These regular My Forever Memories blogs are written with love to offer encouragement, help, hope and love through your personal journey of grieving your loved one.
Today my son-in-law speaks at his long-time friend’s funeral…and I think of his mom. Another friend posted a note that her ten-year-old son died 17 years ago. I think of the moms in the grief group I host who are forever missing their children who left this life either very young or even older. A mother’s heart is forever missing part of herself with the loss of a child. I “just happened” to run across this poem written by Steve, my first husband who wrote a lot about death and life…
A Mother’s Grief
In the womb of a woman a life began
And she felt the new life grow.
She put the child within God’s hands
And she loved her new child so.
As the breath of life touched his lips
She held him in her arms.
She thanked God for the gift He gave.
Please keep him safe from harm.
But as the child grew in his years
Sickness closed in on him.
As the mother realized her deepest fears,
Why had God done this to them?
As she knelt down to pray
She felt a gentle hand.
The light was brighter than the day
And beside her God did stand.
“I cry the tears just as you do
And I feel the pain you feel.
Though your child’s life here is almost through
My love for him is real.”
“You see I do not take him from you
For the bond you have can’t break.
As I say these words are true,
I save him from the snakes.”
“Yes, by My side he’ll walk today
And his pain will be no more.
In My arms, he’ll find his way
To the road to heaven’s door.”
“I also say he’s in your heart
And beside you he will be.
Just as he was when his life did start…
Now he walks beside of Me.”
“There will come a day when you’ll touch again
And you’ll hold him to your breast
For your child is only with a friend.
He did not die, he only rests.”
By Steven D. Hall
God’s love for us is described in Isaiah 49:15: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
Yesterday, I stopped in a store to look for a pair of shoes (At least that’s why I thought I was there). A friend saw me before I saw her and practically attacked me with one of those long I-really-need-this hugs. I hadn’t seen her in person since her mother was killed in a car wreck two years ago. She just got through honoring her mom’s birthday—and now she was dreading Mother’s Day this weekend. I never found any shoes but I believe God sent someone she knew would understand. I didn’t have any words of wisdom just a long understanding hug…because Mother’s Day can be hard.
I personally know and love many mothers and children who are dreading Mother’s Day…a mom who never got to see her young son reach true manhood, another mom who has had to watch both her children die on separate occasions but will be honored by her delightful surviving little granddaughter who will know her as mom the rest of her life, another mom who lives with the trauma of watching her strong adult son who was married with children waste away from cancer, another mom whose son died in a freak bicycle accident 19 years ago at the age of ten, lots of moms who lost babies before they were born, moms who lost one twin at birth but delivered a healthy twin, older moms who thought they would go first but have had to bury their grown children, mothers whose children are alive but lost to drugs, mental illness or “Who knows where they are,” moms who are forgotten in a nursing home…
Mother’s Day is hard for children and husbands who are still learning to live without their beloved moms/wives (the one who held them dear, cared for them, prayed for them and kept record of memories). Mother’s Day is hard for those who made a decision to abort a pregnancy and live with regrets that only God can heal. It is hard for women who gave their child up for adoption or had them taken away. Mother’s Day is hard for children and moms who have severed relationships.
Mother’s Day is hard for women who struggle with infertility or have never had children, for those who foster or adopt children with trauma, for those who have children with special needs which demands their lives. Mother’s Day is difficult for those who are raising children without their dad.
There are a lot of reasons Mother’s Day can be hard, but there are a lot of reasons to be thankful for the blessings of being a mom or having a mom (even if she has left this earth—or never lived up to your vision of what a mom should be). There are blessings in knowing mothers or even being a mom-figure to others who need a mother’s love in their lives.
This Mother’s Day may be hard—but I encourage you to focus on the blessings of having the chance to love like a mom or be loved by a mom. Thank God for making mothers and women who love like moms. Some of the greatest blessings are found in the hardest circumstances.
Love and prayers for a blessed Mother’s Day,
God’s word in Isaiah 66:13: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you…”
Another one of my precious preschool children I taught and helped care for since she was born just had to learn of her daddy’s death. I identify with her mom who had to tell her what no mother wants to tell her child. This will forever shape and define who this delightful girl is. Her devoted daddy was with her one moment and gone the next. It is so hard for adults to deal with the reality of death. It is just as difficult for kids to handle…but they do. They could use our help, though. The adults who are there for the child are usually grieving also. It is so important not to forget the kids during this time. They may look Ok, just like you do—but they need some extra care during this time as well. Besides, it gives you purpose to keep going.
My four children ranged in age from 2 years old to 17 years old at the time of their dad’s death. Several older widows told me that I was blessed to have children still at home to make me have reason to keep going each day. Even as we deal with our own grief, we need to actively seek ways to help our children express theirs.
• Expect new fears to surface—especially at night time or nap time when it gets quiet and lonely. Try to ease them into sleep by providing vitally important bedtime routines including prayer, story, the best thing that happened to them today… Tuck them in and reassure them you are there. ALL ages need this!
• Let them know you are hurting, too—that it’s OK to cry. Cry with them, hold them. Let all ages know you both need extra hugs right now.
• Give them a large huggable stuffed animal with their loved one’s photo around the neck (in a soft frame like a luggage tag. It will be cuddled more than you know. Some people make a pillow of shirts the loved one wore.
• Reassure them you will be OK. That you will be there for them and will care for them. They may never have seen you grieve and may think you will not be able to care for them.
• Let them know when you are leaving and coming back. Everyone is fearful of losing another loved one when it is so real.
• The greatest gift you can give your child is to share your faith in eternal life—that they will be reunited with their parent—that there will be no more death—that because of Jesus we can count on a joyful life after death. If you are not sure of that, perhaps this is the time to be sure.
