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Most holy Father,
Yesterday I attended the graveside service of a young beautiful 42-year-old woman. She was the daughter of a dear friend and co-worker. As I waited for the service to begin, I was thinking how short this life is. There were four drownings this weekend (two of which were four-year-old children). Whether we live just a few minutes as my nephew’s little 1 ½ lb baby did or 93 years, as my grandmother did, this physical life is short! Especially compared to eternity which is really what life is all about. That’s exactly what the humble man spoke about at the service- the brevity of this life!

Since I have dealt with living and dying all my life- but most certainly in the past 25 years as I have encouraged those who are grieving, I may be more aware of the brevity of this life. I have had the often-painful honor of hearing the stories of the broken-hearted who are missing their loved ones. It is so hard to be walking in life next to a loved one and then to have them gone in the twinkling of an eye. It can be very painful to be the ones left behind to finish out this life without them. Yet it is also a reality check of how very real the end of this age is. If we already know and trust You, Lord, we get extra homesick for our eternal lives with You and our loved ones. Even if we do not know You yet, we realize we all will die at some point and it could be today. It is an important time to struggle with what this life is truly all about. It is about You, Lord and our relationship with You!

As painful as death is on this side, I have also had the honor of seeing glimpses of life in the next chapter that never ends—people on their death beds seeing You and Your glory calling them home in one way or another! Father, You do not leave us alone as orphans to face this world. You sent your pure and Holy Son Jesus to guarantee our place with You forever. All we have to do is confess we need Him and ask Him to be Lord of our lives. Then He sends the Holy Spirit to live in us—to comfort, guide, lead, encourage, correct, refresh, and strengthen us in this life and forevermore. We can live with the joy of Your presence in us—even in this earthly life.

Life here on this present earth may be brief, but we never have to walk through it alone. We can begin our eternal life with You now and know that we will live with You for all eternity. Thank You for loving us so much that You want us to spend forever with You!

 

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“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” Jesus promising us the Holy Spirit in John 14:18

 

“You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes…” James 4:14

 

“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.” John 3:16

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, my life is nothing without You. I have sinned against You. I need Your Son Jesus to save me, live in me and give me eternal life…

Dear Friends,
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,
Eva

 

Dear Friends,

When a loved one has just died, it can feel like your whole world stops…but the world around you just keeps on going. You need time to grieve, to take it all in, to process this huge void, to let the huge gaping wound heal… but the bills keep coming, the water heater floods the garage; your kids need care; your car breaks down…

A dear friend of mine just lost her husband recently. Before the reality had time to even set in—within a month of his death, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and was quickly told it had spread. She is grieving the death of her husband and her own health, while continuing to work, go through treatments, and help prepare for two daughters’ weddings. Life does not stop no matter how much we want it to.

It is still critical to slow down and breathe in God’s Spirit (our comforter, counselor, strength). It truly helps to be gentle with yourself as you grieve. Grieving takes more energy than you realize. In our fast-paced society, everyone expects things to happen quickly. Grief can’t be rushed through. It is there no matter what else is going on. Sometimes we have to remind others that we are still grieving when they demand too much of us during this season of our lives. Sometimes, we even have to remind ourselves not too expect too much of ourselves for a while. This intense grief will not last forever. It can slowly become a beautiful part of who we are with God’s help.

Some of the most important parts of grief are realizing what a great gift we had in our relationship with our loved one, figuring out how to go on without them and finding a way to honor them as we go forward. This is definitely a process. It can be done. It needs to be done—even if the world doesn’t stop and life goes on with all its demands.

Practical Ways to Grieve When the World Doesn’t Stop:

  • Set aside some time to journal or work through your grief
  • Free up your schedule as much as possible for a while
  • Grieve at your own pace and not by other’s timetable
  • Try not to avoid grief with excessive activities, shopping, medications, travel…
  • Trust God to help you handle all that comes up each day, one day at a time
  • There are many more suggestions in my book My Forever Memories of You. It truly has many interactive ways to work through grief and trust the Lord to come out stronger than ever. There is even a chapter called “The World Should Stop!”

All my love and prayers

“Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Yesterday I was told of a precious young pregnant mom who was due to have a c-section in two days when they discovered no heartbeat. The baby had already died, before it could even be born. Now, the birth still has to take place- yet its tiny body will be lifeless and there will be tears of grief instead of joy.

I had just read a report of the high infant mortality rate in infants. Of course, it is so much better than even a couple generations ago. Yet there is still a high risk for babies to die in the womb or in the first year. No matter how much medicine advances, it will never completely do away with death. It is part of this world.

My heart goes out to those who have lost babies from miscarriage, SIDS, complications, abortions or no matter the cause…so I write this prayer for you:

Heavenly Father,

You knew these babies even before they were formed in their mommy’s womb; before their mommy and daddy even knew they existed. Even as their DNA is woven in intricate strands determining who they are, You are the One who intimately knows them, creates them and determines their purpose and place in eternity. The older I get, the more I realize how very short this life on earth is. But these babies have an even shorter time- barely getting started. Yet they belong to You forever. Their lives are eternal. Nothing can separate them from Your love. Nothing can separate them from the love of their parents and families. Not even death.

Life here on earth is but a mist when compared to all eternity. Our lives are not created simply for this short time here…You created us to be with You forever in Your eternal presence. These precious little souls, for whatever reason skipped this hard earthly life, and went straight to Your loving eternal care. Yet their very existence forever changes who we are. Only You, Lord, fully comprehend the eternal impact these short earthly lives made on our souls.

Though we grieve the awful pain of empty arms and dreams of our lives with them, we also acknowledge their eternal life with You and another connection we have to heaven because of who they are. Lord, we praise You for sending Your Son to be born as a tiny human baby and to die on the cross to defeat death so we could follow Him to eternal life with You. Thank You that there will be a reunion with these precious little ones that can never be broken. Thank You for their short lives which help us focus on eternity with You. In Jesus’ name, we pray for those grieving little ones to find all they need in You.

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“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am  fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me are written in Your book before one of them came to be.”  Psalm 139:13-16

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A Few Practical Thoughts to Consider as You Grieve the Death of Your Baby

 

*Name your baby if you haven’t

*The young mom mentioned above is giving away her babies’ clothes, etc to bless another family in memory of her little one.

*Make a memory book of this little one (possible thoughts to include: how you felt through pregnancy, dreams and plans you had for this child, how carrying this baby has affected your life in both sad and good ways, how you hope to go forward in your life in a way that honors them…)

*If you have other children, help them make a memory book of their little sibling. See the book for children My Forever Memories of You: Personal Memory Book to Help a Child or youth Deal with the Death of a Loved One With Ideas for Adults who Long to Help  There is also a full chapter in the adult book My Forever Memories of You that gives help for children grieving.

*Meditate on God’s promise of Heaven and what your little one’s life might be like now.

 

Dear friends,

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

Dear friends,

“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