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.
How can we possibly be thankful in the grips of grief? It is absolutely possible and vital to find ways to be grateful even on the very worst days of grieving. Perhaps those are the most important times to find specific things to be thankful for. Once you start, it becomes easier than you thought. There might be times you want to yell, “I DON’T WANT TO BE THANKFUL! I want to be left alone in my grief!” I know! Yet it can all too easily become a drowning pool of prolonged pity. It can even become a way of life. Bitterness wants to take over. So it has to be fought off with thankfulness.
How can you be thankful when your loved one is gone? When your heart was ripped from you? When there is a deep wound which will never be healed? When you can’t understand why they were taken. At least give this a try for one week and see if it helps: Make a list of three things you are grateful for each day. You can do this first thing in the morning, midday, or before you go to bed. I highly recommend writing them down so it is more fully imprinted on your grieving mind which can barely function right now. Try to list three different things each day. Keep them recorded in your grief journal or the interactive My Forever Memories of You book.
Does anyone remember Garth Brooks’ song, “I Would Have Missed the Dance?” Your loved one may be gone, but for however short the time was with them, your life is forever changed because of who they are. That’s a good place to start. Write specific ways you are thankful your loved one has been, is now and forever will be a part of your life…
Love and prayers
“Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:17-18
“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3
Some of you are dealing not only with the death of your loved one, but you are facing all that comes with a violent death. Perhaps it was a suicide, a traumatic accident or a murder. I wanted to encourage you today. Death is such a shock anyway. Even when you know it might happen, you’re never quite prepared for its reality. God created our minds and spirits for eternity- not for death. There are times life is cut short in a very violent traumatic occurrence.
When that happens, we not only are dealing with the sudden loss of our loved one’s presence, but we have to come to terms with the violent activity that caused it. There are so many emotions that happen with a violent death. There are times we are haunted by the last moments our loved one had to endure. There could be guilt that we didn’t see it coming or couldn’t protect them. Unanswered questions have to be wrestled with. Things out of our control must be eventually let go. Nightmares of what they must have gone through keep flashing in our minds. These are all issues that call out to be dealt with and somehow accepted so we can eventually go forward with our lives. Writing out your true feelings and emotions in a prayer journal to the Lord are one of the very best ways to deal with all these issues. Even if you don’t get all the answers you would like, you will receive His help and peace as you continually hold all these crazy emotions before Him. (There are some important chapters in the My Forever Memories of You book which can help you work through your own personal emotions related to violent deaths.)
When one of my loved ones committed suicide, it was as though time was split in half—before and after his death. It is amazing what the Lord can help you heal from. There is no pain, no wound, no trauma, no violence that can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus. In our very last breath—no matter what caused the death, Jesus is there. Death in all its forms is a result of sin in this world. God’s desire is for us to have eternal life. The thief on the cross next to Jesus was dying a violent death. He asked Jesus to remember him and Jesus promised, as they both were dying, that he would be with Him that day in paradise. Take comfort in knowing that the Lord was with your loved one in their very last moment no matter who or what caused their death. He is also with you, my friend, as you deal with the violent death of your loved one. Ask for His peace and He will give you that peace that goes beyond comprehension.
Love and prayers
“No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise. The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” Isaiah 60:19-20
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers , neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
There are many people who truly fear something is wrong with them because they cannot cry. They know they are grieving. Yet, there are no tears. Every single one of you is different and will grieve in your own way. That’s why anything I write about grief in My Forever Memories books, in this blog or in the years of being there for wonderful people while grieving never promises that there are certain steps or stages you have to go through in any certain order. Each of you has a unique God-given personality and the relationship you are grieving is completely different than any that has ever existed before. So naturally your grief will be unique from anyone else’s.
Some people’s tears flow fluently as their expression of the physical presence they are missing. Others almost can’t make themselves cry. Both tend to worry that something is wrong with them due to too little or too many tears. In fact, there is a whole chapter in the My Forever Memories book dedicated to one of the questions I’ve been asked the most over the years by those grieving, “Am I Going Crazy?”
