It sounds like a sad story. In a way it is. It’s about a journey of mistakes and forgiveness. An adventure of fun and learning. We each have our own road that takes us home and finally, when we get to heaven it will all be forgotten.
I am thinking about my dad and the 1st anniversary of his passing away. It will be coming up here shortly. I can still feel, see, smell everything in that hospice room like I am still in that room.
After my dad passed, I remember the room being very still and just leaning into my dad’s hand and bawling. I can still feel the nurse’s hand on my back. But I remember God saying for me to be at peace because dad was home and it didn’t matter anymore. It was all forgotten when he took one last breath here and breathed the next there in heaven. The road came to an end and it was all forgotten.
I look forward to “forgotten”. The stuff, the people, the issues. Just letting it all go and being made new and it won’t matter anymore. Are you looking forward to your road to forgotten, to complete forgiveness with no thought of the incident again?
I love how God doesn’t ever remember our sins once we have asked for forgiveness- as far as the east is from the west. Forgotten and remembered no more… Free. Won’t that be something?
-Traveling the road to forgotten with you and looking forward to being really, truly free.- Michele
I recently wrote some thoughts on the Christmas hymn/poem by Henry Longfellow. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day but I didn’t finish the thoughts he shared on the Truth of the matter. Yes, life may seem drear and sad and lost. BUT GOD… and THE BELLS do ring out Truth.
Taking Hold of Hope, Beauty, and Life in a Hurting World.
I just finished a book that I have been slowly working on all year. It was sent to me by Susie Larson because I commented on her webpage. Typically when I read a book slowly, like this, it’s because I am having trouble grasping the truth and I am not wanting to accept it. (ouch!) Thankfully, I am getting it. Read on!
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The title, itself brings curiosity. Defiant Joy. It almost seems an oxymoron. But defiance can be defined as a determination. We can determine to have joy in spite of the trials and sorrows, thus be defiant for joy.
Jeremiah placed this instruction smack dab in the middle of his lamenting to God about the devastation that Israel was struggling through. Recall this scripture with me…
Our despair is really the Spirit wooing us, showing us our need for His Mercy. Suffering reminds us that we need the Lord. We can’t get along without keeping God in the forefront of our lives. When we get off of His path, the way gets dark and lonely.
God invites us to make a turn to the right. Set our compass back on the North Star (Jesus). Get our eyes on Him and allow Him to direct our lives. Then and only then will we begin to have Hope and Find Joy in this desperate world.
Expect His Joy to Flow in and through you
Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible joy.
Don’t get bottled up in the struggle. The more we fight, the more we get entangled in the troubles of this life. We must remember how Paul said that we are pressed on every side be not crushed (2 Corinthians 4:8 NIV). When we relax and lean into the arms of Jesus, He will carry us. When we look upward and breathe in His promises, we will realize all the joy that is coming and the inheritance we will soon gain.
My visible world may scream loss, but the victory cannot and will not be held back. And because of that, because life wins and has won already, because of all Jesus won for us, I – like you- can be diafiantly joyful. I will choose it. Join me.
Stasi Eldredge, Defiant Joy, page 199
Be Defiant, Choose Joy with me.
Next Year Be Defiant
I am going to be defiant next year. I want to determine to follow the ancient paths of God. Won’t you join me? Sign up for the newsletter (below) to receive your free calendar of Scriptures for each day in January. Share your thoughts with a hashtag #ancientpaths
This month on the blog, we have been sharing journeys with grief. Today, I want to share a few resources for grief that I have found this month.
Personally, I am not on a journey with grief; however, there are many ways to suffer a loss that requires a grieving process. I (Mandy) have lost much in recent years including my health, my ministry with my husband, our home, our bank account, and our small annuity. I shared more specifically on this two years ago with my friend and fellow blogger, Nan Jones.
In searching for what to share this month, I discovered a new book just getting ready to release in November. It was on a list of books to preview and review so I picked it up.
A book release, Loss, Survive, Thrive
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Mark Twain, always a master at painting pictures with words, was left utterly speechless when attempting to express how he felt after the death of his twenty-four-year-old Susie. He wrote, “To do so would bankrupt the vocabulary of all the languages.” To this day, that is the best description of grief I have come across.
Susan Whitmore, Loss, Survive, Thrive
These stories will tear at your soul and tug at your heartstrings. They will bring tears to your eyes. But still, no words come to mind to make the journeys easier.
