Be Watchful

IMG_5161

It is so easy to go about life, just focusing on what is happening today. You get caught up in the busyness of schedules and requests. Deadlines may loom and stresses can mount. If only you could stop and catch your breath amid the craziness of your world.

Or perhaps your hours are a little less full these days. The house is empty and a bit quieter and you wonder how you will fill your time. Without the demands you once knew it is easy to find yourself binge-watching episodes of a show on Netflix. The day has come and gone and you really cannot say exactly how you spent your hours. You have nothing to show for your day. Both these scenarios are examples of the importance to be watchful and aware of your time management.

I am a believer that everyone needs down time. Being free from stresses and the demands of life can refuel you to “charge your batteries” and allow you to move forward stronger and better prepared for what lies ahead. Finding a healthy balance between work and play is key to living a productive, healthy life.

Before death moved in to take your heart and mind captive, productivity may never have been a concern. You managed to multi-task and churn out projects, check items off your to-do-list, and still have time and energy for more. However, as you now face each day knowing loss is always in the back of your mind and in the forefront of your heart, accomplishing those tasks is not as easy. The energy just is not there nor is the desire to be in constant motion.

As you step into your grief journey, it will help to be aware and be watchful of where your time is going. While you may desire for the clock and life to halt and let your emotions catch up to the demands made upon you, that just does not happen. So how can you handle your new life and be assured to live it well? Be watchful.

What is it that God still wants you to see and do now that your world has been turned upside down? How can you know what path to walk in a new stage of life?

God still has plans for you. Even though your world has recently been rocked and nothing seems the same, you can hold on to the truth that there is still a reason for your presence in this world. One verse that I have clung to in my own grief journey is this: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Be watchful. God has plans for you. Your life matters. What you say and do makes a difference in this world, not only to you, but also to those around you. As you learn to adjust and to heal, may you find hope as you look and seek out the path on which you are now traveling.

Until next time –

Karen

With a new year upon us, consider buying Grief Letters for a loved one or for yourself. Begin the year with hope and purpose. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief. Place your order today!

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

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.

The days after

1459664_10153808959988766_4161362331527740504_n

So much effort is put into anticipating and preparing for special holidays, that you are often surprised by the days after it is all over. Thanksgiving and Christmas have already come and gone. Those special days you have come to dread without your loved one are finally finished. You have survived. Perhaps you enjoyed those harder days a bit more than you thought you would. The opportunity to laugh and smile came into play and you grasped those, filling your mind with new and different memories. Or perhaps you merely scraped by each day, putting forth the effort only for the sake of friends and loved ones still with you.

Many people feel sadness when the holidays are over. The much awaited excitement ends and a let-down from the process can occur. However, there is also a kind of relief that takes places for those on the grief journey. Now that the holidays are over, it is possible to let down your guard a little more. You do not find it necessary to brace for those waves of sadness and nostalgia that hit at the most inopportune times when others around you are laughing and enjoying the celebrations.

Along with the relief can come a bit of satisfaction that you really did make it through the holidays. Not only that, but hopefully you can find one or two truly golden moments to remember with fondness. Look back at the past month that has been full of activities, parties and gatherings, and demands. Celebrate and applaud yourself for accomplishing what you doubted you could live through. You survived the holidays!

As each year passes, the holidays will get better too. You will face them with less dread, you will find more joy, and you will create new traditions. Take a moment to breathe and realize that your future can look bright. Set your sights on what you want to accomplish now that the world around you is returning to “post-holiday normal” and decide what you will do next.

The grieving are not the only people facing a sort of depression and sadness the days after the holidays are over. Many people encounter quite a let-down after all their planning and celebrating. However, you and I have already learned to adjust to newness and changing times. You have an advantage on the rest of the world. You know you can face loss and life that is different from before. Take that knowledge and run with it. Plan new adventures for the upcoming new year. Revel in the fact that God has seen you through this past difficult month.

As you face the future of the days after, know that it can be a blank slate upon which you write your own possibilities, hopes, and dreams. Move forward with as much joy as you can muster and be open to blessings that are in store for you.

Until next time –

Karen

With a new year upon us, consider buying Grief Letters for a loved one or for yourself. Begin the year with hope and purpose. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief. Place your order today!

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

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.

