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help adults and children while grieving

Here is a peek at Chapter 2 of My forever Memories of You [The Story of our Relationship- Discovering Eternal Hope in the Midst of Grief]

The World Should Stop!

“It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.” Luke 23:44-46

Sharing Our Experiences

My experiences will be completely different than yours because you are completely different than me, and there’s never been anyone else exactly like our loved ones—not ever before, not now and or ever again! I share my experience with you so you’ll know someone else has made it through grief and so that you’ll know I understand and care about you. No one should try to compare whose grief is worse or more intense. It’s your grief. No one else has shared the unique relationship you had with the one you love. This grief you are experiencing is not so much for your loved one because their pain and suffering are finished. We grieve for ourselves as we experience the huge void they left in our lives.

Perhaps some of my experience might put voice to something you are feeling that you didn’t even realize. It’s still not your own experience, though. That’s why it is so important to work through your own emotions and experiences, and try to express them in the best way you can. Sharing our heart’s deepest thoughts helps us to process and learn from them. Sharing our deepest, most honest prayers with the Lord God, who created us and knows us better than we know ourselves, will help us begin to heal.

I write to share with you. May you write to share with God.

My Story- The World Should Stop!

Driving back to the church from the graveside the day of the funeral, I looked out the window of the limo at people going to work and running errands. I wanted to scream, “The world should stop!”

I looked at my poor children sitting quietly in the seats next to me and thought, “Our world has stopped.” Yet everyone was going about their normal day as if nothing had happened. They had no idea.

The world should stop because the love of my life had died! The world should stop so I could comprehend what just happened. The world should stop so I could help my children. The world should stop because it would never be the same again. The world should stop because I had no idea how to go on!

Policemen might have stopped traffic on the way to the cemetery, but it sped by faster than ever on the way back. How could life go on as usual? We drove back to the church for a memorial dinner where friends and family gathered. We had brought photo albums to share. That took away the harsh reality for a bit as we all reminisced about fun times with Steve. Laughter and hugs were passed around. Then slowly people began to get up and head for the door to return to their everyday lives.

Someone had taken the kids back to our house to hang out with cousins. There were only a few people remaining, and they were all busy cleaning up. I sat in utter shock. I think I probably looked ok on the outside, but I was completely lost on the inside. I had no idea where to go or what to do. I’ve never been so lost. I sat stunned, immovable. What seemed like hours of paralysis was probably only a few moments. Then I suddenly remembered my children were at home and needed me. I made myself get up and drive home. Although—I do not recall the drive.

Later that same day (The day of the funeral), I answered the phone when it rang. It was one of many bill collectors. We owed over a million dollars’ worth of medical bills at the time of Steve’s death. It had become part of our everyday life to deal with bill collectors. As you can imagine, we had struggled financially nonstop throughout his expensive illness. The collector started in his spiel. I interrupted him to let him know I had just buried my husband that day. He didn’t seem to care one bit and continued rudely pushing for money. I hung up on him, but was once again reminded the world was not going to stop to let me grieve.

The world might not stop, but I knew I needed to take time to grieve. Although I had to keep working to provide for my family, I could go slowly and take time to review the most meaningful relationship I had ever had. Even though I had to drive kids to school, cook, clean and take care of bills, I could still take this time in my life to realize how blessed I had been to have Steve in my life. I needed to look back over the meaning of his life, and to realize the great impact he had on me and others.

The world might not stop, but I was going to take time to cherish his life as I grieved.

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3

Your Story- The World Should Stop!

Write about your feelings of being left behind without your loved one. It doesn’t have to make sense or be in any order. Just write!

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

Helpful Input- The World Should Stop!

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” Isaiah 43:2

The world definitely doesn’t stop for you to grieve, but you need to allow yourself the time and give yourself permission to. Of course, your grief will take on a different look than others’ because of who you are—and who you are grieving.

Grief often comes in waves—torrential tsunamis at first. It washes over you, taking your breath, causing you to feel like you will literally drown. You may look ok on the outside, but inside you are grasping to hold on to something solid. Some show it more on the outside, as well. Panic. Gasping. Real fears that you will drown in grief. Many times, you truly wonder if you will live through the crashing pounding waves that threaten to overtake you. Then it passes; at least giving you a momentary breather.

