Dear friends,
Here is an excerpt from the book My Forever Memories of You. This was written with the deepest love for those who are grieving and 25 years of being there while people grieve. This happens to be taken from the chapter that urges you to tell your story—the very personal story of the relationship between you and your loved one. Each chapter contains a section with My Story, Your Story, Practical Ideas, Helpful Input, Interactive Work Page, My Prayer Journal, and Your Prayer Journal. It is important to tell the one-of-a-kind relationship you have with your loved one. My prayer is this book will help you to grieve in your own private personal way with eternal hope leading you through. It is actually your book–written by you!

 

Helpful Input – What Happened?

“Blessed are those who mourn. They will be comforted.” (Matt. 5:4)

You may not be able to tell everyone what happened to your loved one right away, but it is important to tell your story. Yes, it will be painful. Telling what happened helps you work through it and absorb the reality that your loved one is no longer physically with you. The pain needs to come out. Telling your story is part of your healing. It is part of the labor of grief.
Many people are afraid if they ever start telling, they will never be able to stop crying. I’ve often heard grievers say they are afraid they will completely lose it. During the course of grieving, most discover the anxiety of facing something can be worse than actually doing it. The full story of the relationship between the griever and their loved one most often comes out in bits and pieces. It can seem too much to bear all at once. I believe that the numbness we feel at first is part of God’s protection during our healing process. We can only handle so much pain in our fresh raw state.
Find a safe person to tell the first time you share your story—someone who will truly listen all the way through without interruptions or advice. Sometimes, it’s easier to write it down first. You can voice the whole story with no one else’s comments or questions inserted. It just needs to come out! The design of this book breaks up your story into sections so you can deal with various parts of your story as you are ready.

Sometimes, people think if they don’t talk about it, it won’t hurt, or they won’t have to deal with it. There is no way around it. Sooner or later, you have to go through it. As painful as it is, you will survive the worst part of your grief a lot healthier if you face it and ask God to help you work through it. It’s like holding your broken-to-pieces heart up to Him and asking Him to heal it.
Not everyone wants to hear your story. Many people don’t know how to respond, or they can’t handle your pain. Find someone who is a really good listener. More than anything, you need someone who will let you vocalize what you are going through without telling you that you shouldn’t feel a certain way.

One of the best things about writing your story is that you can get it all out without interruption or analysis. Even though it may seem that you are alone in your writing and pain, God is with you. He’s the best listener of all. He’s never too busy. He is not distracted. Nothing is too hard for Him to handle. He is there when no one else is, day and night. He will always understand you better than anyone else.

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34:18)

 

As time goes on, you may feel like you’re repeating the same story over and over. You may worry some of your friends will tire of hearing it. You are doing what you need to do to process what has happened. Keep telling it. Sometimes, you may find yourselves telling a clerk at the store or a stranger on the phone. Tell your story to whomever you need to. Not only is it helping you, you never know how God is using it to help someone else!

Don’t worry about feeling the correct emotions when you tell what happened. You may feel nothing; other times, it will cut incredibly deep. Sometimes, it seems like a bad dream, like you’re talking about something horrible that happened to someone else. Sometimes, you find yourself laughing nervously, though it’s horrific!

Family and friends are also grieving. Sharing with them can help you work through your grief together. Even children need to process what has happened. Let them see you cry so they know it’s okay to feel the emotions. You are not protecting them by hiding your pain. Do reassure them that you will be all right, that you are sad from missing your loved one, that you just need to cry. See more about children in chapter “Helping Children Grieve.” Tell them you need a hug. They need one too!

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13)

Practical Ideas – What Happened?

“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Jesus Christ our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.” (Rom. 8:38–39)

• Write in this book. Put your favorite photo of your loved one on the front. This will be a book of your personal journey through grief.

• Start a blog and share your grief with others. It may help them as much as you.

• Find a good grief support group where you can share:

My Forever Memories of You has a group on Facebook
Compassionate Friends is for parents who’ve lost children.
GriefShare is a biblical-based group that offers sends helpful daily e-mails for a year.
Grief Recovery has groups and individual counselors.
Local churches, hospitals, and funeral homes sometimes have groups.

• Share your story with a group who already knows you (a small group or Sunday school class at church, a team, or a group of friends or coworkers).

• Sometimes, you can meet with someone you know who is also going through a recent loss. We have a group of widows who meet weekly at our church.

• If your story involves a tragedy that might help someone else, think about sharing it to prevent other deaths or help survivors of suicide, substance abuse, safety issues, infant or other deaths. Of course, not everyone can share their grief so publicly.

