Push your buttons

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There are times in life when people do their best to push your buttons. They say things just to egg you on and get you to react. They may do this just to see what you are made of. Perhaps they feel this is a way to have some fun with you, hoping that your reaction will be one of joking right back with them. If you have siblings, you have probably experienced them pushing your buttons as you grew up. Doing so is a form of communication that is not necessarily bad.

As you walk through grief, it is possible for others to push your buttons unintentionally. Unknowingly, people may say things that remind you of your loved one and the loss you have suffered. Innocent comments inquiring as to your well-being can push you towards painful remembrances and lead you down a path you would rather avoid. Unfortunately avoidance can hold you back and keep you in your grief longer. There comes a time when you need to face your memories.

It is also possible for you to push your own buttons. In other words, you set yourself up for pain and ache by placing yourself in a position that reminds you of your grief. This can actually be a healing procedure. In order to get through your pain and to move along on your grief journey, you need to be able to face the path you have been forced to walk. Avoidance will only prolong your pain and slow down your journey through grief. The ability to live a full life again and learn to find joy instead of mourning your loss will be discovered as you have the courage to push your buttons to remember and embrace your loss.

When you are able to do this, you will see what you are truly made of. You may surprise yourself and discover that you can indeed endure and survive much more than you thought possible. Learning to move forward and feel better about life does not take the significance or the value away from the relationship you have seen come to an end. Learning to place one foot in front of the other does allow you to take the love and experience you have had in the past and put it toward healthy relationships now before you.

Do not fear it when you push your buttons. Realize that your courage is to be commended and others will be cheering for you along the way. Give yourself time and be patient. There is no need to push all of your buttons at the same time. Little by little you will make progress. Have a little grace with yourself and choose a button or two to approach and push. When you feel you have a handle on those items, then you will find it easier to push another button and continue your grief journey further. The progress you will make will please and amaze you.

So go ahead. Get ready, get set, and push your buttons. Watch your journey unfold as the fear and pain that hold you captive dissipate and you move forward along your path.

Until next time –

Karen

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

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

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

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

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The balance beam

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I spent some time watching gymnastics on television last night. This is a sport that I enjoy viewing, admiring how the gymnasts do amazing jumps, flips, and turns. Watching as they dance along the balance beam and exhaling in relief when they stick the landing can be exhilarating. Having no talent whatsoever myself in any form of gymnastics, I marvel at the skills these young people have.

I watched, despairing as several of the young ladies bobbled a turn and failed to stay on top of the balance beam. As I sympathized with them, I began to see similarities between what these talented people strive to do and what those in grief must learn to maneuver on their own type of balance beam.

Being a gymnast competing for a place on the Olympic team takes years of practice and dedication. They have devoted themselves daily to hours of grueling drills and repetition of required skills. Commitment is evident in the success these athletes achieve. Even when they experience an unexpected tumble to the floor from that 4-inch beam, you see them take a breath, recover, and remount the beam quickly in order to follow through and finish their routine. They do not quit or give up.

The beautiful routines are filled with dancing, graceful moves, and difficult skills meant to thrill the audience and satisfy the judges. Focusing on fulfilling the required movements helps to assure that success is within reach. Working with a trainer and having these moves choreographed results in an art admired by many.

Walking through grief can be compared in ways to walking the balance beam. It takes great commitment and work to learn to place one foot in front of the other after suffering a loss. Courage must be summoned to manage even getting out of bed some days and facing your changed world. Some of the jumps and back flips on the balance beam require a blind landing. As you make your way through your loss, you may feel that you are required to move blindly, uncertain of what is ahead and how can you land well into the future when you cannot quite picture what it looks like.

There are also some great differences between walking the balance beam and walking your grief journey. These athletes train for years with some of the best coaches available. Most of the time you enter your grief with little notice or warning. Even if the loss has been anticipated due to an illness, it seems impossible to properly prepare for the complete separation that death brings. How does one truly practice for that?

Talented choreographers work with these gymnasts to provide cute and appropriate movements while fulfilling requirements of the judges. Walking through grief, you are forced to make up your own routine. No one can tell you how you should feel or what you should do. While there are people who have survived the grief journey and are willing to encourage you, no two journeys are the same. Therefore, it is up to you to find what works best in your own life.

Millions of people will be watching the Olympic trials and envying the talents of these athletes. No one will be envying you as you face loss and learn to journey through grief. In fact, you may find that some people will avoid you, fearing and doubting what they should say or how they should act around you. It will be necessary to not take these slights personally. Remember, unless you have actually experienced the loss of a loved one, you fail to know how to communicate clearly with those who have been forced to say good-bye to someone.