However, this book is not all sadness because these families also walked through the strife into thriving. Each family found a way to make sense of it all, if only slightly. They found ways to speak this child’s name for eternity; a way to remove the senseless reasons behind the grief. Of course, grief journeys will always seem senseless but if we look closely, we can find a way to keep them from being useless.
These families have found that in sharing their journeys with grief they are able to help others travel through similar sorrows. In doing so, they found that their own grief became just a tinge easier to bear because now we can all bear it together.
C.S. Lewis says, “We read to know that we are not alone.” Anyone striving through a journey of grief can read this collection of stories and maybe, just maybe it will hold them up a bit.
Susan Whitmore, Loss, Survive, Thrive
Finding Ways to Thrive
Someone once said to never let a trial be wasted. Grief works in ways that teach us to help others. When I lived far from home and would get lonely, my mother always told me to reach out and help someone else. It really does make a difference and somehow brings joy into any situation.
Some of the ways these families have found to pay something forward include establishing groups or foundations that can help support others in the same place.
If you need some grief support, maybe their actions will be the place you find peace in your sorrow. Here are a few resources for grief shared in the book.
Just writing/blogging can be therapeutic. Here is one blog from the book luminousblue5.com
Giving of Gifts to celebrate special days
Expressions through art, writing, and poetry
“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.”
-Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Thank you, NetGalley, Meryl Hershey Beck, & publisher, Rowman & Littlefield for giving me a copy and allowing me the opportunity to read and review this new book.
But something was missing
I found this above-mentioned book excellent for finding connection with others who have lost children. Also, it is encouraging for finding a way to thrive beyond the grief; however, for me as a Christian, I found something missing.
While some did mention God, I found it quite lacking in stories of faith. Families that leaned hard into the hope that comes only from God. So I went looking for another option for you. I remembered my author/blogger/friend, Karen Sebastian who writes about the hope she has found in the dark places of her own life.
Ride the Waves to Comfort
I realized that I already had purchased two of Karen’s books and they were waiting for me right on my Kindle:
The Power of Hope in Mourning: Ride the Waves to Comfort
Relating to our day-to-day, even moment-by-moment, journey through grief Karen will walk with you through your pain. She “rides the wave” with you as you, knowing that God is there carrying you through.
You will find her guidance towards hope neatly put together with lessons from her own journey with grief, practical advice, and spiritual guidance. This Hope that is missing from the aforementioned book review is everywhere in this book.
A thought of my own
We often hear others say that God will not allow us to go through more than we can bear. However, this statement is not Biblical. The truth is that you WILL go through much more than you can bear. But the joy in this is: GOD CAN BEAR IT! Just rest in Him and His comfort.
Rabbi Harold Kushner reminds us “We can endure much more than we think we can; all human experience testifies to that. All we need to do is learn not to be afraid of pain. Grit your teeth and let it hurt. Don’t deny it, don’t be overwhelmed by it. It will not last forever. One day, the pain will be gone and you will still be there.“
Additionally, I must add to Kushner’s thought; lean hard into God. He promises to take care of us. He promises to go through the high waters with us. And when we come out on the other end, we will be stronger, wiser, more understanding, and probably a bunch more.
and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and
running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it
will be measured to you.” – Luke 6:38
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There
will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of
things has passed away…. ‘I am making everything new!’” – Revelation 21:4-5
We Never Know
Just over a year ago, my husband Skip and I left to go on a much-needed vacation. We packed the camping gear and the suitcases and away we went. Before leaving, though, we went to visit his mother, who was in a nursing home for physical rehabilitation after a long illness. It seemed like with each health improvement, there always came a new health problem. After our visit, she told us to have fun and to let her know when we got there. That was on a Friday. We left the following Monday morning. We never got to speak to her again.
She was taken to the ER that Monday afternoon and the family kept in touch with us. We continued our journey, reached our first destination, set up camp, and had supper. Just before bedtime, we got the call that she was gone. That moment is still very vivid in my mind. Feeling an urgency, we immediately packed everything back up and headed back to Mississippi for the difficult task of planning a funeral, while grieving, while comforting our family. Grief is hard and it is necessary at such a time, but God is our Rock. With that said, let me tell you about Granny Hen.
My mother in law was a tiny lady. In her prime, she stood
all of five feet tall. In that tiny lady was a magnificent mixture of love
(both tender and tough love), of fierce determination, a phenomenal work ethic,
and endless generosity. All these virtues – and many more – flowed freely from her
heart. She was always, no matter what the circumstances, a joy to be around,
and I miss her dearly. We all do.
