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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

Dear friends,
It is absolutely true that death is at the forefront when your loved ones dies. Sometimes your loved one’s death hits you out of nowhere like getting hit by a semi-truck. The awfulness and finality of death has to be dealt with and relived until the reality can be absorbed. The deep wounds and traumatic injuries must be attended to. The shock of how they can be here one moment and gone the next must be dealt with. A lot of questions, regrets, and emptiness must be wrestled with. Death is definitely the cause of grief, but I propose it doesn’t have to be the outcome of grief. After 25 years of personal grieving and standing with others through grief, I have watched death turn into life over and over again. You may have to walk through the pain of death but Life is worth it!

 

Your Life Together
No one else can understand the relationship you shared with your child, baby, spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, friend or person who meant so much to you. You shared a one-of-a-kind relationship that no one else has ever had in history because there has never been another you or another them. You share so many memories, hopes, dreams, battles…Some were fulfilled and others were not. Grief helps you review what you shared together and what you hoped to share forever.

 

Their Unique Life
Your loved one was a special individual—never before replicated even by those who shared the same DNA. They have left a trail that has impacted others in one way or another. It is amazing how the absence of someone causes you to realize who they really are and how many lives have been touched by them simply being who they are. You can choose to carry the best of them with you as you keep going.

 

Your Life Without Them
There is a huge learning curve as you process the fact you must go on without their physical presence. There is a huge recognition of loneliness as no one else can fill that particular void. Much of grief is the hard work of figuring out how to live without them. Nobody but you can do that. I believe it takes the realization of knowing that you never go forward alone. Not only do you carry them forward as part of who you are, but I pray you discover as I have (and many others have) that the Lord is with you and will never ever leave you.

 

Preciousness of Life
It’s sad to say that we too often take life for granted. We assume loved ones will be with us always. There is nothing like the death of a loved one that makes you more fully appreciate life, relationships, the air we breathe, being careful what you say and how you treat others because it could be the last time you see them or they see you in this present form. One of the most often repeated sentiments by grievers is to hug your loved ones tighter and tell them you love them for no one is promised tomorrow.

 

Promise of Eternal Life

However, we are promised eternal life—a life without end. It can be a glorious, unspeakably wonderful life with our Lord, our Creator, our God and our loved ones. There is nothing like the death of someone we love that smacks us into the harsh reality of how short this particular life is and that we go somewhere afterward. Often during grief, we may even get a little peek of the glory of the life to come if we are watching and we know who to watch for. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He has gone to prepare us a place where there is no more death, illness, violence, darkness or tears of grief.

Dear friends, I pray that as you face death, you ask Jesus to lead you through this valley of the shadow of death. Death is caused by sin, but God gave us Jesus to overcome death and make a way to eternal life. Ask Him to be your Savior, traveling guide, comforter, friend, counselor…He brings life even from death!

Love and Prayers,
Eva

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

“When the perishable has been clothed with the 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?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” 1 Corinthians 15:54-56

For More hope during grief, go deeper with My Forever Memories of You interactive book

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)


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.