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.

Contactless

Have you noticed how prevalent this word has become in the last few weeks in advertising?   From drive thru restaurants to having a swimming pool installed to buying a car…all available without interacting with another human.

Oh, I understand the reason it started.  Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading

Harmony

As a teenage boy of the late 1960’s, I enjoyed listening to the harmony sung by the Beach Boys, The Beatles, and Simon & Garfunkel.  To know that two or more voices were singing together and it sounded as one voice to me, was amazing to me.  In the fifties, Doo-Wop music was popular for it’s harmonious sounds.   And I’m sure, with some study, we would find throughout history, harmony has been sung since there was a song to sing.  Now I’m not a musician or a student of music or music theory.  Continue reading

Commitment

I was praying on the way to work the other day and I thought about the word “commitment” and where I was regarding commitment in my life.

I like to have a common understanding of what words mean so I like to add a definition

 

com·mit·ment  /kəˈmitmənt/ noun

  1. the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.
  2. a pledge or undertaking

for the sake Continue reading

Why Is It My Church Home?

The first church I was a member of, after becoming a Christian, was a small church in Moore.  I enjoyed the people, the preaching, and growing in my faith.  The church ordained me to be a deacon after I had been a Christian for about seven years.  I learned the Bible would guide me and instruct me, and even show me when I didn’t have the correct motive or actions.   My social skills improved, as did my involvement with others.

My sister once commented to me that I took on Christianity as a lifestyle.  I think that is what Jesus would call someone who is his disciple. Continue reading

Don’t Let Hate Ruin Your Love

A friend of mine posted a photo of her two youngest grandchildren giving each other a kiss.  It was a adorable photo of the three year old sister giving her one year old brother a kiss.  It was wonderfully pure and innocent love expressed.

The photo gave me joy, in a world of division and hate, many people have let the desire to show love go, replacing it with a position of “my way or the highway!”  A thought process of if we disagree on a subject, one of us must be destroyed and that type of thinking must be terminated.

When I was in high school, hippies were very popular and their message of love was prominent.  While I didn’t embrace their lifestyle, I have always thought that loving one another was the right thing to do.  But how do you do that?

When I was twenty-six years old, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.  It was through that act of surrendering that I was shown how to love my fellow man.  Jesus spoke these words:

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 ESV

He said, “just as I have loved you.”  How did He showed that He love me?  What did He do?  Well, the first thing was that He died on the cross to pay my sin debt that I could not pay.  Then He, through the Holy Spirit working within me, began to change me from the inside out.  Innumerable times, He has been patience with me.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.1 Peter 4:8 ESV

In marriage and in a family, we know we must be patient with one another to keep things together.  There has to be give and take.   Could we extend what we do in a family to those outside our circle  and show love/respect ?

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  Ephesians 4:2-3 ESV

Did you notice what Paul wrote in Ephesians, “bearing with one another in love,”?  Does the word “bearing” suggest to you that it takes some effort and work on our part to accomplish?

Perhaps that could be as easy as sharing a smile with someone you pass on the street or in the store.  In 1967, The Youngbloods had a hit song called, “Get Together”.   The chorus of the song was this, “Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another, right now”.

You may think my approach, which is implementing what the Bible teaches, may be simplistic, but I believe it will work and it is the right thing to do.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Romans 12:9 ESV

Let’s be genuine.  Let’s not let hate ruin our love.  Think about a pure and innocent love for one another.  Let’s get together!!

A Sweet Memory

I was on my way to work Friday morning and I was praying for a lady in our church who had just had a brain tumor removed on Wednesday.  She had posted on Facebook about being in ICU and not being able to get any sleep or rest.  Having spent my share of time in hospitals, I said “Amen” to her statement.

I was thinking about how kind and gracious the Lord was to her, that she was able to even do a simple task like posting on Facebook.  In the simple things, He gives us hope.

I was reminded of one time that I was in the hospital.  After a major surgery that required the doctors to place a tracheotomy in me, due to my throat swelling.  I could not talk.  I was given a white board and a marker to write my thoughts.  It helped, but it left me frustrated, because I could not write as fast as I wanted too.

One day, about a week after the surgery, my team of doctors came into my room to do a follow-up.  It happened to be a time when Terrie wasn’t there yet.  The doctors began to question me and I was trying to write and I was unable to keep up, when a doctor from Belarus, with agitation said,”Why don’t you just put your finger over the tube opening and speak!”  I did that and said, “Because no one told me that was an option!”

And so when they left, I reached for the telephone beside my bed and called home.  Terrie said, “Hello?” and I said, “Hello, Baby.”  We both immediately began to cry.  How sweet it was to experience a little headway as we were going through this great trial.  How sweet it was to be able to speak.  How sweet was God’s grace to allow the simple things to become great things.

It was from that time, that I knew I would not go home with the tracheotomy.  I told them that I would not go home with it.  They didn’t believe me, saying I had to accomplish X, Y, and Z before that would happen.  Again, by God’s grace, X,Y, and Z did happened and the trach was removed before I went home.

Our God is able.  He is can create a sweet memory for you as he created a sweet memory for me!

2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”

A Greater Cause

Before the Apostle Paul converted to Christianity, he was a zealous and a devoted Jew.  The scripture says he was extremely devoted to following the Jewish customs.  A Jew among Jews.

After his salvation, Paul was a zealous, devoted, and bold preacher of the gospel.  He would reason in synagogues and many were converted to Christianity.  But there were many who did not accept his message.  He eventually expanded his message to the Gentiles.  As a result of his faithful proclamation, Continue reading