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Dear friends,

When we grieve the death of a loved one, it can bring up unresolved issues, wounds and pain. Part of the grieving process is to review the entire relationship and all it has mean to you. I am posting a copy of Chapter 8 which might help you deal with some of those issues that have come up. The best way through it is to work through it. Forgiveness is often a vital piece in coming to  a healing place. I’m praying for you as you consider the need for forgiveness.

Love and Prayers, my friends.

 

Chapter 8

MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU

 

I Need to Forgive

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

 

 

 

Sharing Our Experiences:

Unresolved lingering grief is often due to a deep hurt that was never resolved. It can haunt the griever and leaves them bitter since it appears there is no way to take care of it. Forgiveness is not for the one who hurt us—but actually for our own benefit. Carrying bitterness and anger around is like a vicious cancer growing in our spirit. It consumes us, steals our joy, robs our peace and leaks out poison. Even if we are innocent and the hurt was horrific, we still need to forgive. Every real relationship requires forgiveness. Perhaps the deceased wasn’t there for you when they should have been; maybe they abused, neglected or deserted you. Whatever they did wrong was between them and God. Whether you forgive or not is now between you and God. Even if it seems there is absolutely nothing that needs to be forgiven. It might be wise to read this chapter anyway. Perhaps some of the things people say to you upon your loved one’s death needs forgiveness. Forgiveness is always needed. There are many hard things about grieving. Forgiving is one of them.

My Story- I Need to Forgive

At the time of Steve’s death, I couldn’t think of anything I needed to forgive him for. He had been expected to die any time for about 4 years. Every time we said goodnight, or I left to take the kids to school, we both realized he could die while I was gone. Steve also had several experiences where he died and was brought back. After living on the brink of death for so long, you realize that the last thing you say or do could be your last memory. It causes you to live deeply and not leave things unfinished. We both cherished each moment like it could be the last. I couldn’t imagine needing to forgive him for anything. He had fought hard and long to stay with us. He suffered intensely yet didn’t let that rob him of living to the fullest.

A few days before his death, I had a fleeting thought. The kids needed new shoes so badly yet we had absolutely no money to buy any. I thought how unfair it was that Steve’s illness had taken so much from our family. That thought shocked me. As soon as I thought it, I was upset for feeling it. It was definitely not Steve’s choice to be sick. I know he felt horrible that his illness had made it so hard on me and the kids. I later realized that even though I didn’t directly blame Steve (because he was one of the most selfless people I had ever known) that I still needed to forgive him.

Another time, after his death when I was left to face some huge financial issues and critical problems with my children, I found myself tempted to get really angry at being left alone to face life without him. Anger comes in many forms during grief and needs to be dealt with quickly before the sin of bitterness sets in. I found myself angry that others got to have a longer life with their loved one than I did; or angry at things people said while I was grieving; and angry that some of our closest friends left us in our greatest time of need when Steve had such a long hard illness. They couldn’t handle it.

Though we all have the need to forgive, I have worked with people who have had to forgive far worse than I have ever experienced. Some have had to ask God help them forgive a loved one’s suicide; or the person who murdered their loved one; or a whole missing family whose remains were found five years later (but the case is still unsolved). Some have had to forgive the person who died for mentally, physically or sexually abusing them during their lifetime. Some need to forgive a parent for abandoning them when they were young. Death does not relieve us from the need to forgive no matter how simple or horrible the deed was. It doesn’t even matter that we were completely innocent and the offender was evil. Forgiveness is not for the offender; it is for us. It frees us to fully receive God’s forgiveness and love in our own lives.

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

 

 

Your Story- I Need to Forgive

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37

(This may be a hard chapter to go through, but go through it any way. It is impossible to forgive without God’s help. Our human nature wants to hold on to the pain and blame. God knows that we will only be complete and free when we accept His forgiveness and practice forgiving others. Write what you are angry about—then be prepared to forgive. There will be more on the forgiving part.)

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“Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who insult you.” Luke 6:28

 

 

 

Helpful Input- I Need to Forgive

Forgiveness is a hard teaching, not only for when you’re grieving, but in any aspect of life. It can be amplified when you are going through all the emotions that can accompany grief. We may fully have the right to be hurt and angry. In our complete innocence, we might have been somehow violated. It is true, we have the choice to hold on to our bitterness and anger. Our hearts may cry out for vengeance. God will listen to our cries. Then He will patiently remind us that we still need to forgive.

