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.
Another one of my precious preschool children I taught and helped care for since she was born just had to learn of her daddy’s death. I identify with her mom who had to tell her what no mother wants to tell her child. This will forever shape and define who this delightful girl is. Her devoted daddy was with her one moment and gone the next. It is so hard for adults to deal with the reality of death. It is just as difficult for kids to handle…but they do. They could use our help, though. The adults who are there for the child are usually grieving also. It is so important not to forget the kids during this time. They may look Ok, just like you do—but they need some extra care during this time as well. Besides, it gives you purpose to keep going.
My four children ranged in age from 2 years old to 17 years old at the time of their dad’s death. Several older widows told me that I was blessed to have children still at home to make me have reason to keep going each day. Even as we deal with our own grief, we need to actively seek ways to help our children express theirs.
• Expect new fears to surface—especially at night time or nap time when it gets quiet and lonely. Try to ease them into sleep by providing vitally important bedtime routines including prayer, story, the best thing that happened to them today… Tuck them in and reassure them you are there. ALL ages need this!
• Let them know you are hurting, too—that it’s OK to cry. Cry with them, hold them. Let all ages know you both need extra hugs right now.
• Give them a large huggable stuffed animal with their loved one’s photo around the neck (in a soft frame like a luggage tag. It will be cuddled more than you know. Some people make a pillow of shirts the loved one wore.
• Reassure them you will be OK. That you will be there for them and will care for them. They may never have seen you grieve and may think you will not be able to care for them.
• Let them know when you are leaving and coming back. Everyone is fearful of losing another loved one when it is so real.
• The greatest gift you can give your child is to share your faith in eternal life—that they will be reunited with their parent—that there will be no more death—that because of Jesus we can count on a joyful life after death. If you are not sure of that, perhaps this is the time to be sure.
• Talk about your loved one. Share memories—especially funny ones and pleasant times.
• Use the MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU for children to let them make their own memory book to keep forever. There are pages to spark their own precious memories to draw, write about or put photos in.
• Let them play but don’t be surprised when something will trigger a new wave of grief. When it happens, let them talk, cry or just hold them til it passes.
• Expect extreme and sudden changes of emotions. Be extra patient as they work through these. Help them find ways to express it. Let them know you have crazy emotions right now, as well.
• Encourage a regular routine to maintain order during such a chaotic time (for you both!)
• Children will reexperience grief at big moments in their life as they grow- like learning to drive, graduations, their wedding and birth of their own child. These are peak times they realize anew how much they miss their parent.
• Sometimes children do not feel open to share their hurt with you because they know you are hurting and they do not want to add to it. Keep reminding them that it is good to express their grief and you can get through this together. Reassure them you are still a family.
• For more help got to my website or join My Forever Memories of You grief group on Facebook
• For more help, get one of the MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU books available in adult and children’s versions.
Love and prayers,
Several of you just faced the year anniversary of your loved one’s departure from this earth. My thoughts and prayers were with you though I might not have been able to fully express that. (My son-in-law is still in the hospital recovering from a 20-foot fall through a skylight in a roof. Praise God! He is broken but alive! I thought I would be adding my daughter to the young widow list) There is a surprising amount of emotions that you may go through approaching or on that particular day. Perhaps it is the fact that it has been a full year—not the grueling days or months you’ve been enduring—but a whole year. Here are various thoughts and statements on that “year anniversary” I have experienced or heard others express through the 26 years since my husband’s death and encouraging others through grief:
• Congratulations—I made it through the first year.
• A year is nothing compared to how long I will have to live without them.
• Anticipating that year mark is worse than the actual day.
• I just want to sleep through that day.
• I made that day a special celebration and it was so precious.
• I am not the same person I was a year ago.
• I will never be the same as I was a year ago (I’ve heard the previous two statements in both positive and negative connotations).
• They will stay forever young and I will grow old.
• A year! Now my grieving is over, right?
• I am just now beginning to grieve.
• I’m beginning to have hope for my future.
• I will never get past this.
• I just keep reliving their death.
• I want to carry on the best of their life for the rest of my life.
• I can never love again. Loss hurts too much.
• Life is short. Relationships are precious. It is important to me to let others know how much I love them.
• I will never see them again.
• I can live fully because I know I will be reunited with them… and the Lord is with me and will never leave me.
Wherever you are on that “calendar of grief,” I am praying for you as you truly will not ever be the same. The reason I keep doing this? No one understands your personal grief more than God; and Jesus makes all things new.