As you watch the Olympic trials and later the actual Olympic Games, be encouraged when you see athletes braving the balance beam. They are doing something that few people can do. You, my friend, can say the very same thing. You are walking a journey that no one else can tell you how to walk. Take courage, be confident, and step forward into your new life with gusto. Picture walking your grief journey well. Fight to keep your balance and work to stick your landing. You can certainly do this.

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.

When something is taken

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Upon coming home from work today I found that one of my nice recliner lawn chairs had been stolen off my front porch. I stood there in disbelief at first. I had saved up for the pair of chairs last summer and have enjoyed sitting and reading in the cool of the early mornings. I was furious as I stood there and realized that the theft had occurred. One thing I do not tolerate is taking things that do not belong to you. When something is taken unjustly, your emotions tend to flow; anger, regret, revenge, disbelief, and maybe even surrender.

When you face grief and loss of life, you feel that something has been taken from you. Life as you know it is changed and will never be the same again. Your ability to talk to your loved one, give them a hug, share a laugh, and watch the future unfold with them will never happen.

This realization also brings with it emotions that ebb and flow as you journey from day to day, doing your best to maneuver and figure out how to live without them. It is natural to feel anger and regret. You may feel that revenge is needed. Disbelief may cause you to doubt yourself and your whole situation. Eventually you will work through these feelings to reach a sort of surrender. Not the type where you give up and fail to live life. But one that understands that when something is taken, you are still left with much.

Please understand that I am not saying your loss has not been incredibly painful and huge. I can make that statement because I have faced great loss as well. However I have come to see that I still have many blessings in my life. I encourage you to evaluate what you still have after you have given yourself time to be sad and to grieve.

When something is taken from you, it is helpful to see what you still have. Do you still have family and friends who care for you and love you? Is there a place where you can lay your head at night and rest, feeling safe from the outside world? Did you have the opportunity to eat today? Even though your appetite might be hard to find, there is food available when you want it. Take a look around you. Evaluate what you still have. Perhaps something new is there to help fill the void of your great loss.

Ask God to reveal these things to you. Remember that He is the greatest treasure than no one can take away. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)

Holding on to your anger and what you feel is unjust when something is taken, will only cause you to mourn longer and move slower through the grief journey. While you do not want to rush and skip the steps of healing, you do want to give yourself permission to feel better when the time comes. Accept the joy that will peek through your clouds of sorrow.

Just as I need to get over a thief taking one of my recliners, you will need to let go and begin to move forward as well. Do not let life be ruined forever when something is taken.

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 Unexpected

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A miscommunication in texting with a friend last night turned out to provide a much-needed laugh. Her text came through to me asking where Batman lives. I responded with “Gotham City?” and was confused when she wrote back, “Whatttt???” Then she realized that the word she had written was auto-corrected and changed to Batman. I had a good laugh as I then understood the weird and the unexpected conversation.

There are times in life when we are faced with the unexpected. It might be an unexpected conversation, the sudden appearance of someone, a surprising reaction from others, or an unpredicted outcome at work. The longer you live, the more you come to understand that there are surprises and you are often left to deal with the unexpected in life.

Grief is oftentimes unexpected. Even if your loved one had an illness which led your family through months of difficulty and their final passing may have been eminent, the actual diagnosis was probably unexpected as well as unwanted. While you realize that sickness, sadness, and death are part of life, when those events invade your daily routine, they catch you off-guard.

So how do you handle the unexpected things in grief? Is it possible to regain your footing against the intrusion made in your life and upon the plans you had for your future? Yes, you will survive the grief and the unexpected turn that you are now facing. Will it be easy to do so? Of course not. No one who has experienced grief and loss will tell you the journey is easy.

So how do you face the unexpected things of grief? I believe that God uses the first few months to numb you from the pain. I know that there are actually many details in those first few days of grief that I do not have clear memories of. A sense of auto-pilot takes over and the necessary arrangements are made with the help of family and friends. So while your journey has taken an unexpected detour, you somehow are able to function and survive by the grace of God.

As time moves forward and your world changes and little daily adjustments are made, the numbness begins to wear off and you suddenly feel the unexpected weight of your pain. These are hard days to face. You awake to some mornings where you want to choose to stay in bed rather than get up and face your day. Doing this once in a while can actually be a healthy and necessary “mental health day.” Recognizing what you need to refuel and function well in your grief is important. As long as you don’t spend each and every day staying in bed and avoiding life all together, an occasional day off is recommended.

