Anniversary date

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On this 6th anniversary date of Alan’s passing, I thought I’d share my post from last year – 2015. My prayer is that others will be helped and encouraged as they journey through their own grief.

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!

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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!

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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 Empty Room

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I recently attended a funeral. While I didn’t personally know the deceased, I am very close to several of his family members. We arrived early to make sure all the details were being handled for the music and media that would be used during the service. At one point, everyone left that family holding room leaving me to myself. I stood and looked around realizing the significance of the moment in that empty room. Having experienced an incredibly difficult loss myself five years ago, I took a few minutes to think back over time to see the empty room for what it stood for in my own life.

When all the friends and family go home after the service and the obligatory condolences are said, you are left with the empty room. There comes a time all too soon after your loss when you find yourself alone and trying to figure out what is next. One moment you have more than enough people around you and then the next you would give almost anything for the diversion and company of someone sitting with you again.

The empty room conveys a closure to your loss that you may not be prepared for. Seeing the vacancy that loss brings is stark and painful. No longer can you hide behind the need to play host or hostess to a room full of people. Keeping busy meeting others’ needs and concentrating on anything but your own hurt and loss is no longer an option. Now the empty room looms over your days and nights.

Now that you see the barrenness that grief can bring, how do you handle it? What can you do to move forward on your journey and not feel locked away and trapped by the empty room? Recognizing the posture of being alone is the first step. When you find yourself dreading to return to your own empty room, be intentional to change your position. Make plans to go out with friends. Invite someone over, asking them to pick up dinner on the way. It is within your power to alter the emptiness.

For those times when the empty room persists, embrace the quiet. Set aside time to mourn, remember, cry, and be thankful for what you once had. Realize that your daily schedule may not give you the time you need to heal. So take advantage of the empty room to do just that – begin to heal and face the reality of your loss. This will be the beginning of learning how to live again with the great change that has been brought into your life.

Be encouraged when you see the empty room. Don’t feel that you need to run from it, but also don’t feel trapped by its existence. It’s just a room. What you do with it will make the difference in your own grief journey.

Until next time –

Karen

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

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

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

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

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

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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!

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.

Conflicting Emotions

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I love autumn. It has always been my favorite season. It signals the end of those hot summer days by bringing crispness into the air that promises cooler temperatures. Bright shades of green hanging from limbs on the trees turn to brilliant displays of gold, red, orange, and brown. The crunch when walking in the grass brings back memories of raking leaves and jumping into assembled piles, scattering them with the careless abandon of joy that children can know so well. Yet, autumn now brings with it an air of sadness and regret. Autumn and conflicting emotions go hand-in-hand as I deal with my grief.

The beauty in the description of autumn is lessened a bit by the reality that this season brings to my family. That reality begins with anticipating reliving the losses we faced nearly five years ago now. While only one person died at that time, his death brings numerous hurts to the forefront this time of year. We not only mourn the day he passed away in November and moved to his residence in Heaven; we also miss him terribly in the holidays so closely associated with this time of year. These include Thanksgiving, birthdays, and Christmas.

Perhaps you too face autumn and conflicting emotions. Knowing that celebrating the holidays will never be the same can seem an impossible wound to overcome. Yet, each day will still hold twenty-four hours. The sun will still rise, causing the countdown to continue, whether you want time to pass or not. So instead of living with the extra dread of approaching holidays and anniversary dates, what can you do?

Choose how you will celebrate the holidays. You get to decide whether you will keep the age-old traditions of your family or if you need to change it up for a year or two or three. Some people find security and safety in keeping things the same. To eat the same food, put out the same decorations, and sing the same songs is a comfort. For others, the pain intensifies as you face the familiar decorations and customs that make you miss your loved one even more.

I managed to get through the holidays by making new traditions. Traveling with friends and family got me out of the house and away from memories that were too painful to face those first three years of loss. I purchased a new decoration to place on the table signifying that autumn had arrived, which focused on the word “blessed.” Even though it does not always feel true, I know that I am blessed. I trust that I am loved by God and recall that my loved one cherished me. I have a roof over my head, food on my table, and joy still resides in my heart.

As you see autumn and conflicting emotions cascade into your life just like this beautiful waterfall pictured today, remember that you are neither helpless nor hopeless. You do have choices you can make. Your past does not have to rule your future. Your loss does not have to control your today or tomorrow. Begin by writing down those things you can hold close and keep along with those memories you may need to pack away for a little while longer. The time will come when you can dig them out and allow them space in your heart and in your house. Until then, find courage to make new memories, knowing your loved one would want the best for you.

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.

Walk on

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Coming home after a long day, I read an email from my mother telling me that the father of a family I had known from church back in my hometown had just passed away. That seemed to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I sat down and cried. Sometimes there is nothing we can do but to just walk on and keep doing life the best we know how. At times that may mean we stop and release our pain with a few tears.

In the past fifteen weeks, I have either experienced the death of a friend or family member or watched friends say good-bye to someone they loved eight times. That averages out to more than one every two weeks. Seeing and feeling that much fresh pain and sorrow again has a way of taking a toll on a person.

