Breathing Through Grief

by Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young November 15, 2023
“God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM' … Say this to the people of Israel: 'The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” Exodus 3:14-15 (ESV)

I was standing in the middle of our city’s community garden for a day of volunteering with my daughter’s second-grade class when I received the phone call. I hardly remember what my husband, Ericlee, said, but I remember I felt like I had just received a sucker punch to the gut.

Results of biopsy. Melanoma in the lymph nodes. My healthy, athletic husband had cancer. At 40.

I stood there frozen, somewhere between the rows of corn and kale, holding a tote bag and several water bottles for the kids on the field trip. What should I do? Text our family? Call our life group from church? Cry? Sink into a heap in the dirt? Scream? Pray? Leave the kids and go to my man? My head swirled with various scenarios, but I was stress paralyzed and couldn’t move.

It was hard to breathe. The fear started to suffocate me.

Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you like that?

Maybe you’ve received some devastating news, an unexpected diagnosis, a surprising text message from a friend, or a phone call regarding the death of a loved one. It’s tempting, in those hardest moments, to hold our breath, to power through on our own, or to brace ourselves for the worst. But what if we allowed God to steady our breath and relied on Him in those moments of overwhelm and devastation?

In the original Hebrew, God’s name was YHWH — translated in English as “LORD.” God first revealed this holy name to Moses at the burning bush: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM … Say this to the people of Israel: “The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations’” (Exodus 3:14-15).

Bible scholars and commentators explain that the four Hebrew letters of YHWH are aspirated consonants — breathing sounds. So saying God’s very name was like taking a breath. “YH” made the sound of an inhale, and “WH” sounded like an exhale.

This connection is no coincidence, for God Himself fashioned the first human, Adam, from the dust of the earth and breathed life into his lungs (Genesis 2:7). God spoke the sun, ocean, sea creatures and other wildlife into being. But humans are a special creation because God intentionally breathed life into us.

We were created in God’s image, in His likeness (Genesis 1:26). We are not God, but we are like Him because we have His breath. And if we are in Christ, His Spirit dwells inside us.

Friend, I want you to remember that God is YHWH. He breathed life into your lungs. He can breathe new life and peace that passes understanding into you today, no matter what difficult circumstances you are facing.

Lord Jesus, as I inhale and exhale today, I am reminded that You are the breath of life and that You are sovereign over all of my circumstances. When I am fearful, fill me with a sense of Your peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Today’s devotional is adapted from Dorina’s new devotional journal, Breathing Through Grief. Dorina provides a comforting, giftable resource for those who are processing their own loss, whether loss of a loved one, a season of life or a dream. Let the words and prompts in Breathing Through Grief encourage you with the knowledge that you are not alone and bring you peace as you continue forward on the road to healing.



Dorina also offers a weekly Glorygram, which includes encouragement for chasing God’s glory on life’s unexpected trails as well as great resources for friends navigating grief. Follow her on Instagram @DorinaGilmore for daily glimpses of His glory.


John 20:22, “And when [Jesus] had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (ESV).

Psalm 150:6, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!” (ESV).

How does it feel to know God, the great I AM of Exodus 3:14, breathed life into Adam and Moses as well as you and me?

What are some of the things that help you breathe more easily? Maybe it’s listening to music, gardening, strolling in your neighborhood, or talking to a friend. Make a list of practices you might try, and share your thoughts in the comments.

© 2023 by Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young. All rights reserved.

What We Believe

If your life feels too overwhelming, click here for our care and counseling resources.

Join the Conversation