Archives for November 2017

Gnawing away at grief

Decorating for fall in our front yard, we placed a hay bale, a little scarecrow and a nice, large, orange pumpkin. We thought it was the perfect display. It was easy to put up and easy to maintain. However, as the weeks have gone by, we have watched our poor pumpkin transformed by the deeds of a rather large rabbit population living in our neighborhood. Little by little, we’ve watched our pumpkin shrink and change due to the gnawing away that those little critters have done.

You may find that you feel life gnawing away at you too, as you do your best to journey through your grief. The loss you have suffered has changed you. It is rare that anyone faces death and loss and not be changed. While you may feel you have little control over this transformation, you can have some say in what your life will look like as you move forward.

Stopping grief from entering your life may be out of your control, but allowing it to be gnawing away at you is something that you can stop. Unlike our beautiful, helpless pumpkin with those rabbits sneaking up and taking bites of food away with them, you can decide to embrace your grief and face it. Once grief arrives, determine to do the work it takes to face your loss and choose how it will shape you for the future.

Some people make the unfortunate decision to live as a victim for years. They choose to be stuck in their grief. Allowing themselves to grow into a bigger, better person isn’t on their radar. Instead, gnawing away in their mind and heart is bitterness and sadness, shrinking their world into a sad existence. They don’t realize they have a choice for something more – something better.

Instead of letting grief gnaw away at you, determine how you want to change and then take steps to move in that direction. You can have a say in what you do with your life as you travel through your grief journey. Do you want to feel better? Then begin each day with a purpose in mind. Even something as simple as, “I’m going to shower and go to the grocery store today” is helpful.

I began to journal years ago when my loss was fresh. Putting my thoughts and feelings down on paper was therapeutic. Eventually I used those writings to be the foundation for my book, Grief Letters. I determined that I wasn’t going to waste what I had been through. Instead, I decided that I would begin the gnawing away myself in a positive manner. I chose to allow God to shape my life instead of letting my loss do so.

Does that mean that every day is easy for me now? Of course not. There are still difficult days that I have to maneuver through. But they don’t last long and they don’t get to gnaw away so much that I don’t recognize myself. I have discovered who I am and what I can do. I acknowledge that I haven’t reached this point alone. I have had people by my side, been blessed by the support of others walking through grief, and most importantly have relied upon my relationship with Jesus Christ to give me strength.

You can do this too. You can choose to stop the gnawing away that occurs in grief. You can be intentional about what changes your life, what it looks like and what direction your life will take. Don’t let grief distort you like that poor, pumpkin. Face your loss, be courageous, and work to shape the journey you are walking.

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/

Contentment – how do you achieve it?

We’re entering the holiday season, preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving. Tradition says this is a time to gather with family and friends. You are to reflect upon all that you have experienced through the year and are expected to show contentment with your life.

But what happens when your life is no longer easy; no longer the same as it used to be due to the loss of a loved one? How do you manage the next two weeks of celebrations, memories, and heartache? How do you find contentment in spite of everything that is new and different?

Contentment. Synonyms are serenity, satisfaction, gladness, happiness, gratification, and ease. While it may seem overwhelming to feel these emotions in the midst of your grief, let’s try it. You might easily be able to give thanks for your home, your food, your job, and your health. However, when it comes to being thankful for the people in your life, it may be more difficult to express contentment. Perhaps you are celebrating this holiday without your loved one for the first time. Or maybe this has been your life for the last few years and you are weary trying to find contentment with your situation.

Figuring out how to face the holidays while missing those who are gone can be difficult. It can be hard to find something good to focus on in the midst of your grief that is still fresh and deep. To complicate matters, various family members may tend to handle their grief and loss differently, leading to misunderstandings and hard feelings. Instead of concentrating on what you don’t have, do your best to focus on what you do have. Finding contentment can occur when you are able to do this.

When I first had to deal with my loss, I was numb and only made the effort to move into the holiday season with a smile on my face because of my kids. It was plastered there as I tried to fake it. The first few years after my loss, I was unable to stay in my home and celebrate the holiday due to painful memories. We traveled and went elsewhere for the day itself. But as I continued to look for things for which I could be thankful, I began to realize there really were reasons for contentment. I did have my kids. I had a roof over my head. I had a job. I had people who loved me and cared about me. I decided to handle the situation by making a list of my blessings.

What do you need to do to find contentment this Thanksgiving? Do you need to try a new location away from painful memories? Are there friends you can invite to spend the day with you in order to begin making new traditions and new memories? Perhaps you decide to take a trip somewhere instead of opening up your home. Or maybe you can find a restaurant that offers a meal for so you don’t have the stress of preparing turkey and all the fixin’s yourself this year.

Whatever you decide to do, look for the things that are in your life and contemplate them with contentment. Making specific plans for the holiday can help the day go smoother and be less painful. Be brave, be creative, be gracious, and be willing as you walk your grief journey into this holiday season.

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/