Love and prayers,
“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:1b,3
Ps. If you or someone you know is having a difficult time in their grief, the book I designed to help people work through their own grief is MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU (available in adult and children’s versions)
Regrets or those haunting “What if?” questions are one of the things which can prolong the deep pain of grief. Some experts call it unresolved grief. It is a natural part of grieving to second guess how things could have been different if you or someone else made another choice. Yet when you get stuck in that mind frame, and it holds you captive, it is time to try to resolve it. You may think that there is no way to do that since they have left this earth, but there are definite things you can do to work through unresolved issues. You cannot turn time back and undo any choices you or someone else made; yet you can choose to find a way to work through it and go forward from this point.
Real Regrets, Wounds, and Questions
Through the years I have heard tragic regrets—not taking someone to the doctor, not spending time with them, the last conversation being a big fight, letting their child go on a trip which resulted in death, abuse, neglect, not appreciating them while they were alive…The “What if’s?” can be debilitating: What if I had gotten them help? What if I kept them from going? What if I hadn’t done this or that? The process of going through the deepest part of grief can depend on dealing with some of these issues. Some are really not your doing and others are.
Ask for Forgiveness
There is true freedom in forgiveness for even the worse possible scenarios…for even the worse possible person. It truly has to begin with asking forgiveness from God Almighty. There are a lot of things which come to the surface when we are grieving. Emotions are extremely sensitive. The only One who can truly forgive us is God. He wants to forgive us more than we will ever comprehend. That’s why He sent Jesus to absorb our sin so we could absorb His holiness. We can’t do anything to make that happen. Each of us can only accept His forgiveness in the deep love it is given by God Himself—specifically for you. What a relief when we admit our wrong and our need for a Savior who can give us eternal life.
After admitting to God what we regret-what we are sorry for- we also can ask forgiveness from our loved one (or sometimes not-so-loved one) who has died. Write a letter to them asking forgiveness for what whatever regret, hurt or deep wound you might have caused. Then you can decide to burn it, bury it, tie it to a balloon and let it go, or nail it to a cross.
Sometimes there are real wrongs done against you. You truly might have been innocent and undeserving of a wrong by the person who has died. It is never too late to forgive them. If we are to truly live in the richness of God’s forgiveness, this is something we must do. Forgiveness truly brings freedom! Write a letter to the person letting them know how they hurt you and that you are reviewing your relationship with them. Let them know you are forgiving them. You may have to forgive them over and over until it no longer holds power over you. Then you can do the same thing with this letter as listed above.
Dear friends, this is a very short synopsis of dealing with regrets and unresolved issues. If you truly want to work through this, you will have to do more than just read about it. The book MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU I created to help people work through their own specific memories and grief has at least two chapters which go more in depth. It is for you to work through. It is your choice to accept and give forgiveness. It is a huge step in experiencing the true freedom found in Jesus Christ.
Love and prayers,
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
No one has to tell you how real death is. You have experienced it first hand as your loved one was here one moment and then gone the next. Whether you were there with them when they took their last breath or you received a traumatic phone call, you may still be trying to process the reality of their absence. Whether their death was expected or occurred suddenly without warning, they were still physically available one second and gone the next. You are the one left behind.
Processing the Death Takes Time
Everyone has to deal with the shock of death in their own way. Even though our mind knows that death happens, we still can barely believe it happened to one we were so interconnected with. Death goes against our nature. We were created by God to live forever. Death was not part of His perfect plan. It takes a lot to absorb that fact that our loved one is gone. It can shake our world, our security…our entire life. That’s why it often means needing to see the body, know all the details of what happened, and telling and retelling our story of the trauma of their death.
Before and After
Our lives can be so deeply affected by the death of a child, spouse, parent, sibling or friend that it splits our lives in two. Everything is measured or remembered as before or after their passing. You will never be the same. Your life with your loved one by your side was already growing and changing because life is full of changes that cause us to grow. But our life is transformed in a major way by the passing of a loved one. The hopes and dreams of our future change because they will no longer be with us. Perhaps we cared for them and now we must find new purpose in life. Our lives change in such countless ways we can’t even comprehend it all at the beginning. Of course, we will never be the same.
Where Did They Go?
As we deal with their presence with us one moment and then gone the next, we can’t help but think more deeply about where they went. They left their body—so where are they? There is a whole chapter in the interactive book My Forever Memories of You which goes deeper into these natural thoughts. We all know this life will end for us in a moment; this is a critical time to make sure of where we go when we take our last breath. As we deal with our personal grief, we can begin to choose how we will live our remaining moments in this earthly life.
PS. The poem was written by my first husband before he died
Love and prayers,