I never used to

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Before I experienced death and grief in my family, I never used to dread coming home from work and the long, quiet hours that accompanied the evening. I recall phone calls on the drive home talking about possibilities for dinner and plans for spending the night together. At times that involved household chores. Other days held the promise of a special movie, concert, or just sweet conversation together.

I never used to struggle with figuring out what to eat and how to fill my body with the proteins and nutrients needed to stay healthy when I have no desire to cook. Having an appetite has become a thing of the past. Caring about eating the right foods at acceptable times of the day has become a puzzle that oftentimes seems to be missing a piece.

Lying awake for hours is a nightly ritual. Dreading the routine of bedtime even when the body is fatigued makes no sense, but is a common battle these days. Restful sleep is elusive, causing mornings to be filled with exhaustion and a lack of energy. I never used to toss and turn in bed. I have heard it said, “Just close your eyes.” However, that only opens the door for the memories of times gone by, accentuating the reality of what is missing today.

While there is plenty to be done in the home to fill up hours, finding the motivation to accomplish these tasks is difficult. Doing the work of two people in keeping a house in shape demands organization and work. I never used to lack the desire to get busy and finish the to-do-lists. But now when I see those lists, I feel overwhelmed and experience despair. How will I ever get it all done? Why even try? It really does not matter anyway, does it?

I never used to cry so much. Even though the tears fall less often than when grief first struck our family, the intensity of the sobs has not lessened when they do break through the stoic front I have learned to put forth for the public. The force with which the tears flow at times is still paralyzing. The only comfort is that these episodes occur less often as when the journey first began.

There is one ‘I never used to’ that must be added to this list. Perhaps it is the most important one of all. For without knowing grief and loss personally, I am not sure if a person can honestly know this quality. It is the attribute of I never used to have such a close, minute-by-minute walk with Jesus. While I have known my Savior personally since the age of nine, the relationship I have with Him has been shaped and sharpened by the tragedy and sadness that invaded my family five years ago.

I never used to spend so much time with Him in prayer and Bible study. I never used to be so totally dependent upon Him for my every need. I never used to see His absolute care and provision for my life. I never used to be so bold as to speak out to other hurting people, telling them how they too, can receive help and comfort in their own grief journeys.

As you face your own list of ‘I never used to’, may you discover a new closeness to the only One who can truly make a difference in what your life is now. There is hope. There is healing. There are possibilities that will astound you as your new life – your new normal – takes shape. Be encouraged when you realize how greatly your life has changed. While it is difficult and not what you might have chosen, it can still be a good, productive, and blessed life.

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters is available for you to purchase. Having hope and purpose is not impossible when facing loss and pain. 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!

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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.

Calming Yourself

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Have you ever seen an upset child settle down as a parent speaks in hushed whispers and lightly strokes their back? What about watching a startled adult place a hand to their chest as they gasp and struggle to catch their breath, working to recover from whatever had frightened them? Calming yourself is a technique that you share with young children and learn to do yourself as you age. Do you recall how nice it was as a child to have someone embrace you and tell you that everything would be all right? I know that I have occasionally longed for that experience of comfort even as an adult since I have been journeying through grief. Trying to handle everything on your own can be taxing and exhausting. Calming yourself in the midst of loss and pain is a valuable skill.

I recall the first night of Alan’s death, just hours after leaving the hospital a final time. I lay in bed trying to sleep. Apparently I dozed off because suddenly I was in the midst of a nightmare as I sat straight up in bed and found myself crying aloud, tears flowing down my cheeks, rocking back and forth in an effort to calm down. A friend who was spending that first night with me heard my cries and immediately came in to rub my back, hug me, and allow me to rest my head on her shoulder. Calming yourself sometimes takes the aid of another.

When you find yourself in the midst of great stress and anxiety, what do you do? Sitting and crying for a while can be therapeutic. Perhaps reading a book pulls you to another world and relieves your pain for a while. Running a hot bath after a long, tiring day can bring relaxation to tight muscles and aching limbs. Calming yourself with Epsom salts and bubbles can work wonders in improving the view of your next few hours. And when you are aching, scared, and feeling alone, that may be all the further ahead you can look. Venturing forward into tomorrow’s plans can seem too harsh and too much of a herculean effort. If you find yourself in this situation, know that you need look no further than what you are able. The future – at least tomorrow – will take care of itself, so concentrate on making it through just today.

