Treasured Sorrow

sharing sorrow - two people comforting each otherA week ago, a friend and I were at lunch, discussing the recent death of his family member, who was also a very dear friend of mine. The conversation turned to how, despite his grief, he could name many gifts of the experience of walking with his loved one during her battle with cancer. He named how the experience changed him, how many people he met during the process, and how it made him more compassionate towards others’ suffering.

As I listened, I began recalling experiences in my life that echoed with both struggle and graces. One of my teachers in my spiritual direction program, Bob Fitzgerald, called these moments of our lives “treasured sorrows.”

What Is a Treasured Sorrow?

It is a life experience where there was both grief and joy. We faced pain, challenges, hurt, loss, or grief. Yet, as we look back, we treasure the experience we went through because of what we learned and who we became in the process. While the experience itself was a beast to live through, we know that the growth we experienced, the reliance on God we now have, and the new awareness we have about ourselves would not be there without this period of life.

Reflecting on Our Treasured Sorrows

There are a handful of events in my life I can now name as treasured sorrows. While I would rather not re-live these moments of loss and pain, I know that these experiences changed me in a profound way, and so I treasure the lessons I learned.

I am more aware of what others experience. The utter dependency on God during these times grew strong roots of faith that still strengthen me today. I cherish the people I met and the relationships that deepened as we walked the experience together. I know the tools of my faith offer support and guidance after leaning on them as I walked the challenging journey.

Our treasured sorrows are our wise teachers. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can sift through our experiences and name the sorrows and the treasures. Then, like any good Ignatian friend would do, we can offer this experience to God to be transformed and used by God for the good of the Kingdom.

What about you? What in your life do you consider to be a treasured sorrow?

Previous articleThe Hinterland Becomes the Heartland
Next articleI Saw You Today
Becky Eldredge
Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Baton Rouge, LA. The author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls and The Inner Chapel, Becky holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for more than 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady, Abby, and Mary.


  1. Thank-You for the phrase “treasured sorrow” . My sweet-spirited, older sister passed two weeks ago and although she had many health problems, her death was a shock. I have been her ‘care-giver’ for almost five years, although she was in 24 hour care the last year. I’ve lost both my parents, still have close family, but this grief is overwhelming, and profound, yet I know God’s Presence. My grief is so deep, it is physically weakening at times, yet I am experiencing His profound love like never before. Yes, treasured sorrow.

  2. Thank you for your article. Ten years ago I received a clinical diagnosis of depression. Now that I am emerging from my depression, & having read your article, I am now beginning to think of my depressive episode as a “treasured sorrow”. Yes it was difficult & lonely, but the soul that has emerged from the experience has greater clarity & spirituality as a result.

  3. I was in my 30’s when I received an early morning phone call that my mother had died shortly after having been admitted to hospital. Less than two years later a similar call announcing my father’s passing – with that I thought here we go again, but this time I know what it’s all about, I know how to do this thing called grief. But, it was not the same experience; I felt differently, reacted differently. Nothing was as I expected nor did I make my way through the grieving process as I’d done with my mother’s death. Through it all, though, I relied on my faith community and the Eucharist, comforted by those around me with whom I worshiped on a weekly basis. They helped me bear up under the burden and through my sorrow I learned of the gift that of being in communion with others through Jesus.

  4. Thank you Becky. I too have experienced “treasured sorrow” in a way that I would never have imagined; however, it is so very true that these times are an opportunity to hang on to God and learn to walk more closely and deeply with God. Then, as a wounded person to be compassionate with others.

  5. Treasured sorrows have come in many forms. Discovering my husband was an addict and an alcoholic on our honeymoon- during most of the wedding reception he was with his friends doing coke. Later,it was being primary bread winner for the family, then my mental illness changed everything and now a module on my thyroid gland. For me,all a treasured sorrow where God has blest me with so much growth.

  6. I am so grateful today to learn this most accurate and helpful phrase, “treasured sorrows.” Perhaps it’s the melancholy of Autumn, or the awareness that a dear friend from church told me yesterday after Mass about her cancer’s return and spread, but I’m keenly aware of certain treasured sorrows I’ve known and, through which, have grown closer to Jesus, who lived, suffered, and died so faithfully in love with the Father, and who was so present in the accompanying care that was given or received. Richard Rohr says, “It all belongs,” and when we can see everything, including suffering (our own and that of those we have compassion for), as a constituent part of the gift of life we we discover a peace that surpasses understanding. Thanks Becky for another great post. Tom


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here