So the holidays are over. Life is getting back into the old “normal.” Your heart might still be trying to navigate the swells of grief that ebb and flow. Possibly ,the sea of grief still overtakes you.
Logical Bench Mark
A new year is a logical bench mark to evaluate your grief journey. Would a few self-evaluation questions assist you, my grieving friend? If any of these questions don’t work for you right now, just skip them and work with the ones that are useful in your healing process.
How have my needs changed since the death of ________________?
What changes do I recognize in myself that causes me worry or concern?
What adjustments or changes have been positive?
What is my energy level compared to my first few weeks of bereavement?
Do I need to make some choices that would promote my physical health?
Have I reached out to find a counselor or grief coach that can provide some guidance for me? If not why? Are there any steps I need to take to add this resource to my healing?
How willing am I to educate myself about the grief experience? Would I be willing to do some research for books or web sites that could help me? 1
Where are my thoughts about God right now? Do I find myself trusting Him with my pain, anger, sadness, loneliness, guilt, regrets, etc? Why? Am I open to be comforted with the promises of Scripture that assures me of His presence, care, and healing? 2
What new things do I want to try this year?
Am I willing to release my grief, so I can embrace a new and fulfilling life? (This question is not meant for any readers who have recently had a loved one die—not that there is an expected schedule, because everyone works within their own grief time line—it just might not apply to a reader who has had a recent loss.
Your bereavement is unique to you. The above questions are meant to give you a platform to look at your grief journey and evaluate where you have been, what you have come through, and where you still want or need to go from here. A huge part of grieving is the sense of losing control. I want to support you towards regaining personal control. By acting in positive ways to your responses to the above questions, you are choosing to heal so your bereavement doesn’t control you.
Trusting God’s Help
While the sea of emotions might toss your ship about recklessly, you still maintain the helm with the power of choice. If you have fallen and can’t reach the tiller, reach out to God, who is doing for you right now what you can’t do for yourself. Please consider putting your trust in him completely. You are loved, known, understood and helped by the One who has all authority to step in and declare, “Peace, be still!” He is the only One who can quiet the storm and help you regain personal control.
New Year Prayer
My heartfelt prayer for each of us is that we begin the New Year with God at the helm, trusting Him more than we trust ourselves: yet grateful that he honors our freedom of choice to submit to His wisdom and care.
Lord, help! I am overwhelmed with pain, shame, guilt and regrets. Grief is a lonely place, filled with land mines that explode without warning. My emotions are raw. I feel like I am wounded beyond repair. Do you care, God?!?!? Why are you so silent? Why is the grief so deafening? When will I see the colors again and feel the warmth of love?
I am told to take life one step at a time, but it is so dark, I can’t see the chasms to my right or left and I am afraid to move forward. It feels like each day I am stumbling in the dark, which leaves my emotions bruised and battered. When sorrow is my constant companion, how am I to wake up and enter into the activities of “normal” people?
The residual of yesterday’s regrets linger on and my hypersensitive emotions taunt me. Where is my escape? When will I experience relief? My broken heart reigns dominant. I am consumed with my loss. I long to hold the one I love who lies beyond my reach under the ground. Oh grave, you have robbed me of my love! Oh God, do you hear me?
God said, “I will heal your broken heart.”
Yes, yes, my child, I hear you. I hurt with you. I too miss the companionship of your loved one, for I loved him more than you ever can. I have marked his grave and at my return will bring him back to life in eternal perfection.
What I want you to know is that my love never stops embracing you even when the floods of grief sweep over you. I am with you. It is my commitment to go with you through this dark valley of unknowns. I bring you an offering of forgiveness to wash away the guilt and regrets. Please take this remedy and let your healing begin. Allow my total pardon to become your reality for every mistake and hurtful thing you said or have done. I have never lied to you and so you can count on my forgiveness to be a true gift. It is my GIFT! Please take it and begin to notice the joy of life that still exists.
I never intended you to know this side of evil ~ the sting of death. I never designed you to let go of the ones you love. It should be of little surprise that your whole body, mind, and soul are staggering to hold onto life. This is why it is so important for you to allow me to travel with you on your grief journey. You will need my help, my support, my encouragement, my power and my love to assure you each step of the way.
