The Sounds of Grief

 

IMG_5688

During my recent trip to New York City, I was bombarded with many sounds. The constant noise of that city amazes me and wears me out. While lying in bed late one night and listening to the busyness of life going on around me, I began thinking about all the sounds of grief. Just as with other sounds, individuals will hear different things along their journey. Some sounds will be tuned out while others appear amplified for the listener. However, the sounds I have listed below are likely to be heard by many people who have experienced the loss of a loved one.

Comfort has a distinct sound. Perhaps it is the hushed murmurs of well-wishers. The sound of opening sympathy cards and realizing you truly are thought of by others. Listening to music holding special memories can bring comfort to some. The thoughts and reflections created by hearing these sounds take you back to a time you enjoyed and often long for once again.

Accolades are given at times to the grieving as a way of encouragement. “You are so brave.” “I can’t believe you are handling this so well.” If only people truly knew how you felt on the inside while you put on a brave outward front, they would be less likely to voice these praises as quickly or so frequently. The sound of accolades cascading over your heavy shoulders can be a soothing balm to your aching and weary soul though. Be grateful for them.

The sounds of grief can also include the whispers of defeat and hopelessness. Facing your new life can seem overwhelming and all you hear in your head are the constant and insistent whispers telling you there will never again be joy in your life. You cannot see, feel, nor hear an end to the small voices as your mind refuses to be tamed and turned down. Whispers can be torturous.

Along with these whispers can come an echo of the past. The sound of days gone by bounce off the corners of your mind as if you sit in a canyon. Try as you may, quieting the echo is impossible. It insists on returning at the most inopportune time, bringing you deeper into the grief journey, often accompanied by tears.

Snickers of fear can be a terrifying sound. No one enjoys being laughed at. The imaginary snickers of possible failure and the fear that accompanies those twitters are miserable for someone who is journeying through grief. It is not your fault that you fail to know what needs to be done. Who would have thought you needed to be so prepared and informed. Yet, telling yourself these truths fails to silence the snickers that ring out deep inside your heart and mind.

As you listen to the sounds of grief, strive to make room to hear the sounds of truth and hope. Do not spend so much time listening to the wrong voices that you miss the most important ones! The truth is you are still an important person. You do matter. You are loved and thought of. It may not seem like it. Death has a way of isolating and driving others away. People fail to know what to say so the sounds you hear fail to be the ones that should be said.

On the days you feel you have heard all you can take, open up a favorite book, put on some quiet, peaceful music, or read out-loud from the Bible. Nothing soothes like the hearing of God’s Word. You are His beloved. Let that be the last thing you hear before placing your head on your pillow tonight.

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…..” Song of Songs 6:3 (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!

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 can certainly do this

 

IMG_5161

While walking through grief, your emotions will freely flow and be quite unpredictable at times. One moment you are walking down the sidewalk and the next you are standing in tears. Perhaps you saw someone who looked just like your loved one. Maybe a familiar fragrance wafted through the air. A special song plays through the open window of a passing car taking you back to special memories that tug at your heartstrings and render you useless for a moment. As you try to recover, glancing over your shoulder to see if anyone is watching you fall apart, remember that you can certainly do this.

Dealing with the deep and lasting pain of grief and loss is hard. Unless it is experienced first-hand though, understanding the grief journey is difficult. Instead of living the life you had planned and dreamed of, you find yourself forging a new path, not quite sure of your destination. There is no clear map as to where to go, how to get there, and what your end goal actually is. Even with all those doubts and uncertainties cascading into your life, be encouraged and find hope. You can certainly do this.

One of my favorite lessons to teach and recite from the Bible is found in Numbers 13. It is the story of Moses sending a team to spy out the Promised Land for the Israelites. While the mission wasn’t exactly a success and doesn’t end the way you would expect, there are valuable lessons to learn. Moses sent out twelve men to sneak in and test the waters of a new country that God had promised His people. They were to check out the lay of the land. What food grew there? Who lived there? What were they like? Were the cities fortified?

When the spies returned from their mission, they brought with them evidence of the incredible crops that awaited them there. However, ten of the men were fearful, saying the people who lived there were too powerful for them to overtake. Never mind that God had promised them this land and victory over the inhabitants. They dug in their heels and refused to budge.

However, two of the spies spoke up and said let’s do this! We can win! God is on our side! There is nothing to fear! Unfortunately, because of the people’s doubts, they had to wait before experiencing victory over that land and the people there. Great blessings were missed and years of headship were ahead because of their stubbornness and fear.

The grief journey can be like the unknown territory that scared most of these spies into inaction and disobedience. It looks scary. Walking forward and moving into the unknown seems impossible and too big to handle. Be encouraged – you can certainly do this.

Though people and situations may render you unable to move forward at times, know that those are temporary bumps in the road. God promises that He has not brought you here to leave you helpless and hopeless. He wants to strengthen you, help you, and even carry you when you are unable to propel yourself forward.

Choose to let Him do this. Set your mind on the task ahead and move forward at your own pace. When you grow weary, stop and rest. When energy returns, continue on the journey. You can certainly do this. Hold tight to the promise that is given to Joshua, one of the spies who spoke up and believed the victory was theirs. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (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!

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.

I never used to

GEDC0318

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters is available for you to purchase. Having hope and purpose is not impossible when facing loss and pain. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief. Place your order today!

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

IMG_5552

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.

Please Remember

IMG_4541

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.

 

Be Watchful

IMG_5161

It is so easy to go about life, just focusing on what is happening today. You get caught up in the busyness of schedules and requests. Deadlines may loom and stresses can mount. If only you could stop and catch your breath amid the craziness of your world.

