Overcomer

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What does it mean to be an overcomer? The definition given by Merriam-Webster is “to defeat something or someone; to successfully deal with or gain control of something difficult.” I always feel inspired when I hear the song Overcomer by Mandisa. Some of the lyrics say, “Whatever it is you may be going through I know He’s not gonna let it get the best of you… You might be down for a moment feeling like it’s hopeless. That’s when he reminds you that you’re an overcomer.”

As you journey through grief, there will be times when you feel you simply cannot go on. The emotional toll and physical pain of loss can feel unbearable. Confusion and doubt persistently fill your mind. Everywhere you turn, you see reminders of your current situation. At those times it is important that you not give in to defeat. It is exactly when you feel weakest that you can find a way to survive and even learn to thrive again.

Develop into an overcomer! Realize that your weakness only accentuates the strength of God that is available to you. As you call out to Him for help, cling to what you do have. Remember this acronym and be encouraged –

Open up to others so they can help you.

Visualize the sun coming out the next day and life looking better.

Effort is necessary on your part to work through the process of grief.

Reality can be cruel. However,

Commit to living each day the best you know how.

Offer yourself grace in the days ahead.

Make everyday count.

Even if you only manage to get out of bed on a difficult day, you are victorious.

Remember that you are an overcomer!

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” Psalm 28:7 (NIV)

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.

Life Happens

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As life happens you may find yourself overwhelmed with the details of grief. The first few days after a significant loss can be especially traumatic. I actually have very few clear memories of the first days following my husband’s death. Short recollections play in my mind like small video pieces, convincing me that death did occur and I really did live through it. Here are a few of the memories that still play back from time to time:

Sitting at the table choosing a casket; rifling through papers finding necessary policy numbers and contact information for various companies; having a plate of toast placed in front of me as someone begged me to eat; shopping for a black skirt and breaking down crying as I was paying the cashier; lying in bed for hours unable to sleep; sitting in my living room as good friends and family members visited but not really remembering conversations.

What allows a person to go on autopilot and survive the difficulties of grief and loss? I believe it is grace and mercy that allows the body to be numbed by shock and enables you to carry on without thinking. Some people make the comments, “You are so strong.” “I would never be able to handle what you are going through.” Yet, it is not like you have a choice. Life does not stop for you to get off the rollercoaster of grief. Dealing with those first days after your loved one has died can easily be the hardest thing you will do. There is little to be done in preparing yourself for when life happens. Even if you and your loved one have walked through the difficulty of illness instead of facing a sudden loss, the journey is hard. While you may have had a chance to plan and think about a future without them, when the moment arrives for their departure from this world, you still face the overwhelming loss and demands of many decisions while juggling your feelings and emotions.

I like to think of it as “life happens” instead of “death happens.” Doing this allows a more positive slant on something all of us will experience from time to time. Some losses will be harder than others. Even so, losing loved ones and beginning a journey of grief is part of living. Life continues for you. There is something more to be experienced and enjoyed. Even though it may not feel like it at the moment, you have a purpose and God has a plan. If we focus on the fact that death will transpire at some point, it puts a pessimistic spin on life and you tend to dread the coming days, distracted from what you have right now. Instead of hope and a future, you see an end and possible despair. Therefore, I choose the fact that life happens and I find a way to move forward in the journey of grief.

You can do this too. Treasure the memories of the life you had with your loved one. Work through the heartache that is sure to accompany your loss. Realize that even though your path is filled with ups and downs, you can survive the ride ahead. Face what is before you so that you can eventually see those days in your past as you move forward toward brighter and easier days.

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.

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.

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.

Stand in line

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The other day I stopped by my local county building to get my car tags. Even though I arrived fifteen minutes before the office opened, a good-sized line had already formed. I stood patiently watching the people near me. One young lady was panicking and calling her mother saying she didn’t have her insurance card. They seemed to be trying to scan a picture in to her email to remedy the problem.

Other people behind me were impatiently debating as to whether they wanted to stand in line and wait for their turn. They seemed defeated with the need to stand in line behind so many people. Was the wait really going to be worthwhile? While standing in line is not always pleasant, it is necessary at times.

As small children you learn to stand in line. Make it straight, hands to yourself, be still and quiet, and follow the person in front of you. While this skill is one that you probably perfected in your school years, somehow, walking through grief and being expected to stand in line waiting to feel better seems overwhelming and unrealistic.

The thing that many people fail to understand is that the grief journey is anything but straight. The path is not one that allows you to walk and follow the person in front of you. One person’s grief is never exactly like another person’s grief. You are not afforded the ease of just seeing someone else’s path and following their exact footsteps. Loss just does not work that way. There are no clear lines and no sure map to follow.

However, you can find some direction as you journey through grief. Because your loss is unique to you, there is no need to feel that you must stand in line and wait for others to determine your path. Sure, you can gain great insight by watching others. Some people will inspire you, giving you hope and the courage to face what life has handed you as you move forward one step at a time. By watching others though, you may learn things you do not want to do as you live each day missing your loved one. Perhaps their missteps will save you some pain down the road.

