help adults and children while grieving

Here is a peek at Chapter 2 of My forever Memories of You [The Story of our Relationship- Discovering Eternal Hope in the Midst of Grief]

The World Should Stop!

“It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.” Luke 23:44-46

Sharing Our Experiences

My experiences will be completely different than yours because you are completely different than me, and there’s never been anyone else exactly like our loved ones—not ever before, not now and or ever again! I share my experience with you so you’ll know someone else has made it through grief and so that you’ll know I understand and care about you. No one should try to compare whose grief is worse or more intense. It’s your grief. No one else has shared the unique relationship you had with the one you love. This grief you are experiencing is not so much for your loved one because their pain and suffering are finished. We grieve for ourselves as we experience the huge void they left in our lives.

Perhaps some of my experience might put voice to something you are feeling that you didn’t even realize. It’s still not your own experience, though. That’s why it is so important to work through your own emotions and experiences, and try to express them in the best way you can. Sharing our heart’s deepest thoughts helps us to process and learn from them. Sharing our deepest, most honest prayers with the Lord God, who created us and knows us better than we know ourselves, will help us begin to heal.

I write to share with you. May you write to share with God.

My Story- The World Should Stop!

Driving back to the church from the graveside the day of the funeral, I looked out the window of the limo at people going to work and running errands. I wanted to scream, “The world should stop!”

I looked at my poor children sitting quietly in the seats next to me and thought, “Our world has stopped.” Yet everyone was going about their normal day as if nothing had happened. They had no idea.

The world should stop because the love of my life had died! The world should stop so I could comprehend what just happened. The world should stop so I could help my children. The world should stop because it would never be the same again. The world should stop because I had no idea how to go on!

Policemen might have stopped traffic on the way to the cemetery, but it sped by faster than ever on the way back. How could life go on as usual? We drove back to the church for a memorial dinner where friends and family gathered. We had brought photo albums to share. That took away the harsh reality for a bit as we all reminisced about fun times with Steve. Laughter and hugs were passed around. Then slowly people began to get up and head for the door to return to their everyday lives.

Someone had taken the kids back to our house to hang out with cousins. There were only a few people remaining, and they were all busy cleaning up. I sat in utter shock. I think I probably looked ok on the outside, but I was completely lost on the inside. I had no idea where to go or what to do. I’ve never been so lost. I sat stunned, immovable. What seemed like hours of paralysis was probably only a few moments. Then I suddenly remembered my children were at home and needed me. I made myself get up and drive home. Although—I do not recall the drive.

Later that same day (The day of the funeral), I answered the phone when it rang. It was one of many bill collectors. We owed over a million dollars’ worth of medical bills at the time of Steve’s death. It had become part of our everyday life to deal with bill collectors. As you can imagine, we had struggled financially nonstop throughout his expensive illness. The collector started in his spiel. I interrupted him to let him know I had just buried my husband that day. He didn’t seem to care one bit and continued rudely pushing for money. I hung up on him, but was once again reminded the world was not going to stop to let me grieve.

The world might not stop, but I knew I needed to take time to grieve. Although I had to keep working to provide for my family, I could go slowly and take time to review the most meaningful relationship I had ever had. Even though I had to drive kids to school, cook, clean and take care of bills, I could still take this time in my life to realize how blessed I had been to have Steve in my life. I needed to look back over the meaning of his life, and to realize the great impact he had on me and others.

The world might not stop, but I was going to take time to cherish his life as I grieved.

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3

Your Story- The World Should Stop!

Write about your feelings of being left behind without your loved one. It doesn’t have to make sense or be in any order. Just write!

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“Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9b

Helpful Input- The World Should Stop!

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” Isaiah 43:2

The world definitely doesn’t stop for you to grieve, but you need to allow yourself the time and give yourself permission to. Of course, your grief will take on a different look than others’ because of who you are—and who you are grieving.

Grief often comes in waves—torrential tsunamis at first. It washes over you, taking your breath, causing you to feel like you will literally drown. You may look ok on the outside, but inside you are grasping to hold on to something solid. Some show it more on the outside, as well. Panic. Gasping. Real fears that you will drown in grief. Many times, you truly wonder if you will live through the crashing pounding waves that threaten to overtake you. Then it passes; at least giving you a momentary breather.

Then you hear a song, smell their clothes, catch a glimpse of a photo that brings on another crashing wave. Will you drown in your grief, in your tears? Hold on and ride the wave. After the first several bouts of waves, you realize that they will not kill you. Just as there is a beginning, there is also an end to the wave. As you travel through your grief, you will slowly begin to realize the waves begin to get smaller with a little more time in between waves. It helps so much to hold on to the Lord as those waves crash over you. Write to Him. Tell Him what you are going through. He will never leave you.

“I will turn the rivers into islands and dry up the pools. I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:15b-16

Even when our loved ones have to leave us, God never will. He is faithful to stay with us as we travel through the rough waters of grief. He doesn’t take it away, but leads us through. He walks through the valley of the shadow of death with us. We won’t always have to stay there, but we must travel through. There is no way around it. The more we avoid it, the longer it will take to go through.

No one else can fully understand our grief—the pain we are experiencing—the fear of being left behind. God does. He knows us deeper than we know ourselves. He knows the help we need. Our Lord doesn’t ever leave us alone in this world. He is with us no matter what we face.

Though our loved ones have passed from the troubles and trials of this world, we have not. We still have to face each day along with whatever comes our way. There are still taxes, bills, meals, health issues, children, other relationships, repairs… and much more that must be dealt with. The world doesn’t wait until we are ready to handle those things. Life keeps happening. God is with us to help us through each day. It’s easy to start thinking too far ahead. How you will handle all the rest of your life without your loved one? To face it all at once can be overwhelming. Yet we are made to go slowly and lightly through life, trusting that God is with us, giving us what we need for each day.

You may be missing your loved one more than you thought possible, but God will more than fill the huge void they left in your life. He helps you through your grief by helping you fully realize the precious gift He gave you in your loved one. Then He begins to help you see that He is there to fill that huge hole with Himself through the gift He gave you in Jesus Christ. Keep turning to the Lord through your grief and He will bring you out into new life. Even when the world doesn’t stop, the Lord will stop with you and help you through.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18

Practical Ideas- The World Should Stop!

