Don’t Go There

img_6918

In my early months of grief, I would find myself allowing my mind to wander to unhealthy places. For instance, I would have a few decent days and instead of rejoicing in those, I would be bracing myself, convinced that a hard, sad day was just around the corner. Part of this may have been dealing with unnecessary guilt. There are times during the early days of grief when you might feel badly for smiling or laughing, thinking it is disloyal to your loved one. While this is natural, it is not a place to park and stay. It is important to realize that you deserve to find some joy even in your difficult days.

There are other times when your imagination may take off and you allow your mind to rest on unpleasant thoughts and scary possibilities for your future. These are situations that are very unlikely to happen and are not worth your worry, time, or energy. Expecting the worst is a very unhealthy place to go. Don’t go there. Do not set yourself up for more hardship than you already face in journeying through grief.

Realize that when your mind roams off course and you may think, “What if this…… happens” you are robbing yourself of the actual day you have been given. I have found myself worrying about something happening to someone else I love, or wondering what the next year might look like. These are things that I cannot control. So why invest time worrying about them. Tell yourself, “Don’t go there.” Do not ruin the perfectly good day you have by fretting over something that is likely to never happen.

Worrying about things will not change your circumstances. It may change you. Worry can make you a hesitant person; someone who is afraid of trying new things. A person who spends their time scared of what might happen is a person who is unable to see what is right before them in the here and now. By living that way, you fail to receive the blessing that today holds for you and you lack the peace that can be yours.

Sure there will be challenges in the future. You have already faced difficult times in dealing with the loss of a loved one. However, look what you have accomplished! You got up this morning. You are able to continue living even in the midst of deep sorrow and pain. Each day you choose to live to the best of your ability is a day you tell yourself, “Don’t go there.” Do not allow yourself to sink into the pit of despair, fear, and unnecessary thoughts.

The Bible tells us to “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. (NIV) Let God take care of the things out of your control. Ask Him to keep your family safe and to continue to meet your needs. Seek Him when your imagination runs wild and you panic, thinking something bad is going to happen again. Don’t go there with your thoughts. Instead, allow Him to handle those things that scare you and steal your peace and joy.

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.

What do you say

IMG_4766

A friend reminded me today that my situation is unlike others in my office. When they call it a day and return to their homes, they have a husband or wife to talk to. The challenges or joys of their days are shared with others using a face-to-face conversation with a flesh-and-blood person. When I return home it is quiet and empty. What do you say when there is no one there to listen to you?

How do you unload the heaviness of your day when you are missing a loved one? What can you do to celebrate a success and incredible joy when you can no longer hear their voice and they yours? Is there a substitute to use in filling the void? What do you say and whom do you say it to as you journey through another layer of your loss and grief?

Talking aloud is quite therapeutic actually. I speak out loud often when I pray, realizing that God hears me just as well when I am silently beseeching Him. However, there is something to be said for actually voicing your thoughts. It feels a little more like actual human conversation when I push air through my vocal chords and allow the sound of my own voice to reach my ears. Knowing that God is listening is a comfort and I utilize this method of speech often.

Perhaps you are not real comfortable praying, even though it is just conversation with God. But if you would rather try something different, you can voice your thoughts, joys, fears, highs, and lows through the written word. There is something special about taking a pen to paper and allowing the words – the speech – to flow. While writing or journaling about your day is not exactly the same as verbally telling your story, at least you have found an outlet for your pent-up emotions.

What do you say when you find yourself dissatisfied and needing more though? You look for a trustworthy friend. A confidant in whom you can safely share your wounds and your wonders. This person should listen and not interrupt you. They should not judge you how you are feeling. It would never dawn on them to tell you how wrong you are to feel the way you do. Instead, they encourage you as they listen before sharing their own view of the situation. Hearing their perspective on things will ease your stress. Even if you do not agree with every word they share, you know that at least they care and you are not alone.

What do you say when the words run dry? When your emotions are too thick and messy to decipher and translate for someone who has not experienced your kind of pain and hurt? That is when silence is best. The quiet whisper in your soul calling out to God, “Help me, help me, help me.” never gets old to Him. He is ready and willing to not only listen, but to then ease your ache as only God can.

A favorite part of scripture is from Philippians 4:6-7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I especially like the part of God giving us peace. As you wonder, what do you say next time, be assured that there is Someone waiting and eager to listen to you.

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.

Give and Take

photo-170

Yesterday I spent several hours at Bonfils Blood Center giving platelets. This is quite the procedure. For those of you unfamiliar with the term apheresis it is the process that involves removal of whole blood from a patient or donor. Within an instrument that is essentially designed as a centrifuge, the components of whole blood are separated. One of the separated portions is then withdrawn and the remaining components are retransfused into the patient or donor. (library.med.utah.edu/WebPath/…/BBAPHER.html)

In short, the procedure takes whole blood from me, removes the precious platelets that other people for some reason are unable to produce on their own, and returns the rest of the blood to me. It is a give and take procedure. While it does take a while – anywhere from 2 to 3 hours depending upon counts and flows – it is one that I am willing to endure often in order to help other people.

A little give and take. When you hear that expression you might think of making a compromise or entering into a deal. As I have walked through hard times in my life, I know I have been tempted to bargain with God and beg for things to be different. Such as: “God, if you’ll do …….., then I’ll do…… Just please don’t let this happen.

What we need to realize is that God is already in our corner. He already wants the best for us. Our choices and attitudes will not always allow that to be possible. However, He never gives up on us or leaves us hanging out there in life alone. I believe that each painful bump along the way can be used to teach us and mold us into who we are meant to be.