Dear friend, you may be really angry upon reading this. You may be calling out, “I have the right to be angry!” “It’s my choice to not forgive.” “I will never ever be able to forgive.”

You might be ready to skip this chapter or close this book altogether at this moment, but you always have the need to forgive in front of you. There is no way to fully receive God’s forgiveness unless we forgive. There is no way to be free from the prison of hatred, irritation, bitterness and anger without forgiving. The lack of forgiveness holds us back from the abundant life given to us through Jesus Christ. When we hold something against someone, it is like an invisible wall that blocks the complete forgiveness God gives us. It deeply affects our relationship with the Lord.

I know what not forgiving can do to a person. When I was preschool to first grade, a family friend sexually abused me. He was a grown man who purposely perpetrated vile acts against a little innocent girl. He was fully in the wrong and I was clearly innocent. I didn’t even understand, yet I knew it was wrong. I tried to tell someone but probably didn’t know how to say it. Little did I know that un-forgiveness could cause such evilness to grow in my innocent heart. I was well into my twenties before I realized what a toll not forgiving took upon my soul. I looked fine on the outside, but there was a poison flowing in my spirit. It was un-forgiveness. It had spread to include an ugly bitterness against not only the guilty man, but those who I thought should be protecting me. It caused pure hatred and a sick feeling to well up inside me at the very thought of these people. This dark vein that ran through me had a strong hold over me. I didn’t fully realize how strong until I was able to begin to forgive. I learned when you belong to the Lord, we are called to forgive those who have hurt us.

Forgiveness is much more than simply saying, “I forgive.” (Although the first few times, that is one of the hardest things to do.) It is really impossible to forgive on our own. We need to ask God to help us forgive. He is the Author and Perfector of forgiveness. His love is so far above ours that He sacrificed His own Son Jesus Christ to take our shame and blame of sin. Jesus is truly the only innocent person there has ever been. God sent Him specifically to take our sins so we could live blameless with Him forever and ever. When Jesus was dying on the cross for all our sins, He asked our Father in Heaven to forgive us, for we didn’t realize what we were doing.

We cannot live free from the effects of the sin of un-forgiveness until we let go of it. We were made in God’s image- with the ability to forgive, as we have been forgiven. It frees us up to live more fully with God. Not forgiving (no matter how deep the crime) stands between us and the Lord. It also affects all our other relationships.

Many people find themselves angry at God when they are grieving the death of their loved one. They drive themselves crazy asking “why?” “Why did God take my loved one?” “Why didn’t I die instead?” “How could God let someone so good die?” “How can I trust a God who let something like this happen?” God did not plan for death, suffering and disaster. He designed us to walk and live peacefully with Him for all eternity. Yet He also gave us free choice. None of us has been able to live without sin. It is sin that causes death, grief, sorrow, illness, violence. God will listen to our “Why’s?” and then draw us closer to Him through Jesus Christ. He will not always answer the why? So we have to let go of the blame, questioning and anger. When we let go of our un-forgiveness toward God, we will find the One who will never ever leave us—the one who will bathe us in eternal life with Him.

You stand at a crossroad when you face the death of a loved one. We begin to realize the shortness of life, the forever-ness of eternity, and our need for a relationship with God. There may not be a real need for forgiveness for anything your departed loved one did. You may have already forgiven for anything that stood between you. If so, you are blessed—or perhaps not being completely honest. Even the very best relationships require forgiveness. There is no way any of us can live without either purposely or unintentionally hurting those around us.

Forgiveness becomes so much easier the more we ask God to help us do it. Perhaps that’s why I felt like I didn’t need to forgive Steve much when he died. I had a lot of practice before, so it became easier to forgive more quickly. Every single one of us needs to forgive and be forgiven. I’m praying for you as you face this opportunity.

“If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness therefore You are feared.” Psalm 130:3

 

 

 

Practical Ideas- I Need to Forgive

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22

Look back on your memories of your “Remember When” chapter. Do any of those memories spark anger, resentment, hurt? Perhaps they are things you need to forgive your loved one for?

Ask God to search your heart and let you know what things you are holding on to that need to be forgiven.

Be willing to give up your right to harbor anger and obey God in His call to forgive.

Realize it often takes more than one time to forgive. New situations will cause you to recall old hurts and you will need to forgive all over again.

