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Heavenly Father,
There seems to have been a flood of deaths around me lately. Some of them have been very close to me and others involve relatives or friends of those I am close to. Death is never easy- no matter the age or circumstance of the one we mourn. My forever Pastor Jerl, who just died, enjoyed teasing and called me “a grief guru” because he knew I would protest! Who wants to be associated with death and grief? I would much rather deal with life than death! Yet they go together…

Those dear ones who just left this life—the two young football players, the young man in his twenties, the little girl everyone loved, the beloved husband, and our amazing pastor friend, Jerl are more alive than they have ever been! They had to die from this life to fully experience eternal life with our Lord! Before this, they had to die to their own will and surrender to Jesus as their Lord to receive His life and all the inheritance His life offers. You sent Jesus to die for us so that we might have eternal life! Jesus’ death was the only way to give us the gift of life with You, our Father. Jesus’ death brings us TRUE LIFE which can never ever die or be taken from us.

Father, how I pray for those who are left behind; those who are grieving the death of their loved one. I know they feel surrounded by death. I realize they feel overwhelmed by death…yet I know that You are with the broken-hearted, tenderly calling them to a new deeper life with You. You will never ever leave them or forsake them. You know they must go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but You have much more life ahead for them to live—both here on earth and for all eternity.

Lord, as much as I would love to take away the taste of death from those who are hurting, I know even as I pray that You are bringing life out of death. You are the expert on birthing life from death! We wait upon You! We look to You, the Victor over death and the gracious Giver of Eternal Life!

 

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“Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me…’” John 12:23-26

 

“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:13

 

“He will wipe 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 is seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” Revelation 21:4-5

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, help me to trust You to bring life even through death and grief…

Dear friends,
There are a lot of books and some great support groups for grievers these days…so what makes My Forever Memories of You different? It’s my hope and prayer that sharing eternal hope is the biggest difference. We were never made for this life to be all there is. In fact, it is only a glimmer compared to eternity. We were created by God to live forever. Because of sin, death is something that happens to us all at some unknown point in our lives and in the lives of those we love. The death of our loved ones makes that more apparent than ever. We may have lost the very one we depended on to be there for us…or the one we dreamed of sharing life together. There is no way around grief. We must go through it. It might seem like the loneliest, most painful part of our lives—yet we need to share it openly and honestly with the very One who will never ever leave us or forsake us.

Sharing My Grief
Our thoughts and minds become so muddled and chaotic during grief that it is very important to share it with one who truly loves you and will let you express it without judgement or correction. I had already been writing every day in a prayer journal to God before Steve ever died. That is what helped us through his devastating illness. When I lost my other half, the one I could share everything with, I eventually found new hope and comfort in sharing with my Lord more that I had even shared with my husband. The book MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU has excerpts from my personal prayers during grieving. Yet, most of it, is your book. After twenty-five years of encouraging others in grief, I realize the greatest help they could get was not from me, but from the One who loves us most, created us and is always available. The short peeks into my grief prayers are only to encourage you to spill out your own heart before the Lord. He is the Great Counselor!

Sharing Your Grief
Everyone who has ever had a loved one die is an expert on grief- but it is their own grief. We may all be there for you, to encourage you and tell you what has worked for us. Yet there has never ever been another relationship like you had with your loved one (no matter how short or long that relationship has been so far). The most helpful thing you can do is tell your story and share your raw chaotic emotions with the One who knows and loves you and has forever to listen; the only One who can truly help you. He is the only One who can help you find joy again in this life and promises eternal life with no more pain or sorrow. My Forever Memories of You offers a place with prompts to tell your story and share your heart with the Lord. Feel free to share in the group or in the book.

Sharing Eternal Hope
Death may seemed to have taken your loved one a moment. At this crossroad of life and death in our lives, if we accept God’s free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, we live forever with our Lord. This life is only temporary, we are traveling to our real Home with the Lord. Others may leave us but He never ever will. Grief may be painful, but we have the hope of eternal life!

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“I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13

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***Use these books and group to help someone you care about find their hope in the Lord as they go through the valley of the shadow of death.

Love and Prayers, dear friends
Eva

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,
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,
Eva

“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)

Dear friends,
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.