Her name was Bonnie, but when I met her, everyone always
called her Granny Hen. I met her at Christmas time in 1984, a couple of months
after Skip and I became engaged. She welcomed me with a big hug, and from that
day on treated me as if I had always been part of the family. The meal she had
prepared that evening was unbelievably delicious, followed with pecan pie that was
scrumptious. As we sat around the table eating and talking over dessert,
I asked her if I could have her pecan pie recipe. Without missing a beat, she
smiled, saying “Mmhmm!” while nodding a definite yes. That was the first of
many recipes she gave me.
Granny Hen – Wife, Mother, Grandmother
Granny Hen loved being a wife, a mother (of five children, all born in less than five years), and a grandmother. She loved to work in her flower beds and in the vegetable garden and with the fruit and pecan trees in the yard. She had the greenest thumb I’ve ever seen. Each year the yields from that yard would produce unbelievable amounts of veggies, blueberries, pecans and, a few walnuts, all to be frozen for the winter. There would be jars and jars of jellies, jams, fig preserves, tomatoes, tomato juice, pepper sauce, pickles, chow-chow … I’m sure I’m leaving something out.
A Gardener & Preserver
Granny Hen not only loved making it, but she also loved sharing it. She would box up dozens of jars of various canned goods, sending them home with friends and family. She would ship them to friends and family too far away to see very often. On many occasions, we would bring a cooler when going to visit and return home with it completely full of frozen fruits and vegetables. She was a lifesaver on grocery bills when we were raising two boys. I haven’t had to buy jelly or jam in over thirty-four years!
Many years ago, in a conversation centering around her
gardening and cooking skills and her generosity, I said something about the
amount of sugar and jars and lids and such that goes into such a venture, and
the cost of such. With twinkling eyes and her sweet smile, she said with joy,
“It seems like the more I give, the more I get! God is good!” Indeed, God is
The epitome of love, joy, and kindness.
Over the years, Bonnie Atchison had battled much and overcome. She grew up poor in possessions, but rich in love. She married at the end of 1951; they raised a family. Their marriage and family was always full of love. Her husband went to heaven thirty years ahead of her. She had endured quadruple heart bypass surgery and recovered.
Many years later, she took a fall, had shoulder replacement surgery, suffered a major stroke, recovered, then fell again, resulting in a misplaced shoulder socket. The few years she lived after that displayed declining health and limited mobility. Despite those limitations, whether she was in the hospital, at home, or in a nursing home, her sweet spirit prevailed.
Granny Hen was always kind to her caregivers and generous with compliments and smiles. “The Hen,” (as some called her) was the epitome of love and joy and kindness. She was a remarkable woman. Was. Past tense. In the past. . .
Remembering Granny Hen
The drive back to Mississippi that night last October was long and sad. Planning the funeral was hard. Being with family was both hard and a comfort. Friends and loved ones who gave love and support were a comfort. My husband, a pastor who has done many funerals, spoke at his own mother’s funeral which was hard. Granny Hen’s pastor’s message at her funeral was a joy and comfort. He told of the way Christ shined from her being. In all this grief, we knew then and know now, that she is in the presence of our Lord and Savior. Granny Hen is free of pain and physical limitations. She is reunited with her loving husband and others who have gone on before them.
Granny Hen was generous. She gave of her love and her wisdom, her gifts and talents, her bountiful harvest, and herself. The memories we have of my dear mother in law are cherished and many. They are filled with wisdom, with love, with laughter, and with tears. Sometimes they bring tears because grief is hard. Sometimes they bring smiles and laughter because grief is not only hard, it is a strange comfort.
Often, he givGrief teaches us to remember, to ponder, to learn, to cherish, and most importantly, to go on. Of all the many things she gave us, the memories are the best, because within those memories lies all she was and all she taught us to be. Yes, grief is hard; it is necessary, and it is a teacher.
Treasure the good things
If you are in a time of grief in your life, I urge you to ponder the many things you love and miss most about your loved one. Treasure it all, but do not stop there. Go on. Live. Give of what was given to you. Share the love, share the wisdom, share the laughter, the tears, and the lessons. In it all, as hard as grief may be, let it come.
For that is the best way to honor them and their memory.
“Grieving is a Gift” may not settle well with you. One doesn’t realize how much effort grieving takes until life hands you a situation with which you experience grief.
Grief and grieving aren’t just for death. You can experience grief in the loss of a job, friendship, a move, divorce, a child marrying… the list is inexhaustible.