Then you hear a song, smell their clothes, catch a glimpse of a photo that brings on another crashing wave. Will you drown in your grief, in your tears? Hold on and ride the wave. After the first several bouts of waves, you realize that they will not kill you. Just as there is a beginning, there is also an end to the wave. As you travel through your grief, you will slowly begin to realize the waves begin to get smaller with a little more time in between waves. It helps so much to hold on to the Lord as those waves crash over you. Write to Him. Tell Him what you are going through. He will never leave you.

“I will turn the rivers into islands and dry up the pools. I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:15b-16

Even when our loved ones have to leave us, God never will. He is faithful to stay with us as we travel through the rough waters of grief. He doesn’t take it away, but leads us through. He walks through the valley of the shadow of death with us. We won’t always have to stay there, but we must travel through. There is no way around it. The more we avoid it, the longer it will take to go through.

No one else can fully understand our grief—the pain we are experiencing—the fear of being left behind. God does. He knows us deeper than we know ourselves. He knows the help we need. Our Lord doesn’t ever leave us alone in this world. He is with us no matter what we face.

Though our loved ones have passed from the troubles and trials of this world, we have not. We still have to face each day along with whatever comes our way. There are still taxes, bills, meals, health issues, children, other relationships, repairs… and much more that must be dealt with. The world doesn’t wait until we are ready to handle those things. Life keeps happening. God is with us to help us through each day. It’s easy to start thinking too far ahead. How you will handle all the rest of your life without your loved one? To face it all at once can be overwhelming. Yet we are made to go slowly and lightly through life, trusting that God is with us, giving us what we need for each day.

You may be missing your loved one more than you thought possible, but God will more than fill the huge void they left in your life. He helps you through your grief by helping you fully realize the precious gift He gave you in your loved one. Then He begins to help you see that He is there to fill that huge hole with Himself through the gift He gave you in Jesus Christ. Keep turning to the Lord through your grief and He will bring you out into new life. Even when the world doesn’t stop, the Lord will stop with you and help you through.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18

Practical Ideas- The World Should Stop!

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33b

Take time to grieve by looking through photos, letters, cards. Appreciate the love you shared.

Take a break from grieving by doing something fun.(Yet don’t use constant entertainment to avoid grieving)

Listen to music you both liked.

Let others know you need time to grieve. If they invite you somewhere, let them know you may not be up to it when the time comes. Grief can cause a change of emotions as often as every few minutes for a while.

List things you are thankful to have shared with your loved one.

Thank God for the great qualities you saw in your loved one.

Be easy on yourself as you face daily challenges without your loved one. Realize it will not always be this hard.

Gather good advice on handling issues without your loved one. Once you have counsel, pray about it and take your time making decisions. Don’t let others rush you.

When possible, postpone any major decisions for at least a year such as selling your house, car, moving out of state. There are real life situations when this is not possible. Be sure to pray your way through.

Listen to Christian music; read scripture; have daily devotions (GriefShare sends out great free daily devotions for grievers in the form of emails)

Don’t give your loved one’s personal items away until you are ready. Make sure the timing is right for you.

Try to realize others have to go forward in their lives and can’t completely stop for yours.

Take time to pray and write in a prayer journal every day. God has all eternity to listen and is never too busy.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Interactive Workpage- The World Should Stop!

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34

How can I set aside time to grieve every day for a while? (work through this book, write in a prayer journal, take a quiet walk each day…)

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Who do I need to let know that I need to grieve my way?

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What decisions do I have to make now?

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What decisions can I wait on?

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Which areas do I need immediate help with? (paying bills, balancing checkbook, lowering bills..)

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Can I, or do I want to take time off from work? How long? (Realize you will not be as productive for a while. Great amounts of energy are required to grieve)

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What activities can I cut back on to make it easier to go through grief?

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Which activities do I want to maintain to keep a daily routine going?

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“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Prayer Journal- The World Should Stop!

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” Romans 8:26-27

My Prayer Journal- The World Should Stop!