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33b

Take time to grieve by looking through photos, letters, cards. Appreciate the love you shared.

Take a break from grieving by doing something fun.(Yet don’t use constant entertainment to avoid grieving)

Listen to music you both liked.

Let others know you need time to grieve. If they invite you somewhere, let them know you may not be up to it when the time comes. Grief can cause a change of emotions as often as every few minutes for a while.

List things you are thankful to have shared with your loved one.

Thank God for the great qualities you saw in your loved one.

Be easy on yourself as you face daily challenges without your loved one. Realize it will not always be this hard.

Gather good advice on handling issues without your loved one. Once you have counsel, pray about it and take your time making decisions. Don’t let others rush you.

When possible, postpone any major decisions for at least a year such as selling your house, car, moving out of state. There are real life situations when this is not possible. Be sure to pray your way through.

Listen to Christian music; read scripture; have daily devotions (GriefShare sends out great free daily devotions for grievers in the form of emails)

Don’t give your loved one’s personal items away until you are ready. Make sure the timing is right for you.

Try to realize others have to go forward in their lives and can’t completely stop for yours.

Take time to pray and write in a prayer journal every day. God has all eternity to listen and is never too busy.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Interactive Workpage- The World Should Stop!

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34

How can I set aside time to grieve every day for a while? (work through this book, write in a prayer journal, take a quiet walk each day…)

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Who do I need to let know that I need to grieve my way?

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What decisions do I have to make now?

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What decisions can I wait on?

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Which areas do I need immediate help with? (paying bills, balancing checkbook, lowering bills..)

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Can I, or do I want to take time off from work? How long? (Realize you will not be as productive for a while. Great amounts of energy are required to grieve)

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What activities can I cut back on to make it easier to go through grief?

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Which activities do I want to maintain to keep a daily routine going?

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“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Prayer Journal- The World Should Stop!

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” Romans 8:26-27

My Prayer Journal- The World Should Stop!

(note- These prayers contain combined excerpts from my personal prayer journal. My unedited prayer journals often ramble or repeat out of urgency–so if yours do, don’t worry. Pour your heart out to the Lord)

Father,

My world has been torn in two… before and after Steve’s death! I am incredibly weak and fragile. Does anybody realize how frail I am? It’s like being run over by a semi-truck. Maybe if I was in a wreck, people would understand my wounds. I hear a lot of people say that I look good. Sometimes that just makes me mad. I am not OK! Yet I know I will be. I don’t even know how to answer when people ask how I’m doing. I don’t even know how I’m doing. I’m trusting You, Lord, to hold my hand through this chaotic time. I am used to crying out to You. How else would I have made it through Steve’s all-consuming illness the last 4 years? You are my stability, my Rock, my anchor! I am holding on to You for dear life to keep from going under.

Lord, I took the kids to a science museum. My heart was not in it but they needed a break. They had a huge exhibition of Native American artifacts. The kids ran ahead, having fun, doing their own thing. I was so glad they could have a break from grieving for a while. Yet, it is in those quiet moments that I grieve the most. My eyes were drawn to a beautiful woven shawl. As I stopped to read about it, tears flowed. It was titled “The Widow’s Shawl.” When a woman lost her husband, she wore this shawl for at least a year, longer if needed. Everyone in the tribe knew she needed extra care and help during this time. They were careful with her, realizing the tremendous toll of grief. How I wish I had a shawl like that. I wouldn’t need to explain. Everyone would just know to be gentle. (Perhaps if I wore a sign?) But the world doesn’t stop! I’m just so grateful that You understand what I cannot express, Lord!

The hugs without words are the best gift people can give me… or a card with a prayer. Well-meaning advice brings out an ugly anger in me that I don’t like. I know they mean well. I’ve had to tell a few people to let me take care of my kids through this. They are my family! Other people do not know what is best for my children. I may seem weak, but You have given me a mother’s love for my kids. I know they need me! We will get through this as a family. I will not let my family fall apart after all we’ve been through. Yet I know I need Your strength, Lord. I cannot be mother and father to them. I cannot be a dad, no matter how hard I try. But You can. You promise to be the father to the fatherless. I’m counting on You to provide, protect, guide and teach my children. They are Your children even before they were Steve’s (or mine!)

Oh God! How I miss Steve’s companionship, his input, his hugs, his wisdom. He was always there to help me face any trial or obstacle (even in his illness). We decided together how to handle situations with our kids; in business; with finances; house and car repairs…Can’t the world stop with all these decisions that must be made? Doesn’t the world understand I can’t handle this much in the state I am in? I’m going to rely on You where I relied on Steve before. You will need to be my husband. I am trusting You will comfort me, guide me, provide for me, understand me and coax me.

So much in the world seems petty and insignificant now. What does having material things mean in the scheme of eternity? Lord, please use this time in my life to cut out things that don’t matter and to add what is eternal and lasting.

Heavenly Father, the world may not stop for me to come to terms with Steve’s absence…but You are always there as I take stops with You each day. I could never face this without You.

“As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” John 15:19b

Your Prayer Journal- The World Should Stop!

(Write in your prayer journal about how your world has stopped with the death of your loved one. Don’t worry about what to say…just start writing)

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My forever Memories of You [The Story of our Relationship- Discovering Eternal Hope in the Midst of Grief 

Heavenly Father,

Sometimes we feel completely alone in the world. It can happen when we feel disconnected to our family, when we have to face a huge challenge without any help, when we are grieving a loved one, when friends and family have let us down, when it seems no one understands us, when we are sick and there is no one to care for us…We can even feel completely alone while in a crowd or even sitting next to our best friend. Although loneliness may be really painful, it is not necessarily the worst thing that can happen to us. It can be in our deepest loneliness that we discover we are never alone…

 

When those we have depended on have been stripped from us, You are still with us, Lord.

When no one has the right answers to help us, You patiently wait for us to ask You.

When it seems the whole world is against us, You are for us!

When we are misunderstood and judged by all those around us, You know us batter than we know ourselves.

