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.

Behind Closed Doors

 

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One truth I try to always remember regarding my ministry to children and their families is the fact that we really do not know what goes on behind closed doors. Over the years I have discovered that people can put on a good show. Walls are built and lives kept private so that few people truly know what happens when no one is watching. Because of that truth, we need to serve with gratitude, discipline with grace, and teach with a passion that shows unconditional love. What a person receives through that gratitude, grace, and passion may be the only blessing they have in their life.

The same can hold true when you walk through grief. However, instead of applying this principle to others, you might try applying it to yourself. Giving yourself grace at the end of a long, hard day may be just what you need to sleep and wake up knowing you can handle another day. Only you know what you face when you go home at night and close the front door on the outside world. Who you share your journey with and when you do so is up to you.

There may be times when you cannot imagine telling anyone how you feel because that forces you to come to terms with your own emotions first. Pushing those feelings down to bury them is far easier at times than admitting to what truly happens behind closed doors. Will others understand the countless times you find yourself momentarily immobilized with hot tears suddenly cascading down your cheeks while you struggle to catch your breath?

How can anyone possibly understand the dread you feel upon returning home after long hours at work? Can others grasp that you wonder how you will fill the minutes that lie ahead in the too quiet evening? Will they see that you dislike bedtime because you will be not be able to unwind and achieve a restful night’s sleep since you haven’t slept through a whole night in years.

You have gotten so skilled at putting on a smile and having a good attitude most of the time that few might suspect there are times when the cheerfulness can be forced and feigned because you carry an ache too large to describe. When you find yourself in this situation, learn to be honest – at least with yourself. You don’t necessarily have to broadcast your every struggle. However, it is helpful to admit to yourself how you are truly feeling. You then enable yourself to move forward on your grief journey as you try to determine if you might handle things differently. There will be times when you do need a little privacy and a good cry. At others moments, you may find it healthier to let someone else see what is happening behind your closed door so they can encourage you along the way.

I share this topic not to gain pity or change attitudes about me, but to help others with similar struggles and feelings. You are not alone. What you face is real and, unfortunately, common when you have journeyed through death and loss. My hope is that when you see others succeed and move forward to find hope and healing in spite of pain, you will know that you too can achieve the same.

Living behind closed doors has both advantages and disadvantages. Having the wisdom to know the difference will help you make good decisions. This wisdom does not come from within you, but from Someone far wiser – the God who loves you and cares.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)

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.

Quotes

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This past summer during the preteen camp I run for our children’s ministry, several people said some funny things which became quotes to remember. “Fear the bonnet,” “Who stole the milk jug?” and “I got bit by a goat and went to unicorn land” were among the best ones. As we walk through grief and loss, there are certain phrases that are brought up time and again as people quote what they think we need to hear.

“I know how you feel” and “They’re so much better off now” are among the quotes that really are not helpful to hear as you journey through sadness and heartache. Hearing them can hurt and remind you once again of your loss and the sadness that overtake you at times. Even though these statements may be true, they are hard to hear early into your journey.

However, there are some quotes that can help as you move forward and begin to heal. Reciting, memorizing, and quoting scripture can be incredibly empowering and healing. Claiming promises from God gives hope not only for you today but also for your future.

Healthy self-talk is vital for healing and forward movement in your grief journey as well. Telling yourself that you can survive the pain that aches down deep inside injects hope into each hour you face. It is these quotes that help you believe in your head that you will eventually be okay even when all your heart knows now is darkness.

Yesterday I heard someone say, “I don’t want to hear I can’t.” While she was talking to children at the time, this is a good lesson for everyone. Instead of handing your life over to defeat, quote positive things instead. Some examples of helpful quotes to tell yourself might be: “I can certainly do this.” “If he can do it, then I can do it.” “I still believe there is a purpose in my life.”

These quotes point to better things just around the corner. Do not settle for the sadness that invades your life now. Push ahead and keep looking for the good in each day. Sometimes that is hard to find and the only positive statement you come up with is, “The sun came up today” or “I didn’t fall down and skin my knee this afternoon.” Keep trying and before you know it, you will find your special quote that will stick with you and be the boost you need for your tough days.

Until then, borrow one from someone else. One of my favorite quotes from scriptures is the promise that no matter how bad things seem, nothing can defeat you when you look to God for your strength.

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

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.

Gift of remembering

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As the holiday season approaches much too quickly, it is easy for me to feel anxious and to begin dreading the upcoming days. With the arrival of the holidays also comes the memory of Alan’s death since it occurred between Thanksgiving and Christmas and 11 days before his birthday. I was listening to a book on CD in my car this week. My commute to and from work gives me the opportunity to listen to, enjoy, and learn from some good authors. Karen Kingsbury is this week’s choice. While I have not read (or listened) to her before, I must say she has a way of writing that makes me stop, think, and realize how blessed I really am.