Calming yourself with bright hope and promises of better days can truly be a gift. Realize that you will not always feel lost and alone. Encourage yourself by singing that famous song from Annie, “The sun will come out tomorrow…..” Even though tomorrow may seem daunting, it can give you the incentive you need to make it through your present day.

Allow the tears to flow, the rocking to proceed, and the healing to resume as you find ways of calming yourself along your grief journey. Embracing your fears and hurts will actually help propel you forward along your grief journey.

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters is available for you to purchase. Having hope and purpose is not impossible when facing loss and pain. 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.

What do you say

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A friend reminded me today that my situation is unlike others in my office. When they call it a day and return to their homes, they have a husband or wife to talk to. The challenges or joys of their days are shared with others using a face-to-face conversation with a flesh-and-blood person. When I return home it is quiet and empty. What do you say when there is no one there to listen to you?

How do you unload the heaviness of your day when you are missing a loved one? What can you do to celebrate a success and incredible joy when you can no longer hear their voice and they yours? Is there a substitute to use in filling the void? What do you say and whom do you say it to as you journey through another layer of your loss and grief?

Talking aloud is quite therapeutic actually. I speak out loud often when I pray, realizing that God hears me just as well when I am silently beseeching Him. However, there is something to be said for actually voicing your thoughts. It feels a little more like actual human conversation when I push air through my vocal chords and allow the sound of my own voice to reach my ears. Knowing that God is listening is a comfort and I utilize this method of speech often.

Perhaps you are not real comfortable praying, even though it is just conversation with God. But if you would rather try something different, you can voice your thoughts, joys, fears, highs, and lows through the written word. There is something special about taking a pen to paper and allowing the words – the speech – to flow. While writing or journaling about your day is not exactly the same as verbally telling your story, at least you have found an outlet for your pent-up emotions.

What do you say when you find yourself dissatisfied and needing more though? You look for a trustworthy friend. A confidant in whom you can safely share your wounds and your wonders. This person should listen and not interrupt you. They should not judge you how you are feeling. It would never dawn on them to tell you how wrong you are to feel the way you do. Instead, they encourage you as they listen before sharing their own view of the situation. Hearing their perspective on things will ease your stress. Even if you do not agree with every word they share, you know that at least they care and you are not alone.

What do you say when the words run dry? When your emotions are too thick and messy to decipher and translate for someone who has not experienced your kind of pain and hurt? That is when silence is best. The quiet whisper in your soul calling out to God, “Help me, help me, help me.” never gets old to Him. He is ready and willing to not only listen, but to then ease your ache as only God can.

A favorite part of scripture is from Philippians 4:6-7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I especially like the part of God giving us peace. As you wonder, what do you say next time, be assured that there is Someone waiting and eager to listen to you.

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters is available for you to purchase. Having hope and purpose is not impossible when facing loss and pain. 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.

Project Runway

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One of my favorite shows is Project Runway. I enjoy seeing the creativity of those designers. Watching how they make unbelievable clothing from practically nothing at times amazes me. Seeing their success inspires me to take what resources I hold and turn them into a beautiful life.

On Project Runway there is always a twist or theme to which the designers must adhere. However, on the grief journey, there are no such rules or outlines. No one can tell you what today should look like or what tomorrow will hold. So it is up to you to take every opportunity to cherish the past while you create lovely memories for your future.

As I watch the designers sketch, cut, and sew their creations, oftentimes their plans seem to make no sense. It is hard to catch the vision of their end goal. When Tim Gunn enters the room and gives his critique, alterations may occur and a new direction taken due to his expert advice.

Your journey is much the same. You may find that the path you are walking is not healthy or good for you. Perhaps you are failing to care for yourself physically. Maybe you have entered into harmful relationships where your best interest is not considered. Seeing these dangers and difficulties, you may need to change your path. Alter your journey in order to build a better life for yourself. While you are in the middle of grief, it is not easy to envision what your life will look like tomorrow, next month, or next year. However, it is important that you do your best to live each day with wise choices, being ready to adjust and make alterations along the way.

Five years after the loss of my husband, I am now seeing more good days. Life seems a bit brighter. I have had to make adjustments along the way and I am sure more will occur just down the road. That is all part of life in general. Preparing yourself to make small alterations in your journey as you are able, will help you fashion a better life for yourself in your own Project Runway experience.

The grief journey is not what anybody gladly chooses. However, it is something that everyone will experience at some time in life. Being willing to sketch, cut, and create your own new path will guide you toward a beautiful creation in the future. A creation that is brighter and better than you might ever think possible.

