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!

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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.

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!

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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.

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!

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

 

Today I choose to

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What would life be like if we could always choose? Today you choose to get that job you have always wanted, drive a brand new car, sleep all morning, or take a walk in the woods. It sounds like a wonderful thing. To be able to do whatever you want whenever you want is a daydream many people have. But what would life really be like if that came true? Do you have the wisdom to always choose well?

There are plenty of choices we make beginning very early in life. As our kids were growing up, we would teach them to make choices starting as toddlers with the clothes they would wear. Those safe decisions led to bigger ones. What friends to make, whether or not to respect the house rules, being home in time to make curfew, and choosing a spouse. Looking at the ability to choose and make decisions seems a natural progression in life.

What happens though, when you do not get a choice? What about the circumstances that just seem to occur without your permission? You did not choose to break an arm playing sports as a child. Your intention was not to get up, drive to work, and have an accident on the way. When you decided to pick up the phone, you did not intend to hear tragic news that would rock your world. Yet, these things happen. Events come into your life without invitation and dare to change who you are. How dare they!

So how do you handle those moments that alter the direction of your life? How do you manage to recover and continue when everything seems lost and you feel alone? It is in those very moments that you will make critical choices, whether you intend to or not. Realize that you can choose to fight and continue on with life, making the most of every day. Giving up does not need to happen, even when you feel that things are hopeless. Life is never hopeless if you focus on the right things.

So today, even though you face pain and sadness, you say:

Today I choose to pray, for God knows better than I.

Today I choose to give, for that causes me to look outside myself and focus on others.

Today I choose to trust that the God who created the universe is bigger and more capable than I am.

Today I choose to love and treasure people still around me because they deserve attention and I still have much to give.

Today I choose to wait and hope because I believe there is a purpose in my life. I will embrace the promise of scripture. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prospers you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

While you would not have chosen to face the losses you have endured in your life, recognize that those events have shaped you. They have made you who you are today. While life may not be how you pictured it years ago, it is what you have now. There is no turning back the clock. Do-overs are not available. When I realized all this, I decided that I would not waste the death of my husband. I wanted to learn and grow from the experience. While it was not something I chose for my life, it happened. So I had a choice to make. You do too.

As you begin a new day, make the choice. This can be a better day if you will set your heart and mind on the hope and promises available to God’s children.

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.

So big

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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.

Labels

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I recently stayed at a hotel for a couple of days while being with family and saying good-bye to yet another loved one. That first morning, I went to the breakfast nook provided for guests and placed a few small items on my plate. Grabbing a cup, I looked around for a pitcher of water. I am not a coffee drinker and I did not desire the apple and orange juices they provided.

After failing to find what I wanted, I walked over to a staff member asking if there was a place I could get some cold water. The blog picture for today is what she pointed out. A pitcher of water was mixed in with all the provided milks – skim, 2%, and whole – but was not clearly labeled. I thanked her, poured my water, and laughed as I sat down. How was I supposed to know that was water?

Labels serve a purpose in life. They inform us whether a drink is milk or water. We can make informed decisions when we choose to buy items containing high fructose sugar or gluten. Labels help in selecting the correct piece of clothing so we do not have to guess whether a dress is a size 8 or size 12. Labels tend to establish standards by which we have come to expect. However, what happens when those same labels place us in categories that we dislike and desire to have no part of?

One such label is associated with loss. The terms of widow, widower, bereaved, orphan all fall in this category. While these titles may help the world understand something about a person, they contribute very little to really understanding the actual person themself. Just because someone has been forced to say good-bye to a loved does not mean that individual has forfeited their own identity of being who they were.

For example, when my husband died, I was given the label of widow. While that word fit, I fought the meaning behind that word. That one label threatened to take from me everything that I still claimed to be. I fought to establish that I was still me; still a woman, a mom, a sister, a daughter, a coworker, a friend, a teacher, and most importantly – a child of God.

While labels can help society put you in a neat category, no one needs to fit only in that one area. The danger of labels is that one name might come to consume your identity. When I say I fought to be those other things – mom, sister, etc. – that is just what I had to do. My heart and mind were flooded with grieve. I felt I was wearing a large, neon sign blinking a message to those around me, “I have experienced sorrow and grieve. I am a widow.” Yet the last thing I wanted was pity.

When people encounter you as a grieving person, they often lack knowledge of how to treat you. Because people care about you, they feel for you. Their empathy can often be interpreted as pity. As I walked through my grief, I learned to have grace with those around me and fought to re-establish my viability as a person who had much to offer the world. I refused to be debilitated by my loss. Yes, the world is much different now. It has proved to be harsh and cold at times. Yet, there is still hope and purpose.

If you dislike the labels you see and hear, then work toward establishing new ones for yourself. What are my new labels? Survivor, conqueror, and author are just a few of them. You can help determine the direction of your grief journey. Pray, seek, and then get to work. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

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.

Happily Ever After

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When you walk with grief you know sadness. You have experienced a heavy heart and are familiar with sorrow. The pain is more than just emotions though. It can manifest itself in physical aches and pains. Headaches, loss of appetite, and sleeplessness can all be signs of a happily ever after gone awry. You are not alone in this. Jesus Christ knew sorrow and pain. He knows how you feel in your sadness and can identify with your grief today. “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:3 (ESV) His time on earth assures that you can have hope in all you are experiencing today.

It is easy in the midst of your grief journey to stop and wonder about the future. What lies ahead and how will you maneuver the unknown? What about the happily ever after you had planned on and dreamed of? Will that come to fruition in the midst of what life looks like today?

This summer our youngest son got married. It was a beautiful, fairy-tale-like wedding. The bride was lovely and glowing. The groom stood with tears in his eyes seeing his bride walk down the aisle of the church at the beginning of the ceremony. Their happily ever after as man and wife was finally beginning. May their future be blessed and full of love, peace, and blessings beyond their wildest dreams.

What happens though, when this dream fails to come true? How do you deal with the loss of the loved one you planned on being with forever? No one wants to think that a shortened journey together will happen. Yet, on occasion it does. What do you do when your happily ever after ends early?

Change your perspective. Realize that there really is no such thing as a happily ever after on earth because life is not forever here. This is not your final destination; not the final stop on your journey. When you know Jesus Christ personally, you need to remember that this is not your forever home. Someday you may find yourself mourning and personally realizing life’s brevity. Nothing points to how fragile life is like death.

However, when you have heaven to look forward to, you realize that your happily ever after truly has not even begun! While life may at times be good now, it will be incredible later on and that life will never end. Find comfort in knowing that if life here is not so good right now, you have the hope and assurance for better things later. This life is full of ups and downs, joy and sorrows, life and death. But there will come a day when all that stops and only the best remains. Your fairy-tale ending is yet to come when you meet Jesus face to face.

Focus on that hope. Set your eyes on that goal. You are here for a reason. Hold fast to that and keep on living and moving toward what will one day truly be even better than a fairy-tale-like life. Your happily ever after will come!

Until next time –

Karen

*photo taken by Click & Pedal Photography – Denver, Colorado

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

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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.

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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.