Grief and the Homeless

grief suupport Mar 21, 2022
Grief and homeless


David Knapp

 Within the first year that Grief Relief Ministries website went live, I received a phone call from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The guy on the other end of the line had requested information on how to help people who had experienced a loss but not dealt with it. He went on to explain that he worked with rescue missions in his town. When a call came into the police station concerning a vagrant disturbance, instead of sending out a police car they would call him to go take the person on the street to one of the local rescue missions or half-way houses. 

He went on to explain why he searched and found Grief Relief Ministries online. After years of working with the homeless population, his conclusion was that well over half of them got there due to a major loss in their life that they were never able to process well, if at all. He was seeking help as to how to guide them through the grieving process.

The fact that you are reading this post puts you in a different place than most of those men on the streets who either had no availability to information on processing their grief, or refused what was available. Often, just having someone to talk to who has “been there, done that” becomes a turning point towards healing for many men.

After my wife died, I recognized my void of understanding the grieving process. I wondered, Were there others like me who were walking this same journey? SO, I looked around in my sphere of community to find other men who had lost their wives and made a plan to connect with them. My hope was that in so doing, both of us would get closer to the healing we needed.

That was a number of years ago. But the connection between loss and homelessness still haunts me.

Today I live in the Phoenix metropolitan area and I see homeless men regularly on our streets. The words to a country western song by Mark Wills called, “Don’t Laugh At Me” often come to mind.

I lost my wife and little boy
When someone crossed that yellow line
The day we laid 'em in the ground
Is the day I lost my mind
Right now I'm down to holdin'
This little cardboard sign

So don't laugh at me, don't call me names
Don't get your pleasure from my pain
'Cause in God's eyes we're all the same
Someday we'll all have perfect wings
Don't laugh at me


Undealt with grief can not only be a life changer, but it can become an invisible villain in one’s life. I think it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, all it takes is one step towards them from someone who knows something about the pain that eats at their soul. You and I could be that one person who can make a difference. And in the process we may just discover our own soul has healed a little bit more..

Want to learn how to be a better friend to someone experiencing loss?

Get the book here

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