While the pain of grief is a constant companion, would you allow me to enter that space and walk with the two of you? My presence will put sorrow in its place and give you an opportunity to discover hope and begin to experience healing. I once said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” My presence with you is your comfort. I have already given you enough faith to believe. Please take these words of comfort and know I am with you always.
Ruth Bell Graham tells a story* of a sheriff deputy who was target shooting. When his time came to shoot, he drew a bead on the target.
The sheriff remembers, “Suddenly I began to perspire, and when I perspire, my glasses fog up. There I was with a bead drawn on the target and all I could see was fog. Then I remembered what our old Navy instructor had taught us: ‘If you ever lose sight of the target,’ he said, ‘just remember your position.’ So I just held my position and pulled the trigger as fast as I could. When I took off my glasses and wiped them, I had hit the bull’s-eye every time.”
Are there times when you lose focus of your target? Does the pressure of the moment confuse our understanding of God? Have we lost sight of glorifying and praising Him? Weeping blurs our vision. Unexplained tragedy seeps in with the murky waters of doubt and our faith begins to waver. Whatever crisis of pain, grief or loss, can we REMEMBER our position? We are in the Arms of everlasting love, compassion, wisdom, peace and healing. While it may all seem too blurry at this moment, keep your spiritual position clear in your heart and fire away. Cry, sing or whisper your sacrifice of praise, for God is in the middle of making beauty from your loss and pain. Keep firing praises to him and keep remembering your position. Live today knowing WHERE you stand and WHO supports you with all the resources of Heaven!
Yesterday I spent the day working really hard, all day long. We are painting the exterior of our home, by hand, no sprayer, just taking our time and rolling or brushing on every square inch of siding, trim and gutters. Because I am lighter than my husband, I was the one to go on the garage tile roof to reach the upper level of the house. Last night my body hurt all over . My muscles rebelled and let me know it. I even woke myself us in the middle of the night as I rolled over and pain reawakened all over again. As I woke up this morning, I thought, “I never have to do that again.” The paint on this house will outlast me or I might just move away before it needs to be painted again.
Hard Day’s Grieving ~
Likewise, as we live through the seasons of grief, we will pass through significant days that leave us hurting emotionally. The pain can wake us in the night and the memories can haunt us. These thoughts and feelings can especially surface during holidays, birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions that trigger your sadness and grief.
The Heat of Grief ~
It is summer right now and in this part of the world where I live we are going through a heat wave. Each hot day that passes, I remind myself that I won’t live through this day ever again. It will cool down and another season will come. If the heat of grief seems to be at your maximum level, please be encouraged that you won’t ever have to re-live this painful day again.
A New Day ~
This reminds me of a time in ancient Jewish history when the people of Israel were suffering with enormous losses. In the middle of a tragic lament, the prophet, Jeremiah, seems to have an ah ha moment when he writes,
“ Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” *
There is morning, a new day that is graced with the mercy, compassion, love and faithfulness from the One who loves you most. I hope you consider trusting the heat of your grief and the pain of the season into the comforting heart of God who is always present with you and you won’t ever have to live this day of grief again.
“Do not protect yourself from grief by a fence, but rather by your friends,” a Czech proverb advises. One thing I know for certain is that no one who mourns should travel alone.
If you are suffering with a broken heart, now is the time to reach out and let others know you need them. Be as specific as you can with them, for many of them have yet to walk the path of grief and feel a little uncertain how to help you. Please move past their fears and ignorance and communicate your needs with those you feel safe and can trust. You will both benefit from this kind of open communication. Once we cross the threshold of that first call asking for help, it becomes easier to let our friends into this painful place of bereavement and the comfort of their presence protects us from the terror of aloneness. Rabbi Grollman once wrote, “Grief shared is grief diminished.”
I hope you are blessed with this kind of friend: “The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of confusion or despair, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing… not curing… that is a friend indeed.” –Henri Nouwen. If it seems difficult for others to be this kind of friend for you, may I suggest considering that God is already this kind of friend for you. Open your pain to his listening heart and let the healing begin.