• Gather family and friends so everyone can tell what they were going through when your loved one died.

• Help children involved tell their story through drawings, playing out with stuffed animals, or writing. Don’t force them; just give them the opportunity. See chapter on “Helping Children Grieve.”

• If someone keeps interrupting or telling you how you should or shouldn’t feel, try not to get too upset. That person means well; they probably just don’t understand. You may need to find someone else to share with who will listen without judgment.

• Try not to avoid the pain through excessive use of meds, alcohol, entertainment, work, busyness, other relationships, drugs, or food. It is good to take little breaks from intense grief, but there’s no way to completely avoid the pain. The best way to get through it is to go through it.

Your story is yours. No one has ever had a relationship like yours before. It’s one of a kind. Therefore, no one else can truly comprehend what you are going through except for God who sees deeply into each of our souls and who knows us better than we know ourselves.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:11–13)

Heavenly Father,
I am increasing in weakness…and that is good! I used to be really strong for a woman. I grew up carrying heavy loads in our family greenhouse and grew strong from heavy physical labor. I have also been told throughout my life that I can do anything and become anything. I am finding out that is not true…and that is good! I continually hear from society that it is all up to me to make something of myself—that I am the master of my own life. As I grow older, wiser and weaker, it is such a relief to know that my strength is failing. How freeing it is to realize how very weak I really am. The crazy thing is the weaker I realize I am, the more I realize I need Your strength.

I wouldn’t exist without You; I would never have been born except for You. I could never breathe or live without You. Even when I was young and thought I was so strong; even when I didn’t fully realize how much I need You—You were my strength. Lord, You knit my cells and DNA together to form me out of nothing at all. You linked a nervous system to my muscles and told them to move me. You fired off brain cells and began my physical life that included the ability to think and choose for myself. You placed me in a world which was totally created by You for me to have a safe, lush, lovely world surrounded by everything I could possibly need, including other people to love. Forgive me for thinking I could ever live independently from You!

You have allowed me to face challenges in my life that have threatened to overwhelm me because there seemed no way out or no way I could handle the burden. How I thank You for those times when I have realized my weakness. That is when I have experienced Your strength! I need not try to prove my strength to You or anyone else. You made me and know I am weak. You created me to need You. You designed me to be strong as I yield my life to Jesus. Then His unseen strength flows with a powerful force to overcome anything that comes up. I truly enjoy being weak and letting Your strength flow in and through me! I am weak and You are strong! You are my strength!

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“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord, and may please him in every way, bearing the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power. according to His glorious might so you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of the light.” Colossians 1:11-12

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Lord, help me see my weakness with out You so I can submit to Your strength through Jesus…

Heavenly Father,
Thousands of teachers are starting a new year with a fresh crop of students. Why do they place themselves in classrooms overflowing with young minds, crazy emotions, wiggly bodies and loud voices which have a hard time containing themselves? It has to be a calling of love to subject themselves day in and day out to this organized chaos. It’s true—teaching is a gift. It can also be a stressful calling. That’s why they need our prayers.

Father, since I’ve been an early childhood teacher a lot of my life, I know how hard it can be. Yet whether students are infants, kindergarten, elementary, Jr High, Highschool or college, teachers are investing in the lives of their students. Most teachers have their students for one year before they pass to the next teacher. That is one year, or less, to try to make sure every student is learning all they need to, while on their watch. Most teachers are fully aware that they are not simply teaching reading, writing and arithmetic (although that is what their students and they are tested on). So many times, they are teaching far more important lessons, like: kindness, cooperation, confidence, perseverance, leadership, listening, respect…There are times, they know they may be one of the few positive influences in a young person’s life. Teachers need to be able to look past the stack of papers that need grading to a young person’s soul to make the most lasting impact.

Lord, with so much emphasis on testing and curriculum these days, I pray that You give each and every teacher a selfless love for the students You have placed in their care this year. I pray that they each get all they need from You to do what seems impossible. I pray when their energy runs out that they run to You to be revived and refreshed. Lord, help them to have sensitive eyes to see the child that needs tender care, extra patience and love for the one who loudly demands attention, encouragement for those who are uncertain… I pray for innovative ways to engage young people to use their minds to solve problems, have curiosity for how things work, opportunities for learning to work cooperatively with others, and ways to fan the flames of Your love and a desire to make this world a brighter, more hopeful place.