My Bible study today addressed those times when we encounter great difficulties in life. When we despair and fight the darkness that invades our paths. As I read, I was reminded that God fights for us. We are shaped by the hard times in our lives. They can and will serve a purpose to make us stronger if we allow God to be our strength in those rough times.

I want to share what Beth Moore placed in this study that really struck me.

God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Ephesians 6:10-13 The Message

God fights for me and He wants to fight for you! It is the give and take of battle in this world.

Let me share one more funny give and take story from yesterday. I went into a store to make a small purchase, giving the cashier a twenty-dollar bill and two quarters, remarking that I wanted to get rid of some change. He opened the drawer, found that he had no one-dollar bills and proceeded to give me twelve quarters back in change along with a ten-dollar bill. I looked at him and said, “Really?” He lamely shrugged his shoulders, indicating the situation was out of his control. I shook my head, took the money and laughed as I walked out the door. The give and take lesson struck me there. I gave a little and took a lot in that case!

May you find relief for your sadness and heartaches today realizing that God wants you to take peace and strength as you give him your sorrow.

Until next time –

Karen

Find more encouragement in my new book, Grief Letters. Share it with a friend who you knows needs a little giving up of hardship and taking of comfort today.

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

Also available on Amazon.

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

These Boots

photo-166

As a young girl I wanted white go-go boots. They were what the popular kids wore. Nancy Sinatra made them “famous” to a young child with her song from 1966, These Boots are Made for Walking,’ and I had my heart set on getting them. My parents scrimped and managed to buy them for me as a birthday gift. I recall wearing those boots proudly. I smile thinking about them. Looking back, they really were not that cool, and I really had no one I desired to “walk all over,” but to this girl in the early 70’s they were very special.

These days, I also enjoy wearing boots. While my boots are made for walkin’, they look quite different from my first ones. I have cute black boots, rustic brown boots and some short, tan, fur-topped ankle boots that I wear from time to time. However, the best boots for the winter weather we are experiencing these days are my soft, fuzzy, snow boots.

Wearing these boots on cold, snowy days in the mile-high city of Denver keeps my feet warm and my steps certain and steady. Pulling these boots on my sock-clad feet is the first step in assuring that I will travel safely and arrive at my destination each day.

The grief journey also requires that we protect and prepare our feet in order to maneuver the rocky and harsh terrain we encounter along the way. Scripture tells us to put on the armor of God. Some of the pieces listed are: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:14, 15 NIV)

The God’s Word translation explains this last portion as to “Put on your shoes so that you are ready to spread the Good News that gives peace.” While we have days that are difficult, confusing, and exhausting, we can also know the calmness of peace. Because of God’s love for us and the gift of life we can choose through Jesus Christ, it is possible to travel grief with a feeling of peace. In order to do so though, we must be willing to have our feet fitted and readied. With proper foot-wear for life, we can be assured to eventually arrive at our destination – the other side of grief.

What are you wearing today? Are you more worried about the fashionable look that is popular with the world? Or will you dress your feet wisely in order to endure the travel ahead on your journey of grief? Remember, these boots are made for walkin’, but that does not mean you need to walk alone. God has promised to always be with us. Sit down, pull on those boots and move forward with confidence in God’s strength and peace.

Until next time –

Karen

Like Lizzie

photo-157

This picture is of Lizzie, my daughter-in-law’s dog. She’s a cute, 11-year old Shih Tzu that made the big move from Audra’s childhood home in Texas to Astoria, NY this year to be reunited with Audra. Austin, my son, has raved about her since day one, so excited for us to finally meet. Once I spent some time with this cutie, I understood. There is no dog like Lizzie.

Being an older canine, she has a few challenges. She is nearly blind now, and is unable to walk down the flight of stairs at the apartment so she needs to be carried in order to go on her walks. She also snores quite loudly.

Yet, there are so many things Lizzie can do! She can walk up the stairs just fine. Her awesome nose allows her to find her food and treats with little trouble. Even though she snores, it appears that she actually breathes just fine and gets plenty of rest. Last, but certainly not least, a dog like Lizzie gives immeasurable joy.

Whenever we returned to the apartment after being out, whether it was for a short jaunt to the store or a daylong adventure in the city, Lizzie welcomed us and let us know she was quite pleased to see us again. One of her favorite things to do was to lie in your arms, belly up, and let you rub her tummy and stroke under her chin as she made little noises of pleasure. I never failed to smile at how relaxed she was while placing herself in our arms.

Living life with Lizzie, I can see some valuable parallels to walking life with grief. First and foremost, it is possible to succeed and live a good life even with the challenges we face after losing a loved one. The hurdles we encounter do not need to stop us and prevent us from living fully and contributing to the people and the world around us in a positive manner. Even on the hard days, when you want to just lay your head on your pillow and cry, you can have the assurance that the sadness will not last. Go ahead and shed those tears with the knowledge that the wave of sadness will pass and you will move forward in your grief.

Another similarity is that we can trust God to lovingly care for us. Just as Lizzie put herself in an exposed position and trusted us, allow yourself moments in life to be vulnerable and open with God. Rest assured that He indeed has your back. Picture His arms around you, keeping you safe, warm and secure. When the rest of the world may be out of your control and seem chaotic, accept the peace that He wants to offer. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

Living with grief is difficult. Yet, it is something each of us will be required to do at some point in time. Knowing that God is trustworthy, loving and able to comfort will speed you along your journey when you encounter grief. Do not be afraid of living like Lizzie. In the midst of the challenges like sorrow and pain that are present with loss, you can find happiness. Take another look at her picture. I hope it gives you just a little smile and a strong reminder to look for joy even in the sad, hard times of life.

Until next time –

Karen