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.
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,
photo by my brother Rodd Moesel
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,
“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
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,
“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
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!
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.)
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.
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,
“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
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,
“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