Teachers have a huge challenge because young people have so many fears, distractions, and obstacles at home and in the world…but nothing is impossible with Jesus to strengthen them. We lift up teachers before You, Lord. We also ask that You help make each of us better teachers—in whatever setting You have put us in. Lord, You are the Ultimate Teacher. Though You created each of us, You never leave us. Other teachers come and go, yet You are always with us and have given up everything for us to live and learn in You.

 

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Jesus teaching on teachers:
“A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant to be like his master.” Matthew 10:24-25

 

“Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be called your servant.” Matthew 23:10-11

 

“You call Me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so. For that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:13-15

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, what teachers can I pray for? How can I teach others about You?…

Dear friends,
There are a lot of books and some great support groups for grievers these days…so what makes My Forever Memories of You different? It’s my hope and prayer that sharing eternal hope is the biggest difference. We were never made for this life to be all there is. In fact, it is only a glimmer compared to eternity. We were created by God to live forever. Because of sin, death is something that happens to us all at some unknown point in our lives and in the lives of those we love. The death of our loved ones makes that more apparent than ever. We may have lost the very one we depended on to be there for us…or the one we dreamed of sharing life together. There is no way around grief. We must go through it. It might seem like the loneliest, most painful part of our lives—yet we need to share it openly and honestly with the very One who will never ever leave us or forsake us.

Sharing My Grief
Our thoughts and minds become so muddled and chaotic during grief that it is very important to share it with one who truly loves you and will let you express it without judgement or correction. I had already been writing every day in a prayer journal to God before Steve ever died. That is what helped us through his devastating illness. When I lost my other half, the one I could share everything with, I eventually found new hope and comfort in sharing with my Lord more that I had even shared with my husband. The book MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU has excerpts from my personal prayers during grieving. Yet, most of it, is your book. After twenty-five years of encouraging others in grief, I realize the greatest help they could get was not from me, but from the One who loves us most, created us and is always available. The short peeks into my grief prayers are only to encourage you to spill out your own heart before the Lord. He is the Great Counselor!

Sharing Your Grief
Everyone who has ever had a loved one die is an expert on grief- but it is their own grief. We may all be there for you, to encourage you and tell you what has worked for us. Yet there has never ever been another relationship like you had with your loved one (no matter how short or long that relationship has been so far). The most helpful thing you can do is tell your story and share your raw chaotic emotions with the One who knows and loves you and has forever to listen; the only One who can truly help you. He is the only One who can help you find joy again in this life and promises eternal life with no more pain or sorrow. My Forever Memories of You offers a place with prompts to tell your story and share your heart with the Lord. Feel free to share in the group or in the book.

Sharing Eternal Hope
Death may seemed to have taken your loved one a moment. At this crossroad of life and death in our lives, if we accept God’s free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, we live forever with our Lord. This life is only temporary, we are traveling to our real Home with the Lord. Others may leave us but He never ever will. Grief may be painful, but we have the hope of eternal life!

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

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13

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***Use these books and group to help someone you care about find their hope in the Lord as they go through the valley of the shadow of death.

Love and Prayers, dear friends
Eva

This prayer was posted with permission from parents…

Heavenly Father,
You are knitting another grandchild in the womb of my sweet daughter-in-law. This precious baby is due right around the first of the year. Even before this tiny little girl was conceived, You already knew her. You knew what Your plans are for her, how she will impact Your kingdom, her parents, grandparents and her entire family. There is not one baby who is conceived who is not fully known and loved by You. Nothing that lives has life without You. You are the giver of life. So even though our son and his wife found out (on their anniversary) there could be serious problems for this precious little baby, we can rest in assurance that You love her more–and have created her for specific purposes.

Perhaps these purposes include a perfectly healthy baby despite what medical technology shows…perhaps it includes us loving a perfect baby with Your perfect love despite what the world might call defects…maybe it includes trusting You no matter what the circumstances look like…it could mean a long blessed life or a life that gets a pass on this earthly life and goes straight to You. It could mean a life of suffering for this sweet little baby.

Lord, whatever purpose You have in mind for our sweet little girl, we thank You for the honor of loving and praying for her now (even before we know what she looks like or what her life entails.) We have had miscarriages and babies who passed shortly after birth in our family. We are also blessed to have a huge family filled with healthy children. Each one is so precious and unique. There has never been or will there ever be another just like them—including this one in the womb.