Little Piggy

IMG_5143

Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Seattle for work. As I walked into the hotel lobby, one of the first things that caught my eye was this large, white pig covered with very colorful bling. As I was meeting new friends in that lobby after checking in, a little boy walked right up to the pig and punched it as hard as he could. Poor little guy. I imagine he thought it was stuffed and expected it to be soft and squishy. However, he ended up grabbing his hand in tears with his mommy running over to tend to him. He was sure fooled by the little piggy.

I thought it might be interesting to compare that little piggy to the grief journey you travel when you face the death of a loved one. What do grief and this piggy have in common and how do they differ?

There is irony regarding this dressed up little piggy. There are some great things about pigs. They certainly can be cute and sweet. A neighbor down the street has a little pig as a pet. We’ve nicknamed him Bacon, although I’m not sure his owners would appreciate the joke. He is fun to watch as he plays, enjoying the sun, and rolling around in the dirt of their backyard. Pigs do serve a purpose. They provide good and nourishing food. Their heart valves have even been used in place of failing human ones.* But let’s face it. Pigs can be dirty and smelly. They have a reputation for eating slop and things people would consider uneatable. Not everyone appreciates the pig.

There are times when you walk through grief that you try to dress it up and make life look pretty. You feel pressure to disguise the true ugliness you face each day. The difficulty of tears, lack of sleep, and loss of appetite certainly present challenges to living well each day. In order to make others feel more comfortable in your presence, you put on a brave face and insist that things are good and you are fine. However, this “artificial bling” you put forth cannot fool the wise. No matter how hard you try to make your life pretty again, the ugliness of grief will continue to present itself when you least expect it.

No matter how hard you try to make it different and better, there are days when your loss is ugly and dirty. It requires hard work to deal with grief. You must get your hands dirty and dig down deep at times to face your fears in order to move forward toward healing and happiness. Nothing about grief is fun. It stinks – plain and simple.

However, just as those who accept the little piggy into their home soon loves and embraces it as a pet, when you accept the grief you face, it can propel you forward in your journey. There is a difference between the two things that cannot be reconciled. Living with loss will never be fun like having a pet. But embracing the truth of loss and being willing to admit that life will be different is the first step to healing and finding joy in life again.

Each day as you wake up and remember the harsh reality of life, do your best to remember the lesson of this little piggy. While you can life dress up and pretend that your grief journey is going well, remember that it is okay to have some harder days. Embrace them and look for the bits of joy and healing you will find when you keep working to move forward through loss.

Until next time –

Karen

* http://animalsmart.org/species/pigs

Choose to give hope to someone in your life today. Share Grief Letters with those you know walking through loss and sadness. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief.

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

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.

 

Old and new things

 

IMG_5096

The last few days I was able to spend some time with my parents. While there, I experienced the end of something old and familiar. My slippers. Now, don’t laugh. Haven’t you ever had that special pair of slippers, socks, a favorite shirt, or special piece of jewelry that you just loved and grieved when it fell apart or finally disintegrated from overuse?

Well, that is exactly what happened this past week. I was innocently walking through their living room to get a drink of water from the kitchen. As I returned with my glass, I noticed something on the carpet. Thinking it was a spider, I grabbed a napkin to take care of it. Much to my surprise, the dark blob on the carpet was actually the sole of my slipper! As I turned my foot over to look, sure enough, there was a big hole in the bottom, exposing my foot to the air.

I knew the slippers were wearing out – but they were my favorite! They conformed to my feet and fit just right. They were easy to slip on and kick off. They provided the much-needed warmth that cool Colorado mornings and evenings demand. However, upon seeing the beginning of the end as my favorite slippers were literally falling to pieces, I realized it was time for a new pair. While facing the need for new slippers is not a real challenge, there are things in life that make you stop and contemplate the old and new things you must face in life.

The saying, “Out with the old, in with the new” makes the replacement of items in your life seem easy and carefree when actually this practice can be quite stressful and a source of much pain and anguish. As you journey through changes in life, you will face decisions. Your old car is demanding too many costly repairs; new paint is needed throughout the house; your clothes don’t fit quite right anymore or are falling apart from years of wear.

However, doing away with some items is easier said than done. One of my first big purchases was a new bed. While I tried my best to sleep in our old one, I couldn’t. Even though it was familiar and I felt a sense of closeness with Alan there, it was also the place where I found him that horrible afternoon. The bad outweighed the good. I had to make the decision that “out with the old, in with the new” applied and needed to be put into practice.