There is a certain gift in remembering. You are reminded of doing life with someone; the way they sounded when they laughed or the look on their face when surprised. I have learned that you have a choice how to respond to your memories of loved ones. Recalling special moments together can be a blessing. They can also be painful and looked upon as something to be avoided. You may choose to bury those memories down deep in order to keep from hurting. However, I want to propose that you receive the gift of remembering and treasure those special times instead.

Being able to recall happy occasions with your loved one is something that death cannot take from you. Those memories are treasures that you can hold in your heart and mind forever. Reliving those happier times can bring relief in the midst of deep sorrow and hope in the depths of dark nights. The gift of remembering can confirm the special relationship you had with your loved one. Knowing that they cared enough to do life with you is a blessing. Embrace that knowledge and allow it to be a healing salve placed upon your hurting soul.

What if some of those memories are less pleasant? There are spats you had, the disagreements that were difficult to navigate, and the challenges that life brings to everyone at times. Recalling how you made it through those hardships can encourage you that this present journey will not be impossible either. Because you made it through other hard times, you are better equipped to survive the challenge that death and grief bring.

Preparing for bed last night, I heard the song We Will Remember. It’s a beautiful tribute acknowledging all the times that God has been by your side and seen you through both the good and the rough times in life. It confirmed for me that there is definitely a gift in remembering.

As you approach the upcoming holidays, do so with an open mind and a willing heart. Embrace your memories realizing that the gift of remembering is proof that you loved well and lived hard. Continue to do so now. Move forward with no regrets. Do not miss those opportunities that are presented to you as you heal and learn to continue living life a new way.

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.

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.

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.

Jump drive

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I am doing more writing these days and decided I needed to remove some files from my computer to make plenty of room for new things. While I stood in the aisle of the store deciding what size and brand of jump drive I needed in order to transfer work elsewhere, I wondered what could be used to move certain memories to create space as I journey through grief. While an actual jump drive does not exactly aid those of us navigating loss, there are things that can help along the path we have been forced to walk.

A grieving person’s jump drive can be words. Figuring out how to express yourself to others is not as easy as some might expect. The emotions you feel seem too big for words. How can you possibly explain what you are going through when you do not understand it yourself? However, words are valuable. They secure the memories you carry. They help process the journey you are on and can bring understanding where only confusion and the unknown exist. If words can be a jump drive of the grieving, how can they be put into service?

Begin by journaling your thoughts and feelings. Using this technique as a jump drive can help you place the load of information in your mind on paper so you feel capable of moving forward with your new life. As you begin putting pen to paper, do not be concerned about complete thoughts or sentence structure. Just start jotting down your feelings, letting them flow from within. You will find that by doing this, you are able to sort through your grief and begin to make sense of events and room for new experiences when they come along. Journaling assures you that facts and memories you want to treasure forever will be held safe and sound and clearly remembered.

Talking about your loved one can also bring healing and open up room in your mind for new and precious memories. The spoken word can be healing. Some people may find it too painful to speak their thoughts out loud immediately after a death. Hearing and admitting your loss through your own words brings reality crashing upon you and the truth can no longer be avoided or denied. However, allowing conversations regarding your loved one and the loss you have experienced is necessary. Hearing others converse and share memories also gives you more to value. Gaining perspective on how friends viewed and respected your loved one is a treasure. You will find healing in eventually allowing yourself to speak of your memories, your pain, and your journey without them.

Let your words become a jump drive. Find strength, healing, and room for new growth along your grief journey. By expressing stories and memories, you are really storing them in your heart for years to come.

Until next time –

Karen

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

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

You should be fine by now

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Expectations. Those things we anticipate and at times take for granted. They are things we put upon ourselves as well as those pressures placed upon us by others. They can be a long time in coming or a pleasant surprise when they arrive suddenly. One unpleasant expectation forced upon those grieving a loved one is summed up with the statement: You should be fine by now.

Why is it that time has to be dictated? Formulas are calculated and those looking at grief from the outside figure that after a while your sadness should be gone. Tears are no longer accepted as an appropriate expression of emotion. Time has passed and life goes on. Therefore, you should be fine by now.

However, this is a misconception. Missing a loved one never really goes away. You will always miss them to a degree. That degree also changes and fluctuates within the grief journey. You will experience days when you really do feel fine, strong, and happy. Time goes by with fewer and fewer moments that remind you of your loss. Then, when you least expect it, dark times hit for seemingly no reason at all. Tears flow freely and your breath catches as you gasp and fight to regain composure. After all, aren’t you supposed to be past the grief and sorrow? You should be fine by now people tell you.

When you travel a grief journey though, no one gets to dictate when you should be fine. Only you can gauge how you are really managing. While you may put on a brave front, deep inside you hurt and ache to once again see your loved one. If only you could have one more day with them. Facing the realization that this is impossible, you do what you can to cope. At times, that includes taking the opportunity to cry, setting free the pent-up tears and sadness you manage to keep from the world on your good days.

