We Grieve Because We Loved

Photo Credit: Unknown

Recently, I was asked to write an article about grief for my high school newspaper. Below is my article.

Over the last few weeks, I have been saddened to see an increasing number of alumni passing away.  As I read Alumni Director’s Facebook posts, I was reminded of the families of those who passed, the ones who knew the person the best and how their lives were changed because of the death.

November 23, 2015, my wife of 42 years passed away in her sleep.  On earth, she was my life, my best friend, my “everything”.  It was on the Monday of Thanksgiving week.  All the plans and events for the holidays were suddenly unimportant.  My attention was now on “what do I do now?” 

In the following weeks, I began to visit with others in my church, who had experienced the loss of a spouse.  After I visited with them, I began to look for ways on how to heal from my grief, what things were “normal” in grief (everyone had a different story, but the same conclusion: healing was a mystery).  So, I began to do some research in how to grieve.  I was reading a book written by H. Norman Wright and he wrote about a program that was developed to help grieving people.  The program is called GriefShare. (www.griefshare.org/findagroup)

Griefshare is a Christ-centered 13 week program used in over 12,000 churches around the world.  I visited with my pastor to discuss implementing the program in our church.  He agreed and I was named the director of our Griefshare ministry in my church.  We host two cycles each year (Spring / Fall) and are currently at the end of our 10th cycle.  I wanted to share some observations and things that I have learning in this ministry.

First, grief is unique, because your relationship with your loved one was unique.  The two of you shared something together that was different from others.  The intensity of your grief will correlate to how close you were with them.

Secondly, not everyone grieves the same.  Because we are all different, we are allowed to grieve in a way that suits us.  With this in mind, I choose to grieve for my wife based upon 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  I choose to “give thanks” for the 4 years of dating and the 42 years of marriage.  I choose to “give thanks “that from the age of 18 to 64, she had the most influence on me and helped make me into the person I am now.  I choose those things in lieu of being bitter because she was not with me anymore. 

While we are allowed to grieve as we want to, I would add if you are thinking of harming yourself or planning to end your life, don’t do it!!  Instead, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).      

Here’s another point, I would like to offer.  Moving On vs Moving Forward:  is there a difference between the two?   To the grieving person there is a difference.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “Why can’t you get over this? Why can’t you just move on?” Those are hurtful words. The phrase “Moving On” implies leaving all there is of your loved one behind (memories, loves, stories, etc.) and going on (abandoning) without them.

NO! You don’t get over it! Someone who was important to you died and left a hole in your heart. That hole takes time to heal and it can heal if you learn to cope with some very real issues.

Moving Forward says Yes, your loved one died, but you didn’t. You have to live without them. Bring your memories, your love, and your stories with you as you move forward with your life. It’s not healthy to stay in the past. It’s not easy going forward, but it is necessary.

Differentiating between the prepositions will help you go in the right direction. Let’s encourage others to keep moving forward.

In C.S. Lewis book “A Grief Observed”, he wrote of the loss of his wife.  It was a sad and powerful story.  In it, he spoke of emotion ambushes, when out of nowhere you get an emotional attack.  I call them “E-Bombs” (emotional bombs).  Early in your grief, they may fall frequently and with great intensity.  They may be triggered by a smell, or a song, or a location, but over time, as your emotions become less raw, they don’t fall as often and they are not as strong.  I am reminded that grief does not affect your emotions only.  It also affects you physically, spiritually, and psychologically.  It’s important for us to:

  • Drink –stay hydrated
  • Exercise – walking, riding a bicycle, etc.
  • Eat – properly.  Some eat too little.  Some eat too much.
  • Rest – getting the right amount of sleep will benefit you

I would suggest you journal your grief journey.  When my wife died, I was challenged to write a post once a month on my blog describing what I was going through.  The discipline of forming words to express yourself was very helpful to me in focusing on what I actually was feeling.  As you look back on what you wrote, you will see you are making progress and that is encouraging.