How we grieve is of great importance and grieving well takes some work. I am going to recommend to you that you grab a copy of the book “Good Grief” by Granger E. Westberg. This book has become a valuable tool for me and I hope you will read and re-read it as necessary. Stop in at your local Christian book store or pop over to amazon.com and order yourself a copy.
Granger also goes on to list the stages of grief and reminds us all that we will not necessarily go through all the stages, much less in the same order.
Stage One We are in a state of shock
Stage Two We express emotion
Stage Three We feel depressed and very lonely
Stage Four We may experience physical symptoms of distress
Stage Five We may become panicky
Stage Six We feel a sense of guilt about the loss
Stage Seven We are filled with anger and resentment
Stage Eight We resist Returning
Stage Nine Gradually hope comes through
Stage Ten We struggle to affirm reality
When grief comes knocking
Looking back, I would say that my first experience with grief was when I graduated high school. It was a major change in my life. I was moving on from being a kid in high school to becoming a young adult. Graduating meant that I was leaving the comforts of the life I knew and embarking on a brand new adventure and I was scared.
Going to graduation parties became a real struggle. I remember sitting in the car and crying not wanting to go. Going meant it was over and moving on just seemed daunting. I was grieving a personal loss. I was upset that everyone else seemed happy celebrating, but I just thought of graduation differently, and that was okay as long as I didn’t continue feeling that way. The work of grieving had begun. This grieving was a gift and it was preparing me for bigger griefs I would encounter in life.
Eventually, the feeling faded. I began to happily anticipate my college training in the Veterinary Technician program and looked forward to registration day at MATC.
Grieving has no time limit, it’s not an exact science
Grieving will be different for us all. It is within that difference we need to be patient with one another. We lead different lives, have different responsibilities and will have our own unique way of grieving. What may work for me, most likely won’t work for you and that is okay, as long as we grieve well.
All too often, when we encounter someone grieving, we want them to stop crying, and to cheer up. Crying makes people uncomfortable. Crying reminds us of how broken we all are. It may also remind us of a time when we were grieving and how uncomfortable it feels, how vulnerable you feel when you are grieving.
Grieving is a gift that I have come to appreciate. For me grieving something or someone keeps my eyes focused on an eternal destination. This is not our only life. I like what Apostle Paul says:
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 New International Version (NIV) 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Grieving stresses to me mindfulness- begin mindful of where I place importance on people and things. Is what I am doing, thinking, saying making a positive difference for me and those around me?
Grieving also helps me in relating to others who are hurting. I remember my friends who stopped by my parent’s home while my dad was dying. The hugs and words of encouragement were a balm to my soul. Hearing others talk about their hospice experience was helpful also.
Nothing could have prepared me for the events of October 28th, 1992. I dropped my son off at the babysitter and headed to the high school where I taught English and Speech. What started as a typical day ended in one of my worst nightmares.
Earlier that day I had visited my OBGYN because of some light spotting while teaching school. As I lie in the hospital bed that night, my 20-week old daughter kicking and squirming within me, I grieved. “Better safe than sorry” were the nurse’s words on the phone. So, I called my husband and we headed to the doctor.
Little did I know that I was five centimeters dilated and the amniotic sac was bulging out of my cervix! My doctor explained that emergency surgery was required in hopes of gently nudging the birth sac back inside and sewing the cervix closed. If the surgery was unsuccessful, she would be born the next day and was not expected to live. As I was prepped for surgery, I could only find the presence of mind to repeat one prayer, “Please God, don’t take my baby”. This was my incessant prayer as I was wheeled into the surgical unit. My husband’s hand tightly gripped my own until they separated us.
Where Faith and Reality Meet
I had been a follower of Christ for about fifteen years. In previous years, I had even traveled full time on an evangelistic team as a singer and team evangelist. I believed in prayer and I also believed in the sovereignty of God. If my daughter lived, it was God’s will; his good plan. And we would rejoice and be thankful. If my daughter died, it was God’s will; His good plan. We would grieve our loss on this side of heaven and look for His good plan through many tears. My prayers were answered, but not as I had hoped.
The surgery was unsuccessful. The birth sac had ruptured and our daughter would be born alive the next day; only to pass from this life shortly after. I gave birth to our precious Lacey Victoria in a quiet, dimly lit hospital room with my husband by my side. The grief that had begun the night before as I experienced her last movements inside of me, washed over me in great waves.
My faith was being tested. I believed that if God had wanted to, he could have saved my baby’s life. My only conclusion was one that I did not want to readily admit—God chose not to save her life. For reasons unexplained, He allowed her to be born and subsequently, die. This mystery would take years to unfold in my heart.