(note- These prayers contain combined excerpts from my personal prayer journal. My unedited prayer journals often ramble or repeat out of urgency–so if yours do, don’t worry. Pour your heart out to the Lord)

Father,

My world has been torn in two… before and after Steve’s death! I am incredibly weak and fragile. Does anybody realize how frail I am? It’s like being run over by a semi-truck. Maybe if I was in a wreck, people would understand my wounds. I hear a lot of people say that I look good. Sometimes that just makes me mad. I am not OK! Yet I know I will be. I don’t even know how to answer when people ask how I’m doing. I don’t even know how I’m doing. I’m trusting You, Lord, to hold my hand through this chaotic time. I am used to crying out to You. How else would I have made it through Steve’s all-consuming illness the last 4 years? You are my stability, my Rock, my anchor! I am holding on to You for dear life to keep from going under.

Lord, I took the kids to a science museum. My heart was not in it but they needed a break. They had a huge exhibition of Native American artifacts. The kids ran ahead, having fun, doing their own thing. I was so glad they could have a break from grieving for a while. Yet, it is in those quiet moments that I grieve the most. My eyes were drawn to a beautiful woven shawl. As I stopped to read about it, tears flowed. It was titled “The Widow’s Shawl.” When a woman lost her husband, she wore this shawl for at least a year, longer if needed. Everyone in the tribe knew she needed extra care and help during this time. They were careful with her, realizing the tremendous toll of grief. How I wish I had a shawl like that. I wouldn’t need to explain. Everyone would just know to be gentle. (Perhaps if I wore a sign?) But the world doesn’t stop! I’m just so grateful that You understand what I cannot express, Lord!

The hugs without words are the best gift people can give me… or a card with a prayer. Well-meaning advice brings out an ugly anger in me that I don’t like. I know they mean well. I’ve had to tell a few people to let me take care of my kids through this. They are my family! Other people do not know what is best for my children. I may seem weak, but You have given me a mother’s love for my kids. I know they need me! We will get through this as a family. I will not let my family fall apart after all we’ve been through. Yet I know I need Your strength, Lord. I cannot be mother and father to them. I cannot be a dad, no matter how hard I try. But You can. You promise to be the father to the fatherless. I’m counting on You to provide, protect, guide and teach my children. They are Your children even before they were Steve’s (or mine!)

Oh God! How I miss Steve’s companionship, his input, his hugs, his wisdom. He was always there to help me face any trial or obstacle (even in his illness). We decided together how to handle situations with our kids; in business; with finances; house and car repairs…Can’t the world stop with all these decisions that must be made? Doesn’t the world understand I can’t handle this much in the state I am in? I’m going to rely on You where I relied on Steve before. You will need to be my husband. I am trusting You will comfort me, guide me, provide for me, understand me and coax me.

So much in the world seems petty and insignificant now. What does having material things mean in the scheme of eternity? Lord, please use this time in my life to cut out things that don’t matter and to add what is eternal and lasting.

Heavenly Father, the world may not stop for me to come to terms with Steve’s absence…but You are always there as I take stops with You each day. I could never face this without You.

“As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” John 15:19b

Your Prayer Journal- The World Should Stop!

(Write in your prayer journal about how your world has stopped with the death of your loved one. Don’t worry about what to say…just start writing)

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My forever Memories of You [The Story of our Relationship- Discovering Eternal Hope in the Midst of Grief 

help adults and children while grieving

Dear Friend,
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,
Eva

 

“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

help adults and children while grieving

Dear friends,
Here is an excerpt from the book My Forever Memories of You. This was written with the deepest love for those who are grieving and 25 years of being there while people grieve. This happens to be taken from the chapter that urges you to tell your story—the very personal story of the relationship between you and your loved one. Each chapter contains a section with My Story, Your Story, Practical Ideas, Helpful Input, Interactive Work Page, My Prayer Journal, and Your Prayer Journal. It is important to tell the one-of-a-kind relationship you have with your loved one. My prayer is this book will help you to grieve in your own private personal way with eternal hope leading you through. It is actually your book–written by you!

 

Helpful Input – What Happened?

