Little Piggy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time –

Karen

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

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

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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.

 

Unable to See

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Driving into church early Sunday morning was quite the experience. Even though it is nearly the middle of May, we had received half a foot of snow during the night. The streets were slushy and slick in some areas. The sides of the roads gathered puddles of water, some of them rather large and deep. Just as I was approaching the ramp to enter the highway, a large van sped by me on the right, running through water so deep it immediately covered my little car, including the windshield. My sight was obscured and I was unable to see anything!

I reacted as quickly as possible, turning on my wipers, gently applying the brake while praying no one behind would hit me. I did my best to drive in a straight line while staying in my lane. Not being able to see where my forward progress was taking me was terrifying. I feared running into something as I was unable to see in any direction around the car. It was quite a relief when my sight was cleared and I could once again maneuver the car with perfect vision.

As my heart rate slowly returned to normal, I contemplated other ways that people are blinded and unable to see. Walking through loss and extreme sadness can certainly be paralyzing and frightening. The path before you is unclear and undefined. Faith is required to continue a forward progress as you process your grief and learn to maneuver an unfamiliar trail.

Just as I was able to see as soon as the wipers did their work of clearing the windshield, you too will eventually find sight and be able to see again. Have courage to place one foot in front of the other even while you are unable to see. Trust in the help of those around you who are sighted while you struggle with clarity. Your sight will return with time and with work. Your path will most certainly look differently than it did before, but you will find a trail that you can make your own as you heal and journey forward.

Trying to envision what my life will be like ten years from now is often too hard and foggy for me to see and understand clearly. So while I dream and plan for the future, I try to keep my focus closer to the here and now. What is it that God has for me today? I must believe that I can live today well, even while in the midst of much sadness and uncertainty.

While you may find yourself unable to see clearly today, trust that your sight will be restored. Until then, live with faith, trust, and hope. Rub your eyes and keep your focus on what you know – God wants to care for you.

Until next time –

Karen

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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.

A Little Messy

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A couple of weeks ago at work, it was discovered that someone had failed to push the coffee pot all the way back on the hot plate while brewing a fresh pot. As a result, the coffee flowed from the top spout and down the outside of the pot, instead of inside as intended. By the time the mistake was caught, hot coffee had made its way all along the counter, under the microwave, even pouring into the cabinet drawers on the other side of the counter space. The kitchen was certainly a little messy.

Journeying through life is a little like that coffee station. When we are not positioned correctly, things can get a little messy. What is a correct posture of grief? While each journey is unique and will look differently for everyone, there are some common points to consider.

One posture of grief that you should be prepared for is change. Upon the death of a loved one, life is bound to look differently. The hole left by the absence of a person is real and gaping. Whether your loss is sudden or you have seen its approach for a while now, it changes your life and you face the challenge of learning to discover and live a new “normal” life. Their loss tends to make your life a little messy while taking you on a different, undesired path.

Another helpful posture is to appreciate that we ache much because we love much. Even though it hurts to say good-bye, even if for a little while, your life has been shaped by the relationship you had with your loved one. Trust that their impact on your life served a purpose. Be willing to step into the mess of the pain. Dealing with the sting of loss now will aid you in advancing in your grief journey.

Being willing to move forward leads to a final point. Your grief is a passage, not a place to stay. It is vital that you not stop the flow of grief as you process and maneuver the messiness of your difficult path. As you move onward, you will see progress. Be assured and encouraged that you still have a very real purpose in life. You may not understand what that is at the moment. At those times of doubt, it must be enough to trust and believe that there is indeed a purpose and continue to seek it.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2 (ESV) Even when things get a little messy, embrace your journey. There are times we need a little mess to appreciate the beauty on the other side.

Until next time –

Karen

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Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order at link below:

http://bookstore.westbowpress.com/Author/Default.aspx?BookworksSId=SKU-000980156

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.

 

Hope whispers

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The world in which we live can be exhausting, bewildering, and discouraging at times. It is important to remember that as we journey through grief, loss, and sadness, we can find a way to experience joy. Living just to survive is not enough for me. I want to do more than exist – I want to thrive and find real pleasure again. I believe this is possible when I keep holding onto hope.

Remember that when the world says to give up, hope whispers, “Try one more time.” Hope is something that no one can fully take away from you. You may feel like the wind has been knocked out of your sails or that you have no strength to keep going. Listen closely though. In the midst of the noisy battle of daily life, behind all the distractions that try to steer you off course, there is a sweet murmur of encouragement. Not everyone will hear it right away.

Some people will refuse to move forward because the pain is too great. Missing a loved one hurts. However, choosing to sit and wallow in your grief will not remove the pain. Journeying through the hurt and doing the hard work of processing the pain in grieving is the only way to allow your wounds to heal. When you feel you cannot possibly withstand another blow or injury, stop and listen. Hope whispers, “Try one more time.”

Perhaps you have made the choice to rush through the grief journey, running as quickly as possible through the experience in order to get to the other side of the pain and sadness. Instead of giving up, you have resolved to get rid of your grief immediately, ignoring some important steps of remembering and going slow enough to let the scab of pain heal. Your decision to place life on top of an open wound may end up bringing you more harm and pain later on. You have set your goal and nothing is going to stop you from achieving it. Take a moment, and listen carefully. Do not be so busy running from life that you miss the hush. Hope whispers.

There is a balance to walking the grief journey. No one desires to ache for a long time. However, some pain is inevitable as we cross over to the other side of grief. Envision yourself walking across the beautiful bridge I have pictured here for you today. There – just on the other side – if you listen closely you can hear it! Hope whispers, “Try one more time.”

You can do this! There is a scripture that reminds us that God often chooses to talk to us quietly. “After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”     1 Kings 19:12 (NIV) Choose to listen to His whisper hidden within the chaos and mess of grief. You will find your strength and hope there.

Until next time –

Karen

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Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order at link below:

http://bookstore.westbowpress.com/Author/Default.aspx?BookworksSId=SKU-000980156

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.