• Talk about your loved one. Share memories—especially funny ones and pleasant times.
• Use the MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU for children to let them make their own memory book to keep forever. There are pages to spark their own precious memories to draw, write about or put photos in.
• Let them play but don’t be surprised when something will trigger a new wave of grief. When it happens, let them talk, cry or just hold them til it passes.
• Expect extreme and sudden changes of emotions. Be extra patient as they work through these. Help them find ways to express it. Let them know you have crazy emotions right now, as well.
• Encourage a regular routine to maintain order during such a chaotic time (for you both!)
• Children will reexperience grief at big moments in their life as they grow- like learning to drive, graduations, their wedding and birth of their own child. These are peak times they realize anew how much they miss their parent.
• Sometimes children do not feel open to share their hurt with you because they know you are hurting and they do not want to add to it. Keep reminding them that it is good to express their grief and you can get through this together. Reassure them you are still a family.
• For more help got to my website or join My Forever Memories of You grief group on Facebook
• For more help, get one of the MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU books available in adult and children’s versions.
Love and prayers,
Several of you just faced the year anniversary of your loved one’s departure from this earth. My thoughts and prayers were with you though I might not have been able to fully express that. (My son-in-law is still in the hospital recovering from a 20-foot fall through a skylight in a roof. Praise God! He is broken but alive! I thought I would be adding my daughter to the young widow list) There is a surprising amount of emotions that you may go through approaching or on that particular day. Perhaps it is the fact that it has been a full year—not the grueling days or months you’ve been enduring—but a whole year. Here are various thoughts and statements on that “year anniversary” I have experienced or heard others express through the 26 years since my husband’s death and encouraging others through grief:
• Congratulations—I made it through the first year.
• A year is nothing compared to how long I will have to live without them.
• Anticipating that year mark is worse than the actual day.
• I just want to sleep through that day.
• I made that day a special celebration and it was so precious.
• I am not the same person I was a year ago.
• I will never be the same as I was a year ago (I’ve heard the previous two statements in both positive and negative connotations).
• They will stay forever young and I will grow old.
• A year! Now my grieving is over, right?
• I am just now beginning to grieve.
• I’m beginning to have hope for my future.
• I will never get past this.
• I just keep reliving their death.
• I want to carry on the best of their life for the rest of my life.
• I can never love again. Loss hurts too much.
• Life is short. Relationships are precious. It is important to me to let others know how much I love them.
• I will never see them again.
• I can live fully because I know I will be reunited with them… and the Lord is with me and will never leave me.
Wherever you are on that “calendar of grief,” I am praying for you as you truly will not ever be the same. The reason I keep doing this? No one understands your personal grief more than God; and Jesus makes all things new.
Love and prayers,
“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:1b,3
Ps. If you or someone you know is having a difficult time in their grief, the book I designed to help people work through their own grief is MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU (available in adult and children’s versions)
Regrets or those haunting “What if?” questions are one of the things which can prolong the deep pain of grief. Some experts call it unresolved grief. It is a natural part of grieving to second guess how things could have been different if you or someone else made another choice. Yet when you get stuck in that mind frame, and it holds you captive, it is time to try to resolve it. You may think that there is no way to do that since they have left this earth, but there are definite things you can do to work through unresolved issues. You cannot turn time back and undo any choices you or someone else made; yet you can choose to find a way to work through it and go forward from this point.
Real Regrets, Wounds, and Questions
Through the years I have heard tragic regrets—not taking someone to the doctor, not spending time with them, the last conversation being a big fight, letting their child go on a trip which resulted in death, abuse, neglect, not appreciating them while they were alive…The “What if’s?” can be debilitating: What if I had gotten them help? What if I kept them from going? What if I hadn’t done this or that? The process of going through the deepest part of grief can depend on dealing with some of these issues. Some are really not your doing and others are.
Ask for Forgiveness
There is true freedom in forgiveness for even the worse possible scenarios…for even the worse possible person. It truly has to begin with asking forgiveness from God Almighty. There are a lot of things which come to the surface when we are grieving. Emotions are extremely sensitive. The only One who can truly forgive us is God. He wants to forgive us more than we will ever comprehend. That’s why He sent Jesus to absorb our sin so we could absorb His holiness. We can’t do anything to make that happen. Each of us can only accept His forgiveness in the deep love it is given by God Himself—specifically for you. What a relief when we admit our wrong and our need for a Savior who can give us eternal life.
After admitting to God what we regret-what we are sorry for- we also can ask forgiveness from our loved one (or sometimes not-so-loved one) who has died. Write a letter to them asking forgiveness for what whatever regret, hurt or deep wound you might have caused. Then you can decide to burn it, bury it, tie it to a balloon and let it go, or nail it to a cross.
Sometimes there are real wrongs done against you. You truly might have been innocent and undeserving of a wrong by the person who has died. It is never too late to forgive them. If we are to truly live in the richness of God’s forgiveness, this is something we must do. Forgiveness truly brings freedom! Write a letter to the person letting them know how they hurt you and that you are reviewing your relationship with them. Let them know you are forgiving them. You may have to forgive them over and over until it no longer holds power over you. Then you can do the same thing with this letter as listed above.
Dear friends, this is a very short synopsis of dealing with regrets and unresolved issues. If you truly want to work through this, you will have to do more than just read about it. The book MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU I created to help people work through their own specific memories and grief has at least two chapters which go more in depth. It is for you to work through. It is your choice to accept and give forgiveness. It is a huge step in experiencing the true freedom found in Jesus Christ.
Love and prayers,
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36