Father, You know what we would like—to have a healthy baby. We are asking for that in Jesus’ name because You told us we should ask. We have no doubt You can make that happen. We also know that You have given us a love for this sweet baby no matter what. Lord, I pray for Your perfect peace to hold the parents and family of our little girl. I also ask that You help us to trust You and Your absolute goodness no matter what. We hold this baby, her parents and family up to You, and trust Your perfect care. We love You, Lord, and this little miracle You have given growing inside her mommy.

 

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“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11

 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” Jeremiah 1:5

 

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, I need to trust You for my situation though I do not know the outcome….

Heavenly Father,
I was settled in my chair with my coffee in the backyard having my quiet time with You, Lord, when my neighbor of twenty-four years called to ask to “borrow a cup of coffee.” I have been extremely busy lately and this was actually Your perfect timing for a relaxed visit. I know You love our quiet time together as much as I do…but You don’t mind sharing it! Especially since my neighbor is preparing to move to a new state. We have gone through much together and I will so miss her impromptu visits and little surprises she leaves on our doorstep! What a precious divinely planned “coffee break” we shared this morning!

In my younger years, I might have been very distracted thinking of all I needed to accomplish, but my neighbor and I have been through enough trials in life to teach us both that people are so much more precious than tasks. How I thank You, Lord, for the deeply painful ways we have each learned that lesson. Her husband, also our beloved neighbor, endured severe heart issues ever since I knew him. We watched him get a heart transplant from a young man killed in an accident. My daughter was his nurse on repeated hospital visits. In fact, she was with them when he graduated to be with You. My first husband had also suffered a traumatic illness and died, so we had a connection through many critical situations.

We have borrowed sugar and eggs from one another, prayed together, seen miracles together, searched for keys, given rides, gone to church together. We share the love of grandchildren, flowers, writing and reading. We have prayed for one another’s families and we love giving one another reports of how we see You at work- which is all the time! Oh, how I will miss my sweet friend. I know You have a plan to bless her (and others) by having her move to be with her daughter. I have had a lot of dear friends in my life and it is always bittersweet when You move them (or me). Yet, when we both belong to You, I KNOW we are forever bonded and will be sisters and neighbors for all eternity. There will be so much to catch up when we meet again!
What a joy to share my life with You, Lord! What a joy to share Your love with others! The coffee may run out—but Your eternal love never will!

 

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“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?’ Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:36-39

 

“Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10

 

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command.” John 15:12-14

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, help me make time to spend with You to form an ever-deepening friendship and also with my neighbors…

Heavenly Father,
Two days ago, three of my grandkids were playing in my back yard when my six-year-old grandson come running to show me a huge emergency. A tiny baby bird had fallen from its nest a little too soon. It was chirping frantically for its mom and some food. The wings were flapping but appeared to be a ways off from being strong enough to fly. My grandson was near tears, wanting to help the fragile little baby. He has an extra tender heart towards the young and suffering since he is adopted into our family and experienced a lot of trauma in his young life. I told him we needed to leave the bird alone to see if it could get strong enough on its own. My grandson’s heart spilling out of his eyes made it extra hard to do that…

The first thing we did was to pray for the little baby. I thought it best to prepare my grandson that it might not live so we put the frail little bird in Your hands, Lord. I remembered in my prayer that not even a tiny sparrow falls without Your knowledge and if You thought best to take it home to You or help it live, we would trust Your perfect care of it. We left it alone and checked on it later. Our little friend the bird was breathing hard and not making a sound. It was no longer opening its mouth. We got a flat plastic lid and put water in front of the tiny creature and dropped in a few of the tiniest bird seeds we could find. I attempted to get water on a stick and hold it to its closed mouth, but by this time I didn’t think it would make it. My grandson spent the night and the first thing he wanted to check on the next morning was our bird. I stalled him, concerned he would find a half-eaten baby. We couldn’t find it anywhere. My grandson was convinced it flew away or that his mommy came and got it. I was pretty sure a predator got it.

My grandson went home and I went out to water that next evening. There was our baby bird, looking stronger than ever, flapping his wings and half-flying/hopping to get around. I was praising You and called my grandson to let him know! We were giddy together over Your care of this tiny bird. Lord, if You care so much for that one tiny bird out of all the galaxies You’ve made, I know You care for my grandson. Who, but You, knows the ways You will work in his life and the way You will weave even a tiny baby bird into his ever-growing faith in You. I love being surprised by the ways You are forever involved in the smallest details of our lives! I love You, Lord!

 

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“Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near Your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.” Psalm 84:3

 

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-30

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Heavenly Father, help me to bring even the smallest things to You in prayer…