While you may want to escape the ache of death, this world does not afford that luxury. It is inevitable that everyone will leave this world at some point in time. Until Jesus comes again, that way of departure is through the body taking one final breath and the soul crossing over into eternity. Until then, we need to walk on and do life the best we know how.

As I cried my tears, I got busy doing my dishes and folding laundry,while listening to a new album by Josh Groban. The song You’ll Never Walk Alone from the 1945 musical Carousel began playing and I stopped what I was doing to really drink in the words. They are beautiful and I have placed them below hoping they may bless you too.

When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high                                                                                        And don’t be afraid of the dark                                                                                                                                      At the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky                                                                                                             And the sweet, silver song of a lark                                                                                                                              Walk on through the wind                                                                                                                                          Walk on through the rain                                                                                                                                       Though your dreams be tossed and blown                                                                                                             Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart                                                                                                               And you’ll never walk alone                                                                                                                                        You’ll never walk alone

There are two lines of this song that really speak to me. The first is “You’ll never walk alone.” While your grief journey is yours – you do not have to travel it by yourself. Hopefully there is someone who is walking with you. Perhaps you have family members, friends, a pastor or church family, neighbors, or a support group like Grief Share who can encourage you as you walk on.

Even if you have trouble naming a person you feel can understand and come alongside you in your journey, there is One who is always there for you. God promises to never leave or forsake you. That leads to my next favorite line of the song.

“Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart.” Without hope you have very little. Believing that you will make it through your grief is vital to your journey. You will have hard days – just like today has been hard for me. Tears and hurt will remind you that life has drastically changed. Watching others experience loss will bring yours to light again, causing fresh pain to appear unexpectedly. However, do not let those times stop you from continuing your journey. Walk on with the knowledge that hope and healing can be yours.

Until next time –

Karen

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.

Tell your story

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Four years ago when I began journaling about my grief journey, I would never have dreamed that it would lead to the writing, publishing, and selling of the book Grief Letters. In reading that sentence again, note that I did not say the journey ended with Grief Letters. Traveling grief does not end with an accomplishment or the fulfillment of a dream. In a very big way, loss will be part of your life forever – so tell your story.

Just because grief is part of your story does not mean you are doomed to forever taste your tears or feel your sadness. The things in your life shape you and help make you who you are today and tomorrow. This concept goes hand-in-hand with one of my favorite scriptures. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)

You can trust that God will take your sadness and give you joy again. Know that the pain you feel today can shape you into a smiling person tomorrow. When you tell your story, you not only preserve your thoughts and feelings on paper. You also allow others the privilege of traveling along with you.

Some people have never yet experienced a deep grief. They are uncomfortable with the idea of death and lack the knowledge of what to say and how to address those in the midst of a painful journey. When you share your story, you allow others to see inside a walk that is unique and full of meaning. No two people grieve alike. While there are similarities in loss, it is said that the greatest loss is your own. Opening up about your particular grief can aid you in healing while giving hope to others.

One of my greatest concerns in walking my own grief journey was that all the things that I was learning would be wasted because I could not voice the lessons out loud. They were too fresh and tender. Tears accompanied the words each time I spoke. Yet I was determined to make my journey worthwhile and to honor Alan’s life more. So I began to write.

In the beginning, the words were therapeutic. An exercise I was encouraged to do as I worked my way through a workbook, sitting through a 13-week course of Grief Share.  http://www.griefshare.org

As I continued to pour out my heart, my feelings, and the lessons I was learning, I began to see the value in those written words. With the encouragement of friends and especially my oldest son, Austin, I decided to bravely venture into the book-writing process, creating my book, Grief Letters.

Tell your story. Write, not just to pen a book, but to have the advantage and experience of organizing thoughts to better understand your own journey. No one else needs to read your journal. It can be as private or as public as you desire. Pic up a pen, or open your keyboard and begin. May your find healing and better understanding as you place your own words to the written page.

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.

 

 

Every Story Counts

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As I was at the airport earlier this week, welcoming home some friends, I was struck by how many cars were parked throughout the various lots on and around the airport property. Each of those vehicles represented a person, a family – a story. People fly for business, for pleasure, for necessity. Perhaps they are running away from something, or running to someone. Whatever the reason, we must remember that every story is important and every story counts.

When you are in the midst of grief, you often feel isolated and disconnected from the rest of the world. It seems impossible that anyone can comprehend how you are feeling and what you are facing. It may seem that those around you are uncaring as they go about living their own lives, seemingly without a care in the world. Doesn’t anyone realize what has just happened to you?

The answer to this question is a big “Yes” and unfortunately an equally large “No.” While others may realize you have experienced a tremendous loss – the “Yes” answer – they truly have no way of understanding its depth and the force with which it affects you – the “No” answer. What you must keep in mind as you live day to day, is that your journey is important and your story does make a difference in this world. Every story counts.

No one’s loss is unimportant. I have heard some people comment, “Well, your loss is so much worse than mine.” However, I have come to believe that a loss is a loss. Saying good-bye to a newborn baby too ill to survive the rigors of childbirth can be just as painful as having to bury a husband of thirty years, or a sister you have enjoyed for a lifetime. All loss is difficult and every story counts.