Are there things in your life that you need to release and say good-bye to in order to move forward in your journey? Change can be a healing factor in life. As I eventually repainted the bedroom a new color and rearranged the living room, I found that the house felt more my own. Walking in each day was no longer a constant reminder of the loss I felt and faced. Instead, I intentionally surrounded myself with items that brought me joy and healing. I moved plants into the front window area to remind myself that life is possible and growing is a choice. Crosses adorn the entryway as a reminder that I am never truly alone in life. God is always with me. I did not replace everything though. Some old and new things can exist together.

“Out with the old, in with the new” is not a betrayal to your loved one. It is simply a way of coping with the loss you have experienced as you learn to walk a very different path in life. Begin a list of those items that are wearing out. Decide on a budget that will work for your needs. Take your time. Nothing needs to be changed instantly. Make sure you are ready for the move forward, realizing that going back may not be possible.

For instance, selling your home immediately after your loss may be a decision you regret months down the road. Leave the huge decisions for later. Begin small and gradually move on to bigger changes as you gain confidence and experience healing in your grief journey. May you find joy as you experience newness in varying areas of your life.

Until next time –

Karen

Choose to give hope to someone in your life today. Share Grief Letters with those you know walking through loss and sadness. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief.

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

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.

 

So big

11149345_10153593059498766_2500848198424496623_n

This past weekend I had the pleasure to attend our church’s family camp near Grand Lake, Colorado. It is a beautiful setting that backs up into the Rocky Mountain National Park. I was hoping to see some wildlife on this trip and I was not disappointed. The picture shown here is of a huge moose chowing down in someone’s front yard. The picture is not enlarged. We were really that close to him as we pulled the car to the side of the road. He was so big I was actually nervous to be as close as we were.

Seeing the enormity of this beauty reminds me how easy it is to be overwhelmed by grief at times. The journey is so big and life can get very difficult as you learn to maneuver your way along a new trail. How is it possible to keep your footing and make headway when the task before you seems so daunting at times?

Perhaps we can learn something from our large friend here. Moose tend to be one of the least social hoofed animals according to Animal Diversity Web. They keep to themselves for the most part, being active mainly at sunset and sunrise. I smile as I see several similarities to the grief journey here.

As you find yourself alone and processing through your grief, it is easy to isolate yourself and pull away from people. Perhaps the conversations are too difficult to manage. Your energy level is low and your mind runs a little slower, which makes it challenging to talk to others at times. Your train of thought takes sudden turns and is easily lost in mid-sentence. You find it frustrating to keep up with those around you. It is tempting to pull away and take the easier route of just being alone most of the time.

Sleep is also fleeting for some people experiencing grief. As the sun sets, you find yourself wide-awake and wandering around the house trying to find something to occupy your time. While you desire to sleep late when your calendar allows, your body refuses to relax and stay put and you find you are up at sunrise despite your best efforts to catch a few more minutes sleep. The grief journey can certainly be an exhausting one.

Moose have thin legs in proportion to the rest of their body. It seems unlikely that they can stand upright not to mention able move at a startling speed in excess of 50 miles per hour. As you find yourself walking through grief, your legs may tremble at times and it can seem you are unable to move forward. Trust though, that you can indeed take your journey one step at a time. There is no need to hurry and rush as you process your loss. Making your way along this path is not a race to the end. It is more like a marathon. Slow and steady will serve you better as you manage your way over the obstacles you are bound to encounter.

You may look ahead and comment that the grief is so big you fear you cannot continue. At those times, set your sights closer. Instead of looking ahead to next month or next year, think about tonight, tomorrow, or next week. Giving yourself permission to see life in smaller bits will be less overwhelming and allow you to experience small doses of success, giving you hope for the days ahead.

Yes, the grief journey can look so big that you can feel lost and alone. However, realize that there are people around who can help; friends and family who love you and care about you. There is a God who can meet your needs as well if you will allow Him to do so. You can do this. Nothing is so big that in time, you cannot relearn how to enjoy life again.

Until next time –

Karen

Moose facts from animaldiversity.org

Let me encourage you to share Grief Letters with those you know walking through loss and sadness. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief.

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

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.