I happened to be one who couldn’t cry at first. There was obviously deep pain but no tears fell for a while. I knew how much I loved my husband and thought something was wrong with me because I couldn’t cry. I think I even knew I needed to let all those pent up tears go, but to no avail. The flood came unexpectedly as I was watching a silly sitcom about a little puppy that died. It wasn’t even real. The tears burst like a broken dam and started flowing. It seems like it was almost 2 months after my husband’s death.
Try not to be any harder on yourself than grief already is. Just know you are grieving in your own style. Grief involves much more than tears. Just don’t completely avoid grief, because it’s better to go through it purposely so you don’t carry unresolved grief for the rest of your life.
Love and prayers
“Out of the depths, I cry to You, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let Your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.” Psalm 130:1-2 (Cries are not always with tears)
“Jesus wept.” The shortest verse in the whole Bible is packed full of meaning for those who are grieving. It comes in the middle of a story of Jesus’ good friends who happened to be siblings, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Jesus came to the sisters when their brother died. He “wept” at the sight of His beloved friend Mary weeping. Weeping is not the same as a tear rolling down the cheek. Those who grieve usually know what weeping means. It comes deep from within. It is full body, mind and spirit crying out in anguish. Jesus didn’t weep for Lazarus because He knew Lazarus was going to be brought back to life. The Son of God wept for the broken human heart He felt in Mary’s weeping. He cried along with her.
Sometimes believers think it’s not ok to grieve if we truly believe in eternal life through Jesus Christ. Jesus knew all about eternal life and He wept. Martha believed in a resurrection-to-come for her brother yet she still grieved. That’s when Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Yet Jesus still wept. Even now, our Savior sits on the throne and intercedes for us. I often wonder if He cries with us when we grieve. Even though He knows our loved ones have left this world, He cries for those left behind. He sees and knows the pain that no one else could fully understand. He knows. He weeps with us.
We weep and grieve for our loss- not for our loved one’s gain. Jesus’ weeping does not last forever, for our Lord knows the true joy to come. He sees what we cannot see- our loved ones life with Him, our own coming resurrection, the joyful reunion with our loved ones with NO MORE goodbyes, and most of all our complete joy as we come home to Him. Dear friends, your weeping will not last forever (although many believe it will at the time). Go ahead and weep, but not as one without hope. Jesus weeps with you right now, knowing that the day will come when there will be no more tears or death.
Love and prayers.
“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and said, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” He asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept.” John 11:32-35
There is a strange mixture of overwhelming sadness and joy when I hear of a death of someone I know. This week the family-owned company my husband works for has been rocked by the death of two of its own. The president of this company leaves behind a young wife with little children, as well as his parents who have spent their whole lives working there. Another company member just watched her husband of twenty-two years die this afternoon. We have celebrated holidays, had company picnics and other functions together. We went to church with some of them. We are family. We have watched both men suffer and are so glad to have them finally free from pain and whole and healed in Your presence, Lord! We can indeed celebrate that!
Yet our excitement over their new lives is dimmed in the light of the pain we feel for those who are left behind to face life without them. I know You know the strange mixture of pain and joy. Even though Jesus knew He would raise his good friend Lazarus from the dead, He wept at the pain of those left grieving. How I wish I could take that all-too familiar pain away for the wives, their children and parents. I can’t. It is something they have to go through because they love. Never in history has there ever been another relationship exactly like theirs. Unique memories will rise up to honor and celebrate their special relationship.
To take away their pain would mean taking away the richness of their relationship. How I thank You for those deep lasting relationships that will span all eternity- that will pick up stronger and more complete than ever when we join them in Your home, Father. I might not be able to take away their pain, but I can weep with them, and listen as they recall special memories that become an even deeper part of their soul. I can be gentle with them as they walk through the valley of the shadow of death and come out stronger on the other side. Lord, most of all- I thank You that You will never leave them or forsake them. Nothing can separate them from Your love. Father, I will continue praying for them during this difficult yet necessary time. Most of all, thank You that death is not the end but a new beginning!
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ He asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept.” John 11:33-35
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…” Psalm 23:4
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His Holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:5
Father, who can I pray for who has lost someone to death?