You shouldn’t necessarily tell the person you forgive them. That’s between you and God. Sometimes telling them will escalate the issue to a whole new level- like “Oh yeah? You want to forgive me? Well, how about when you did this to me?”

Pray for those who have caused you pain. As you forgive them, ask God to bless them with a closer life with Him. Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. Sometimes those we love the most can seem like the most hurtful enemy.

Remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood (a person). It is against the powers of spiritual darkness (Ephesians 6:12)

Anger itself is not a sin. However, if we let it turn into bitterness or un-forgiveness, it can become a sin. While grieving, you may be easily angered by what people say or do. Pray about it quickly. Pray for the one who made you angry and forgive them so you can be free from sin.

If your anger is against your loved one who has died, you can still forgive them. They do not need to personally hear you forgive them.

If you are hurt or angry by what someone says or does as you grieve, pray for them and forgive them. They probably don’t even realize they hurt you.

Those closest to you may not grieve the same way you do. It may cause tension or hard feelings between you. When tempted to be angry, chose forgiveness and prayer instead.

Write a letter to God to tell him about how angry, hurt, upset you are. He will listen to your heart and then help you forgive the one caused it. David often raved about his anger, the unfairness, his hurts to the Lord in the book of Psalms. God helped him forgive the very ones he vented about. David was “a man after God’s heart.”

Use God as your filter to run things through before you speak or react in anger. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19)

If you are mad at God, let Him know. He already knows but is waiting for you to express it. Let go of the anger against Him and you will discover He is truly what you need.

Write a letter to the person you need to forgive…then read it out loud to yourself or a trusted friend… then shred it or burn it.

If you need to, write seventy-seven letters to forgive, read out loud and shred.

If the person continually wounds you, put some distance between you. It is easier to forgive from afar.

“Get rid of your bitterness, hot tempers, anger, loud quarreling, cursing and hatred. Be kind to each other, sympathetic, forgiving each other as God has forgiven you through Christ.” Ephesians 4:31-32

 

 

 

Interactive Work page- I Need to Forgive

Forgiveness doesn’t just happen. It is a choice. Be willing to relinquish your right to be angry; and instead choose to forgive as God has forgiven us. You will be greatly blessed with the peace of Jesus Christ and a freedom from the sin of un-forgiveness.

As you review your relationship with your loved one, what comes to mind that needs forgiveness?

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Is there someone who played a part in your loved one’s death that requires forgiveness? (a doctor, a drunk driver, the person who sold them drugs…)

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List those who need forgiveness who have said something hurtful since your loved one’s death (“It’s OK. You’ll have another baby.” “God needed them more than you.” “I know how you feel.” “You can marry again.” “You should be over it by now.”…)

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What about those who try to tell you how to grieve? Or think they know what activities you should be doing? Or how long you should take to grieve? Write down those names and choose to forgive.

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Have there been family arguments and misunderstandings over possessions, money, property or the care given to your loved one? Write down what needs to be forgiven in these circumstances:

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“Make sure no one ever pays back one wrong with another wrong. Instead, always try to do what is good for each other and everyone else.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15

 

 

 

Prayer Journal- I Need To Forgive

“Try to live peacefully with everyone, and try to live holy lives, because if you don’t, you will not see the Lord. Make sure that everyone has kindness from God so that bitterness doesn’t take root and grow to cause trouble that corrupts many of you.” Hebrews 12:14-15

 

My Prayer Journal- I Need To Forgive

(Once again, these are excerpts from my prayer journal—pieced together over several occasions.)

Heavenly Father,

Help me with this anger! Someone started a fund which a lot of wonderful people gave money to. I know they all wanted to help a young widow with four children. It was a pretty good amount of money, but it made me so mad! I was shocked how mad I was. Where were those people when Steve needed them so badly? I don’t want the money! I want Steve back! Even as I pray about this, I realize, these people were there the best they could be during Steve’s illness. They couldn’t have paid his medical bills. They couldn’t save him. They couldn’t bring him relief or peace. Only You could do those things. Father, I realize they want to help the kids and I. I forgive those who didn’t know how to be there for us. I truly am grateful for the generosity and compassion of all those who gave. Help me grieve with grace, knowing You are with me. Give me wisdom to know how best to use the money they are giving us.