When we are facing the biggest battle of our lives, You fight for us.

In the middle of the night when no one is around, You shine out for us.

 

Lord, we can fill up our lives with so much stuff, busyness, entertainment, news, friends…that we can easily forget You are here. Perhaps it is good for us to sometimes feel alone so we can once again, realize our great need for You. You are the only One who truly never leaves us or forsakes us. You are the only One who fills us overflowing, wants the very best for us, knows us, forgives us, encourages us, corrects us and restores our soul.  I am never alone because of Your gift of Jesus. All I need is found in Him, alone. How I long for everyone else to discover You in their aloneness.

 

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“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”   Psalm 25:16

 

“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.”    Psalm 16:5

 

“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart

    and free me from my anguish.”  Psalm 25:16-17

 

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Your prayer prompt-

Father, I feel so alone in this world. I need You…

Dear friends,

When we grieve the death of a loved one, it can bring up unresolved issues, wounds and pain. Part of the grieving process is to review the entire relationship and all it has mean to you. I am posting a copy of Chapter 8 which might help you deal with some of those issues that have come up. The best way through it is to work through it. Forgiveness is often a vital piece in coming to  a healing place. I’m praying for you as you consider the need for forgiveness.

Love and Prayers, my friends.

 

Chapter 8

MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU

 

I Need to Forgive

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

 

 

 

Sharing Our Experiences:

Unresolved lingering grief is often due to a deep hurt that was never resolved. It can haunt the griever and leaves them bitter since it appears there is no way to take care of it. Forgiveness is not for the one who hurt us—but actually for our own benefit. Carrying bitterness and anger around is like a vicious cancer growing in our spirit. It consumes us, steals our joy, robs our peace and leaks out poison. Even if we are innocent and the hurt was horrific, we still need to forgive. Every real relationship requires forgiveness. Perhaps the deceased wasn’t there for you when they should have been; maybe they abused, neglected or deserted you. Whatever they did wrong was between them and God. Whether you forgive or not is now between you and God. Even if it seems there is absolutely nothing that needs to be forgiven. It might be wise to read this chapter anyway. Perhaps some of the things people say to you upon your loved one’s death needs forgiveness. Forgiveness is always needed. There are many hard things about grieving. Forgiving is one of them.

My Story- I Need to Forgive

At the time of Steve’s death, I couldn’t think of anything I needed to forgive him for. He had been expected to die any time for about 4 years. Every time we said goodnight, or I left to take the kids to school, we both realized he could die while I was gone. Steve also had several experiences where he died and was brought back. After living on the brink of death for so long, you realize that the last thing you say or do could be your last memory. It causes you to live deeply and not leave things unfinished. We both cherished each moment like it could be the last. I couldn’t imagine needing to forgive him for anything. He had fought hard and long to stay with us. He suffered intensely yet didn’t let that rob him of living to the fullest.

A few days before his death, I had a fleeting thought. The kids needed new shoes so badly yet we had absolutely no money to buy any. I thought how unfair it was that Steve’s illness had taken so much from our family. That thought shocked me. As soon as I thought it, I was upset for feeling it. It was definitely not Steve’s choice to be sick. I know he felt horrible that his illness had made it so hard on me and the kids. I later realized that even though I didn’t directly blame Steve (because he was one of the most selfless people I had ever known) that I still needed to forgive him.

Another time, after his death when I was left to face some huge financial issues and critical problems with my children, I found myself tempted to get really angry at being left alone to face life without him. Anger comes in many forms during grief and needs to be dealt with quickly before the sin of bitterness sets in. I found myself angry that others got to have a longer life with their loved one than I did; or angry at things people said while I was grieving; and angry that some of our closest friends left us in our greatest time of need when Steve had such a long hard illness. They couldn’t handle it.

Though we all have the need to forgive, I have worked with people who have had to forgive far worse than I have ever experienced. Some have had to ask God help them forgive a loved one’s suicide; or the person who murdered their loved one; or a whole missing family whose remains were found five years later (but the case is still unsolved). Some have had to forgive the person who died for mentally, physically or sexually abusing them during their lifetime. Some need to forgive a parent for abandoning them when they were young. Death does not relieve us from the need to forgive no matter how simple or horrible the deed was. It doesn’t even matter that we were completely innocent and the offender was evil. Forgiveness is not for the offender; it is for us. It frees us to fully receive God’s forgiveness and love in our own lives.

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

 

 

Your Story- I Need to Forgive

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37

(This may be a hard chapter to go through, but go through it any way. It is impossible to forgive without God’s help. Our human nature wants to hold on to the pain and blame. God knows that we will only be complete and free when we accept His forgiveness and practice forgiving others. Write what you are angry about—then be prepared to forgive. There will be more on the forgiving part.)

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“Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who insult you.” Luke 6:28

 

 

 

Helpful Input- I Need to Forgive

Forgiveness is a hard teaching, not only for when you’re grieving, but in any aspect of life. It can be amplified when you are going through all the emotions that can accompany grief. We may fully have the right to be hurt and angry. In our complete innocence, we might have been somehow violated. It is true, we have the choice to hold on to our bitterness and anger. Our hearts may cry out for vengeance. God will listen to our cries. Then He will patiently remind us that we still need to forgive.

Dear friend, you may be really angry upon reading this. You may be calling out, “I have the right to be angry!” “It’s my choice to not forgive.” “I will never ever be able to forgive.”

You might be ready to skip this chapter or close this book altogether at this moment, but you always have the need to forgive in front of you. There is no way to fully receive God’s forgiveness unless we forgive. There is no way to be free from the prison of hatred, irritation, bitterness and anger without forgiving. The lack of forgiveness holds us back from the abundant life given to us through Jesus Christ. When we hold something against someone, it is like an invisible wall that blocks the complete forgiveness God gives us. It deeply affects our relationship with the Lord.

