Why Can’t Grief Take A Holiday?

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“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”-Psalm 34:18 NIV*

For me, it is so easy to get caught up in the festivities of the season.  I love to watch cheesy Christmas movies, go shopping and buy presents, and curl up on the couch under a blanket with some hot cocoa.  Okay, living in southern Louisiana maybe it is curl up with some iced tea and running the air conditioner on high.  But, as I move through the holidays, there is a corner of my heart which is melancholy and raw.  I can’t help but think of my loved ones who are not here to celebrate Christmas with me and the family.  Why can’t my grief take a holiday during this wonderful time of year?

Unfortunately, grief doesn’t take a break.  For me, I can experience happiness and sorrow at the same time.  I know what an oxymoron, but it is the best way to describe it.  I want to remember and honor those who have died and enjoy the family and friends I do have here physically with me.  It is indeed a balancing act which I don’t always handle gracefully.

I have experienced feelings of emptiness and solitude during my journey, especially around the holidays.  In a previous blog, Grief Completes Me, I shared some of my thoughts about my grief journey and what I accept as true in my life:

  • I will not “complete” grief – It has been almost seventeen years since my husband died and three years since my father passed. When I lose someone or comfort someone who lost a loved one, I feel the same intense deep, raw, pain and sadness.   It will forever be a part of me, and I have become more compassionate with others because of my losses.  I know what to expect in my feelings, and guess what?  I know I will not feel this way each day and the intensity will subside, until the next time.

 

  • I am not alone – There is a huge difference between being alone and feeling lonely. I am not alone in my grief, but in the middle of grief, I can feel lonely.  I know the loneliness is only temporary and I talk with others who feel the same way, so it validates for me, I am not alone.  God is with me, every step of my life.  He knows my pain and works through it with me. Surrounding me with others such as a grief group was the support I needed to connect with others with similar circumstances.  It is a reminder all people embark on a grief journey at some point in their lives.

 

  • It is okay to grieve anytime – I know some individuals are uncomfortable around people who are experiencing a loss. I have come to the conclusion if I need to cry, it is okay to cry in private or public and release my emotions.  I actually feel better after a cry fest and it allows me to refresh and renew.  When I need to grieve, I do it.  No apologies.  No holding back.  I let it out and know God is also grieving with me.  God knows grief.  As humans, we have grieved Him many times with our actions.  In addition, He watched His Son sacrifice and die for our sins.  I know He is an expert in this field and can totally relate to my circumstances.

 

Perhaps you are sad and burdened with grief during this holiday season.  My hope is for you to realize you are not alone.  God is always with you and you can turn your pain and sorrow over to Him to handle.  If you invite Him into your heart, He can give you peace and comfort during this difficult time.

I have been there; brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.  God has placed it on my heart to reach out to those hurting from the loss of a loved one.  This is why I write about grief and have a prayer request on my blog.  If you need some support, please feel free to send me a request so I can pray for you.    Blessings to you, and praying for a peaceful new year.

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Surviving The Firsts

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Isaiah 40:31 -“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.

Here I go again.  Our anniversary was coming up and this year would only be acknowledged by me.  I remember dreading the “firsts” after my husband died.  In the initial year as a significant date would approach, I felt the ache in my heart, the uneasiness of my stomach, and a thousand thoughts flying around in my head.  I would have to take deep breaths and clear my mind because I was so caught up in the fast, approaching day.  After living through all the memorable days in the first year, it dawned on me; I made it and had survived.

I reflected back on why was there so much panic and fear in approaching and living through these events?  I believe it is a process and something everyone has to experience in their grief journey.  In my situation, it was not so much the date as it was the anticipation of the day which was my focus.

How many days had he been gone?  How I was celebrating another holiday without him by my side?   When will I wake up from this nightmare?

I soon learned it was important for me to experience the anxieties as each significant date drew near.   The stressful time allowed me to press into God because I understood I could not burden this pain all on my own.  From the moment the panic set it, to the depressing mood which consumed me, and finally, when the day closed with a sense of relief, God was there.

Shortly after my husband’s passing, I asked many of my friends and family who had lost someone close, how long would I feel this way?  I wanted someone to give me the magic answer, to make me feel better and in my mind, have a goal I could set my sights on.  Everyone’s answer varied, but a good average was somewhere between two and three years.

2-3 Years!

