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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,

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,
Yesterday, I stopped in a store to look for a pair of shoes (At least that’s why I thought I was there). A friend saw me before I saw her and practically attacked me with one of those long I-really-need-this hugs. I hadn’t seen her in person since her mother was killed in a car wreck two years ago. She just got through honoring her mom’s birthday—and now she was dreading Mother’s Day this weekend. I never found any shoes but I believe God sent someone she knew would understand. I didn’t have any words of wisdom just a long understanding hug…because Mother’s Day can be hard.

I personally know and love many mothers and children who are dreading Mother’s Day…a mom who never got to see her young son reach true manhood, another mom who has had to watch both her children die on separate occasions but will be honored by her delightful surviving little granddaughter who will know her as mom the rest of her life, another mom who lives with the trauma of watching her strong adult son who was married with children waste away from cancer, another mom whose son died in a freak bicycle accident 19 years ago at the age of ten, lots of moms who lost babies before they were born, moms who lost one twin at birth but delivered a healthy twin, older moms who thought they would go first but have had to bury their grown children, mothers whose children are alive but lost to drugs, mental illness or “Who knows where they are,” moms who are forgotten in a nursing home…

Mother’s Day is hard for children and husbands who are still learning to live without their beloved moms/wives (the one who held them dear, cared for them, prayed for them and kept record of memories). Mother’s Day is hard for those who made a decision to abort a pregnancy and live with regrets that only God can heal. It is hard for women who gave their child up for adoption or had them taken away. Mother’s Day is hard for children and moms who have severed relationships.

Mother’s Day is hard for women who struggle with infertility or have never had children, for those who foster or adopt children with trauma, for those who have children with special needs which demands their lives. Mother’s Day is difficult for those who are raising children without their dad.

There are a lot of reasons Mother’s Day can be hard, but there are a lot of reasons to be thankful for the blessings of being a mom or having a mom (even if she has left this earth—or never lived up to your vision of what a mom should be). There are blessings in knowing mothers or even being a mom-figure to others who need a mother’s love in their lives.

This Mother’s Day may be hard—but I encourage you to focus on the blessings of having the chance to love like a mom or be loved by a mom. Thank God for making mothers and women who love like moms. Some of the greatest blessings are found in the hardest circumstances.

Love and prayers for a blessed Mother’s Day,
Eva

God’s word in Isaiah 66:13: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you…”

Dear friends.
Another one of my precious preschool children I taught and helped care for since she was born just had to learn of her daddy’s death. I identify with her mom who had to tell her what no mother wants to tell her child. This will forever shape and define who this delightful girl is. Her devoted daddy was with her one moment and gone the next. It is so hard for adults to deal with the reality of death. It is just as difficult for kids to handle…but they do. They could use our help, though. The adults who are there for the child are usually grieving also. It is so important not to forget the kids during this time. They may look Ok, just like you do—but they need some extra care during this time as well. Besides, it gives you purpose to keep going.
My four children ranged in age from 2 years old to 17 years old at the time of their dad’s death. Several older widows told me that I was blessed to have children still at home to make me have reason to keep going each day. Even as we deal with our own grief, we need to actively seek ways to help our children express theirs.
• Expect new fears to surface—especially at night time or nap time when it gets quiet and lonely. Try to ease them into sleep by providing vitally important bedtime routines including prayer, story, the best thing that happened to them today… Tuck them in and reassure them you are there. ALL ages need this!
• Let them know you are hurting, too—that it’s OK to cry. Cry with them, hold them. Let all ages know you both need extra hugs right now.
• Give them a large huggable stuffed animal with their loved one’s photo around the neck (in a soft frame like a luggage tag. It will be cuddled more than you know. Some people make a pillow of shirts the loved one wore.
• Reassure them you will be OK. That you will be there for them and will care for them. They may never have seen you grieve and may think you will not be able to care for them.
• Let them know when you are leaving and coming back. Everyone is fearful of losing another loved one when it is so real.
• The greatest gift you can give your child is to share your faith in eternal life—that they will be reunited with their parent—that there will be no more death—that because of Jesus we can count on a joyful life after death. If you are not sure of that, perhaps this is the time to be sure.
• Talk about your loved one. Share memories—especially funny ones and pleasant times.
• Use the MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU for children to let them make their own memory book to keep forever. There are pages to spark their own precious memories to draw, write about or put photos in.
• Let them play but don’t be surprised when something will trigger a new wave of grief. When it happens, let them talk, cry or just hold them til it passes.
• Expect extreme and sudden changes of emotions. Be extra patient as they work through these. Help them find ways to express it. Let them know you have crazy emotions right now, as well.
• Encourage a regular routine to maintain order during such a chaotic time (for you both!)
• Children will reexperience grief at big moments in their life as they grow- like learning to drive, graduations, their wedding and birth of their own child. These are peak times they realize anew how much they miss their parent.
• Sometimes children do not feel open to share their hurt with you because they know you are hurting and they do not want to add to it. Keep reminding them that it is good to express their grief and you can get through this together. Reassure them you are still a family.
• For more help got to my website or join My Forever Memories of You grief group on Facebook
• For more help, get one of the MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU books available in adult and children’s versions.