Be prepared

11895979_10153537108033766_190630404798180865_n

Monday was a rough day. It wasn’t just one thing that had my mind muddled and my heart hurting. Several events happened that could have made the day a total loss. My head hurt, my stomach churned, and tears flowed freely several times throughout the day. Part of those tears traced my cheeks because I felt weary and beaten down. Another part of them was shed for friends I knew were going through very difficult days.

I am so grateful that no one came up to me and asked the question, “How are you feeling?” I would not have had sufficient words to describe all that I was experiencing. Not wanting to chat with anyone, I actually packed my backpack and computer and headed off to work in the silence and solitude of my home. I knew what I needed to do in order to be prepared for the war that was waging inside of me. Time alone with God, listening to praise music, reading the Bible out loud, and reclaiming my joy and hope in Christ was paramount in taking back the day and honoring God with it.

Knowing that you will face occasional rough days, how do you prepare yourself? Once you are in the midst of the sorrow, in the grasp of pain, and feeling pulled down beyond your control, what can you do to come up for air and find relief from the despair that challenges you? Having this plan prior to your hard times is important to surviving them when they hit. And hit is an appropriate description. No other verb suffices. Grief and pain attack. They place blows below the belt that are capable of flattening you for a long time if you have not strived to be prepared.

Preparation is key in walking a journey of grief and dealing with any kind of loss. While it may not be possible to foresee the future and guard against events that are inevitable in life, it is possible to place ammunition in your stockade for the battle. Those habits you choose before for the skirmishes of life will either make you or break you.

If your habit is to rely upon others first and foremost in the midst of hard times, then you will find yourself ill prepared. While friends are valuable and precious, nothing should take the place of going to God first with your questions, your hurts, and your needs. I admit I have not always done this. There have been times I have chosen to “chat” with others about my dissatisfaction in life. I am learning, though, that all that gets me is disappointment and further pain in the times I may perceive that my friends fail me. Doing this is also a disservice to my friends, as I need to set the example of taking life to God first.

Being prepared to deal with life’s blows actually occurs when you admit your weakness and inability to handle things and give your heart and mind to God. When you have that kind of relationship with God to begin with, nothing will be able to jar you off base so far that you cannot recover your footing and continue forward on your journey. “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV)

How are you doing at being prepared for further shock waves of grief? Can you honestly say you are ready to hold fast no matter what happens next? If not, reach up for help. Call out and admit your need. Find someone who has a solid, firm, prepared relationship with God and ask them to walk alongside you, pointing the way so you can make progress and be prepared.

Until next time –

Karen

Let me encourage you to share Grief Letters with those you know walking through loss and sadness. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief.

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

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.

“I don’t know how to be this”

IMG_3101

People go through life learning how to do many things. It begins early with a baby learning to crawl, walk, and run. Children are educated to read, write, and work with numbers. Teenagers learn to drive as they gain independence and earn responsibility.

You are often times defined by what you can do. Artists draw and paint; athletics run and work out; teachers educate and share knowledge. There are times though, when we are defined not by what we do, but by what we have become. It is at these moments of definition that we on the grief journey might say, “I don’t know how to be this.”

When Alan died and I was taken back one final time in the emergency room to collect his belongings and leave the hospital, I looked at my friends surrounding me and thought those very words. “I don’t know how to be this.” I don’t know how to be a widow, a single parent, or the sole provider for my family. Suddenly I found myself in a new and frightening position for which there is no real training. Death has a way of leveling the playing field. Mortality stares you in the face and life is deemed short and time fleeting.

Where do you go to learn how to walk through death and sorrow? How do you find a way to deal with the sudden demands of a new way of life? What can you find to hold on to as you feel yourself reeling with shock, fear, and numbness? When you find yourself saying, “I don’t know how to be this” do not give up. Cling to what you know and strive to fight your way to the top as you gasp for air and relief.

You can know that regardless of your loss, you are loved. It may not feel like it in the midst of great pain. Sorrow has a way of momentarily blocking out other emotions. However, hold on to the fact – the truth – that even if no one else is in the room with you, you are never truly alone. God promises to be by your side through thick and thin; in joy or sorrow; today and for all your tomorrows.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38, 39 (NIV)

So how do you get to the point when you can stop saying, “I don’t know how to be this?” Begin learning and walking forward on your grief journey. Join a support group. GriefShare was of great help to me in the early months of facing my loss. Go online and search for a group in your community.