Facing the Grip of Grief
The hospital staff helped us put her footprints on a birth certificate, dress her, and place a tiny white knitted hat on her head. We asked for a minister to come and pray with us and we had a name blessing ceremony. We held her, wrapped in a receiving blanket, and we welcomed our family as they came.
My mother arrived along with our son, Danny. My husband’s parents came as well. Aunts and Uncles, brothers and sisters, we welcomed them all. It was comforting to see them, to let them see Lacey, to share our grief.
Two days later we were driving home; our precious babe in a fourteen-inch long casket set on the backseat of our car. We would deliver her ourselves to the funeral home (run by a dear friend’s parents) where she would await burial.
The days between her birth and her burial were quiet, somber, and sad. My arms physically ached to hold my baby. I felt broken, wounded, raw. I worried about placing my infant in a cold, hard plastic box into the ground. It felt so harsh.
Sewing in Love and Grief
My mom suggested we spend the next couple of days sewing a quilt in which to wrap her tiny casket. So we sewed and we talked and we cried for hours each day. We sewed our love and our grief into that quilt. It was therapeutic, to say the least. A few months later, my mom handed me an exact replica of that quilt as a memorial. I treasure it.
On November first, I stood beside an open grave clutching Lacey’s tiny casket to my chest trying to coax myself to hand it over to my husband so he could place it in the grave dug for her. She would be buried with my father who had passed just five years before.
It was a dark and dreary day with a biting, cold wind and the weather mimicked my emotions perfectly. The cold gripped my heart and refused to let go. Lacey Victoria was gone before we even had the chance to get to know her. My head told me she was now in heaven with Jesus. However, my heart ached with the knowledge that I would never have the privilege of raising this precious little girl.
There would be no little dresses and shoes, no curls to catch up in bright ribbons, no middle school crush, no high school prom, no engagement ring, no wedding, no grandchildren. I have heard it said that when an adult dies, you lose a piece of your past; but, when a child dies, you lose a piece of your future. This rang hauntingly true for me. The reality of this enormous loss weighed heavily on my heart.
I entertained an irrational fear that she would be forgotten not only by others but by even ourselves. I feared we would never hear her beautiful name again because no one would remember it. This fear, however, became the catalyst for my desire to assure that she remains a part of our family. That her name and short life was remembered.
I believed her short life had a purpose. It was clear to me already that we, as a family, had been forever changed by the birth and death of our sweet Lacey Victoria. I chose to lean into my grief and learn from it all the lessons it had to teach me; about valuing life (no matter how brief); appreciating family and loved ones; learning how this loss would teach me to trust God more. Little did I realize I had so much to learn. And it would take me my entire life to learn it!
Grieving Through the Holidays
As the holidays approached, I dreaded them. Christmas, especially, is all about a baby. The stores seemed packed with mothers with babes in arms or in strollers. Let’s face it, a lot of our Christmas traditions center around children. All of this just seemed to accentuate my loss. My baby was not here to celebrate Christmas. However, I had been blessed a little over a year before with a precious son, Danny; and I was determined that his little sister would be a part of his life, his Christmas.
To that end, we labeled Christmas presents to and from Lacey that year (which we, of course, had purchased ourselves) to give to one another– special gifts that held meaning; a special teddy bear, a figurine of a mother and child, a father/daughter snow globe. Gifts that gave us the opportunity to include her, to say her name and remember her.
I also prepared, for grandparents and aunts and uncles, a Christmas ornament engraved with her beautiful name. I wrapped them beautifully and looked forward to presenting them; knowing I would hear her name once more and she would be remembered. That Christmas was bittersweet as we celebrated together. But, our hearts were warmed in the remembering. And I felt that cold hard grip of grief weakening ever so slightly.
As with any great loss, it was a long year of firsts without our daughter. The grip of grief was difficult and as her birthday neared I desired to start a tradition that we could carry on through the years to assure our son would feel a connection to this sister that he would never know this side of heaven. Perpetuating her memory was a healing balm for my heart and I enjoyed creating new ways to remember her.
With that in mind, on her birthday, Danny and I made Funfetti cupcakes with bright pink frosting. As we baked I talked with him about his sister and how we love and miss her; that she lives in heaven now with Jesus and that we will see her again there. Once Dan returned home from work; we told him that we had cupcakes for Lacey and we needed to go to the cemetery.