I wanted to offer a couple of tips for those who have lost a loved one and wondering how to make it through the holidays. I learned these from GriefShare and experientially:

  1. Give yourself some time to rest. You may need to take a break from being with others.
  2. If you are invited to an event, consider driving yourself so that you can leave if it becomes too much for you. You might consider using a pre-arranged code word.
  3. As the day approaches, ‘lean into’ the day emotionally. Just as you know a ocean wave will hit you, brace yourself through prayer.
  4. Adjust holiday traditions to work for you. You can omit, change, or add traditions that will enhance the day.
  5. Talk about your loved one. Share stories of what made them special to you. If you hang stockings, ask people to write something about them, put them in the stocking and then draw them out later to read and share. I would encourage you to write out important stories/events about your loved one. Your family will cherish those stories in the years ahead.

Will you heal from your grief?  Yes, but it takes time.  Your heart needs about nine months to process what your brain knew immediately, so it will take some time.  You can’t rush it, but you can begin to heal by praying and reading the Bible for words of comfort.  And one day, you will realize you can remember your loved one without hurting.  You have a love that you thank God for giving you your loved one to make your life better. 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV

As you heal, turn outward to help others.  People tend to listen to those who have already gone through what they are currently going through.  You will bless them and you will be blessed as well.

Has America Lost Its Sense of Humanity?

hu-man-i-ty –  humanness; benevolence; compassion; brotherly love; kindness

I have great concerns about our society!

When I read and hear of nasty, vicious comments about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg or President Donald Trump getting the Covid-19 virus, it makes me question where we are as a society.  There is no question, at least in my mind, that our society has been in a decline for a number of years.  I wonder now if we are not in a nose dive.

I don’t remember all of the details, but I do remember when I was much younger about people in New York City, stepping over or around a body lying on the sidewalk. It was shocking at the time, because the country, as a whole, still had some sense of humanity. We cared about our fellow man.

We jump forward to current events and we find people randomly “sucker punching” innocent people walking down a sidewall. Or someone randomly choosing to shoot someone. Or people rioting and destroy small businesses, hurting their neighbors.

I will not go as far as to say, we have ALL lost our compassion. There are still acts of kindness and concern being shown. Perhaps, with social media, we are more exposed to the inner thoughts of our fellow citizens. It seems few restrain themselves in expressing their opinion on any given subject, regardless of their knowledge on the subject, but it is stated with all the authority and confidence of a keyboard warrior.

My concerns seem to focus on how my brothers and sisters in Christ react to the events of the day. The Lord spoke of not being overly concerned about how you will be taken care of for the day (Matt. 6:25-34) or that we should focus on the way of the world (2 Corinthians 6:14-18), but rather, the Christian is to live a life that is different from the way of the world, we are to follow God’s teachings from the Bible.

Do you remember Jesus teaching on the subject of salt? He said in Matthew 6:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses it savor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Why would Jesus refer to His people as salt? In context, He was talking about being persecuted and being insulted because they were followers of Jesus.

He was speaking of a purpose for Christians. Salt adds favor. Salt preserves. It is my belief that we add favor and we are preservatives in our society, but what is the result if we lose our savor in society?

I have heard stories of how the church had influence on society, back in the day (liquor stores closed on Sunday/ car sales not allow on Sunday/ no school events on Wednesday night or on Sunday), but that’s not the case now.

In Oklahoma, politicians and special interest groups promised great things would happen in our state, IF liquor by the drink/parimutuel betting on horse races/casinos/ medical marijuana/etc. would be legalized and our tax base would soar and we would be in need of nothing. Everything would be great!!

Well, all of those things did pass. Most passed with little or no opposition from “the church”. Could it be, church members were supporting those things? Could it be, many have lost their ability to ADD flavor of good character, good morals, hard work, and ethics? Could it be, we are afraid to stand against the evil of society because we enjoy and approve of the way things are? After all, one doesn’t have to go into a liquor store now to get strong beer or a bottle of wine, you can pick it up in Walgreens or Crest Supermarket, while you get your prescription or your bananas!