Give yourself permission to realize you are still you and are not just defined by what has happened in your life. Open up and allow others to minister to and care for you. Refuse to give in to the desire to isolate and hide behind closed doors. While time of reflection can be healing, too much time alone can bring detachment and make the loneliness more severe.

It takes work to journey through grief. So when you find yourself saying, “I don’t know how to be this,” do not despair. Education does not happen overnight. Just as you have learned so many skills early on in life, have faith and be assured you can also figure out how to live life a new way and be who you are today.

Until next time –

Karen

Let me encourage you to share Grief Letters with those you know walking through loss and sadness. This devotion book is filled with stories of my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief.

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

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.

Not a victim

nature-landscapes_widewallpaper_here-comes-the-sun_19198

“He’s touching me!” “She’s breathing my air!” “Make her stop looking at me!” If you had siblings or are raising little ones, you have probably heard some version of these remarks. It seems natural for us to want to defend ourselves, act selfishly, and throw a little rant at times. We are wired to constantly evaluate how we are doing and how life is affecting us. Often times our evaluation tells us that we are being harmed or slighted in some way. While that may really be true at times, I want to encourage you to have the attitude that you are not a victim of life’s circumstances. Instead, God can use the events in your life to shape and teach you.

For months following Alan’s death, I felt I wore a big sign around my neck that pointed out all the wrong things about me. Not just that I was now a widow, but that I did not know how to pay the bills, I had no idea how to change a furnace filter, I had never mowed the lawn, and how in the world was I going to see that our youngest son finish college? When I look back now, I see I have conquered these fears, doubts, and inabilities and every one of these issues has been addressed and checked off as successful.

Beyond that, who would have thought I’d write a book? Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought  Grief Letters would become a reality. But God did just that. He can bring good things out of tough times. The attitude of not a victim can open unimaginable doors.

Let me stop here to say that if you are indeed a victim of a crime and are being harmed – that is different and you should seek help immediately. I am speaking more of determining you are not a victim of your situation in dealing with loss and grief. I would never suggest you stay in a dangerous situation and I urge you to seek help today if you find yourself in one.

These past four years in walking my grief journey have taught me so much. First and foremost I have determined that you and I do not have to be a victim and feel overwhelmed with life. What do you do when you feel there are too many decisions to be made and you just cannot handle one more incident? Here are a couple of tips I have found helpful.

Positive self-talk is vital. What you tell yourself counts. Yours is the voice you hear the most and listen to day in and day out. Your thoughts are with you constantly so it is paramount that what you say is uplifting and loving. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with grace, gentleness, and honesty.

Have an arsenal at your disposal. This particular arsenal is filled with ammunition to stop the enemy’s lies of defeat. The best ammunition I have found is scripture. God’s Word is alive and real. It can give strength when nothing else helps. Spend time reading your bible and writing out note cards of certain verses that point to truth. You are not a victim. Instead you are an overcomer and can be victorious!

One verse I read this morning says just that. “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, [the false teachings] because the one who is in you is great than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 (NIV)

Put these verse cards on your refrigerator, paste them to your mirror, tuck them in your pocket or purse. Pull them out when you feel defeated and scared. Remind yourself often that Jesus has already overcome the world (John 16:33) so you have nothing to fear when you are in Him and He is in you. John 3:16 states the fact that you are precious to God and He has made the ultimate sacrifice to insure you will be with Him always, if you so choose.

Keep telling yourself that you are not a victim, especially on the harder days when the sadness closes in, the tears refuse to stop, and the enemy whispers lies in your ears. The only thing that can make you a victim of grief is when you give up and quit trying.

Until next time –

Karen

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

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.

 

“It scares me”

IMG_4760

Since Sunday was the morning after Independence Day, it seemed natural that conversations would include discussions on local firework shows that people saw. As I greeted families at church, I would ask how their holiday was and would get tales of the sights and sounds they had enjoyed. However, one little 4-year old was less than excited as we discussed the past evening. While she had liked the colors, she was very hesitant to talk about it. When I bent down so we were face to face, her big brown eyes were wide as she leaned into me, hiding her face and said, “It scared me.”