Lord, the momma bear in me came out growling today. My mom meant well. She was going to help with the kids, and started making choices for them that were not her choices to make. She probably assumed I was too upset or weak to care for my children. From my usually soft voice came a strong and powerful explosion. I let her know these were my children and it was my family and she will not take it over. Father, I know my mom likes to take the lead, but I needed to set that boundary loud and clear right away. Steve may be gone now, but I will do whatever it takes to keep my family together and care for my children. Father, I need to forgive my mom for wanting to take over, yet I’m so glad You gave me the strength to make it clear that I will care for my children. I am trusting You to help me. Lord, as time goes on, show me how I can let my mom help—without taking over. She is part of our family, too—just not the head! With Steve gone, I know You are the head of our family.

Father, today I need You again. My daughter is having such a hard time with her dad’s death. I thought she would—since she struggled with his illness so much. She’s making poor choices and causing great pain. I know she doesn’t mean to. She is fifteen and losing her dad at such a critical age has shaken everything in her. Father, it’s easier to forgive her for the pain she causes because I understand where it’s coming from. I know her heart. I know she won’t always act this way. The real challenge for me is to forgive the people who give me every kind of advice you can image about my daughter. I’ve had some infer that she is a bad girl and that I am not a good mom. I absolutely know that both of those are not true. Father, help me forgive those who give well-meaning advice. They are not living our lives. Help me be patient with them as they try to tell me how I should raise my daughter. Help me choose wisely who I speak to about what’s going on. Put someone in my life who loves her, believes in her and knows that the way she is acting is not who she really is. That’s You, isn’t it, Lord. You love her even more than me.

“Whoever forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever keeps bringing up the issue separates the closest of friends.” Proverbs 17:9

 

 

 

Your Prayer Journal- I Need To Forgive

“We love because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” 1 John 4:19-21

(Ask God to help you forgive your loved one for anything that was left unsettled; to forgive those who hurt you now, and to let go of any anger you hold against the Lord.)

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“And what I have forgiven- if there is anything to forgive- I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:10b-11

Dear friends,

Some of you are new to grief (and this blog or group). Some of you have learned to gracefully carry your grief over a longer period of time. Some of you are grieving the death/passing of a longed-for baby or an adult child. Some are grieving the deep loss of your soulmate, sibling, friend, parent. Some saw their loved one peacefully slip into the next life. Some are still traumatized by a murder, suicide, tragic accident. Some were able to say “goodbye” while others did not get that chance. Some have no regrets as they know their loved one absolutely knew ow much they were loved. Others have to face unresolved disagreements, last harsh words, wounded or dysfunctional relationships. Our hearts are broken and it seems our world has ended. There’s no way around it, grief is hard! So how in the world can we grieve with hope?

 

There is no way around grief—we all have to experience it, each in our own way. The HOPE can only come through our ultimate relationship with God made possible by Jesus Christ. He is the ONLY one who will never leave us. Death can never separate us from His love and care. He created us to love Him and others. He created us to have an eternal love relationship with Him and others who love Him. Sin separates us each from Him, yet He has an eternal plan to share all eternity in love with Him. All we have to do is accept the fact we need Him and cannot be reunited without accepting Jesus—the way God provided to bring us back to Him for all eternity. Even when we share that life united to Him through Jesus, we still grieve the deep loss of our loved ones.

 

As Jesus walked this earth as both Son of Man and Son of God, He knew the eternal plan. He knew when his friend Lazarus had been dead three days that He was going to bring Lazarus back to life. Yet when Jesus saw his friends’ deep grief, “Jesus wept.” Jesus knows the pain of grief. He cries with us. There are no tears or sighs or anguish He doesn’t see in each of us…and yet He also knows that no matter how deep our anguish is, it is only momentary when compared to the joy set before us—the joy our loved ones are already experiencing at this moment and for all eternity.

 

So go ahead and grieve for the loss of your dear loved ones’ presence. Thank God for the rich gift He gave you through sharing however much time you had with them. No, it was not enough. But grieve with hope- knowing You have all eternity with them ahead with no more death or separation, misunderstandings or deep wounds.  Grieve with hope- knowing the Lord is with You and will never ever leave you. Grieve with hope- knowing that this life is painful but our eternal home with the Lord will be pure love, joy and peace.

 

Grieve with hope, dear friends!