I know what not forgiving can do to a person. When I was preschool to first grade, a family friend sexually abused me. He was a grown man who purposely perpetrated vile acts against a little innocent girl. He was fully in the wrong and I was clearly innocent. I didn’t even understand, yet I knew it was wrong. I tried to tell someone but probably didn’t know how to say it. Little did I know that un-forgiveness could cause such evilness to grow in my innocent heart. I was well into my twenties before I realized what a toll not forgiving took upon my soul. I looked fine on the outside, but there was a poison flowing in my spirit. It was un-forgiveness. It had spread to include an ugly bitterness against not only the guilty man, but those who I thought should be protecting me. It caused pure hatred and a sick feeling to well up inside me at the very thought of these people. This dark vein that ran through me had a strong hold over me. I didn’t fully realize how strong until I was able to begin to forgive. I learned when you belong to the Lord, we are called to forgive those who have hurt us.

Forgiveness is much more than simply saying, “I forgive.” (Although the first few times, that is one of the hardest things to do.) It is really impossible to forgive on our own. We need to ask God to help us forgive. He is the Author and Perfector of forgiveness. His love is so far above ours that He sacrificed His own Son Jesus Christ to take our shame and blame of sin. Jesus is truly the only innocent person there has ever been. God sent Him specifically to take our sins so we could live blameless with Him forever and ever. When Jesus was dying on the cross for all our sins, He asked our Father in Heaven to forgive us, for we didn’t realize what we were doing.

We cannot live free from the effects of the sin of un-forgiveness until we let go of it. We were made in God’s image- with the ability to forgive, as we have been forgiven. It frees us up to live more fully with God. Not forgiving (no matter how deep the crime) stands between us and the Lord. It also affects all our other relationships.

Many people find themselves angry at God when they are grieving the death of their loved one. They drive themselves crazy asking “why?” “Why did God take my loved one?” “Why didn’t I die instead?” “How could God let someone so good die?” “How can I trust a God who let something like this happen?” God did not plan for death, suffering and disaster. He designed us to walk and live peacefully with Him for all eternity. Yet He also gave us free choice. None of us has been able to live without sin. It is sin that causes death, grief, sorrow, illness, violence. God will listen to our “Why’s?” and then draw us closer to Him through Jesus Christ. He will not always answer the why? So we have to let go of the blame, questioning and anger. When we let go of our un-forgiveness toward God, we will find the One who will never ever leave us—the one who will bathe us in eternal life with Him.

You stand at a crossroad when you face the death of a loved one. We begin to realize the shortness of life, the forever-ness of eternity, and our need for a relationship with God. There may not be a real need for forgiveness for anything your departed loved one did. You may have already forgiven for anything that stood between you. If so, you are blessed—or perhaps not being completely honest. Even the very best relationships require forgiveness. There is no way any of us can live without either purposely or unintentionally hurting those around us.

Forgiveness becomes so much easier the more we ask God to help us do it. Perhaps that’s why I felt like I didn’t need to forgive Steve much when he died. I had a lot of practice before, so it became easier to forgive more quickly. Every single one of us needs to forgive and be forgiven. I’m praying for you as you face this opportunity.

“If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness therefore You are feared.” Psalm 130:3

 

 

 

Practical Ideas- I Need to Forgive

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22

Look back on your memories of your “Remember When” chapter. Do any of those memories spark anger, resentment, hurt? Perhaps they are things you need to forgive your loved one for?

Ask God to search your heart and let you know what things you are holding on to that need to be forgiven.

Be willing to give up your right to harbor anger and obey God in His call to forgive.

Realize it often takes more than one time to forgive. New situations will cause you to recall old hurts and you will need to forgive all over again.

You shouldn’t necessarily tell the person you forgive them. That’s between you and God. Sometimes telling them will escalate the issue to a whole new level- like “Oh yeah? You want to forgive me? Well, how about when you did this to me?”

Pray for those who have caused you pain. As you forgive them, ask God to bless them with a closer life with Him. Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. Sometimes those we love the most can seem like the most hurtful enemy.

Remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood (a person). It is against the powers of spiritual darkness (Ephesians 6:12)

Anger itself is not a sin. However, if we let it turn into bitterness or un-forgiveness, it can become a sin. While grieving, you may be easily angered by what people say or do. Pray about it quickly. Pray for the one who made you angry and forgive them so you can be free from sin.

If your anger is against your loved one who has died, you can still forgive them. They do not need to personally hear you forgive them.

If you are hurt or angry by what someone says or does as you grieve, pray for them and forgive them. They probably don’t even realize they hurt you.

Those closest to you may not grieve the same way you do. It may cause tension or hard feelings between you. When tempted to be angry, chose forgiveness and prayer instead.

Write a letter to God to tell him about how angry, hurt, upset you are. He will listen to your heart and then help you forgive the one caused it. David often raved about his anger, the unfairness, his hurts to the Lord in the book of Psalms. God helped him forgive the very ones he vented about. David was “a man after God’s heart.”

Use God as your filter to run things through before you speak or react in anger. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19)

If you are mad at God, let Him know. He already knows but is waiting for you to express it. Let go of the anger against Him and you will discover He is truly what you need.

Write a letter to the person you need to forgive…then read it out loud to yourself or a trusted friend… then shred it or burn it.

If you need to, write seventy-seven letters to forgive, read out loud and shred.

If the person continually wounds you, put some distance between you. It is easier to forgive from afar.

“Get rid of your bitterness, hot tempers, anger, loud quarreling, cursing and hatred. Be kind to each other, sympathetic, forgiving each other as God has forgiven you through Christ.” Ephesians 4:31-32

 

 

 

Interactive Work page- I Need to Forgive

Forgiveness doesn’t just happen. It is a choice. Be willing to relinquish your right to be angry; and instead choose to forgive as God has forgiven us. You will be greatly blessed with the peace of Jesus Christ and a freedom from the sin of un-forgiveness.

As you review your relationship with your loved one, what comes to mind that needs forgiveness?

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Is there someone who played a part in your loved one’s death that requires forgiveness? (a doctor, a drunk driver, the person who sold them drugs…)

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List those who need forgiveness who have said something hurtful since your loved one’s death (“It’s OK. You’ll have another baby.” “God needed them more than you.” “I know how you feel.” “You can marry again.” “You should be over it by now.”…)

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What about those who try to tell you how to grieve? Or think they know what activities you should be doing? Or how long you should take to grieve? Write down those names and choose to forgive.

