help those who are grieving

These regular My Forever Memories blogs are written with love to offer encouragement, help, hope and love through your personal journey of grieving your loved one.

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!

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“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…)

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

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

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

What decisions do I have to make now?

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

What decisions can I wait on?

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

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

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

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)

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

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

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

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

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

“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)

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

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.

 

*******

 

“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

 

*******

 

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.)

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“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?

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

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…)

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

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.”…)

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

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.

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

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:

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

“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.)

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“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