I looked at my youngest who was five months old when his father died and realized he would turn three when I should not feel like I did in this moment. Looking back I can see how God needed this time to groom and grow me, as one of His children.  The process continues through my life as I have been molded and shaped again and again with each one of my losses since 2001.  All of my “firsts” were stepping stones to equip me with patience, empathy, tolerance, and spiritual strength in supporting others in their grief journey.  The first two to three years as a widow was a foggy memory and there are details I don’t remember, and it’s okay.  What I do recall is the love, patience, and support of my family and friends during an extremely difficult time in my life.  I thank God for putting all of the right people in my path those first few years to support myself and my children as we experienced our “firsts”.  I look back and know I survived the “firsts” because of His grace and mercy.  Today I share my testimony so others who have suffered a loss can experience hope and find strength in God’s love.

 

Temporarily Displaced

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“I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”-John 5:24

I have a pair of earrings.  Nothing fancy; some inexpensive costume jewelry which I fondly enjoy wearing.  In the past month, I have twice “temporarily displaced” one of the earrings while wearing them.  It should have been lost and not ever found, but it has made its way back to my ear both times.  I would notice I was missing the earring and look around but did not find it.  I would be a little sad at the loss (I really like the earrings!) and then bam!  It would turn up much later on the floor somewhere else unexpectedly.   I told the story to my husband, Randy, and he said, “Now there is your next blog!”  Little did we know…

This week will be the sixteenth anniversary of the loss of my first husband, Scott.  About this time every year, the shadow starts creeping in.  I don’t initially recognize what is going on but I start feeling “off”.  Then the sadness, anger, and pity will fill my head and heart.  Followed by the doubt and anguish of why I feel this way and who am I to try and be upbeat and positive all the time.  I feel like an imposter who says she wants to help others but is too consumed with herself right now to care for anybody else.  I start feeling like I have “temporarily displaced” my hope and faith and have given up.  Thank you, God, for it is only temporary.

I have to remind myself of all the love and grace which He has provided for the last sixteen years:

The wonderful family and friends who have lifted up and supported me when I couldn’t do it for myself.

Three beautiful children who are growing up and revealing to me what they have inherited from their father; his looks, mannerisms, humor, and love for others.

A second chance at love and life with an extremely supportive and gracious husband, Randy.

The ability to grow closer to God during this grief journey and recognizing His love and plans for me.

Discovering my purpose and taking the step of faith needed to prepare for the adventure.

Being still and knowing He is God.

When depression, anger, hurt, and even jealousy enter my thoughts and actions, I feel displaced.  I have to re-center my direction and the best course for me is prayer, reading scripture, and journaling.  Psalm 34:17-18 reads, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them: he delivers them from all their troubles.  The lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  I am righteous because of Him and He hears and comforts me during these dark times.  It is not an easy fix, but a process which ultimately makes me stronger and reminds me I am blessed because I am His child.

I am not afforded the promise this current life would be fair or easy.  When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I have assured the promise of an eternal life with Him.  I share this part of my reality not to ask for pity but in hopes to reach out to others who may feel the same way.  This is real and it is hard, but I am not alone and neither are you.  Please say a prayer for me during this brief difficult time and let me know if I can pray for you.

I am “temporarily displaced”   living here on earth right now.   But like my earring, someday I will find the way to my permanent home with my Father and it will be a joyful reunion.    Blessings.

Why Can’t Grief Take A Holiday?

why-cant-grief-take

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”-Psalm 34:18 NIV*

For me, it is so easy to get caught up in the festivities of the season.  I love to watch cheesy Christmas movies, go shopping and buy presents, and curl up on the couch under a blanket with some hot cocoa.  Okay, living in southern Louisiana maybe it is curl up with some iced tea and running the air conditioner on high.  But, as I move through the holidays, there is a corner of my heart which is melancholy and raw.  I can’t help but think of my loved ones who are not here to celebrate Christmas with me and the family.  Why can’t my grief take a holiday during this wonderful time of year?

Unfortunately, grief doesn’t take a break.  For me, I can experience happiness and sorrow at the same time.  I know what an oxymoron, but it is the best way to describe it.  I want to remember and honor those who have died and enjoy the family and friends I do have here physically with me.  It is indeed a balancing act which I don’t always handle gracefully.