Give Forgiveness

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,
Eva

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36


Dear friends,  sometimes I wonder who in the world wants to deal with so much grief…Why spend most of my adult life seeing, hearing, feeling such devastating sadness and loss through a grief ministry? Believe it or not, I am actually a very hopeful, joyful person. How is it possible to live life so fully and abundantly with such brokenness and grief around me all these years?  Let me tell you what a difference HOPE makes…

HOPE is What Helps Us Hang on

                When my young husband died at the age of 37, I knew I desperately needed help to keep going with four children to raise. There was a Grief Support group at a local hospital. Grief support was not so available as it is today.  We met once a week. This mixed group included those who had lost spouses, children, parents, friends, siblings from all types of deaths. It was a very informal group and not necessarily a Christ-centered group. As you can imagine, it was a pretty sad room of people. As I journaled and hung on to the Lord through my grief, I eventually thought about quitting the group but was hit with the sad thought of where hope would come from in this group if I left. So I stayed—holding out HOPE to those who were drowning in grief.

What HOPE Looks Like

                To one who is reeling from the reality of the death of a loved one, at first hope can seem like a tiny fragile thread to hang on to. Little do they know how precious and mighty that tiny strand grows as they hang on through the crashing waves. Hope can appear out of the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death through a hopeful friend who is consistently there yet doesn’t try to take their grief away…through a quiet hug that says I am with you through the pain…a simple yet profound promise of God like “I am with you always”…a very personal reassurance like through a dream, a bird, a song, a flower blooming, finding a note from your loved one (I’ve heard so many through the years). Hope can come out through an unexpected laugh or genuine smile when you thought it would never happen to you again…

HOPE Leads You Home

                After 25 plus years, I have watched the sweetest individual stories unfold before me. I may have started at the chapter of broken hearts and devastation, but I have had the honor to just be there, holding out hope, until a new joy is born. I know I did nothing but be there through a weekly group, and now–through an online group and an interactive book—all which point to HOPE. It is when people hold on to that fragile appearing HOPE that I get to see new life begin to bloom again. Jesus is the strand that leads us home. The more we hold on to Him, the more we realize that strand of hope is unbreakable. Jesus is our Way. He leads us through the valley of the shadow of death to a lovely bright road all the way Home. Then our HOPE is no longer needed for we will live in the reality of God’s love for all eternity. There is nothing more joyful to hope for.

Dear Friends,

One of the hardest parts of grief is seeing children grieve. Children need a way to express their emotions, as well. If we, as adults have difficulty dealing with the ever-changing emotions that come with grieving, think how children and young people must feel trying to sort it all out.

Perhaps a parent died or a grandparent, a sibling, a baby, a favorite uncle or aunt, a young friend, a teacher, or a close neighbor. Children must deal with the loss they are experiencing. One of the most helpful ways is to give children or youth a way to review their memories. That’s why I developed this interactive children’s book called 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. Depending on the age of the child, you can help them go through it or let them draw pictures or write their memories. Each page has a prompt so the child or youth can record their personal memories. It is their book to write. They will be the author. It is a memory book of their loved one. This precious keepsake can be kept to read back through later in life as children often grieve at different stages in their life as they grow older.

The opening section is specifically for the parent, guardian, counselor or teacher who wants to help the child through their grief. There are some helpful thoughts to give children and young people the support they need during such a hard time. As with the adult book, it offers the hope of eternal life.

As with adults, children can look ok and even play but they need to work through their grief, knowing they will be alright. You can also check out my website for ways to help children grieve. Pray for the children and young people you know who are grieving.

Love and prayers

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew  19:14

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

 

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,

There are many people who truly fear something is wrong with them because they cannot cry. They know they are grieving. Yet, there are no tears. Every single one of you is different and will grieve in your own way. That’s why anything I write about grief in My Forever Memories books, in this blog or in the years of being there for wonderful people while grieving never promises that there are certain steps or stages you have to go through in any certain order. Each of you has a unique God-given personality and the relationship you are grieving is completely different than any that has ever existed before. So naturally your grief will be unique from anyone else’s.

Some people’s tears flow fluently as their expression of the physical presence they are missing. Others almost can’t make themselves cry. Both tend to worry that something is wrong with them due to too little or too many tears. In fact, there is a whole chapter in the My Forever Memories book dedicated to one of the questions I’ve been asked the most over the years by those grieving, “Am I Going Crazy?”

I happened to be one who couldn’t cry at first. There was obviously deep pain but no tears fell for a while. I knew how much I loved my husband and thought something was wrong with me because I couldn’t cry. I think I even knew I needed to let all those pent up tears go, but to no avail. The flood came unexpectedly as I was watching a silly sitcom about a little puppy that died. It wasn’t even real. The tears burst like a broken dam and started flowing. It seems like it was almost 2 months after my husband’s death.

Try not to be any harder on yourself than grief already is. Just know you are grieving in your own style. Grief involves much more than tears. Just don’t completely avoid grief, because it’s better to go through it purposely so you don’t carry unresolved grief for the rest of your life.

Love and prayers

 

“Out of the depths, I cry to You, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let Your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.”  Psalm 130:1-2 (Cries are not always with tears)