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Have there been family arguments and misunderstandings over possessions, money, property or the care given to your loved one? Write down what needs to be forgiven in these circumstances:

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“Make sure no one ever pays back one wrong with another wrong. Instead, always try to do what is good for each other and everyone else.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15

 

 

 

Prayer Journal- I Need To Forgive

“Try to live peacefully with everyone, and try to live holy lives, because if you don’t, you will not see the Lord. Make sure that everyone has kindness from God so that bitterness doesn’t take root and grow to cause trouble that corrupts many of you.” Hebrews 12:14-15

 

My Prayer Journal- I Need To Forgive

(Once again, these are excerpts from my prayer journal—pieced together over several occasions.)

Heavenly Father,

Help me with this anger! Someone started a fund which a lot of wonderful people gave money to. I know they all wanted to help a young widow with four children. It was a pretty good amount of money, but it made me so mad! I was shocked how mad I was. Where were those people when Steve needed them so badly? I don’t want the money! I want Steve back! Even as I pray about this, I realize, these people were there the best they could be during Steve’s illness. They couldn’t have paid his medical bills. They couldn’t save him. They couldn’t bring him relief or peace. Only You could do those things. Father, I realize they want to help the kids and I. I forgive those who didn’t know how to be there for us. I truly am grateful for the generosity and compassion of all those who gave. Help me grieve with grace, knowing You are with me. Give me wisdom to know how best to use the money they are giving us.

Lord, the momma bear in me came out growling today. My mom meant well. She was going to help with the kids, and started making choices for them that were not her choices to make. She probably assumed I was too upset or weak to care for my children. From my usually soft voice came a strong and powerful explosion. I let her know these were my children and it was my family and she will not take it over. Father, I know my mom likes to take the lead, but I needed to set that boundary loud and clear right away. Steve may be gone now, but I will do whatever it takes to keep my family together and care for my children. Father, I need to forgive my mom for wanting to take over, yet I’m so glad You gave me the strength to make it clear that I will care for my children. I am trusting You to help me. Lord, as time goes on, show me how I can let my mom help—without taking over. She is part of our family, too—just not the head! With Steve gone, I know You are the head of our family.

Father, today I need You again. My daughter is having such a hard time with her dad’s death. I thought she would—since she struggled with his illness so much. She’s making poor choices and causing great pain. I know she doesn’t mean to. She is fifteen and losing her dad at such a critical age has shaken everything in her. Father, it’s easier to forgive her for the pain she causes because I understand where it’s coming from. I know her heart. I know she won’t always act this way. The real challenge for me is to forgive the people who give me every kind of advice you can image about my daughter. I’ve had some infer that she is a bad girl and that I am not a good mom. I absolutely know that both of those are not true. Father, help me forgive those who give well-meaning advice. They are not living our lives. Help me be patient with them as they try to tell me how I should raise my daughter. Help me choose wisely who I speak to about what’s going on. Put someone in my life who loves her, believes in her and knows that the way she is acting is not who she really is. That’s You, isn’t it, Lord. You love her even more than me.

“Whoever forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever keeps bringing up the issue separates the closest of friends.” Proverbs 17:9

 

 

 

Your Prayer Journal- I Need To Forgive

“We love because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” 1 John 4:19-21

(Ask God to help you forgive your loved one for anything that was left unsettled; to forgive those who hurt you now, and to let go of any anger you hold against the Lord.)

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“And what I have forgiven- if there is anything to forgive- I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:10b-11

Dear friends,

Some of you are new to grief (and this blog or group). Some of you have learned to gracefully carry your grief over a longer period of time. Some of you are grieving the death/passing of a longed-for baby or an adult child. Some are grieving the deep loss of your soulmate, sibling, friend, parent. Some saw their loved one peacefully slip into the next life. Some are still traumatized by a murder, suicide, tragic accident. Some were able to say “goodbye” while others did not get that chance. Some have no regrets as they know their loved one absolutely knew ow much they were loved. Others have to face unresolved disagreements, last harsh words, wounded or dysfunctional relationships. Our hearts are broken and it seems our world has ended. There’s no way around it, grief is hard! So how in the world can we grieve with hope?

 

There is no way around grief—we all have to experience it, each in our own way. The HOPE can only come through our ultimate relationship with God made possible by Jesus Christ. He is the ONLY one who will never leave us. Death can never separate us from His love and care. He created us to love Him and others. He created us to have an eternal love relationship with Him and others who love Him. Sin separates us each from Him, yet He has an eternal plan to share all eternity in love with Him. All we have to do is accept the fact we need Him and cannot be reunited without accepting Jesus—the way God provided to bring us back to Him for all eternity. Even when we share that life united to Him through Jesus, we still grieve the deep loss of our loved ones.

 

As Jesus walked this earth as both Son of Man and Son of God, He knew the eternal plan. He knew when his friend Lazarus had been dead three days that He was going to bring Lazarus back to life. Yet when Jesus saw his friends’ deep grief, “Jesus wept.” Jesus knows the pain of grief. He cries with us. There are no tears or sighs or anguish He doesn’t see in each of us…and yet He also knows that no matter how deep our anguish is, it is only momentary when compared to the joy set before us—the joy our loved ones are already experiencing at this moment and for all eternity.

 

So go ahead and grieve for the loss of your dear loved ones’ presence. Thank God for the rich gift He gave you through sharing however much time you had with them. No, it was not enough. But grieve with hope- knowing You have all eternity with them ahead with no more death or separation, misunderstandings or deep wounds.  Grieve with hope- knowing the Lord is with You and will never ever leave you. Grieve with hope- knowing that this life is painful but our eternal home with the Lord will be pure love, joy and peace.

 

Grieve with hope, dear friends!

Eva

 

“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

Dear friends,

I’m writing more as a griever today than a “grief guru.” That’s the humorous nickname my forever pastor/friend gave me. I’m still missing Jerl’s place in my life—he’s only been gone 9 months. I didn’t think I would ever publicly use that title, because I try to just be a friend who encourages grievers, but it seemed fitting today because I am fully aware there can never be an expert on grief except for God who helps all who will let Him. I lost two brothers within hours of one another four days ago- one from a week-old diagnosis of cancer—and the other by suicide. These two men have been my brothers for 50 years. They were the last two brothers of a gang of four boys, from my late husband’s family who have all gone on to their glorious home and left me behind. I have officially moved into the matriarch position.

