Easter.

Can somebody just slather my soul with baking soda? It’s worth a try, right?

As of the day I’m writing this, it’s been 162 days since Gus’s death. It seems like just yesterday that I held him in my arms as he transitioned from this world to the next – out of my presence and into that of our Savior. Of course, I wish we had more time, but I have accepted that we did not. There are many things I will never understand, but I trust the Lord.

“Deanna, I am deeply touched by the story of you and your father.”

I hear this from people all the time.

All. The. Time.

Like many times a week.

I’m touched too.

So deeply, it’s more like an inner tsunami that threatens to turn my insides out.

I still miss him like crazy.

I wish life could just stop and all I had to do is process things. But almost nobody’s life including mine allows time for that. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other if we’re going to do things like eat and pay the electric bill. You would think that with God knowing what a beast grief would be, that He would demand the entire universe receive a grief sabbatical or something like that when loved ones die. But, it’s just not the way life works.

Despite the sting and the grief brain I still have, it is a little easier with time to sing a song I have not been able to sing, or eat a food I have not been able to eat since his passing. I recently had my first bowl of tomato soup since he died. I still can’t bring myself to eat fish as he preferred it to be prepared for dinner or go through a few of his clothes I still have, or read through the basket of his several hundred birthday cards again. But I will one day.

I am reminded that the only way to go through this is to go through it! As Earl Grollman once said, “Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.”

Every day I ask the Lord to remove the stinger from my soul…to help me grieve well…and each day, He gives grace.

I don’t know what people do without the Lord.


  1. Nancy Manassero

    Hi Deanna,

    Your story choked me up. Not only because it’s poignant and heartrending, but because I had a terrible father, one who sexually abused me. So when I read or hear stories of amazing fathers, what I missed out on comes flooding back.

    But it’s OK, because God has healed me. I have a perfect, doting Father now. My open wound became a scar. I have a ministry to sexual abuse survivors, and I love to tell others how God can heal the devastation of sexual abuse. In fact, I wrote a book about it titled “Heartmending.”

    Thank you again for sharing this touching story. You’re a VERY blessed woman!

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      Nancy, I am so sorry for the abuse you have suffered. I am so glad that you have survived and that your story has been redeemed for God’s glory. Thank you for reading and commenting. It really means a lot.

  2. Pat Hertzler

    When I read your stories about Gus and see his picture, I can still hear his voice in my head. He was a special man. I wish I could have known this story when we knew Gus but….! Someday I would love to talk to you.

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      I am so blessed that you are reading, Pat. Yes, we will have to talk!


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