“Blessed are those who mourn. They will be comforted.” (Matt. 5:4)

You may not be able to tell everyone what happened to your loved one right away, but it is important to tell your story. Yes, it will be painful. Telling what happened helps you work through it and absorb the reality that your loved one is no longer physically with you. The pain needs to come out. Telling your story is part of your healing. It is part of the labor of grief.
Many people are afraid if they ever start telling, they will never be able to stop crying. I’ve often heard grievers say they are afraid they will completely lose it. During the course of grieving, most discover the anxiety of facing something can be worse than actually doing it. The full story of the relationship between the griever and their loved one most often comes out in bits and pieces. It can seem too much to bear all at once. I believe that the numbness we feel at first is part of God’s protection during our healing process. We can only handle so much pain in our fresh raw state.
Find a safe person to tell the first time you share your story—someone who will truly listen all the way through without interruptions or advice. Sometimes, it’s easier to write it down first. You can voice the whole story with no one else’s comments or questions inserted. It just needs to come out! The design of this book breaks up your story into sections so you can deal with various parts of your story as you are ready.

Sometimes, people think if they don’t talk about it, it won’t hurt, or they won’t have to deal with it. There is no way around it. Sooner or later, you have to go through it. As painful as it is, you will survive the worst part of your grief a lot healthier if you face it and ask God to help you work through it. It’s like holding your broken-to-pieces heart up to Him and asking Him to heal it.
Not everyone wants to hear your story. Many people don’t know how to respond, or they can’t handle your pain. Find someone who is a really good listener. More than anything, you need someone who will let you vocalize what you are going through without telling you that you shouldn’t feel a certain way.

One of the best things about writing your story is that you can get it all out without interruption or analysis. Even though it may seem that you are alone in your writing and pain, God is with you. He’s the best listener of all. He’s never too busy. He is not distracted. Nothing is too hard for Him to handle. He is there when no one else is, day and night. He will always understand you better than anyone else.

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34:18)

 

As time goes on, you may feel like you’re repeating the same story over and over. You may worry some of your friends will tire of hearing it. You are doing what you need to do to process what has happened. Keep telling it. Sometimes, you may find yourselves telling a clerk at the store or a stranger on the phone. Tell your story to whomever you need to. Not only is it helping you, you never know how God is using it to help someone else!

Don’t worry about feeling the correct emotions when you tell what happened. You may feel nothing; other times, it will cut incredibly deep. Sometimes, it seems like a bad dream, like you’re talking about something horrible that happened to someone else. Sometimes, you find yourself laughing nervously, though it’s horrific!

Family and friends are also grieving. Sharing with them can help you work through your grief together. Even children need to process what has happened. Let them see you cry so they know it’s okay to feel the emotions. You are not protecting them by hiding your pain. Do reassure them that you will be all right, that you are sad from missing your loved one, that you just need to cry. See more about children in chapter “Helping Children Grieve.” Tell them you need a hug. They need one too!

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13)

Practical Ideas – What Happened?

“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Jesus Christ our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.” (Rom. 8:38–39)

• Write in this book. Put your favorite photo of your loved one on the front. This will be a book of your personal journey through grief.

• Start a blog and share your grief with others. It may help them as much as you.

• Find a good grief support group where you can share:

My Forever Memories of You has a group on Facebook
Compassionate Friends is for parents who’ve lost children.
GriefShare is a biblical-based group that offers sends helpful daily e-mails for a year.
Grief Recovery has groups and individual counselors.
Local churches, hospitals, and funeral homes sometimes have groups.

• Share your story with a group who already knows you (a small group or Sunday school class at church, a team, or a group of friends or coworkers).

• Sometimes, you can meet with someone you know who is also going through a recent loss. We have a group of widows who meet weekly at our church.

• If your story involves a tragedy that might help someone else, think about sharing it to prevent other deaths or help survivors of suicide, substance abuse, safety issues, infant or other deaths. Of course, not everyone can share their grief so publicly.

• Gather family and friends so everyone can tell what they were going through when your loved one died.

• Help children involved tell their story through drawings, playing out with stuffed animals, or writing. Don’t force them; just give them the opportunity. See chapter on “Helping Children Grieve.”

• If someone keeps interrupting or telling you how you should or shouldn’t feel, try not to get too upset. That person means well; they probably just don’t understand. You may need to find someone else to share with who will listen without judgment.

• Try not to avoid the pain through excessive use of meds, alcohol, entertainment, work, busyness, other relationships, drugs, or food. It is good to take little breaks from intense grief, but there’s no way to completely avoid the pain. The best way to get through it is to go through it.

Your story is yours. No one has ever had a relationship like yours before. It’s one of a kind. Therefore, no one else can truly comprehend what you are going through except for God who sees deeply into each of our souls and who knows us better than we know ourselves.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:11–13)