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.
Heavenly Father, yesterday I happened to hear of more unrelated deaths than usual on one day—my daughter-in-law’s stepdad, my sister-in-law’s stepdad, and four children and their aunt who were killed in an apartment fire near my church. My stepdaughter was involved with the children’s lives. Although it is such a deep sorrow to hear of deaths and the effect that loss has on those dear loved ones left behind, I can’t help but think of the ones who passed through death into immeasurable joy and peace as they are in Your very presence. It is amazing how one day, one moment of passing can be viewed in such conflicting ways.
Father, I have personally been on the “left behind” side of death too many times to count. And due to the grief ministry You have led me to, I have seen the deep wounds of the broken-hearted up close and personal (even when I haven’t always known the ones who passed from this life). From our side, there is often deep wailing (whether heard or unheard) that comes deep from within the very soul. There is a panicked lost feeling-wondering how we can possibly go on living without our loved one. You already know our deepest pain. I believe that’s why Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus—not for Lazarus, His dear friend who had been dead for three days. Jesus knew Lazarus would be brought back to life. He wept for those dear ones grieving in such deep pain who were “left behind.” Lord, You know us better than anyone else possibly could. You know all that goes on in our inner most soul.
Lord, You may have conflicted feelings when death comes. Death was not Your plan. Yet You see it on the other side. Your beloved child is coming HOME to You forever to be free, healed, glorified, and more alive than ever before. I don’t know how You can do it; but I am absolutely positive that You are with those who are left behind in their deep grief that can barely be expressed…and at the same time, You are welcoming Your dear ones into Your very presence where they will live in joy with You forever and ever. There will be no more suffering, tears, darkness, evil… There has to be a huge celebration!
Father, I have seen You do it so many times before. I pray that You let those “left behind” know that their loved one is enjoying their new life with You; that You will never leave them as they come to terms with living out the remainder of their life here without their loved one; that You prepare them for their eternal life with You; that You look forward to the time You will welcome them Home into Your presence…and that You understand their tears but You know the joy that is coming up ahead. Help those “left behind” to find all they need in You—the very One who created us to live forever with You- beginning now through Jesus Christ!
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15
“When the perishable has been clothed in 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 (I hear my friends who are left behind, saying that the sting is on this side.)
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making all things new!’” Revelation 21:3-5
Father, comfort those “left behind” with the true promise of eternal life with You … ef
Dearest Friends, the idea of anything good at all coming from grief may seem absolutely impossible to you right now. You might be angry that I even suggest such a thing when you are in the deepest part of your grief. But one of the very reasons for this grief ministry is to hold out eternal hope to those who are completely devastated. Seeing good come from the pain others believe they could never recover from is why the Lord has kept me doing this for 25 years. With God, nothing is impossible. He loves bringing about good—even out of the most tragic situations. It may take time for you to see it, but the more you cling to the Lord Jesus Christ, the more you will see God even in your brokenness. Here are just four possible good things that will come from your deep loss:
- Deep Compassion
After experiencing the life-shattering wound of having a loved one ripped from your life, you will forever have a depth of compassion for others who go through this. Your situation may be completely different than theirs; but you know the gut-wrenching sobs that cannot be expressed, the tears that threaten to drown, the loneliness that seems to be permanent, the well-meaning words of others that cut deep, the fact that grief cannot be taken away but has to be worked through. You will know from now on that a simple hug, text, phone call or sharing of a memory is more precious than can be expressed—especially from someone who has been there. As you find comfort from the Lord, you will know how to comfort others.
- Knowledge that Life is Short
We know with our intellect that everyone must die at some point yet rarely are we ready. With the reality of your loved one’s death right before you. You now know with all your being that life is short. They were here with you one moment—now they are gone. It doesn’t get more real than that. When you realize how fleeting life truly is, it changes the way you live. You realize any day could be your last day. You learn to savor sunsets, wind, moments…and most of all relationships.
- Relationships Are Most Important
Many times, we don’t realize just how important our loved ones are until they are gone. We don’t realize how intertwined our lives and souls are. Dealing with the death of our loved one helps us to realize that things are not important. We would give almost anything to have them back in our presence. On the other hand, we realize we are selfish in wanting that for they have gone to the eternal part of their life. We begin to realize that the relationships we still have are more precious than we ever realized. This experience changes the way we talk to others, listen to others, try to understand others, savor others, pray for others, and share the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ with others.
- Draws You Closer to the Lord and Eternity
As you struggle through grief, hopefully you reach out to the Lord to handle what you can never handle on your own. Each day is more than you can face by yourself, but the more you ask Him to help you, the more you realize He will never ever leave you or forsake you. He has been with you from before you were born and He will lead you to you eternal Home with Him. That is one of the benefits God gives us when He gave us Jesus Christ. Not only did He pay the death penalty for our sin, but He is with us always—as we finish this life and hold His hand when it’s our turn to soar across the finish line with Him.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Dear friend, when I woke this morning, the Lord reminded me how hard nights are when you are grieving. It is hard to go to sleep and hard to wake up. Night time is when it gets quiet. Everyone is asleep. There are no distractions—just your thoughts. That’s often when the tears flow the hardest. That’s probably why He laid it on my heart to post this in the middle of the night. It was like He knew someone would not be able to sleep tonight. Someone would be having a very difficult time.