Love and prayers,
Eva

Dear Friends,

When a loved one has just died, it can feel like your whole world stops…but the world around you just keeps on going. You need time to grieve, to take it all in, to process this huge void, to let the huge gaping wound heal… but the bills keep coming, the water heater floods the garage; your kids need care; your car breaks down…

A dear friend of mine just lost her husband recently. Before the reality had time to even set in—within a month of his death, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and was quickly told it had spread. She is grieving the death of her husband and her own health, while continuing to work, go through treatments, and help prepare for two daughters’ weddings. Life does not stop no matter how much we want it to.

It is still critical to slow down and breathe in God’s Spirit (our comforter, counselor, strength). It truly helps to be gentle with yourself as you grieve. Grieving takes more energy than you realize. In our fast-paced society, everyone expects things to happen quickly. Grief can’t be rushed through. It is there no matter what else is going on. Sometimes we have to remind others that we are still grieving when they demand too much of us during this season of our lives. Sometimes, we even have to remind ourselves not too expect too much of ourselves for a while. This intense grief will not last forever. It can slowly become a beautiful part of who we are with God’s help.

Some of the most important parts of grief are realizing what a great gift we had in our relationship with our loved one, figuring out how to go on without them and finding a way to honor them as we go forward. This is definitely a process. It can be done. It needs to be done—even if the world doesn’t stop and life goes on with all its demands.

Practical Ways to Grieve When the World Doesn’t Stop:

  • Set aside some time to journal or work through your grief
  • Free up your schedule as much as possible for a while
  • Grieve at your own pace and not by other’s timetable
  • Try not to avoid grief with excessive activities, shopping, medications, travel…
  • Trust God to help you handle all that comes up each day, one day at a time
  • There are many more suggestions in my book My Forever Memories of You. It truly has many interactive ways to work through grief and trust the Lord to come out stronger than ever. There is even a chapter called “The World Should Stop!”

All my love and prayers

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

Yesterday I was told of a precious young pregnant mom who was due to have a c-section in two days when they discovered no heartbeat. The baby had already died, before it could even be born. Now, the birth still has to take place- yet its tiny body will be lifeless and there will be tears of grief instead of joy.

I had just read a report of the high infant mortality rate in infants. Of course, it is so much better than even a couple generations ago. Yet there is still a high risk for babies to die in the womb or in the first year. No matter how much medicine advances, it will never completely do away with death. It is part of this world.

My heart goes out to those who have lost babies from miscarriage, SIDS, complications, abortions or no matter the cause…so I write this prayer for you:

Heavenly Father,

You knew these babies even before they were formed in their mommy’s womb; before their mommy and daddy even knew they existed. Even as their DNA is woven in intricate strands determining who they are, You are the One who intimately knows them, creates them and determines their purpose and place in eternity. The older I get, the more I realize how very short this life on earth is. But these babies have an even shorter time- barely getting started. Yet they belong to You forever. Their lives are eternal. Nothing can separate them from Your love. Nothing can separate them from the love of their parents and families. Not even death.

Life here on earth is but a mist when compared to all eternity. Our lives are not created simply for this short time here…You created us to be with You forever in Your eternal presence. These precious little souls, for whatever reason skipped this hard earthly life, and went straight to Your loving eternal care. Yet their very existence forever changes who we are. Only You, Lord, fully comprehend the eternal impact these short earthly lives made on our souls.

Though we grieve the awful pain of empty arms and dreams of our lives with them, we also acknowledge their eternal life with You and another connection we have to heaven because of who they are. Lord, we praise You for sending Your Son to be born as a tiny human baby and to die on the cross to defeat death so we could follow Him to eternal life with You. Thank You that there will be a reunion with these precious little ones that can never be broken. Thank You for their short lives which help us focus on eternity with You. In Jesus’ name, we pray for those grieving little ones to find all they need in You.