So we took our cupcakes and drove to the cemetery where we placed one on her grave marker. We lit the candle, stood arm in arm and sang happy birthday to her. Tears fell and hugs shared. As we left the cemetery, I reminded Danny that Lacey would not eat the cupcake herself. But the bunnies and deer would come along and eat it for her to help celebrate her birthday. This picture always seemed to make him happy.
The rest of the day/week, we enjoyed Lacey’s cupcakes, thought about her and talked about her and repeated her beautiful name. A tradition we have carried on annually for 26 years.
The Grip of Grief Loosens
Our family has since grown to include a second daughter, Isabella, who is an answer to many years of prayer. Sometimes both of the children are not available to come to the cemetery on October 29th. But still, we go and we take a pink cupcake, light a candle, sing “Happy Birthday” and we remember.
Legacy Link-up for October is waiting for your link. What story of legacy will you share with us today? This link-up is open until the end of the month. Add your link and read some of those in front of yours. Your will be blessed. I am sure. Just click on the image on the left to go to the link-up.
In 2008, I had two friends suddenly lose their husbands within a few months of one another. Since we were only in our 40s at the time, this was a real shock and it got me thinking about the reality of life and death. How one moment in time can forever change your life.
Both friends (one a homeschool friend, the other a pastor’s wife) were dependent on the income of their husband. So they were left with little to nothing to support themselves.
It got me to thinking that except through the grace of God, this could be me. It also led me to realize the plight of many pastor’s wives who had been left with not only a loss of their husband but in many cases,
no home to live in, (if they lived in a parsonage)
and even more: no identity as a pastor’s wife.
This is when God began to work on my heart to support grieving friends, especially the pastor’s widow. I contacted the district church office and came to find out that other than a list of names in the district journal, widows of pastors are basically thrown to the wind. The district office did not even have records of their birthdays.
God spoke to me and called me to begin writing to these ladies. So I picked up some cards of encouragement and began writing notes as I was able to do so. Sometimes I even create my own cards. What a blessing this has become as I have cultivated new friendships not only with these ladies but at times with their children as well.
I have received many encouraging letters and one day, I received a box in the mail. It was a beautiful Christmas quilt made by one of these precious ladies.
Not long ago, I picked up a little book called The Widow Coach by Joann Filomena. Joann was a widow and as she worked her way through her grief she learned how to move forward. She decided to get certified as a Life Coach for widows. I figured the book might be helpful for me as I try to encourage these women.
Here are a few helpful things to Support Your Grieving Friends
1. Just Be There – no empathy needed.
Holding Space is walking alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judgment, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of any judgment and control. Widows need to know that they can be vulnerable and weak without fear or be judged.
The Widow Coach,
2. Don’t Identify
The moment that we start sharing our own stories we make it about us instead of them. Keep your stories for another time. Just listen and let her talk. That’s what she needs to talk it out.
3. Direct Her Beliefs & Feelings
She may have a lot of feelings and worries. “What am I going to do now?” Help her work through them by asking, “Why?” It is common to attach our feelings to our beliefs, such as I am nothing without my husband so I won’t be able to live beyond today. This is not really true. Help her detach her feelings from wrong thinking.
By asking questions we can help her make a new list of goals. You can help her find her own identity by looking for her own gifts and talents. She probably had goals that she put aside when she got married that can now come to the surface again.
4. Direct Her Thoughts Towards Good Things.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Remember, don’t tell her, ask her about good memories to renew good feelings and move away from the sadness. Yes, she needs to grieve and be sad. After all, God created those emotions. But remembering good things is a way to balance the sadness and help her realize that yes one day she will be able to move on.
This little book wasn’t a hard read, but a good reminder of how any of us can support our grieving friends. It actually made me think again about getting some kind of Life Coach certification myself.
Have you ever thought about being a Life Coach?
P.S. I recently read Lysa Terkhurst’s book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way She wrote it during a very dark time in her life. Some may find walking through this study may help those grieving from unimaginable sorrow.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, the original post has been closed to public viewing. Suffice it to say that a journey through grief can leave scars that are too tender to approach.
Let this be a reminder to each of us that the loss of a child is not only a mother’s grief but the whole family grieves as well. Thankfully, most of society now sees that grief counseling is very important for everyone involved.
If you are interested in other stories of bereavement and healing. This book will be released on November 8, 2019. I will be reviewing it later this month.