I immediately reassured her that the loud noises often scare and startle people and there is nothing wrong with that. Her tender little ears and gentle spirit just did not appreciate all that noise. As I gave her a hug before she ran off to play, I thought how her honest assessment of the evening’s situation was much like life’s journey. “It scares me” is often how I feel when I think of facing the next 35 to 40 years on my own.

Will you continue to live where you do presently? Does your career stay the same or will God shape and change that too? Are the nights destined to always look the same? How will you manage to make ends meet now? What does God intend for you one year, five years, ten years in the future?

The grief journey can cause you to stop and evaluate often. Even if you, yourself, are not experiencing the loss of a loved one, it is most likely you know of someone who is. Watching that person deal with death and all that is involved can give cause to reflecting upon how you would handle such a situation. However, until you are truly in the midst of deep grief yourself, your imagining things will be is just that – imagined and not for real.

For those of you walking your own journey of loss and pain, saying the words, “It scares me” at times takes courage. For one thing, you are admitting you do not have all the answers. Pointing to and admitting your weakness is not an easy thing. It takes bravery to be so bluntly honest. However, how you proceed after admitting your fear is the real test of courage.

My little friend who admitted that the fireworks frightened her is hardly able to handle her fears alone. She has loving parents who care deeply for her, necessarily reassuring her when she is scared.

Those of you who are faced with walking through grief are not equipped to deal with your loss and fears alone either. As you say, “it scares me” you have a Heavenly Father who is waiting for you to turn to Him. He places caring people in your path who can encourage and help you as you honestly evaluate your future. Reading His Word, the Bible, guides you as well, as you find peace and direction in its words.

There is no weakness is admitting your needs. Unless you are willing to surrender and accept the help offered, you may spend more time than necessary frightened, feeling lost and alone, and questioning the next move forward in your grief journey. May you find hope and strength for the days ahead as you voice with honesty admitting that at times, “it scares me” to God above and to those around you.

Until next time –

Karen

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

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.

Rejoicing and loss

IMG_4741

This past weekend has been monumental for my family as we celebrated the marriage of my youngest son. The wedding was greatly anticipated and lovingly planned. Many friends and family from both the bride and groom’s side were in attendance and enjoyed the festivities of the day. As I now sit in a quiet, empty house, I reflect upon what this new phase of life will hold. It is becoming evident that both rejoicing and loss intermingle in my heart and mind at times like this.

There is so much to rejoice in: young love built upon years of dating and relying upon the strong support of Christ as the cornerstone of their relationship; two families coming together and becoming one couple; the promise of a positive future and the fulfillment of hopes and dreams. At the same time, there are moments when loss is felt even in the happy times: nothing will be the same; the unknown territory rears its ugly head again; the absence of someone to whom you have spent a lifetime watching grow and mature. Even in happy events such as this, rejoicing and loss are both experienced.

Those who journey through grief learn to both process rejoicing and loss as well. The loss part is easier to comprehend. Your loved one is no longer by your side. Concern for your future and handling all the details encountered by death can be taxing and bring about a loss of energy and hope. Heaviness of heart, mind, and spirit can descend upon you quickly and suddenly cause a momentary loss of joy and happiness. Loss is very real and very pungent at times as you walk with grief.

However, let us explore how rejoicing can enter into your grief journey. Perhaps your loved one was very ill and suffering terribly. I recently watched as a relative dealt with the decline of health in a loved one as cancer viciously attacked. Dealing with the actual pain of the disease and seeing the toll it took on the body was difficult. Relief was one emotion felt by the family as this woman finally passed away, leaving the agony of her physical battle behind. While rejoicing may be a strong word here, her loved ones were certainly glad that she was no longer suffering in her hospital bed.

When you know your loved one had a personal relationship with Jesus, there can be assurance in knowing that leaving life here on earth means immediately entering a life in Heaven. That is cause for rejoicing and comfort. While you miss them terribly and long for just one more day, the gift of knowing where they now reside can help you in the daily journey of grief.

I am thrilled with the marriage of my son to my beautiful, new daughter-in-law. There is gladness in my heart, a smile on my face, and a light in my eyes as I recall how they looked at each other in the ceremony. That emotion is coupled with just a tiny bit of loss and a few tears as I realize my journey is taking yet another little jog and turn. I am confident though, that I will learn to maneuver this part of the journey as well. There is comfort in truly understanding that it is natural for rejoicing and loss to go hand-in-hand at times.

Until next time –

Karen

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

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.