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“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am  fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me are written in Your book before one of them came to be.”  Psalm 139:13-16

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A Few Practical Thoughts to Consider as You Grieve the Death of Your Baby

 

*Name your baby if you haven’t

*The young mom mentioned above is giving away her babies’ clothes, etc to bless another family in memory of her little one.

*Make a memory book of this little one (possible thoughts to include: how you felt through pregnancy, dreams and plans you had for this child, how carrying this baby has affected your life in both sad and good ways, how you hope to go forward in your life in a way that honors them…)

*If you have other children, help them make a memory book of their little sibling. See the book for children My Forever Memories of You: Personal Memory Book to Help a Child or youth Deal with the Death of a Loved One With Ideas for Adults who Long to Help  There is also a full chapter in the adult book My Forever Memories of You that gives help for children grieving.

*Meditate on God’s promise of Heaven and what your little one’s life might be like now.

Dear friends,

How can we possibly be thankful in the grips of grief? It is absolutely possible and vital to find ways to be grateful even on the very worst days of grieving. Perhaps those are the most important times to find specific things to be thankful for. Once you start, it becomes easier than you thought. There might be times you want to yell, “I DON’T WANT TO BE THANKFUL! I want to be left alone in my grief!” I know! Yet it can all too easily become a drowning pool of prolonged pity. It can even become a way of life. Bitterness wants to take over. So it has to be fought off with thankfulness.

 

How can you be thankful when your loved one is gone? When your heart was ripped from you? When there is a deep wound which will never be healed? When you can’t understand why they were taken. At least give this a try for one week and see if it helps: Make a list of three things you are grateful for each day. You can do this first thing in the morning, midday, or before you go to bed. I highly recommend writing them down so it is more fully imprinted on your grieving mind which can barely function right now. Try to list three different things each day. Keep them recorded in your grief journal or the interactive My Forever Memories of You book.

 

Does anyone remember Garth Brooks’ song, “I Would Have Missed the Dance?” Your loved one may be gone, but for however short the time was with them, your life is forever changed because of who they are. That’s a good place to start. Write specific ways you are thankful your loved one has been, is now and forever will be a part of your life…

 

Love and prayers

 

“Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  I Thessalonians 5:17-18

 

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

 

Dear friends,

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

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

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

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

Love and prayers

 

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

Good morning, dear friends!

I know Mother’s Day is on a lot of your minds. It is a hard day for so many of you who have lost your wife, mom, an infant, or an adult or young child.

A lot of these special days can be painful. Sometimes the anticipation of the pain is almost worse than how it turns out. Other times, it can be extremely challenging as you watch others celebrate with their loved ones who are still with them. There will be a temptation to be angry, bitter or envious.

It is best to have some kind of plan in place. However you used to celebrate this day, it has definitely changed and you cannot make it go back the way it was–no matter how badly you want to. But you can certainly make a simple plan how you will face this day and still honor your loved one in some way. The following are simply examples. You may come up with something as unique as your precious loved one.

 

*Plant a rose bush or some other perennial type flower in their honor.

*Write them a Mothers’ Day letter or card telling them what you appreciate about them.

*If you lost a baby or child, write a letter with all your dreams and hopes you had for them.

*Write a letter to the Lord telling Him thank You for the gift He gave you through them.

*Go to church to thank God for the gift He gave you in them.

*Wear something that signifies them in your life (necklace, white flower, a hat…) Be ready to tell others you are wearing it for them. That’s all you have to say unless you want to say more.

*If you are ready (and only if and when) you could give something of theirs to another mom or child in remembrance of them

*Or get them a gift you know they would like and find someone to give it to.

*Eat their favorite meal.

*Watch their favorite movie or read their favorite book.

Yes, some of these or other things you might have thought of, sound painful but it will actually help in the long run. It is important to review your life together, no matter how long or short the time you had with one another. One of the most important purposes of grief is to reflect and be able to be thankful for their life. When you do that, it helps you be able to find a way to go on until you are reunited forever.

Also, don’t feel guilty for taking a break from grief to laugh, smile and enjoy a moment. I won’t say “Happy Mothers’ Day” but I will pray that it becomes a richer, deeper, more meaningful day because of the love you share with your loved one.

Love and prayers.

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her…” Proverbs 31:28