Grief also has a way of throwing road blocks in your path. Oftentimes, an unexpected thing will be a trigger that threatens to throw you back into the depths of your sorrow. The ability to be flexible and give grace where needed is likely to help you through these little surprises of life. While you may want guarantees, there are few of those in life. Learn what things you can give up and what items are non-negotiable to you and your journey will be likely be smoother as you move forward in your grief.

Surprises can endanger your sense of well-being too. Feeling paralyzed by fear and doubt can be very real as the unexpected appears now and then. Work hard at not giving power to these surprises. They are just slight hiccups in the bigger picture of your life. Keep your eyes focused on your goals and desires and upon where you are headed, not where you have been.

In all of this, remember that God desires to strengthen you and hold you up when you feel you can go no further. I read the following verse a few months ago and have come to appreciate its promise that God goes before me to ease my trek.

“Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low;

the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” Isaiah 40:4 (NIV)

Until next time –

Karen

When the unexpected happens, 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.

Learning through the pain

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I just read one of those silly quotes on Facebook that stated, “Starting tomorrow whatever life throws at me, I’m ducking so it hits someone else.” While I laughed when I saw this, I quickly realized what a profound statement this really is and I stopped smiling. If these last five years have taught me anything, it is to truly think of the impact that words and actions can have on yourself as well as on others. Learning through the pain of grief is possible and actually is something to be pursued.

Facing the loss of a loved one is certainly difficult. Saying a final good-bye is harder than anyone can imagine. Until you have to do this, until you survive the physical and mental anguish of death, there is no way you can truly know what another person is going through. While you may get tired of feeling hit and hurt by life, remember that learning through the pain is possible.

‘Life’ does have a way of throwing things at you, especially when you are feeling down. There will be days when you think there is no way you can take anymore. It hurts too much. You simply do not think you have the strength. When you feel that way, you need to realize the truth in that thought. You really do not have the ability to withstand all that ‘life’ brings your way. The key to surviving the ups and downs of life is to look hard to find the meaning behind your experiences and to know the source of true strength.

While I would never desire or ask to go through what I have experienced these last five years, I am able to now see that I have grown. I know that I cannot have empathy and real compassion for others if I have not experienced a pain of my own. My grief can be used to encourage and help others who face similar aches and losses. Even though I will not know the exact hurt or circumstance others may be facing, I can listen and show compassion. I can also point them to the Source of strength – God.

“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)

Knowing these things, I suppose I would be willing to take the blows again instead of ducking for someone else to be encumbered by them. So when you feel as if you have been cheated and beaten down, hold on to the fact that God is enough. He wants to see you through the difficult times. He has great plans for you and a purpose for your life. When you feel bombarded, stand strong and face the blows with confidence. Take a step back and regroup if you must. Keep trusting that there is a great life ahead.

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.

Destructive Power

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A few days ago marked the fifty-year anniversary of a huge, powerful, F5 tornado that struck my hometown of Topeka, Kansas. June 8, 1966 was a day that changed life for many people, including my family. My family of 8, 2 parents, and six kids (the youngest to be born 6 months after this date) actually faired better than many did that fateful evening. The destructive power of that storm was easy to see in the path of flattened homes and the destroyed businesses left behind.

The pain of loss can also have destructive power, although it might not be as visible to the human eye. The ache of having to say good-bye to a loved one is physically painful especially in the early days of grief. However, when compared to the destructive power of a mighty storm, hope can be found if you are able to look beyond the initial shock and sting of loss.

Months and years following that huge, frightening tornado, found people rebuilding and slowly recovering after their great loss. The devastation of the storm did not last forever. While the path of the tornado was evident for years, hope sprung up as the cleanup began and new growth could be seen.

You can experience that same hope as healing from your loss begins in your life. Your journey of grief can slowly but surely lead you to new growth as well. It is important to acknowledge your loss and allow yourself to experience your pain so that you can move through it. Ignoring the destructive power of grief will only cause you to relapse and fail to heal. In order to build your life and create your new normal, you must recognize several facts.

First, admit that you have lost someone that you love and you miss. Coming to terms with the path of destruction that grief can create is the only way you will find the trail on which to build. Go ahead and allow yourself time to shed tears and mourn what is no longer. Doing so is productive and vital to your healing and growth in life.

Second, realize that the hurt and pain you now experience does not have to stay the same. The ugliness of loss can lead to a beautiful life if you are open to change and are willing to embrace it after you have given yourself time to grieve. Take hope is seeing how others have recovered after such devastating loss and know that you too, can one day hold your head high with a smile on your face.