Loss, Survive, Thrive
Bereaved Parents Share Their Stories of Healing and Hope
by Meryl Hershey Beck – Contributions by Rukiye Z. Abdul-Mutakillim; Alice Adams; Laura Mathes Arshonsky; Michelle Barbuto; Vickie Bodner; Heidi Bright; Robert R. Burdt; Lynda Crane; Janice Crowder-Torrez; Tim deZarn; Kelly Farley; Tamara Gabriel; Shoshana Garfield; Suzanne Giesemann; Marla Grant; Kelley Ireland; Ernie Jackson; Jo-Anne Joseph; Mary Langford; Lucia Maya; Tammy McDonnell; Sandy Peckinpah; Sharon Gabriel Rossy; Laurie Savoie; Michele Wollert and Tina Zarlenga
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.
Today and every day, let’s remember: All the babies born sleeping. Those carried but never held. Those held that could not be taken home. Those taken home that could not stay. We remember. Always.
Let’s pray for each family we know that has taken this journey through grief. Even if many years have gone by, the pain is many times still very real. Place a family’s name (last name only) in the comments below and then pray for the name(s) in the comment above yours.
We have kept the Legacy Link-up live so feel free to participate below.
LEGACY LINK-UP TIME!
We would love to read your legacy stories, also. Share your links to your posts below. It’s doesn’t have to be about grief; how about how God has helped you through any trial. I love hearing how God triumphs in our lives.
I’m grieving my former life before Chronic Pain. Fibromyalgia and other Chronic Pain illnesses are classified as “Invisible Diseases”. For the most part, one can look at a Pain Warrior and not see anything wrong. And yet this person stops working, turns down invitations sometimes at the last minute. They seem to be checking out of life. But in all reality, they want nothing more to be in the middle of life. Often grief is part of their illness because they want so much to have their life back.
So what are we to do as a friend? Do we continue to include them in our lives and plans? Most definitely! Here’s a bit from my point of view.
About this time of the year, in 2011, I lost my former life. I grieved for quite a while because I truly did miss it.
I was busy, too busy really
Let me share a list of the things I was involved in.
Mom – two children still at home
Homeschooling – be this time only one high school student left
Homeschool Co-op – Director, teacher
Pastor’s Wife – ’nuff said
Children’s ministry director
Sunday School teacher
play director – two a year
Bible Quiz coach
Regional Bible Quiz Moderator
Church Office Manager
Women’s Ministry Leader
Now, just writing these things makes me tired. But back then I was quite a go-getter. I always had several irons in the fire, so to speak. They say that those with fibromyalgia seem to be Type A personalities. I don’t know if it’s true but it is certainly true with me.
Grieving My Former Life
Grief can be very real for the one who loses everything they once loved. It’s a process and just like losing a loved one, there are seasons that are harder than others. For instance, after my husband and I left our full-time ministry, we grieved the hardest during the holidays. One thing we loved to do was create exciting services, especially at Easter. It’s probably still the hardest time to go to worship and only be a participant rather than the leaders. I wrote about this not long after Michael retired.
It Just Takes Time
The rawness of one’s loss can be very difficult to bear. Dealing with the “why’s” and the “how did this happen” and “what did I do to deserve this?” On top of that, we just missed those activities just as you would miss your loved one when they are gone.
One of the first things I did was start a blog. I came across a challenge to write every day for an entire month. So, I decided I would write about my journey with Chronic Pain. I wrote about the pain, the waiting, the doctors and more doctors. I dealt with the process of the Why’s and the How’s and the Now What’s?
This turned out to be very therapeutic. Not only have I been able to help people become more aware of my illness but it turns out that writing about the frustrations of chronic pain helps relieve the pain.
Plus, I have met a world of new friends, literally from around the world, an unimaginable support group full of love and understanding. They also became my greatest cheerleaders, encouraging me to keep writing. They shared new things they had learned and connected with me because of our similar issues. (I also found that I didn’t have much to complain about because there are many people who have much worse issues than I have.) Two of my favorite Facebook groups, Fibro Bloggers Directory and Medical Musingswith Friends.
Lessons from Flat on Your Back
For the first few months, I was flat on my back, unable to even roll to my side without a great deal of pain. I had to drink my meals and have assistance doing all those normal life activities like using the restroom and taking a bath. Believe me, this was hard to take for this Type-A girl.
But while on my back I did a lot of reading and assessing my life. I found myself getting much closer to God, realizing that in some ways I had left Him completely out of my life. Instead of placing Him in full control. I spent a lot of time reading The Holy Bible. I set to reading it through in a year and ended up reading it three times in three versions.
But I know this new life is much better. Walking with Jesus step by step, day by day is wonderful. Having this pain is like having a reminder of WHO is in control. And it’s not me!