Here are a few things “the grief guru” is rediscovering about grief:

*Death can come softly and tenderly (I was singing to one brother when he peacefully passed) or violently (by suicide). Most of my family missed the peaceful blessing because they had to leave to deal with the other death just before. The brothers are still gone either way. I have no doubt God was with them both…and they are more alive than ever with Him because of Jesus Christ.

*The effects of suicide last for generations. The first brother to die was from suicide. Praying for it to STOP with this generation!

*Photos provide snapshots of memories with incredible life stories that need to be told.

*Pictures provide proof there were happy times—even if someone couldn’t see that in the end.

*Death lasts an instant but lives are eternal. They slip from their flesh into a glorious spiritual world that we can only imagine.

*Grief brings out powerful and shocking emotions- of fun memories, hurt feelings, deep wounds, past grief, unresolved issues, the deep need to express forgiveness and regrets…

*It is the most important time to listen, and be there for one another, as every single person is grieving in their own way and needs to find ways to express it safely without correction.

* The storm is ripe for further misunderstandings, hurts and miscommunication because every single person is so very wounded and vulnerable. The need to listen to the hurt underneath the words is vital.

*We cannot grieve in a healthy manner without the hope, help, love, strength of God, who understands us each better than anyone else possibly could. HE knows all the hidden scars that go into each of our reactions. He understands when others cannot.

*God is also faithful to use these times of grief to heal each of us in amazing ways as we keep asking Him to. I have been praying non-stop over all my family…and I have witnessed God at work in incredible ways through heart-breaking circumstances.

* I can’t help but cry when I thank God for the gift of family- that includes adult children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great nieces and nephews, my 88-year-old mom, church family, neighbors and friends. Hugs, tears, messages, and most of all prayers- help more than we can ever know!

*Each of my relationships are eternal. I have an ever-growing heavenly cheering section urging me on. Suddenly, I feel like singing that last song I sang to my brother again, “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King!”

*I love you, Larry and Wayne. See you soon!

This so-called “grief guru” is still learning that true healing can only come through reaching out to the Eternal Counselor who knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us anyway.

Love and prayers,

Eva

photo by my brother Rodd Moesel

Dear friends,
It was the first time I was able to go to my husband’s grave without the kids. Each time before, my heart had been divided by my own grief and concern for my children. This time I was free to grieve for my own loss. The ground was still freshly dug with no signs of grass. There were still dried flowers upon this horrible ground which my beloved husband’s body laid under. The cold wintery day caused me to worry about his poor body freezing- the same body I had loved, kept warm and cared for. It was more than I could take. Great sobs and wailing burst forth from depths I never knew existed. All was dark and dreary; and I was alone in the world. That’s when I felt a tender hand lift my chin to look up…

As my face was lifted to gaze upwards, everything changed! The sky was the most peaceful blue with bright white airy clouds floating with hope. Instead of focusing on the dark hopelessness of the grave, I was seeing the promise of heaven—where my love was now. A quiet joy bubbled up to drown out the life-threatening waves of wailing. All I could think of was the overflowing abundant eternal life my husband now dwelt in. Not even grief can take away the hope we have of a life lived with our Lord—a place where there is no death, pain, suffering, violence, evil, illness or grief. My intense grief was changed simply by looking up!

Oh! my dear friends, many of you are feeling overcome by intense grief. I urge you to look up! Look up at the One who gave you such a precious gift in your loved one—however short the time. Look up for the hope of heaven and the hope of joy in life once more. Look up at the One who understands your grief better than you do and who offers you something to overcome it with-eternal life through Jesus Christ. Look up at the One who will never ever leave you! Look up at the One who holds you as you muddle through separation from one you love so much. Look up to the real Home our Lord is making for you. Look up for the strength you need to go on.

If you have never accepted Jesus as your Savior, look up from this harsh lonely life from the foot of the cross—the cross He was willing to die on for your sins, so you could live with him forever. Look up to be made new! Look up to be forgiven. Look up to be filled with His Holy Spirit. Look up! Your life depends on it! You may still grieve, but look up at our eternal hope!

Love and Prayers,
Eva

 

“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” Acts 7:55-56

help adults and children while grieving

Dear Friend,
I am so sorry for your pain. You probably just lost a loved one to death. Whether it was your child, your husband or wife, a parent, a brother or sister, or a dear friend; you probably feel as though your whole world has collapsed. You fear that you will never be the same. You’re right. You won’t. As you work through the most difficult challenge you may ever face, may you grow in peace and hope, as you recover from your heartache. It can be very difficult and lonely as you climb up out of the deep abyss of grief. You may wonder if you can ever survive the pain. The death of a loved one cuts deep into your very soul. I know. My husband died at the age of 37, leaving me behind with four children to raise by myself.

Around the time of Steve’s death, there was a story on national television which I identified with. There were Siamese twin baby girls whose bodies were joined together at the chest. When one turned to reach for a toy, the other followed in perfect synchronization. They were separate individuals, yet they were one. Watching the videos of their first two years of childhood, I noticed the love in their eyes as they glanced at one another, sharing a language and bond no one else could understand. They never argued over which way to go or what to play. They enjoyed each other so much, their parents couldn’t imagine them apart.

When they were two years old, their doctors decided they were ready to be surgically separated. The operation saved one twin’s life, but the other sister died. The reporter interviewed the parents, who told how worried they were for the surviving twin. The once-lively little girl moped around looking for her other half, not knowing how to live without her. Her parents and doctors were very concerned, because the little girl wouldn’t eat or talk. No one knew how her grief would affect her recovery from such an intensive surgery.

I felt her pain. It was my own. Steve and I had spent 23 years of life together. We started dating at 15 years old and never had any other serious boyfriend or girlfriend. After high school, we couldn’t wait to get married and start our life together. That life included four children and working side-by-side in a business. We enjoyed being a team. We could read each other’s thoughts and met every trial and joy together. When Steve became increasingly ill, we faced insurmountable physical, emotional and financial challenges. We faced them as a team, truly connected in our very souls.