Third, your future is what you make it. That may seem hard to grasp right now if you are in the midst of fresh loss. However, do the hard work of grief – admitting and feeling your pain and then being open to eventual change – and you will see the pay off by waking up one day and experiencing joy and happiness. Your deep sorrow will not last forever. Trust that fact and look for more.

Do not let the destructive power of death hold you captive. Choose instead to hope and dream that there will come a day when those dreams will be fulfilled. Here is to brighter days and beautiful future.

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.

Summer Change

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I don’t know about you, but the summer months can cause me to desire change and freshness. It is time to pack away the sweaters and warm clothes, exchanging them for shorts and cute tops. The black dress boots are placed in the back of the closet to make room for new sandals and hiking shoes. It seems natural that my summer change also includes a new haircut – one that is cooler and fun. The longer hair was hot and I was feeling dumpy and dreary. I have learned that the last thing anyone should feel is uncomfortable with is a look that is fairly easy to fix.

This summer change of a cooler, short haircut was far simpler than dropping those last ten pounds or taking an expensive vacation. These last five years have taught me to think for myself and be confident in my decisions. There are still times when I am uncomfortable with my grief journey. I still dislike going out to eat alone. I find myself getting nervous when in new situations with unfamiliar people. However, I have learned to take advantage of making changes when they are reasonable and within reach.

Getting your hair cut is a simple summer change. What other things might you need to change this summer to help your continued healing on your grief journey? Sitting down to set a few goals will help. Perhaps these few suggestions will get your creative thoughts flowing and aid you with a new beginning.

Pull out those tennis shoes and begin to take advantage of the cooler mornings and beautiful evenings that summer offers. Walking alone does not have to be isolating. Much inspiration can actually be found in that quiet time when all you hear are rocks crunching under your feet and perhaps some favorite music playing through your ear buds. The fresh air is not only good for you physically, but getting out and about in nature can help clear your head so you can see life in a proper perspective.

Pick up the phone and invite a friend to a ballgame or a show this summer. Being open to new friendships can be a very healthy summer change. Just as the time alone walking is a healthy step, (pun intended!) spending time building relationships can remind you how special you really are. Be open to blessing others with your time and friendship.

Try a new recipe. Summer is full of incredibly delicious fruits and vegetables. Take advantage of them and learn how to make a new dish or two. Not only will you be able to brag a little, but your body will be strengthened with healthy, new foods.

Take advantage of this season and make a summer change or two for yourself. Be confident and have fun with it. You may not be up to a short cut and new color. However, I am sure you can think of something that fits your style perfectly. Enjoy and Happy Summer!

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.

Where is my seat

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I recently went to a Colorado Rockies baseball game with my son and was amused at the antics of some of the fans. There were two ladies who began the game sitting one row down from us. Soon I saw them hopping over seats and plopping down a few rows further down and to our left. Then I shook my head when 20 minutes later they were approached by people saying those were their seats and watched with amazement as these two ladies moved up a few rows and over across the aisle. From there I lost track of them. It was obvious that they did not like their original seats and were looking to get something better. “Where is my seat” seemed to be a game they were playing in the stadium as the Rockies were playing their ballgame on the field.

As I reflected on these two rather restless ladies, I began to compare their predicament with mine of walking through grief. There have certainly been times when I was unhappy with where I found myself and I was eager to do anything to move to another place. In fact, that is probably true more often than not. Really, what person desires to walk through the pain of losing a loved one?

However, in order to heal, that is exactly what you must do. You must embrace the journey and dive in headfirst to what lies ahead. When you take that giant leap of faith, you may find yourself floundering for a while asking “Where is my seat.” The thing with the grief journey is your seat will continue to change. The position in which you are seated today will not be where you need to be sitting three months from now. In a year, you will find yourself in a completely different position and ready for another seat in order to view your ever-changing world correctly.

The desire is that you will be like those two ladies at the ballgame. You do not want to stay in the same seat forever. That first seat of grief has a poor view of your future. It is impossible to make out what life looks like and how you are supposed to respond to the world around you. However, as you take those first steps to trudge through your sorrow, you will find yourself in a new and better position; one that allows you to see a bit clearer.

Eventually you will get to the point where you will not have to ask “where is my seat” any longer because you have finally arrived at the place where joy is abundant and you once again feel at home with your circumstance. I have recently read and committed to memory a verse from the Bible. “You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.” Psalm 16:11 (NIV)

Eventually you will no longer find yourself asking “Where is my seat” because you have finally found a way to feel at home and at peace right where you are; in the midst of healing and in the embrace of a God Who loves you immensely.

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.