As you move forward, remember that you get to choose how you grieve. You get to say when you need to stop and cry, and when you want to embrace victory and laugh out loud. Do not let the world demand that you stand in line and hold yourself back from the healing that is just ahead of you. Put one foot in front of the other and begin your walk. Your time to stand in line is finished. Now you get to move forward and be restored.

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters is available for you to purchase. 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.

Please Remember

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I recently attended the funeral of a lovely, kind-hearted, young man. While I did not know him personally, I listened and learned as his family recalled stories of their life with this brother, son, uncle, and friend. He was much-loved even though he may not have realized it. Happiness seemed to escape him. And this made me sad. So I want to say please remember some very important truths.

Please remember that even though you still have sad days, they do not define you as a sad person. When you walk through grief, it is easy to be seen as untouchable and unapproachable. This is not because others lack caring for your circumstances, but because people just do not know what to say or how to help. As you move forward in your grief journey, that sadness will lessen allowing joy and happiness to move in and be experienced more and more.

Realize that you matter as a person. Please remember that even though life has changed, there still is a life for you to live. Because you have the gift of life, there is a responsibility to live that life well. Not perfectly – no one can achieve that. Your path will be filled with plenty of missteps and wrong turns. However, use those errors as motivation and do better next time. Embrace those circumstances and learn from them. Resist from giving up on yourself and the life you are living.

Please remember from where your strength truly originates. When I feel sad, weak, or overwhelmed, I recall a promising verse from scripture. “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”                       2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV) My strength is found in my relationship with Jesus Christ. When it seems impossible to move forward, surrender to and lean on Jesus. He will give you what you need for another day.

This recent funeral service touched me so deeply that I want to make sure that my friends and family know certain things about me too. Please remember that I know who I am. My identity is not just that of a widow, a mother, sister, aunt, or a friend. I am loved and treasured because I am a child of God. Even though I have rough days, I am never without hope. Assurance surrounds my life, not because I am a good or powerful person – but because I know and serve a good and powerful God. Please remember that I do not seek your pity. Instead, I desire for you to be inspired by how I live. And in those times that I fail to live well and make right choices, I ask you to forgive me. Please remember that I am an imperfect person who truly desires to point you to a perfect Creator who wants a relationship with you – His creation.

Until next time –

Karen

Won’t you 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.

 

Spirit of Competition

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I was just telling a co-worker yesterday that I am not really a competitive person. I do not feel that I have to win at games. There is no great satisfaction in beating others in contests. My tendency is more to be the cheerleader and encourage others to do their best, even if that means defeating me. However, my study last night caused me to stop and reflect upon this tendency. Was my natural bent actually making my new year more difficult? Where was my spirit of competition when it came to living well?

I admit I have been a bit overwhelmed with the thought of another year and 365 days ahead of me to figure out. Catching up at work after some time off has kept me more than occupied and busy during the day. My evenings, though, have been far too quiet after having a house full of family celebrating the holidays. This past week has found me struggling to figure out how to live life with joy again.

Last night I was reminded that this journey is brief and is not always easy. In those harder times, it is important to remember that we are not walking alone. Yes, we have family and friends with us – but my perspective today is one of remembering that God is always with us. With His help, we can have a healthy spirit of competition.

I read the first chapter of Job in the Bible and was encouraged. Nothing enters into your life without God’s permission and knowledge. While that may leave some people angry and questioning what in the world God is doing, I choose to believe that no matter what, God is working in my life for my good and more importantly, for His glory.

No, I do not know why my husband died five years ago. I do not understand why two other family members lost their fight with cancer this past year. But Job also experienced great loss. All at once his livestock, possessions, and family were taken from him. He did not have the foreknowledge that a spiritual battle was being waged and God was bragging on him to remain righteous. Yet, he stood strong overall and fought back at the feelings of defeat and anger.

You and I can know about the battles we will face in life because of God’s Word (the Bible). We read how heroes of long ago stood firm in their faith. Even when they stumbled, God was faithful to rescue and provide a way through the difficult time. He will do that for us too.

I will choose to think, “I am on God’s team – the winning team! Perhaps this is my chance to do well and help the forward progress of making God famous. I will remain strong with God’s help and I will fight back. I will not give up!” Perhaps you too need to claim this chant as your own.

What is it that is overwhelming to you as this new year begins? You do not have to go this journey alone. Do you know the power of God? Do you believe He loves you and has the best in mind for you? May the days ahead be ones that make you smile and raise your hand in victory when you look back on them. Embrace the difficulties with a spirit of competition. Do not settle for less or loss. The winning team can be yours!

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.

Just Let Go

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Last week I made the decision to climb twenty-seven feet into the air with a friend, trying out The Cliff Hanger bounce house. My church had rented it for a Christmas tree lighting activity for our community. As I hung there three stories above the ground, I looked down the enormous slide wondering what in the world I had gotten myself into. I have never been a fan of heights. In fact, I am terrified of them. Yet, I found myself in quite the dilemma. There was only way down and that was to just let go. So, I closed my eyes, released my death-grip on the rings holding me in place, and found myself speeding down the slide. I opened my eyes as I descended and realized that I actually enjoyed the slide and it was not nearly as bad as I had feared.