Or perhaps your hours are a little less full these days. The house is empty and a bit quieter and you wonder how you will fill your time. Without the demands you once knew it is easy to find yourself binge-watching episodes of a show on Netflix. The day has come and gone and you really cannot say exactly how you spent your hours. You have nothing to show for your day. Both these scenarios are examples of the importance to be watchful and aware of your time management.

I am a believer that everyone needs down time. Being free from stresses and the demands of life can refuel you to “charge your batteries” and allow you to move forward stronger and better prepared for what lies ahead. Finding a healthy balance between work and play is key to living a productive, healthy life.

Before death moved in to take your heart and mind captive, productivity may never have been a concern. You managed to multi-task and churn out projects, check items off your to-do-list, and still have time and energy for more. However, as you now face each day knowing loss is always in the back of your mind and in the forefront of your heart, accomplishing those tasks is not as easy. The energy just is not there nor is the desire to be in constant motion.

As you step into your grief journey, it will help to be aware and be watchful of where your time is going. While you may desire for the clock and life to halt and let your emotions catch up to the demands made upon you, that just does not happen. So how can you handle your new life and be assured to live it well? Be watchful.

What is it that God still wants you to see and do now that your world has been turned upside down? How can you know what path to walk in a new stage of life?

God still has plans for you. Even though your world has recently been rocked and nothing seems the same, you can hold on to the truth that there is still a reason for your presence in this world. One verse that I have clung to in my own grief journey is this: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Be watchful. God has plans for you. Your life matters. What you say and do makes a difference in this world, not only to you, but also to those around you. As you learn to adjust and to heal, may you find hope as you look and seek out the path on which you are now traveling.

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.

The days after

1459664_10153808959988766_4161362331527740504_n

So much effort is put into anticipating and preparing for special holidays, that you are often surprised by the days after it is all over. Thanksgiving and Christmas have already come and gone. Those special days you have come to dread without your loved one are finally finished. You have survived. Perhaps you enjoyed those harder days a bit more than you thought you would. The opportunity to laugh and smile came into play and you grasped those, filling your mind with new and different memories. Or perhaps you merely scraped by each day, putting forth the effort only for the sake of friends and loved ones still with you.

Many people feel sadness when the holidays are over. The much awaited excitement ends and a let-down from the process can occur. However, there is also a kind of relief that takes places for those on the grief journey. Now that the holidays are over, it is possible to let down your guard a little more. You do not find it necessary to brace for those waves of sadness and nostalgia that hit at the most inopportune times when others around you are laughing and enjoying the celebrations.

Along with the relief can come a bit of satisfaction that you really did make it through the holidays. Not only that, but hopefully you can find one or two truly golden moments to remember with fondness. Look back at the past month that has been full of activities, parties and gatherings, and demands. Celebrate and applaud yourself for accomplishing what you doubted you could live through. You survived the holidays!

As each year passes, the holidays will get better too. You will face them with less dread, you will find more joy, and you will create new traditions. Take a moment to breathe and realize that your future can look bright. Set your sights on what you want to accomplish now that the world around you is returning to “post-holiday normal” and decide what you will do next.

The grieving are not the only people facing a sort of depression and sadness the days after the holidays are over. Many people encounter quite a let-down after all their planning and celebrating. However, you and I have already learned to adjust to newness and changing times. You have an advantage on the rest of the world. You know you can face loss and life that is different from before. Take that knowledge and run with it. Plan new adventures for the upcoming new year. Revel in the fact that God has seen you through this past difficult month.

As you face the future of the days after, know that it can be a blank slate upon which you write your own possibilities, hopes, and dreams. Move forward with as much joy as you can muster and be open to blessings that are in store for you.

Until next time –

Karen

With a new year upon us, consider buying Grief Letters for a loved one or for yourself. Begin the year with hope and purpose. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief. Place your order today!

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

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

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

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

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

An Open Letter

IMG_3696_2

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.

Thanksgiving Day

378822_10102638612047184_1827786162_n

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time –

Karen

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

With the holidays approaching, Grief Letters makes the perfect gift for those walking through loss and sadness. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief. Place your order today!

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

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

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

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

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Standing together

IMG_5270

As the holidays approach I decided to do something totally new and different from old family traditions. I began decorating the house for Christmas before Thanksgiving Day. In our family, putting up Christmas decorations had always begun the weekend following Thanksgiving and each of us pitched in, standing together, to turn our home into a festive holiday retreat.

I have struggled these past five years with decorating for Christmas. The first two years the home remained bare of any decoration reflecting Christmas and the holiday was spent away from the house. However, this year my home will be filled with my boys and their wives. Suddenly, I feel there is reason to rejoice again. There once again seems to be a purpose in creating the look and feel of Christmas in the house.

Standing together is the only way anyone can journey through grief well. Knowing that you are not alone is important. Feeling support from both family and friends can give you hope to replace despair; laughter instead of tears; resolve instead of defeat.

As I worked in my home the past few days, I found energy in putting out some favorite decorations. Penguins and nativity sets are two things I enjoy collecting and placing about my home. This picture of four penguins on a Christmas stocking helps me envision those who stand near, cheering me forward.

Who do you have in your corner? What names come to mind when you realize life would be harder without them in this stage of your life? How do you remind yourself that you truly are not alone in mourning your old life, missing your loved one, and facing another year of tough holidays?

Perhaps this is your first year missing your loved one. Trying to picture celebrating anything seems impossible for you. If this is your situation, I am so sorry. No one else gets to determine or judge what you do or don’t do this year. It is important to realize that you do have choices. Decide what it is that will allow you to have a reason to get up in the morning. Is it your kids or your family? Knowing that your loved one would want you to live each day and learn to smile again? All these reasons helped motivate me throughout those first few years.

Find people who can help by standing together with you. Allowing them to be nearby in this difficult time may be just the blessing and open door you need to face this next month.

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.