As you learn to maneuver your grief, give yourself permission to say, “I am not okay today.” Admitting your sorrow and accepting that you don’t always have it together is part of learning to lean upon the One who does. When you feel that you can’t take it any longer, let Jesus carry your sorrow. He is an expert at that because He experienced sadness and sorrow while living on earth.

There is a Bible verse that holds great promise. In Heaven we will have no more sorrow, no more tears. While we fight to survive the days when we fall apart, cry, and grieve deeply, we also have the hope of a future without pain and sadness. “And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 (NASB)

Be encouraged when you feel pressured to accept the myth that you should be fine by now. Remember that you hurt much because you love much. Then ask Jesus to help you cope with the freshness of the pain you experience from time to time as you continue to journey toward healing.

Until next time –

Karen

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

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Listen to your guide

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I have been out this past week, running a preteen camp for my church. One of our days was filled with white-water rafting on the Colorado River. Mad Adventures is the tour company I use for this exciting activity. They have a very knowledgeable staff that works hard to keep us safe. While on the water, we are reminded time and again to listen to your guide. Their wise words and actions enable us to arrive at our destination down river safely.

As you journey through grief and loss, you can find help and encouragement in listening to your guide as well. However, who do you know that can provide wisdom in the difficult days ahead? Has someone else’s journey through death and loss proved they know their stuff and are able to show you the way as well? What is their track record? Do they seem reliable?

These are all questions you might ask while watching others walk through loss. As you wonder how you will take your next step forward, you long for strength and guidance, looking around for a source to plug into. While God can surely place people in your path to help and cheer you on, you do need to carefully choose your guide.

Placing too much faith and trust in people will eventually bring disappointment. While others mean well, no one person can possibly meet all your needs. It is important to remember that while you both may have suffered a loss, no two losses are exactly the same. Situations and circumstances differ from person to person – loss to loss. That being the case, what can you do as you seek further help and healing on your own journey?

You can remember the hope and promise found in God’s Word. Even as you struggle to find your footing to stand upright and slowly make your way toward healing, take the time to embrace scripture. One particular passage has held great meaning for me.

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

Even when you feel that no one can understand and no one cares, you can be assured that God does. You may fear that you are alone on your journey, but His presence in your life is guaranteed when you know Him personally. Nothing can separate you from God. Not even death.

So during those times when you feel abandoned by your loved one, look up and remember this promise. When you feel you cannot possibly continue on, stop and listen to your guide, Jesus Christ. Healing rarely comes instantly – but it does come. Your joy will slowly return as you wake each morning and learn to discern the voice of your guide from all the other noises filling your world.

Until next time –

Karen

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

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Paddling hard

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One of the fun activities I get to do each summer is white-water rafting. I take the church preteens to a camp near Grand Lake, Colorado. During the week, we take a half-day trip down the Colorado River, making our way past Class 2 rapids and paddling hard, following the commands of the guide on each raft. Anticipating the river adventure this summer, I am reminded that the grief journey requires careful maneuvering as well.

The most important part of white-water rafting is listening to the commands of your guide. These skilled people know the river. They travel it daily for months and are familiar with the rapids, the ins and outs of the currents, and know what to expect around each bend of the river. You can trust they know their stuff.

As you walk through grief, there will be some people who want to give you instruction and direction. While people mean well, unless someone has walked through a similar loss, they can lack the ability to really understand your situation. Because each person’s loss is unique, what helps someone else will not necessarily be helpful to you. If you are not careful, you can find yourself paddling hard yet making little headway toward healing. Pray for wisdom as advice is given to you. Spending time in prayer and reading the Bible can give you peace and comfort as you find yourself paddling hard to keep your grief-filled raft afloat.

Taking advantage of the wind and current allows the rafter to grab a much-needed break in between bouts of strenuous work and paddling hard to make headway against the elements encountered on the river. Looking ahead and preparing for the upcoming rapids is key to staying in the boat as the waves begin to pound and you find your raft tossed on the water.

Having an idea of what to expect on your grief journey can be helpful. Recognizing and taking advantage of an easy day that presents itself amid the torrents of grief is vital. Those moments of relief can prepare you to endure the hard stretches you are sure to encounter when grief comes pounding and raging from time to time.

While paddling hard is necessary is making your way down the river, doing so correctly helps conserve your energy for the long haul. Leaning into each stroke allows for more power while reserving strength in your arms. Digging deep and working hard is essential to keep moving in the right direction.

Finding ways to lean into your loss will help you go the distance on your grief walk. Realize that fighting your sorrow will only prolong the journey. Instead, embrace the pain in order to move ahead and make progress on a difficult path.

Your grief journey requires the difficult work of paddling hard in order to move forward. Just as the raft steadily moves along, you can find yourself encouraged when you look back and see how far you have come. May you find the strength to continue as you focus and envision reaching your destination of healing and dealing with your grief in a healthy and safe manner.

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.