Reflecting upon that experience, I realize that the ride of the grief journey requires the same thing. You have to just let go as you discover your new life. While you may desire for things to return to normal, that is not possible. Death changes things. So how do you find the courage to just let go?

I braved the adventure of The Cliff Hanger with a friend. Jin Jo actually had the idea to climb and she encouraged me to come with her. I am not sure I would have ventured the climb and fall if it had not been for her going with me. As you walk through grief, look for friends along the way. Who is it that is willing share their courage and cheer you forward?

There will be times when you should admit you need help. Those who have never experienced death and loss may not realize how hard your journey is. So we who have lived through such pain may need to open up and share with others how they can help. It is not a weakness to admit a need. It actually takes great courage to do so. Just let go and take that first step. The path will likely not be as impossible as you fear.

When we face the unknown it is common to be afraid and to hold on to what we have known. When I climbed up those three stories last week, I found myself clinging to the rings at the top, fearful of the unknown. While hanging there was scary, the fall downward was terrifying. It was new and unfamiliar. Tomorrow is also an unknown. It may seem to make sense to hang on to what you know, even if it keeps you stuck in grief and failing to move forward toward healing. However, continuing to grasp what you have known in the past will not allow you to grow and find the wonders of life that still await you.

As you find yourself facing new heights and the unknown summits of grief, remember that you need to just let go. Trust God and believe that the plummet into the unfamiliar can be full of joy and unexpected thrills.

Until next time –

Karen

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.

An Open Letter

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Dear Alan,

Tomorrow marks five years since I last saw you and got to speak with you. The morning I left for work you did not feel well, battling what we thought was the flu. I am so sorry we did not know better. We actually talked on the phone just minutes before you apparently departed this world saying we should go to the hospital to check you out when I got home from work.

It is easy to get caught up in the “what ifs” of grief. What if I had left work earlier that day? What if you had gone to the doctor that morning? What if… However I have learned a lot of things during these last five years. I think you would be proud of me, Alan. I wanted to share some of my revelations in an open letter so others might see and be encouraged as they face their own sadness, fear, and grief in saying good-bye to a loved one.

I have learned that even though something hurts so much that you think you might not survive – you can. Those first few hours are still very much of a blur: the wonderful EMTs; the compassionate police, the neighbor who closed up the house, my friends who met me at the hospital and held me through the night when I cried. I remember just enough to still have nightmares and flashbacks at times. So I have stopped trying to relive those hours in order to figure everything out. It does not matter the exactness of my memories. It is enough to know that I did all I could for you and that friends stepped in and were there for me when it counted.

I have learned that while time does not heal all wounds, it does lessen the sharpness of the pain. The moments when I cannot breathe because the agony is too great have passed for the most part. Yet, the tears still flow – maybe more often than others think they should. But that is also something I have learned. No one else gets to tell you how to grieve. The way you mourn and face your sorrow and loss is your own. Be kind and offer grace to yourself as you learn how to live life a new way.

There are no formulas for getting through the death of a loved one. I remember a friend told me that it would take x amount of months to achieve wholeness again because we were married 26 years. I have long since passed that time limit. But I have learned that it is important to give yourself permission to handle grief your own way. As long as progress is being made on your grief journey, you are doing well. Just because someone else may have already moved on to dating and remarriage does not mean that you are failing a task. It simply means your journey is taking a different route.

I learned that I have strength. I also acknowledge that it does not come from within myself, but from God above. Calling and telling our sons of your death was probably the single worse task I have ever had to face. I had others with me at the time who offered to share the words in my place. But those were moments that we would all remember for a lifetime and they needed to come from me. So I did it. The next day it was incredibly difficult to look at pictures of caskets and choose one. Setting up your service was unbelievably hard since we had not once discussed what you would want. You were only 49 years old. Who thinks of those things at that age?

It was ridiculous the amount of time I spent in conversations and engaging in battle for my rights with your former employer to get what was rightfully mine from HR. But through all those conversations I learned that words matter. The way things are said make a difference. Kindness and compassion are missing from this world far too often. I have learned that if you can share these aspects with others, you must do so. You never truly know the path others are walking.

I have learned that having faith before your death, Alan, kept me from despair. While I still cried, was scared beyond comprehension, and required an incredible amount of help and guidance in those first few months, I knew that God was there for me, carrying me when I was too weak to continue on. He allowed me rest from exhaustion after nights of sleeplessness and comfort in the presence of darkness and continual nightmares.

Five years ago tomorrow marks a day that I have come to dread each year. It may be that way for the rest of my life. However, knowing ahead of time that it will be a hard day allows me to prepare for it. Writing an open letter this year has helped me process a little more. Taking the day off work tomorrow is my gift to myself. Sharing my journey with others not only helps me, but I pray provides a source of hope, help, and the beginning to healing that is needed in journeying through grief.

How do you close an open letter written to someone no longer here? I suppose by simply saying I love you still and miss you daily.

Until next time –

Karen

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.