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters is available for you to purchase. Having hope and purpose is not impossible when facing loss and pain. 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 Empty Room

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I recently attended a funeral. While I didn’t personally know the deceased, I am very close to several of his family members. We arrived early to make sure all the details were being handled for the music and media that would be used during the service. At one point, everyone left that family holding room leaving me to myself. I stood and looked around realizing the significance of the moment in that empty room. Having experienced an incredibly difficult loss myself five years ago, I took a few minutes to think back over time to see the empty room for what it stood for in my own life.

When all the friends and family go home after the service and the obligatory condolences are said, you are left with the empty room. There comes a time all too soon after your loss when you find yourself alone and trying to figure out what is next. One moment you have more than enough people around you and then the next you would give almost anything for the diversion and company of someone sitting with you again.

The empty room conveys a closure to your loss that you may not be prepared for. Seeing the vacancy that loss brings is stark and painful. No longer can you hide behind the need to play host or hostess to a room full of people. Keeping busy meeting others’ needs and concentrating on anything but your own hurt and loss is no longer an option. Now the empty room looms over your days and nights.

Now that you see the barrenness that grief can bring, how do you handle it? What can you do to move forward on your journey and not feel locked away and trapped by the empty room? Recognizing the posture of being alone is the first step. When you find yourself dreading to return to your own empty room, be intentional to change your position. Make plans to go out with friends. Invite someone over, asking them to pick up dinner on the way. It is within your power to alter the emptiness.

For those times when the empty room persists, embrace the quiet. Set aside time to mourn, remember, cry, and be thankful for what you once had. Realize that your daily schedule may not give you the time you need to heal. So take advantage of the empty room to do just that – begin to heal and face the reality of your loss. This will be the beginning of learning how to live again with the great change that has been brought into your life.

Be encouraged when you see the empty room. Don’t feel that you need to run from it, but also don’t feel trapped by its existence. It’s just a room. What you do with it will make the difference in your own grief journey.

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters is available for you to purchase. Having hope and purpose is not impossible when facing loss and pain. 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.

Being Yourself

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I remember when I was a kid someone asked me who I wanted to be when I grew up. Not “what” but “who.” At that time, I named a person that I admired saying I wanted to be like them. While we all may feel like taking on someone else’s identity at times, as an adult you need to realize that is not best for you. It is important to embrace the fact that you are special and unique and you should be yourself.

While walking through grief, it is understandable to wish to be someone else, thinking anyone else’s journey is easier and better than the one you are traveling right now. There are several problems with this way of thinking though.

The first and most obvious one is that you can’t do it. You cannot be someone else. No matter how hard you wish for it, you are who you are. Your dreams of someone else’s life will not change your day-to-day walk that is currently filled with loss and hardship. Wishing to be anyone but who you are will not get you where you need to go.

Another challenge to wishing to be someone else is that doing so will not help to move you forward in your grief journey. Progress and healing will only begin when you accept what has come into your life. Only then will you be in the position to receive help. You don’t have to like what is happening in your life, but you do need to be realistic and admit that your life has changed. That is the first step to learning to being yourself again.

Even though your life has changed, you are the same person. Yes, you are shaped by the circumstances you face. But you do not have to be defeated by those conditions. Proudly be yourself – for no one else can be. You have something to offer. You complete a space in this world that nobody else can fill. As you convince yourself of this truth, you can find joy again. Have the confidence that life will settle down, even out, and you have many things to look forward to as you concentrate on being yourself.

That is how Grief Letters came to be. Through my own journey in facing the pain of loss, I decided to take the things I had learned and share them. In doing so, I found healing and hope that I could pass on to others through my writing. If I had denied who I was and what was happening to me, I would never have had the opportunity to write, publish, and help others.

Being yourself is the best decision you can make as you learn to live life well and move forward in your grief.

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters is available for you to purchase. Having hope and purpose is not impossible when facing loss and pain. 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

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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.

Thanksgiving Day

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It’s here again. Thanksgiving Day. A season of the year when we take some extra time to realize we have much for which to be thankful. A feeling of gratitude grows as you spend time with friends and family, eat some favorite foods, and take time to rest and relax.

Walking through grief can add a bit of a challenge to enjoying the holidays. Perhaps there is an empty chair at your table that reminds you of earlier times. Eating a certain food has the ability to bring both a smile to your face and tears to your eyes. Traditions carried out are held closely and treasured while new habits are also formed out of necessity.