It was 26 years ago today that my husband passed from this world to be with the Lord. I have no problems sleeping now. I will be asleep when you read this post…but the Lord is available all the time—even at night when no one else sees your pain or hears your sobs. There is not one tear that is shed or unshed that He does not know about.
Since He is the one who knew you would be awake and need Him, I urge you to hold up all your grief to Him. He is ready and waiting to help you bear it. I may be asleep but He is there with you right now. HE thought enough of you to have me write this. He desires to help you. He longs to comfort you. It is His will to bring about precious good things even from this unbearable pain.
I may not know specifically who this is for…but I know God does!
Love and prayers, my friend!
“I lift my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night, The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121
Dear friends, I just heard about another suicide of a high school student today. It happened to be the fourth suicide in that school in a year! It brought back some of the earth shattering shock and pain of my dear brother-in-law’s suicide 34 years ago. Every single death is a shock to us—probably because God created us to live eternally. Yet there is something about a self-inflicted death that wreaks havoc in survivors’ lives. As painfully hard as this subject is, I want to share some thoughts with you:
Every Life is Precious
God is close to the broken-hearted and you must admit that someone has to be extremely broken to take their own life. If only we would have the eyes of Christ to spot the broken hearted and share eternal hope more readily on a daily basis. Yet often, the person hides it well from those they love. They must truly believe there is no other way at that particular moment in time and they act in that hopeless-appearing state. God knows each person and loves them even more than we are capable of. He alone knows their heart and is with them—yet as always, He allows free choice. If you are dealing with the suicide of one you love, rest assured the Lord knows them, sees their heart, and it is His desire that not even one should perish but have eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Nothing is Beyond Healing and Renewal for the Lord
There are times the death happens in front of others, and other times, the person did it alone. Either way, it traumatizes those left behind. The trauma has to work its’ course yet survivors must do their part to hold up this unimaginable pain before the Lord. Counselors can help, but only the Lord can truly heal and make all things new. Only God can take such a devastating death and make something good come from it. Just as each person is unique, so is each grief after a suicide. Yet God is the One who can heal anything. The scars will always be there, but the goodness of the Lord can shine through even the deep scars of suicide.
Grieving After a Suicide
This is a very simplistic sounding blog, but hopefully it will let you know that you can and need to work through your grief, no matter how painful it is. There will be many questions: “Why?” “How could they do this to me?” “Why couldn’t I stop it?” “Why couldn’t God stop it?” “Where are they now?” There may not be answers to some of those questions here in this life (as my mother-in-law said about 6 months after her son’s self-inflicted death.) Yet as in any death, it is critical to work through your grief. The best thought I can share in this short blog is to continually pour out all your honest thoughts, hurts, fears and pain to the Lord in a journal. Hold it all up to Him. He can and will heal what no one else can.
Helping a Survivor of Suicide
Be willing to listen quietly and without too much advice. Let them get their anger, fear and pain out…then quietly pray with them. Keep praying for them. Gently point them to the Lord who can help them. Share good memories of the one who took their life. Their whole life was not that one moment of action. Watch for hopelessness in those left behind (other family members and students) for survivors can fall into the temptation to feel hopeless enough to consider suicide. Keep checking on them through short tests, calls, messages and visits. Invite them to do something fun as a break from grief. Be gentle as they grieve.
Not even suicide is impossible for God to make something good from. I think of my brother-in-law’s death 34 years ago, and I know the Lord has used that in many ways in my family and in strangers since that time.
Love and prayers,
“Jesus looked at them at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’” Mark 10:27
For more indepth help grieving a suicide or any death, MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU was written with love to help you work through your personal grief with God’s help.
For some of you, this is the first new year you are facing without your loved one with you; others can barely believe it’s been 4 years or 25 years since they last touched their loved one. You always feel the absence of their physical presence but joy does come again- Joy in the Lord. As people around you make resolutions, you may just want time to stop. Yet as if you didn’t already know, life keeps going.
If I can, I would like to encourage you as you write the new year on checks, documents, and hopefully your prayer journal. (Prayer journaling is my number one suggestion for going through grief. I will write more on that again soon!) Don’t stay stuck in the deep hold of grief too long. Life is for living. Your loved one is living more fully than you can imagine in their new life with the Lord. They have a new life we can only imagine. It’s true that we have to do the work of grief—review our lives together, realize the deep impact they had on our lives, forgive them and ourselves for any unfinished business, thank God for the gift He gave you in your loved one, and decide what are the best things we received in our loved ones that we can carry on in our own lives (their compassion, humor, strength, service…).
Years ago, a lady in my grief group told me of a dream she had about her dear brother who had just died. They were climbing a difficult mountain together. Her brother was up ahead of her in his favorite red flannel shirt. The climb was steep and the rocks were loose. They had to periodically rest to catch their breath. She kept climbing, always keeping his flannel shirt in view. He reached the top and was out of sight. She began to panic when she lost him. Then she heard him call out though she could no longer see him, “Keep climbing! I made it and you will, too!”
As you face this new year with your loved one out of your sight, I urge you to keep climbing. Keep living! Jesus is still on the trail with you. He will never ever leave you even if your loved ones do. He is waiting for you to trust Him/lean on Him/accept Him as the One who came to save you from your sinful end. He may not be seen. But He is softly calling, waiting for you to take His hand and go through life and whatever is up ahead in this new year and beyond. He is waiting to lead you Home!
Love and prayers,
PS. Just a reminder that the MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU book will help you work through your own personal grief in ways that go deeper than this amazing group.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9