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photo by my brother Rodd Moesel

Dear friends,
It was the first time I was able to go to my husband’s grave without the kids. Each time before, my heart had been divided by my own grief and concern for my children. This time I was free to grieve for my own loss. The ground was still freshly dug with no signs of grass. There were still dried flowers upon this horrible ground which my beloved husband’s body laid under. The cold wintery day caused me to worry about his poor body freezing- the same body I had loved, kept warm and cared for. It was more than I could take. Great sobs and wailing burst forth from depths I never knew existed. All was dark and dreary; and I was alone in the world. That’s when I felt a tender hand lift my chin to look up…

As my face was lifted to gaze upwards, everything changed! The sky was the most peaceful blue with bright white airy clouds floating with hope. Instead of focusing on the dark hopelessness of the grave, I was seeing the promise of heaven—where my love was now. A quiet joy bubbled up to drown out the life-threatening waves of wailing. All I could think of was the overflowing abundant eternal life my husband now dwelt in. Not even grief can take away the hope we have of a life lived with our Lord—a place where there is no death, pain, suffering, violence, evil, illness or grief. My intense grief was changed simply by looking up!

Oh! my dear friends, many of you are feeling overcome by intense grief. I urge you to look up! Look up at the One who gave you such a precious gift in your loved one—however short the time. Look up for the hope of heaven and the hope of joy in life once more. Look up at the One who understands your grief better than you do and who offers you something to overcome it with-eternal life through Jesus Christ. Look up at the One who will never ever leave you! Look up at the One who holds you as you muddle through separation from one you love so much. Look up to the real Home our Lord is making for you. Look up for the strength you need to go on.

If you have never accepted Jesus as your Savior, look up from this harsh lonely life from the foot of the cross—the cross He was willing to die on for your sins, so you could live with him forever. Look up to be made new! Look up to be forgiven. Look up to be filled with His Holy Spirit. Look up! Your life depends on it! You may still grieve, but look up at our eternal hope!

Love and Prayers,
Eva

 

“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” Acts 7:55-56

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.
When we hear of a death or a group of deaths, we think of it as a tragedy. It is tragic to us because we are left behind. It is especially tragic to us if we love or are close to the one who died. Praise God! Death is not the end!

Tragedy

Those of us who have loved someone, and then had them pass from this life, have to struggle with the tragedy of death. Death was not God’s perfect design. It was His will to have us live in the Garden with Him forever and ever. He gave man the freedom to choose and mankind chose to not trust God’s perfect will but to disobey. Ever since that first sin, we have all been born with sin as part of our DNA and there is a separation between us and God’s perfect presence. Ever since then, there has been death. (But Praise God! He overcame the tragedy and finality of death by sending His own sinless Son Jesus Christ to willingly die on the cross, once and for all, for our collective and personal past, present and future sin! God Almighty turned the greatest tragedy of all time into the greatest victory of all time…so of course, God sees death differently than we do. Yet He knows us well enough to understand our tragic viewpoint and weeps with those of us left behind.)

Reality

Anyone who has been with someone when they died knows full well the reality of death. Our loved ones are here one moment and in the blinking of an eyes, they are gone. Their empty body may be in front of us, but the person (the essence of who they really are) is gone. It is more than we can comprehend. Where did they go? Will I ever see them again? How can I go on without them? How can God let this happen? These are all questions we wrestle with as we deal with the reality of learning how to live here—when they have gone on. Death might have come from a tragic accident, long or sudden illness, suicide, war, murder, old age, or in the womb. It is a painful time to go through, but when we put our faith in the reality of what Jesus accomplished on the cross and in His resurrection, it becomes easier to finish our own race with our eyes on the finish line. Our real life is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Eternity

This earthly life is short and temporary (no matter how long it is lived). When we accept God’s loving grace and the gift of His Son dying for our sins and being raised in eternal life, we also are willing to die to our old earthly lives and be raised with Jesus as new creations into eternal life with our Heavenly Father. Nothing can ever take that life away. It begins the moment we believe that Jesus died for us personally so we could live with Him eternally. We may still have to wrestle with the pain of a loved one’s passing, but we can trust the reality of eternal life through Jesus Christ. The true tragedy is for those who have not yet believed in the reality and finality of what God has given us through His own Son Jesus Christ—who not only made a way for us to be intimately joined with God but who never ever leaves us.