I have experienced feelings of emptiness and solitude during my journey, especially around the holidays.  In a previous blog, Grief Completes Me, I shared some of my thoughts about my grief journey and what I accept as true in my life:

  • I will not “complete” grief – It has been almost seventeen years since my husband died and three years since my father passed. When I lose someone or comfort someone who lost a loved one, I feel the same intense deep, raw, pain and sadness.   It will forever be a part of me, and I have become more compassionate with others because of my losses.  I know what to expect in my feelings, and guess what?  I know I will not feel this way each day and the intensity will subside, until the next time.

 

  • I am not alone – There is a huge difference between being alone and feeling lonely. I am not alone in my grief, but in the middle of grief, I can feel lonely.  I know the loneliness is only temporary and I talk with others who feel the same way, so it validates for me, I am not alone.  God is with me, every step of my life.  He knows my pain and works through it with me. Surrounding me with others such as a grief group was the support I needed to connect with others with similar circumstances.  It is a reminder all people embark on a grief journey at some point in their lives.

 

  • It is okay to grieve anytime – I know some individuals are uncomfortable around people who are experiencing a loss. I have come to the conclusion if I need to cry, it is okay to cry in private or public and release my emotions.  I actually feel better after a cry fest and it allows me to refresh and renew.  When I need to grieve, I do it.  No apologies.  No holding back.  I let it out and know God is also grieving with me.  God knows grief.  As humans, we have grieved Him many times with our actions.  In addition, He watched His Son sacrifice and die for our sins.  I know He is an expert in this field and can totally relate to my circumstances.

 

Perhaps you are sad and burdened with grief during this holiday season.  My hope is for you to realize you are not alone.  God is always with you and you can turn your pain and sorrow over to Him to handle.  If you invite Him into your heart, He can give you peace and comfort during this difficult time.

I have been there; brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.  God has placed it on my heart to reach out to those hurting from the loss of a loved one.  This is why I write about grief and have a prayer request on my blog.  If you need some support, please feel free to send me a request so I can pray for you.    Blessings to you, and praying for a peaceful new year.

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

The Firsts

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The prompt for today is “date”.  The picture depicts a date between two people, but I wrote this before the picture was available.  As you read, I wrote about “date” differently.  Blessings!

//I remember dreading the “firsts” after my husband died.  In the initial year, as a significant date approached, I felt the ache in my heart, the uneasiness in my stomach, and a thousand thoughts flying around in my head.  I would take deep breaths and clear my mind because I was so fearful of the unknown.   The first date was his birthday, then our anniversary, kid’s birthdays, and then the holidays.

The good news is I survived.  But the anguish up to a particular date was the worst.  It was not the actual day, but the anticipation of the date.  I believe it is all a process and is something which has to be experienced by the individual during their grief journey.  When my pain became so unbearable, I would press into God for comfort and strength.

All of my “firsts” were stepping stones to equip me with patience, empathy, tolerance, and spiritual strength allowing me to support others in their grief journeys.  My losses ride along with me like baggage and move through this life as part of my journey.

I thank God for putting all the right people in my path the first couple of years  to support my kids and me as we experienced our “first” dates.  I like to share my story so others who have suffered a loss can turn to God and find hope and strength in His love.//

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”-Isaiah 40:31

Send It Forward

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The prompt for this Five Minute Friday is “mail”.  Enjoy!

//Another day: another stuffed mailbox.  I had not received this volume of mail; ever.  After my husband died, friends, family, and strangers sent me sympathy cards, grief books, with love and encouragement.  I wish I would have enjoyed it more, but during this time in my life, I lived in an immense, dense fog.

Looking back and reflecting, I am so thankful for the hundreds of people who cared about me and my children.  The sweet hand written notes from others were another God sign we were loved.  I want others who are pained by grief to feel God’s love through my actions.

I volunteer for a non-profit, Ragan’s Hope, who assist parents of children with serious ongoing medical conditions or injuries.  Part of my ministry is to reach out to the families who have lost a child in the first year after their death.  I send them four cards in the first year with a letter sharing a stage in my grief journey after the loss of my husband.  I pray over the card before mailing it in hopes it will let them know they are not alone in their anguish.  They are loved.

I believe my stuffed mailbox was God preparing me to reach out to others and “send it forward” to those who are starting their grief journey.  I have reached a place where I can share my experience and how He walked beside me during my thick, foggy, life.  I pray my cards will be multiplied and fill another person’s mailbox and they will “send it forward” one day.//

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”-Matthew 5:4 NIV