Archives for October 2017

Pretending

When my friend and I took this picture 6 years ago, we were pretending we were the Blues Brothers for Halloween. Yes, these were costumes for the holiday celebrated on October 31. That’s what costumes are for; to enable someone to pretend they are something or someone else. So as we passed out over a thousand pieces of candy that year on her block in Wichita, Kansas, we were pretending we were people other than ourselves.

Who might you be pretending to be as you travel along your grief journey? Are you able to be yourself as you walk through your loss and pain? Do you put on a brave face even when you feel like cowering and crying? Do you awaken in the morning to find yourself pretending to be okay so that you can get on with your day? Is it too hard to explain how you feel so you pretend life is just “fine?”

Walking through grief is definitely a challenge. Your life is changed by the death of your loved one. The way you handled a special day a year ago may be different now with the loss of that loved one. Trying to figure out how to maneuver each day is a real thing. Pretending your life is the same as it has always been will not aid you in moving forward in your grief, but will actually hold you back, keeping you bound by your pain.

It has been said that in order to begin to heal and to feel better about life, you must face your loss. Easier said than done! Pretending you are okay is often simpler than facing the pain of your grief. However, pretending will only prolong your journey. Instead of hiding behind a mask, embrace your loss, admit your pain to yourself and those around you, and have the courage to step into that ache that is so present in your heart and life. By doing so, you will find that life will eventually be better and you will feel more capable of facing the differences your days now hold.

There is a place for pretending – like dressing up for Halloween. But honesty will be best as you embrace your loss and face your grief. Be yourself so others can truly know who you are, how you are doing, and how they might come alongside you day by day.

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Finding Good Grief Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/Finding-Good-Grief-289425764887980/

No Control

I recently had a dental procedure that required me to be put under for the extraction of a tooth and to help endure the pain of a bone graft as well. While lying back in the chair, I recall thinking, “I need to remember this feeling for my blog.” What feeling? The feeling of no control. As I lay there, a blood pressure cuff on one arm and the other pricked with a needle for the drugs that had already begun to flow making me quite woozy, I began to cry. When the nurse asked if I was all right, I replied, “No. I hate this feeling!” Perhaps you’ve experienced this feeling too. I’m talking about that terrible, gut wrenching realization that you have absolutely no control over what is going to happen, no matter what you try.

Having no control while sitting in the oral surgeon’s chair is no fun. But it’s a cakewalk compared to what people may experience while living with grief. The pain of having no control when facing a great loss in the death of a loved one is beyond comparison. So how does one survive such a feeling – such a loss?

Perhaps it might be helpful to know that while you may have no control over your circumstances, someone else does. When I lay there blacking out and feeling helpless with no control last week, I did trust the surgeon to do his job well. In fact, I had signed papers to that effect, placing my signature on all those pages meant to protect the doctor, the office, and assure me they had things under control.

So who has control in the case of your grief? While your friends and family are there and willing to help, they certainly cannot control all your circumstances and instantly make things better. You find yourself helpless to bring back your loved one and return to days gone by. So what can you do to feel better and manage the sadness of the days you now face? Turn to the One who controls everything. God is the creator of all things, thus you can trust Him with control of your days.

You may ask, “If God is in control, why did my loved one have to die?” Good question. It’s one that has crossed my mind in the past as well. However, I have no answer for you and there are some things we just may never know this side of heaven. Even so, God is more than able to comfort you, guide you, and sustain you in your sadness. The world in which we live is a broken one. There is pain, there is anger, there is danger, there is loss, and there are tears.

This is not the way things began. God created a perfect world. But because man chose to disobey God, sin entered the world and thus our downward spiral until Jesus Christ returns for His loved ones. Until then, we really have no choice but to acknowledge that we have no control. Instead, we can choose to trust that God still has our best interest in mind. I am not sure that when my loss was fresh I would have expressed my situation that way. However, looking back over the last 7 years, I can say that I trust what God is doing. I would rather Him have control of my life because I know that I truly have no clue what lies ahead and He does.

So having no control is okay by me; at least when it comes to my day-to-day life, for I trust that God will direct my steps. If you find yourself having no control over your emotions, or your circumstances, do not panic.  Instead try trusting in the God who cares and who is more than able to direct your journey and carry you through your hard days.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Finding Good Grief Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/Finding-Good-Grief-289425764887980/

Hungry and Hand-Fed

This little deer is one that I met this past weekend while visiting friends in Divide, Colorado. He was hungry enough and trusting enough to approach me and eat out of my outstretched hand. He fed until he was satisfied. He knew what would help his hunger and allowed me to meet that need.

Have you ever been hungry? There are different kinds of hunger. The one that first comes to mind might be the hunger that pinches the stomach and creates a headache. Missing a meal or two might even make you grumpy and tired. Fortunately for most of us, this kind of hunger is alleviated by simply eating food and gaining the nourishment the body is demanding it needs to stave off the pangs of being hungry. Filling the belly is all you need.