I will be praying for you as you struggle with the reality of death and life. I pray you choose LIFE!
Love and prayers,
Eva

“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:16-18

 

“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?’” 1 Corinthians 15:54-55

 

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.” Psalm 116:15

Dear Friends,

Christmas can be very painful for those who are grieving the death of a loved one, but have you ever thought that Jesus was born to bring hope to those who are low in spirit, the broken-hearted; those who think they just can’t go on? This deep gut-wrenching, life-shattering, paralyzing loss in your life is one of the few critical points in your life when you fully realize your great need. How can you go on? How can you possibly ever celebrate again? How can you find any hope or joy or purpose for living without the one you love so much? The answer lies in that quiet, lowly stable where the Son of God was born, mostly unnoticed by a hopeless dark world. It is possible to find all that you need as you kneel before that manger this Christmas-even in the midst of your grief….

 

Kneel in the Darkness

Most likely, there have been few such times of darkness in your life as when someone you love suddenly left this life. Perhaps it was your child who you must somehow learn to live without. Whether they were a baby, a teen or an adult child—you grieve all the future Christmas and other life celebrations you will miss sharing with them. Perhaps it was your spouse that you hoped to grow old with and you are filled with Christmas and other past memories. Maybe it was a parent, fiancé, sibling or friend. It could have been a violent or a peaceful death—expected or unexpected, but you were not ready (even if you knew it was coming!) Now your world has been shaken. Everything seems unstable, fearful and dark. I respectfully and gently suggest you kneel in the darkness as the Light of the World was born for you long ago in that unnoticed stable.

 

Solemn Stillness in a Crazy World

Your world seems chaotic, out-of-control and void of the love you depended on, that you were counting on. This is the most critical time in your life to kneel in the lonely stillness. You need this baby Jesus who was born to be King of your heart. Nothing will be right until you do. He is the only One who can heal your heart, who will walk faithfully with you through the Valley of the shadow of Death. No one else can understand you like He does. No one else will stay with You when everyone else leaves. No one else can give you peace and joy in the midst of your grief.

 

Drop to Your Knees

Grief will knock you off your feet; punch the life right out of you. While you are there flat on the ground, make a choice to kneel before Jesus, the baby who was God-in-the-flesh; the one who lived as one of us yet without sin to willingly offer Himself as a holy eternal sacrifice for our sin. Jesus is the only one who could overcome death (the penalty for our sin) and make a way for us to live with Him in holiness forever and ever. If Christmas seems different this year because of your great loss, kneel quietly before Baby Jesus in a manger who gave everything to become your king! He will never leave you, and will be with you as you learn to live in even greater joy with the Son of God—the very One your loved one knelt before as they left their earthly body. We each have a reason to celebrate Jesus at Christmas time–especially when you stand in grief at the crossroads of heaven and earth.

 

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying. ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.’” Luke 2:10-14

 

Dear Friends,
With the holidays approaching, extra anxiety can set in for those who are dreading going through them without their loved one. No matter how much you want time to stop, the holidays will come whether you want them to or not. Some people truly wish they could just skip over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years due to the fear of facing these special days without the one they love by their side. There are some specific plans you can make to ease your way through these special days that are filled with memories, emotion, family and the very obvious void of your loved one.

Make Realistic Plans
Even without grief, holidays can be stressful with so many things to do on your list. You may want to consider paring down your list to take some of the stress off and leave yourself extra room for grieving. Consider writing down all the ways you usually celebrate (putting lights up, sending cards, shopping, baking, wrapping…) Take a good look at the list and take some of those items off the list this year. The world will not end if you do not do everything you usually do. On the other hand, there may be some things you’ve done every year that you know are important to continue. Focus on those fewer traditions or ask for help on some of your tasks.

Acknowledge Your Loss and Celebrate Them
You do not have to act like nothing has happened. Find a creative way to honor your loved one this season. Make a special ornament; give a gift that you would have bought for your loved one and give to someone in need; set a place at the table for them; light a candle and have everyone tell something they admired about your loved one; print a card to send out to share thoughts of your loved one; give a framed photo with family members; make a pillow from old shirts to give to a family member; read something they wrote… You know your loved one and can plan a special personalized way to celebrate them during this holiday season.

Stay Flexible During this Season
You may get invited to parties and gatherings. You may want to accept them with the understanding that you have no idea how you will feel that day. Explain that you may need to cancel or leave early. Grief, as you know by now, is unpredictable. It could hit hard without warning, so leave yourself an out to leave if you need to. It may be a good idea to come up with a planned answer for those you see during the holidays who ask how you are doing. You may feel like talking about your loved one and you may not. Feel free to have an answer ready such as, “It is still very hard but I don’t feel like talking about it right now.”

Sometimes the anxiety about the holidays turns out to be much harder than actually going through them. Prepare your loose plans. Give yourself permission to take extra time to remember the special gift of your loved one. Keep a journal or have a safe trusted friend you can share your heart with. Don’t forget to celebrate the real reason we have these “holy-days” in the first place. They just might become more precious than ever before as you discover in a new way that “God is with us” through Jesus Christ.

Love and prayers,
Eva

 

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“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” Luke 2:14