Eva

 

“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

Dear friends,

I’m writing more as a griever today than a “grief guru.” That’s the humorous nickname my forever pastor/friend gave me. I’m still missing Jerl’s place in my life—he’s only been gone 9 months. I didn’t think I would ever publicly use that title, because I try to just be a friend who encourages grievers, but it seemed fitting today because I am fully aware there can never be an expert on grief except for God who helps all who will let Him. I lost two brothers within hours of one another four days ago- one from a week-old diagnosis of cancer—and the other by suicide. These two men have been my brothers for 50 years. They were the last two brothers of a gang of four boys, from my late husband’s family who have all gone on to their glorious home and left me behind. I have officially moved into the matriarch position.

Here are a few things “the grief guru” is rediscovering about grief:

*Death can come softly and tenderly (I was singing to one brother when he peacefully passed) or violently (by suicide). Most of my family missed the peaceful blessing because they had to leave to deal with the other death just before. The brothers are still gone either way. I have no doubt God was with them both…and they are more alive than ever with Him because of Jesus Christ.

*The effects of suicide last for generations. The first brother to die was from suicide. Praying for it to STOP with this generation!

*Photos provide snapshots of memories with incredible life stories that need to be told.

*Pictures provide proof there were happy times—even if someone couldn’t see that in the end.

*Death lasts an instant but lives are eternal. They slip from their flesh into a glorious spiritual world that we can only imagine.

*Grief brings out powerful and shocking emotions- of fun memories, hurt feelings, deep wounds, past grief, unresolved issues, the deep need to express forgiveness and regrets…

*It is the most important time to listen, and be there for one another, as every single person is grieving in their own way and needs to find ways to express it safely without correction.

* The storm is ripe for further misunderstandings, hurts and miscommunication because every single person is so very wounded and vulnerable. The need to listen to the hurt underneath the words is vital.

*We cannot grieve in a healthy manner without the hope, help, love, strength of God, who understands us each better than anyone else possibly could. HE knows all the hidden scars that go into each of our reactions. He understands when others cannot.

*God is also faithful to use these times of grief to heal each of us in amazing ways as we keep asking Him to. I have been praying non-stop over all my family…and I have witnessed God at work in incredible ways through heart-breaking circumstances.

* I can’t help but cry when I thank God for the gift of family- that includes adult children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great nieces and nephews, my 88-year-old mom, church family, neighbors and friends. Hugs, tears, messages, and most of all prayers- help more than we can ever know!

*Each of my relationships are eternal. I have an ever-growing heavenly cheering section urging me on. Suddenly, I feel like singing that last song I sang to my brother again, “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King!”

*I love you, Larry and Wayne. See you soon!

This so-called “grief guru” is still learning that true healing can only come through reaching out to the Eternal Counselor who knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us anyway.

Love and prayers,

Eva

 

Although the last Monday in May has long been designated in the USA to decorate graves of veterans who lost their lives in battle, it can evoke a lot of emotion as many go to cemeteries to honor their military and non-military loved ones with flowers, flags and other special tokens this weekend. My thoughts and prayers are with you—no matter how you choose to celebrate Memorial Day this year.

It can certainly change how you view this holiday, depending on what’s going on in your life. As a young girl, I recall making hundreds of Memorial Day Baskets for our family greenhouse business for people to set out on their loved ones’ graves. I can also remember exciting Memorial Day parades. Now, I can see why not everyone feels like a parade, a cookout, or day with family and friends at the lake. It may still be too painful for some to visit a grave, while others need to go almost every week for a while.

I visited my first husband’s grave today to place some new flowers on it. As I stood looking at his headstone, I wondered what he’s been doing for 27 years in glory. So many years have gone by- though compared to eternity perhaps just a minute. I have since remarried and share life with another very good man—and have been for more years than I was married to Steve. (Before he died, he told me I would marry a good man, and he was right.) We have grand children and even a couple of great grandkids that Steve never got to meet. Two of his kids are now older than he was when he died. Every Memorial Day since he has left, has been a different experience…and that’s OK.

My grandparents and great grandparents, along with others, are buried at this same cemetery. There is also a memorial to veterans nearby. Each headstone represents someone’s daughter, son, husband, wife, baby, friend…Some graves are highly decorated and some may not have anyone alive who remembers them. Every single one is a reminder of how short this life is and how permanent eternity is.