Special Memories

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Along the grief journey you reach a point where you are able to look back and reminisce without great pain. Allowing yourself to enjoy special memories is something you may doubt will ever happen. However, when you do the work of grief, facing your fears and being honest with yourself, you are rewarded with seeing a measure of joy in remembering.

Some of my special memories are the funny times. Recently I found an incredible gift. Sorting through papers I found an old email I had printed off years ago where Alan had spent time listing nearly one hundred special memories of our years together. It was almost as if he knew I would need that list someday. Reading through the page, I found myself chuckling again at some of the crazy, funny times that we had together.

I also noticed other times that held suspense and tension. Such as the time Alan courageously drove through the hollowed-out tree in the redwood forest. I was too nervous and claustrophobic to ride along so I had jumped out to watch him go through alone. Reading the list, I also recalled the time of sitting together with no electricity due to a blizzard raging outside while we kept our two fireplaces going to warm the house, hoping the pipes wouldn’t burst. Knowing that he “had my back” in those days still brings me comfort today. Realizing you are cared for in such a way impacts how you can move forward in life today.

Even if your loved one is not present in your life, you can picture how they used to cheer you on and speak up for you when others failed to do so. You are that same person even in their absence. You are someone who is valuable and worth defending; someone who can have the confidence to face the future because you remember what you have survived in your past.

Are you able to articulate what your special memories are to someone? Perhaps you find it easier to write them things down. Create a journal to carry forward with you. Maybe you choose to be more artistic and desire to develop a memory board or a photo display. Whatever it is that allows you to smile and think back fondly on past days with your loved one is worth spending time on. Facing your past allows you to move forward to your future.

Determine to begin remembering, listing, and enjoying your special memories for the sake of grieving your loved one in a healthy and productive way. You will be glad you did.

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.

Every Man for Himself

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Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Barry Manilow concert in downtown Denver. This was a special night I had planned for months with friends of mine. As time approached I decided that I would take the light rail from my suburban home into Denver. Having done this quite often, I had no reservations about the plan. However, little did I know that the night would end up with me fighting the mentality of every man for himself.

The problem occurred after the fantastic evening at the Denver Convention Center where my friends and I greatly enjoyed the music and show. Thank you Barry! The walk to and wait for the train was not beyond what was expected. However, clues of difficulties could be seen as we jammed on a short train and crept along at a snail’s pace instead of the usual zipping from station to station. Apparently there was maintenance being done on the track down south that was slowing our progress. The four of us successfully made it to the transfer station and after a rather long wait I was first to bid my three friends good-bye as I hopped onto the D Line train.

Little did I know that my innocent choice would lead to several hours of being stranded and experiencing the every man for himself attitude of this world. We only managed to crawl slowly one stop south when apparently we lost power. This resulted in the air halting, the lights growing rather dim and completely going out at times, and most disturbingly our train being stuck. We sat for a while and then the conductor came on saying the train was out of commission and we were basically on our own. They were going to look into getting busses to pick us up but no timeline could be established. We could sit on the train or unload and figure it out on our own. They finally managed to get a couple of emergency doors open and we all began to pour out into the night, badly needing fresh air.

This is when the learning really began. There was no plan and no cooperation between passengers to figure things out. Thinking back on it this morning, I can compare the experience to journeying through grief.

As you find yourself disconnection and alone in a sudden unfamiliar life-path, you often have to figure out how to move forward outside of your well-laid-out plan. One moment you have your destination in sight and you are excited for what the future holds. The next, you are standing feeling very alone in a crowd of strangers with no one understanding quite what to do or in what direction to walk.

While the conductor on the light rail failed to give clear instructions last night, that is actually a great picture of what it is like to live facing death and loneliness. No one can really determine your path except for you. Hopefully you will be able to connect through support groups to find others in similar situations to help you learn to navigate your grief journey. However, in order to do so, you often need to be brave enough to reach out and admit your need for help and direction.

Last night, I swallowed my pride and usual sense of independence and called me son, who gladly came and picked me up even though it was close to midnight by that time. He later commented that he did not want me standing in the dark or riding a bus trying to figure out how to get to my car by myself.

That is how the grief journey is, my friends. There are people around more than willing to help. However, they often do not realize that you need assistance nor do they know how to come to your aid. They fear doing the wrong thing, so they fail to do anything at all. Put your pride aside, be courageous, and ask for help. Admit first to yourself that you do not know how to get to your destination and then be open to someone who God places in your life. These people can take your hand and cheer you on as you figure out how to move forward on your journey of grief.

Keep moving! Refuse to cave in to the every man for himself mentality of today. Instead open up and receive the blessing of others and the relationships they can offer you as you formulate and figure out your next step in moving forward.

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.