When he died, it seemed as though we had been cut apart with no anesthesia for the pain. I was left with a huge bleeding wound where my husband once stood by my side. I looked for him, grieving his absence, not knowing how I could ever go on in this life without him. I knew I would never be the same. I’m not.

It’s been a long healing process, but there has been tremendous growth as I have recovered from my grief. The Lord has healed those deep wounds that I thought would never quit breaking open. Your wounds will also heal-in time and with work. There will always be a deep scar, though. It will remind us of the eternal love we share with our loved one. We will also be able to comfort others with a depth of compassion the unscarred cannot offer. The scar also serves as a permanent reminder that we need to cherish each moment and every person in our life.

My Forever Memories of You is lovingly written just for you, so you may know that you WILL survive your grief. Not only that, but you will grow from it. You will live again. There will even come a time when you will be happy again. The joy will be even greater, because of the sorrow you are experiencing now.

It’s true that your life will never be the same, but there’s no need to fear. You are being led into new territories of your life by the One who knows the way. If you already have a relationship with the Lord, hold on to Him tightly through this rough time ahead. He will guide you through your pain. If you don’t know where you stand with the Lord, this is the very best time to reach out to Him and let Him know you need Him, because you do. Grief will destroy a person without the hope of the eternal life promised by Jesus Christ. You may have lost the person that you depended on the most in life; now is the time to depend on God! He knows we are torn apart by death; but He views death as the sweet homecoming of one of His precious children to an eternal life that we can’t even imagine. There is a huge difference between grieving without hope and grieving with the hope of seeing our loved one again in a place that is far better than this earth.

There is no way to get away from the pain; but grieving with hope means knowing that you have not been left alone in your pain and sorrow. It means knowing you can trust the Lord to get you through the gut-wrenching trauma of being torn apart from the one you love.

Even if you already know the hope of eternal life with our Lord and your loved one, you will still experience many emotions more deeply than at any other time in your life. Don’t be afraid. Work through all your overwhelming emotions with God’s help. Soon you will be surprised to find that you are not alone. May you discover an ever-deepening relationship with God that will more than fill the huge vacuum left in your heart (as time goes on).

During my own grief, I had two dear friends help me through- My Lord God Almighty and Steve’s dear mom, my mother-in-law, Barbara. They gave me hope and encouragement when I thought all hope was gone. Now I long to pass that same hope along to you. I cannot take away your pain, but I promise that you WILL make it through this. If I was with you now, I would give you a big hug, for sometimes hugs are more comforting than words. Since I can’t be there, please accept these words of hope and encouragement as my hug. I can also point you to the only One who will never leave you. He will be there for you, just as He has been for me. May you experience Jesus’ loving arms around you, comforting you and holding you up when you feel you can’t go on.

Whatever happened to the little surviving Siamese twin? It was kind of strange. When I finally got to the point in my life when I was healing from my grief, I saw a follow-up report on her. I was sitting on the sofa in front of the TV next to a wonderful man I was falling in love with. It was a total shock to me, to discover I could love again. That’s a whole different story, though. We were watching TV when this story came on. The little girl had undergone more surgeries, extensive treatments and therapy to reconstruct her body. She had been fitted with a fake leg so she could walk (they had shared legs). She was giddily sprinting around looking for adventure. Her face glowed with excitement. She had undergone some healing of her own! I’m sure she will always think of her twin as she goes on with her life. The scars will always be there to prove they were once joined together. They will be forever joined in spirit.
Someday there will be a tremendous reunion when those twins embrace once again in Heaven. Someday, we will all be reunited the Lord and with our loved ones who have been separated from us. It will be GLORIOUS! In the meantime, we still have more life to live here until it is our time to go.

If God can heal that little girl (and me) from our grief, He will surely be there to help you recover, also. Go ahead and grieve- but grieve with hope.

Love and prayers,
Eva

 

“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Father who is compassionate and the Father who gives comfort. He comforts us whenever we suffer. That is why whenever other people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Dear friends.
When we hear of a death or a group of deaths, we think of it as a tragedy. It is tragic to us because we are left behind. It is especially tragic to us if we love or are close to the one who died. Praise God! Death is not the end!

Tragedy

Those of us who have loved someone, and then had them pass from this life, have to struggle with the tragedy of death. Death was not God’s perfect design. It was His will to have us live in the Garden with Him forever and ever. He gave man the freedom to choose and mankind chose to not trust God’s perfect will but to disobey. Ever since that first sin, we have all been born with sin as part of our DNA and there is a separation between us and God’s perfect presence. Ever since then, there has been death. (But Praise God! He overcame the tragedy and finality of death by sending His own sinless Son Jesus Christ to willingly die on the cross, once and for all, for our collective and personal past, present and future sin! God Almighty turned the greatest tragedy of all time into the greatest victory of all time…so of course, God sees death differently than we do. Yet He knows us well enough to understand our tragic viewpoint and weeps with those of us left behind.)

Reality

Anyone who has been with someone when they died knows full well the reality of death. Our loved ones are here one moment and in the blinking of an eyes, they are gone. Their empty body may be in front of us, but the person (the essence of who they really are) is gone. It is more than we can comprehend. Where did they go? Will I ever see them again? How can I go on without them? How can God let this happen? These are all questions we wrestle with as we deal with the reality of learning how to live here—when they have gone on. Death might have come from a tragic accident, long or sudden illness, suicide, war, murder, old age, or in the womb. It is a painful time to go through, but when we put our faith in the reality of what Jesus accomplished on the cross and in His resurrection, it becomes easier to finish our own race with our eyes on the finish line. Our real life is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Eternity

This earthly life is short and temporary (no matter how long it is lived). When we accept God’s loving grace and the gift of His Son dying for our sins and being raised in eternal life, we also are willing to die to our old earthly lives and be raised with Jesus as new creations into eternal life with our Heavenly Father. Nothing can ever take that life away. It begins the moment we believe that Jesus died for us personally so we could live with Him eternally. We may still have to wrestle with the pain of a loved one’s passing, but we can trust the reality of eternal life through Jesus Christ. The true tragedy is for those who have not yet believed in the reality and finality of what God has given us through His own Son Jesus Christ—who not only made a way for us to be intimately joined with God but who never ever leaves us.