Salt has been used as a preservative for ages. It is used to dry foods (drawing the water out) and it kills microbes, including the bacteria that causes food poisoning

Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

I’ve been in my share of Baptist church business meetings that I had hoped that this verse would have been applied. If we don’t get along with one another, in our family unit, in our churches, how are we going to preserve the good things in our communities? Here is something to think about: community (co-unity) meaning to live together as one. Do we have the integrity to respond with a gentle answer in lieu of taking someone’s head off in our answer? Would a gentle answer help build a relationship and thereby preserve our society?

Have we gone too far with our self-centered ways that we can’t turn back and do the right thing towards our fellow man? I don’t think we have, but things need to start changing toward civility and goodness and kindness to make it happen. Will you join me in this effort?

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Fear, Confusion, or Trust

photo credit: Getty
photo credit: Getty

In the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, “Marion Crane” played by Janet Leigh was stabbed to death in a motel shower. The scene took about three minutes of run time highlighted by screeching music, fast scene changes, and screams from Janet Leigh. Those three minutes made for one of the scariest moments in film for the time. It was reported that Janet Leigh said she would never take a shower again, only baths.

I sometimes think fear as shown in that movie is prevalent in our society now. By listening to the nightly news, I hear much fear, and increasing confusion, and very little trust.

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You Matter!

My brother posted these two words on his Facebook page a couple of days ago. Since then, I have been pondering them and their significance in light of our world .   

It seems to me, these two words summarize a major problem we have in our society. 

 From my perspective, we as a society, are really self-centric!  We only care for ourselves!  Every thing must orbit around us and therefore the needs of others slide down on the list of importance.

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Memes – Ugh!

photo credit: Index-Journal.com

Memes are interesting to me. They can be funny. They can be satirical. They can be inspiring. They can be truthful or not. To be honest, for the most part, I don’t like memes. I prefer to read ones personal thoughts and experiences, but if they do use a meme, I would like to know why or how it relates to the individual. I like this meme because it demonstrates my point. Anyone can combine a photograph and a thought to create a meme.

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What Really Matters

photo credit: ACAB@eeelijahhh

I found this meme interesting, because it seem to lack depth of reason or thought.  It seemed, as with memes I see on Facebook, to have the mathematical equivalency of 1 + 1 = 3.  They try to add things together and arrive at the wrong conclusion.

Allow me to state the obvious- people mistreat other people and it happens around the globe!  Next obvious statement – it has happened from the beginning of time (Cain killed Abel) and I suspect it will continue until the end of time.  Humans have a ‘sin nature’.  It is our nature to sin.  The first man Adam, disobeyed God’s laws, and sinned against God.  That sinful nature has been passed on to all of us.

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Essentials For A Christian Life – Chapter Five

CHAPTER FIVE

newgrowth_300The Lordship of Christ (Who is in Control?)

“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:9-10 NASB

When a person comes to realize they are a sinner (they have sinned against God’s law) and they realize they are in need of a Savior to satisfy their sin debt and that Savior is Jesus Christ, the son of the true and living God, Continue reading

Prepared For A Second Love?

Nancy and Steve

I have always been a “one-woman-man”!  I have always only dated one woman at a time and I have never been interested in having multiple girlfriends at a time.    If you review my writings, you know I was completely “head over heels” in love with my wife.

I meet Terrie when I was 18 years old.  I wanted to spend all of my life together with her and I would have like to have been “Raptured” out together, being together until the very end.

But after four years of dating/courting and forty one and a half years of marriage,  my world changed. Continue reading

Essentials For A Christian Life – Chapter Four

CHAPTER FOUR

newgrowth_300Our Purpose (Dedicating Yourself To Jesus)

Every structure that is built is built with a purpose.  1 Peter 2:5 NIV states: “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  What is our purpose?  1 Peter 1:15-16 says we are to holy!  In this lesson, we will study what it means to live a sanctified life.  As a believer, it is essential to dedicate yourself to Jesus.

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