The Secret Grief

There is a poignant scene near the end of the movie Return of the King when Frodo is finishing his book but he still feels the pain from an old wound. He winces, rubbing his shoulder, and muses to himself: How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep…that have taken hold.


The people in the Shire saw Frodo riding back to town in on a fancy pony, dressed in fine clothes. They did not see him covered in sticky spider webs from Shelob’s lair, or falling limp to the ground outside Mount Doom. They may have noticed his missing finger if they looked closely, but that is not the wound that troubled him over time. His was a secret grief, a pain that would not fully heal. Only his best friends understood it, if only a little.

We all go through trials and many of them are secret. Yesterday was an especially difficult day on a variety of levels and around 8 o’clock last night my wife and I were on our date night (barely) and entered a department store to do a little shopping. Coincidentally (or not—I call it a tender mercy), the song playing across the store as we walked in was Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes you Stronger.” I smiled as I listened to the song, realizing it’s a true, if not painful lesson. It was the soundtrack of our lives at that particular moment.

Orson Whitney once said: “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God.”

So I dedicate this post to you, all who suffer secret grief, who carry heavy burdens, who pause to pick up someone else…even when you are hurting. In the midst of a very difficult day, my wife and I were able to spend a few moments giving comfort to someone else who needed it, someone else who carried a secret grief. It made our own a little easier to bear and will be a memory I will always cherish.

Now go and do something good today for someone else. It’ll help.


Jeff Wheeler

Jeff Wheeler

Wall Street Journal bestselling author of over forty epic fantasy novels.

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