But what about the kind of hunger that tears at the soul? This hunger is experienced as a person faces feeling alone and missing a loved one. This form of being hungry isn’t as easily satisfied. Perhaps you have felt this kind of hunger. The one that keeps you awake at night due to the constant thoughts racing through your mind. The hunger that causes you to avoid going out alone because you would rather have your loved one with you. Your companion that you have relied upon for years to enjoy adventures with is gone and picturing today, tonight, tomorrow, or next week without them is nearly unbearable at times.

Experiencing this type of being hungry gnaws at you from the inside out. And it needs to be fed from the inside out as well. Merely eating a meal, going to a movie, or taking a walk will not fix this kind of hurt – this kind of hungry. So what can be done to “feed” yourself to the point where the pain and sorrow will stop or at least feel manageable?

You can allow yourself to be hungry and hand-fed. Admitting you are hungry is the first step to realizing what is wrong in your world. Knowing that you feel “off” and out-of-sorts because you are missing someone special will allow you to take a step toward healing. When you realize what is causing the pain, you can then move forward in your grief journey in order to feed that hunger.

How? Allow yourself to be hand-fed. What kind of food will satisfy the hunger you are experiencing. Perhaps sitting down and listening to calming music while you look through old picture books will serve as an appetizer. While there may be tears and some heartaches, you will be facing your hunger and allow yourself to be hand-fed with memories that will eventually heal.

Another kind of nourishment you might partake of is exercise. Joining a yoga class or committing to taking a walk each evening to get the blood flowing can be energizing and filling. You will feel stronger and realize that you are being hand-fed from the inside out. Your soul feels better and your days appear brighter as your outlook improves.

Reading through scripture can certainly help to feed a starving soul. There is something about God’s Word that will start on the inside, touch your heart and begin to fill in the empty, hungry places of your life. I remember when Alan first died, I would sit for quite a while with my Bible open on my lap, attempting to read because I knew that was a good thing to do. Those first few attempts were not exactly successful. I could not recall anything that I had read at those sittings. However, as I was persistent and continued to allow myself to be hand-fed with scripture, I began to feel my hunger dissipating and disappearing.

Do you have another idea for how you can admit that you are hungry and to allow yourself to be hand-fed? Just like the deer that I fed last weekend, you can trust that the nourishment will meet your needs and your hunger will subside with time. Eat, dear one. Be nourished and allow your hunger and your pain to be healed.

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Finding Good Grief Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/Finding-Good-Grief-289425764887980/

 

New Things

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When you are walking a grief journey, there will be situations that come your way causing you to pause and contemplate, “Is this for real?” It seems that many days you must try new things and be brave as you branch out and expand your knowledge and skills now that you are walking through life without your loved one. Sometimes these moments of contemplation are spoken in confusion and other times you voice that statement in wonderment and are amazed at how blessed you can be, even while dealing with great sadness.

The journey I have been on for the past 16 months has been the latter case. After nearly 7 years of journeying through my life without my first husband, I now have been blessed with sharing my life with another amazing man. My wonderment enters the picture because this relationship was not anything I had been seeking or desiring. With that being said, I am absolutely thrilled that I have it and cannot picture my life moving forward without my second husband.

New things may enter your life when you least expect them. I am not speaking only of new relationships. Perhaps your new thing is finding the courage and excitement to take a vacation to a destination you have always wanted to see. Maybe you are ready to venture out and try a new, fun career that will brighten your days as it provides for those necessary financial obligations we all face. New hobbies can certainly add dimension and happiness to your life as well. What new things do you long for?

Meeting Gary and developing this new life has given us a passion for sharing what we have learned about grief and loss with others. Our Finding Good Grief Seminar is a new thing we have developed using creativity and dreaming of how we can continue to touch hurting lives by paying forward what we have received ourselves. We have been there – facing the loss of a loved one, both of us having lost our first spouses to death. However, we are seeing that life doesn’t need to stop there. And more than that, the things we have gleaned from our own journeys are now being combined into something beautiful and educational – the Finding Good Grief Seminar.

New things can be exciting. What is it you long for? Do you have dreams that you hold close to your heart? Begin to put on paper how you might truly be able to accomplish these adventures and then begin to move toward those goals. Share your dreams with a close friend, using them as a sounding board for your new ideas as you reach out and move forward in your own adventures.

If you or someone you know needs encouragement in order to see new things as a positive in their lives, share with them my book, Grief Letters, as well as our Finding Good Grief Seminar information. In future posts, you will be able to find our Finding Good Grief Facebook page and the website we are working on. In the meantime, know that you can comment to this post, and we can be in touch.

Until next time –

Karen (Bransgrove) Cadwallader

Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Finding Good Grief Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/Finding-Good-Grief-289425764887980/