The holiday approaches even though you may wish to slow down time and put off its arrival. Experiencing the pain of missing loved ones can overshadow the joy that the world associates with Thanksgiving Day. Even in the midst of your difficulty, however, there are some encouraging thoughts to be shared.

You miss your loved one because you loved them. Realize that the converse is true as well. Remember the love they had for you too. Because of that love, they would want you to enjoy not only this approaching holiday, but also the whole life you have ahead of you. People who care do not wish sadness upon one another. Do your best to keep that in mind as time moves forward and you find it hard to find joy and happiness again.

Anticipating and dreading a certain day or event can often times be worse than the actual experience the day brings. As time draws near, you guess how you will feel and gauge the way you will manage to face your grief accordingly. Oftentimes, your imagination is much worse than what will really present itself. Upon the day’s arrival, you see that the sun will still shine, there will still be reason to smile, and you really do have much for which to be thankful.

I wish I could say that the holidays will stop bringing pain into your life. I am facing my fifth set of such days this year as my husband’s death anniversary approaches. The days are still hard; the pain very much real. However, I do see differences from past years. While tears still make their appearance often while I am alone at home, I am far better in public. Being able to appreciate the distraction of life and welcome the friendship and companionship of others is much easier and truly enjoyable. Five years ago, I could not say that. So while the hurt is still there, it does change. It is less sharp now; a dull ache instead of striking pain. There is hope in that fact.

As you face this approaching Thanksgiving Day, take time to list those things you still have. Cherish the people – both friends and family – close to you. Use your time well so that when you look back, you will have no regrets of missed opportunities with loved ones still with you. May the day truly be a blessing to you as you seek to find hope, help, and healing on your journey of grief.

Until next time –

Karen

(photo taken in 2012 at the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade in NYC)

With the holidays approaching, Grief Letters makes the perfect gift for those 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. 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.

Brave Your Jungle

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Jungle – The Merriam Webster dictionary defines this as:

“a tropical forest where plants and trees grow very thickly; a harsh or dangerous place or situation in which people struggle for survival or success”

Here is a picture of my cat sitting among my houseplants. I imagine she likes to pretend this is her jungle where she is hidden from the world. In the center of all those branches and leafs she is hard to see. She manages to position herself so she can view out and make a quick escape if the need arises. I smile as I watch her. She certainly enjoys her jungle, which is an example of the first definition above. However what about the second definition addressing struggle and survival in harsh or dangerous situations?

The grief journey can certainly appear to be a jungle with its unknown twists and turns. Darkness obscures a clear path on which to walk. The denseness of the situation can cause you to become disoriented and isolated; feeling lost and alone. What do you do then to maneuver as you learn to brave your jungle?

The jungle associated with loss can vary and look different to people. Perhaps you are called to brave your jungle of fear. I know that in the past few years dealing with fear has been a common occurrence. What if something breaks? How is it possible to do life alone? People tell you there is nothing to fear because they will be there to help. While the reassurances are nice, they are not there in the middle of the night when you lie awake planning strategies to make it through the next day. Ultimately, the responsibility to learn to deal with the fear is yours and you must brave your jungle.

Saying good-bye is certainly a challenge. The farewell to your loved one is just the beginning of change and good-byes when you are on the grief journey. Life is no longer the same. Acquaintances you had as a couple sometimes tend to fade away. People are no longer comfortable being around you. They do not know what to say so they avoid associating with you. Friends that have been supportive when your grief was fresh and new now face challenges of their own. As time goes by, life happens. Jobs change, people move, families shift gears. You are called to brave your jungle as you watch people you love and have depended upon grow distant.

As you fight and make your way through the jungles of fear and good-byes, isolation can grow up around you forming yet another jungle to journey through. The thought of facing another week in your situation can be difficult, much less trying to picture where you will be a year from now. Looking too far into the future is frightening and unimaginable. How can you live well next year when you are not even sure how you will manage the next month?

When you face these times; when the path is dim and difficult to walk, you must choose to brave your jungle. Be stubborn. Be persistent. Be determined. Be….brave. Remember that your strength does not come from yourself; at least not a strength that will endure the long journey ahead. For that kind of stamina, you must count on Someone stronger than yourself. God desires to be your strength. He wants to provide, protect, and renew your strength so you can wake up each morning to brave your jungle through the grief journey. Bravery is within your grasp when you cling to Him.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;  they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

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.

Old and new things

 

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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.

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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.