I’m fully aware that every single person reading this, is experiencing something unique this Memorial Day. No matter what you are going through, it will not always be the same as this year. Even though a whole life ahead may seem incredibly long without your loved one, it is shorter than you think. Perhaps the most important way to deal with Memorial Day, is to make sure you are ready for eternity with the Lord. You never know what will happen before next year.

 

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“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

“For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 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 15:53-55

 

 

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 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,
There are some new people and families on my heart today who are still reeling from the shock of a sudden death of a loved one. How I wish I could take their pain away—yet I know I cannot. Though I have had a grief ministry for over 25 years now, I am ever so aware I cannot make everything better for these dear people I love (or for those who are just joining our group that I don’t know yet.)

I can offer to be here while you go through one of the hardest things you will ever have to go through. For some of you, it is not even really real yet. You keep thinking you can call and share something with your loved one. God is so tender and close to the broken-hearted. He knows we cannot possibly bear all of our grief all at once. It comes in waves or “attacks.” Almost anything can set it off—a whiff of a scent, a line of a song, a glimpse of a shirt, that moment when you turn to share something with your loved one and you are shocked to remember they are not there…

Each of you has a one-of-a-kind special relationship with your loved one that has never occurred throughout history before because there has never been another you and them before. No one but you knows what you are missing–and you are still realizing. You are interconnected with your loved one in a way no one else was. Therefore, your grief will be very personal and unique. No one can go through it for you. No one can tell you how you feel because they don’t truly know.

There is only one who truly understands your loss and your grief…and that is our Lord God Almighty. He made you—and your loved one. He’s the one who orchestrated your lives to intertwine together. He understands you better than you understand yourself. He can help you through this painful walk through the Valley of the shadow of death.

It will take more tears, physical and emotional energy than most anything you can go through. Be gentle with yourself as you go through each day. You have been deeply wounded as part of yourself has been ripped from your very being. But you will be okay. I am praying that you will discover our Lord in a new and deeper way than ever before as He walks with you.

My deepest love and prayers,
Eva

PS. My Forever Memories of You books were written with much love so you can actually write your own book through this journey. It will be a book of your own relationship with your loved one… and a growing relationship with the Lord.

Dear Friends,

I haven’t posted anything lately about the two books I wrote after twenty plus years of standing with others as they grieve. These books —My Forever Memories of You (one for children and one for adults- available in ebooks and paperback) were designed to actually give you a way to voice your own story, grief, memories, regrets, gratefulness, loneliness, fears, and thoughts of going forward. Here is a link to get a little preview. This is a book written by me–and you. It is actually YOUR story with memories of your loved one. Every single book will be different because of what you put into it! This is one of the most important times of your life. It is a crossroad between this earthly life and eternal life.

These are written out of much compassion, my own grief, my love for the Lord and the broken hearted, my experience as a Grief Recovery Specialist. What makes this book different is that it is a mixture of me sharing excerpts from my own personal journal as I grieved and places for you to share your own personal thoughts, practical and spiritual encouragement and the eternal hope that is found in Jesus Christ. What other hope is there?

A Gift of Eternal Hope

It is my hope that churches, friends, family members will get these books for their friends who are grieving. We can’t and shouldn’t take their grief away. It is vital to go through it. This book allows and gently guides people to work through their own personal grief. It draws them toward the only One who can truly say He will never leave them or forsake them.

Most grievers are not going to get this book for themselves. It is all they can do to make it through the day. These books will actually give them prompts to work through their own grief and find ways to express the jumbled overwhelming emotions that come with grief. It is my hope and vision that churches and believers will use this book to give grievers the ultimate hope as they go through the most devastating time in their lives- whether it is the death of a spouse, child, sibling, parent, friend–whether it is a peaceful or violent death due to old age, tragic accident, suicide or illness.

This book will never be a best seller but it could be a book that will offer real eternal hope to those walking through the valley of the shadow of death…but it will take those who care getting these books to those who need it. They are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, or through me. It is not one that lends itself to many reviews because those who it will mean the most to are not even considering giving it a review (which is so important in getting it out to more people in today’s world.) This ministry also includes My Forever Memories of You grief group on Facebook (churches, pastors, friends can add grievers and pastors to this group for extended encouragement) as well as me speaking to groups.

THANK YOU

Thank You to the churches and people who have already shared a book with those who need it. Pray for these books and the My Forever Memories of You grief group on Facebook to continue to share eternal hope!

Love and prayers, Eva

Book Award Winner

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