I will be praying for you as you struggle with the reality of death and life. I pray you choose LIFE!
Love and prayers,
Eva

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:16-18

 

“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’” 1 Corinthians 15:54-55

 

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.” Psalm 116:15

Dear friends,
It is absolutely true that death is at the forefront when your loved ones dies. Sometimes your loved one’s death hits you out of nowhere like getting hit by a semi-truck. The awfulness and finality of death has to be dealt with and relived until the reality can be absorbed. The deep wounds and traumatic injuries must be attended to. The shock of how they can be here one moment and gone the next must be dealt with. A lot of questions, regrets, and emptiness must be wrestled with. Death is definitely the cause of grief, but I propose it doesn’t have to be the outcome of grief. After 25 years of personal grieving and standing with others through grief, I have watched death turn into life over and over again. You may have to walk through the pain of death but Life is worth it!

 

Your Life Together
No one else can understand the relationship you shared with your child, baby, spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, friend or person who meant so much to you. You shared a one-of-a-kind relationship that no one else has ever had in history because there has never been another you or another them. You share so many memories, hopes, dreams, battles…Some were fulfilled and others were not. Grief helps you review what you shared together and what you hoped to share forever.

 

Their Unique Life
Your loved one was a special individual—never before replicated even by those who shared the same DNA. They have left a trail that has impacted others in one way or another. It is amazing how the absence of someone causes you to realize who they really are and how many lives have been touched by them simply being who they are. You can choose to carry the best of them with you as you keep going.

 

Your Life Without Them
There is a huge learning curve as you process the fact you must go on without their physical presence. There is a huge recognition of loneliness as no one else can fill that particular void. Much of grief is the hard work of figuring out how to live without them. Nobody but you can do that. I believe it takes the realization of knowing that you never go forward alone. Not only do you carry them forward as part of who you are, but I pray you discover as I have (and many others have) that the Lord is with you and will never ever leave you.

 

Preciousness of Life
It’s sad to say that we too often take life for granted. We assume loved ones will be with us always. There is nothing like the death of a loved one that makes you more fully appreciate life, relationships, the air we breathe, being careful what you say and how you treat others because it could be the last time you see them or they see you in this present form. One of the most often repeated sentiments by grievers is to hug your loved ones tighter and tell them you love them for no one is promised tomorrow.

 

Promise of Eternal Life

However, we are promised eternal life—a life without end. It can be a glorious, unspeakably wonderful life with our Lord, our Creator, our God and our loved ones. There is nothing like the death of someone we love that smacks us into the harsh reality of how short this particular life is and that we go somewhere afterward. Often during grief, we may even get a little peek of the glory of the life to come if we are watching and we know who to watch for. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He has gone to prepare us a place where there is no more death, illness, violence, darkness or tears of grief.

Dear friends, I pray that as you face death, you ask Jesus to lead you through this valley of the shadow of death. Death is caused by sin, but God gave us Jesus to overcome death and make a way to eternal life. Ask Him to be your Savior, traveling guide, comforter, friend, counselor…He brings life even from death!

Love and Prayers,
Eva

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“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:13

“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” 1 Corinthians 15:54-56

For More hope during grief, go deeper with My Forever Memories of You interactive book

Dear Friends,

Christmas can be very painful for those who are grieving the death of a loved one, but have you ever thought that Jesus was born to bring hope to those who are low in spirit, the broken-hearted; those who think they just can’t go on? This deep gut-wrenching, life-shattering, paralyzing loss in your life is one of the few critical points in your life when you fully realize your great need. How can you go on? How can you possibly ever celebrate again? How can you find any hope or joy or purpose for living without the one you love so much? The answer lies in that quiet, lowly stable where the Son of God was born, mostly unnoticed by a hopeless dark world. It is possible to find all that you need as you kneel before that manger this Christmas-even in the midst of your grief….

 

Kneel in the Darkness

Most likely, there have been few such times of darkness in your life as when someone you love suddenly left this life. Perhaps it was your child who you must somehow learn to live without. Whether they were a baby, a teen or an adult child—you grieve all the future Christmas and other life celebrations you will miss sharing with them. Perhaps it was your spouse that you hoped to grow old with and you are filled with Christmas and other past memories. Maybe it was a parent, fiancé, sibling or friend. It could have been a violent or a peaceful death—expected or unexpected, but you were not ready (even if you knew it was coming!) Now your world has been shaken. Everything seems unstable, fearful and dark. I respectfully and gently suggest you kneel in the darkness as the Light of the World was born for you long ago in that unnoticed stable.

 

Solemn Stillness in a Crazy World

Your world seems chaotic, out-of-control and void of the love you depended on, that you were counting on. This is the most critical time in your life to kneel in the lonely stillness. You need this baby Jesus who was born to be King of your heart. Nothing will be right until you do. He is the only One who can heal your heart, who will walk faithfully with you through the Valley of the shadow of Death. No one else can understand you like He does. No one else will stay with You when everyone else leaves. No one else can give you peace and joy in the midst of your grief.

 

Drop to Your Knees

Grief will knock you off your feet; punch the life right out of you. While you are there flat on the ground, make a choice to kneel before Jesus, the baby who was God-in-the-flesh; the one who lived as one of us yet without sin to willingly offer Himself as a holy eternal sacrifice for our sin. Jesus is the only one who could overcome death (the penalty for our sin) and make a way for us to live with Him in holiness forever and ever. If Christmas seems different this year because of your great loss, kneel quietly before Baby Jesus in a manger who gave everything to become your king! He will never leave you, and will be with you as you learn to live in even greater joy with the Son of God—the very One your loved one knelt before as they left their earthly body. We each have a reason to celebrate Jesus at Christmas time–especially when you stand in grief at the crossroads of heaven and earth.

 

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying. ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.’” Luke 2:10-14