People will handle their grief differently. Some will shed tears while others remain stoic and put forth a strong façade, crying only when they are alone and feel safe being vulnerable. The confusion that accompanies grief at times can cause the survivors to question how they are handling things as they compare themselves to friends and family.

I encourage you to be yourself in your grief. Realize that what you think and feel has meaning. What you are experiencing is real and important. There is no one who has the right to tell you to stop crying, to be strong, and to just get over it. That is not fair because every story counts. Every loss deserves to be mourned and felt. There will come a day when yes, you will lift your head a little higher, glance around a little more, and decide this is the day you will choose to take a step in your healing.

Until you allow yourself to embrace your loss and pain, though, your forward progress will be impeded by many setbacks. The grief journey has plenty of ups and downs of its own. Ignoring the work of grief and failing to acknowledge that you have a story to process through will only add to the hills and valleys you must maneuver.

Here is to your journey – may you make the most of it as you realize that every story counts.

Until next time –

Karen

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.

 

“It’s been a great year”…but

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As I look at my Facebook account this week, I keep seeing people posting the special year-end review entitled “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being part of it.” While I am sure these are very fun to make and I really do believe we all have much to be thankful for, a little pang of pain cuts each time I see one of these.

I agree that many good things have happened this year. The fact remains, though, that I just cannot claim that it has been a “great” year yet. There have been great moments, but moments are fleeting and often forgotten in the midst of walking through grief. Some might say that I am just being too sensitive and it is time to move on and get over it. I would like to help explain my point of view.

My first vacation since Alan’s death rocked my world was very fun. Who would not love a Disneyland trip with a good friend? It was something Alyce and I had planned for months and I am so glad we went. That adventure was definitely a highlight in my year.

Our youngest son graduated from college and a few months later got engaged to an incredibly wonderful woman. We are in the midst of wedding plans and looking forward to a marvelous celebration of uniting two lives next summer. Both of these events are undeniably beyond “great!” These are two special times in life that I have prayed about and dreamed of since giving birth to that adorable, blonde baby boy.

I have had the pleasure and satisfaction of finishing up my first book and sending it off to a publisher. Awaiting its arrival on bookshelves in stores is exciting, if not a little bit daunting.

The year held numerous opportunities to travel and see family and friends as well as opening my home to host fun times here. I realize how blessed I am to have a large family that loves each other and many friends who enrich my life in a variety of ways.

So you see, it has not been a bad year. Just the opposite, it has been full of accomplishments, celebrations and fun. Why then, does it still hurt me to see the posts of so many boasting that it has been a great year?

Because grief hurts. Will that pain end? I am not sure it really ever ends – but it does change. While I still hurt and miss my husband terribly (some days more than others) I can honestly say the pain is not as intense. That realization is what propels me forward.

The pang of pain I feel in doing life without him is not as overwhelming as it used to be. So while I still miss him; while I can still feel sad watching others enjoy life – I am also able to see progress in my journey and know that this life is getting a little easier to navigate. I can celebrate the small victories that sometimes still get lost in the vastness of grief.

So go ahead and post your pictures and be grateful as you state “It’s been a great year….” I will smile and be glad for you. I do not begrudge your joy at all! In fact, seeing it gives me something to look forward to. I can be certain that there will be a day you will see such a claim and post of my life too.

Until next time –

Karen

Move Forward

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My quiet time study this morning took me to the book of Joshua in the Old Testament. Chapter 3 continues the sequence of events after the godly leader, Moses, had died. God had now placed Joshua in the lead. They had been commanded to move forward. The priests who carried the ark of the Lord led the way as they were instructed to cross the Jordan River. This was a daunting a task, since that time of year found it to be at flood stage. How could they possibly accomplish success in their journey?

We read “Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away…. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.” (Joshua 3:11-17 NIV)

God worked a miracle in allowing His people to cross and move forward on dry land when, if left to human abilities, they would surely have been swept away and their journey halted. Friends, those traveling through grief can make progress this very same way!

While we attempt on our own to leave our loss behind, all too often we find ourselves overwhelmed and thwarted in our efforts. There is no escaping the sadness and pain of grief. However, we can learn much from what was accomplished in the scripture I just quoted.

If you look carefully at the verses, the priests’ feet actually touched the water’s edge. They weren’t given the ease of watching God move the waters first before they crossed on dry land. These people had to act in faith as they moved ahead into the messy and flowing waters. Only then was the path cleared.

We too must trust God and place one foot in front of the other even when it looks like we are going to collide with the failure of a dead-end in our lives. Moving forward does not mean we leave behind the memory of our loved ones. The value and joy they brought to our lives are not forgotten nor negated. In fact, as we have faith and place one foot in front of the other, trusting God to make a way for us, we are better able to cherish their memory. Time spent with our loved ones will remain in our hearts and minds and we will eventually be able to enjoy reliving those moments without as much pain.

Focus on how you can move forward in your grief journey today, if only an inch at a time. Little by little, you will look back and realize that with the help of others and through the strength God can provide, you have made progress in your journey.

Until next time –

Karen