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)