People will often quote Romans 8:28 claiming that God has a plan. And yes! He does have a plan. I don’t believe that God caused my disease, but He did allow it “for my good”. I may not see the reason why in this lifetime, but I will see it from heaven and rejoice. So I will do as Jesus did as he faced the cross.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
God can take anything that happens and turn it into good. Are you trusting Him with your trial today? Whether it’s pain, or sickness, or loss He can turn your tears into rejoicing. He sees the whole picture and His plan is a good one! Trust me on that.
P.S. I have created a verse of the day calendar for October. The scriptures are all about comfort. Download it for free by clicking on the image below.
We’re talking grief this month. And I want to start right off with experiences while attending a funeral service. Always difficult for many reasons.
Too Late to Know Pearlie Mae
I sat in the unfamiliar sanctuary of an unfamiliar church attending the funeral of a woman I had never met. My newlywed pastor-husband was officiating the service. I felt ill-at-ease because I wasn’t sure what I should do. Honestly, I had attended precious few funerals in my life to this point. And now the one person I knew in this place was separated from me. I sat towards the back and wait for a cue from him on what to do next.
People began to share about Pearlie Mae. They said she had a sweet and kind spirit. As a young adult, she married a widower with several children. This perked my interest because I had just married Michael, recently widowed, and became the mother of his boys, 9 & 14. Her children stood and shared how Pearlie had stepped in and raised them as their own and how much she loved them and they loved her.
Now I wished I had known her. It was too late for that but I prayed, “Lord, help me be a mother like this mother.” Now 30 years later, I believe my boys would be willing to say that my prayers were answered. I know for me, I love them as my own.
Several years later, we pastored a church in Milwaukee. Right off, we met a couple that was dear to us and to everyone. They loved the Lord and served Him faithfully. But Majel was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. It wasn’t long before she was not able to know me and I was not able to get to know her well.
Everett was a picture of a loving husband. Caring for her tenderly every moment. He brought her to church as often as he could. He stayed by her side continually.
The day came when she entered Heaven and we had a funeral service for her as well. This time, I knew some about her faith but the things her children shared touch me deeply.
I was especially touched by the things her son said. He shared that when he lived at home Majel always loved others unconditionally. She would give their outgrown clothes to others who needed them. But she didn’t just stuff them in a garbage bag and carry them to the family.
Majel would wash and mend each item. Then she would tenderly wrap them in tissue and place each one in its own box as a gift. She said she didn’t want the family to feel degraded in any way. She wanted them to feel as if they were receiving a true gift and not someone’s leftovers.
Another one shared that Majel often invited people for dinner. People that weren’t Christians, or at least didn’t act like it. They would ask her why she would invite these undeserving people into their home and treat them like royalty. She would always answer, “Some people will only make it to heaven if we carry them.“
Again, my heart was struck by the love this woman had for others. And again, I prayed, “Lord help me be more like Majel.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t really learn my lesson about getting to know people better. There was an elderly woman, Katrina, in our next ministry. She was always prim and proper and kept herself looking nice. She was very personable, never acting as if she were better than others.
But I only knew her in passing. As we often do at church, we speak pleasantries as we pass them in the hall but we really don’t know too much about them outside of the church.
This was true for Katrina and me. I honestly, did not know anything about her… until her funeral. It was then I learned that her late husband was a diplomat to China. I have often thought, “Oh how I could have been visiting with her and learning so much.“
It wasn’t long after that before I was taking my children to the nursing homes and sitting to chat with the people; soaking in the knowledge and wisdom they had gained throughout their years on earth.
Then I started taking all the church children to the shut-ins and nursing homes. I would take the church van and go around town and pick them all up at their various schools. Then we would head to the nursing home or the home of a shut-in. We would sing a song or two, but then we would sit and ask questions. I have a wonderful board game that is for this very purpose called Life Stories. We took the questions cards with us and each child got to ask a question. They would answer and then the elderly person would answer.
Oh, the things we learned about each other. And what times we had!
Don’t Wait Too Late
Friend, I share these stories with you first to honor these humble women who had no idea how their life affected mine. But also to encourage you not to wait too late. Take every opportunity to get to know the people around you. Really get to know them so you won’t have to grieve their loss when you are sitting at the funeral.
The next time you go to church, sit in a different place and begin a conversation with someone you don’t know. Invite someone for Sunday dinner and spend an hour or two learning about them. You might be surprised by what you find out.
Legacy Link-up will open next Tuesday, October 15
I have created a scripture of the day calendar. Download and print your calendar for free and get a little “Word of Comfort” each day.
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