Life Happens

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As life happens you may find yourself overwhelmed with the details of grief. The first few days after a significant loss can be especially traumatic. I actually have very few clear memories of the first days following my husband’s death. Short recollections play in my mind like small video pieces, convincing me that death did occur and I really did live through it. Here are a few of the memories that still play back from time to time:

Sitting at the table choosing a casket; rifling through papers finding necessary policy numbers and contact information for various companies; having a plate of toast placed in front of me as someone begged me to eat; shopping for a black skirt and breaking down crying as I was paying the cashier; lying in bed for hours unable to sleep; sitting in my living room as good friends and family members visited but not really remembering conversations.

What allows a person to go on autopilot and survive the difficulties of grief and loss? I believe it is grace and mercy that allows the body to be numbed by shock and enables you to carry on without thinking. Some people make the comments, “You are so strong.” “I would never be able to handle what you are going through.” Yet, it is not like you have a choice. Life does not stop for you to get off the rollercoaster of grief. Dealing with those first days after your loved one has died can easily be the hardest thing you will do. There is little to be done in preparing yourself for when life happens. Even if you and your loved one have walked through the difficulty of illness instead of facing a sudden loss, the journey is hard. While you may have had a chance to plan and think about a future without them, when the moment arrives for their departure from this world, you still face the overwhelming loss and demands of many decisions while juggling your feelings and emotions.

I like to think of it as “life happens” instead of “death happens.” Doing this allows a more positive slant on something all of us will experience from time to time. Some losses will be harder than others. Even so, losing loved ones and beginning a journey of grief is part of living. Life continues for you. There is something more to be experienced and enjoyed. Even though it may not feel like it at the moment, you have a purpose and God has a plan. If we focus on the fact that death will transpire at some point, it puts a pessimistic spin on life and you tend to dread the coming days, distracted from what you have right now. Instead of hope and a future, you see an end and possible despair. Therefore, I choose the fact that life happens and I find a way to move forward in the journey of grief.

You can do this too. Treasure the memories of the life you had with your loved one. Work through the heartache that is sure to accompany your loss. Realize that even though your path is filled with ups and downs, you can survive the ride ahead. Face what is before you so that you can eventually see those days in your past as you move forward toward brighter and easier days.

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.

Favorite things

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There is a comfort in taking time to remember what really brings you joy. What are the favorite things in your world that add pleasure to your life? Before you say, “But without my loved one…..” let us establish that yes, life is now different. And no, not everything can be the same. However, there are still some great things you can appreciate as you live out each day.

Making a list of your favorite things will not only be therapeutic, but can bring gratitude back into a life that has been battered and broken by grief. Recalling those things that you enjoy can remind you that there is still good in this world. Perhaps you are a creative or artistic person who takes pleasure in making things. Then give yourself the gift of filling a Favorite Things Box or making a collage of items that can still bring a smile to your face.

Is it the sound and smell of a gentle rain accompanied by jarring thunder? Maybe music touches your heart in a special way. Burning a CD of certain songs may release your sadness leaving room for joy to bloom. Perhaps you find relaxation in beginning the day slowing, savoring the sunshine streaming into your bedroom while catching up on some reading.

Reflect upon old hobbies you used to enjoy. Is it time to take part in those again? Sports, crocheting, cooking, playing an instrument, gardening, jogging, writing, singing,…. Do any of these resonate with you? Is it time to learn a new skill? There is a beauty and satisfaction in discovering new abilities. Just because you have never done something before does not mean it is impossible or too late to learn it now.

Shortly after Alan’s death, I realized that I was missing out on so much by sitting at home and doing nothing more than working and sleeping. Auditioning for a local choir met a need that I had. Singing with Voices West has been fulfilling and healing.

What is it that is causing you to hesitate? Do not let your fears and doubts stop you from trying something new. That thing you have always wanted to do may just be the thing that propels you forward on your journey.

When you lost your loved one you did not lose the ability to continue living and growing. Your days should have purpose. There is a reason that you are still here. Now – today –  is the time to discover things about yourself you may not have known. Be courageous and willing to branch out and reach upward. Dig deep within and be amazed at what you uncover. Marvel in the favorite things you still find in life. Embrace and enjoy them. Your loved one would want you to smile and be happy.

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.

 

Embrace the Journey

 

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No matter how hard you plan and how long you prepare, you will face unforeseen challenges. The journey you imagine and dream of will most likely not be the path you will be actually be called to travel. Knowing this fact, I urge you to be willing to embrace the journey. Anticipating the need for flexibility in life can help you when the unexpected makes its appearance.

Is it possible to easily be happy with what life presents? Perhaps not. However, it is possible to trust God and embrace the journey He has for you. Trusting definitely takes practice. Accepting hardship and pain is not automatic. It is a learned behavior. God will not bring you to something in life that He will not equip you to handle with His help. So how can you reach the point of really accepting and embracing the journey?

Look back and see what other difficulties you have survived. Acknowledge that God has been faithful in the past and He will be faithful again. Approach your grief with the attitude of a fighter focused on the win. As you move forward through your pain, celebrate the little victories. Rejoice when you see progress. Take delight in your newfound strengths and abilities.

As you embrace the journey, your grief will seem less daunting and you will find yourself feeling more powerful as your confidence grows. Cling to the hope that there is a reason for the direction of your journey. There is still a plan for your life even though it may now look entirely different from what you expected. Continue to find ways to move forward as you learn to accept the changes of your new and different path.

One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11. When I recently found a cross displaying this verse, I immediately knew it had to go on my cross wall at home. What a powerful, daily reminder that God has a plan and purpose for me and the only wise choice is to embrace the journey.

I encourage you to do the very same thing. Look for something that will remind you of your uniqueness and that your purpose in life is still very real and has meaning. May you seek and find the ability to sincerely embrace the journey as you move forward in your grief.

“I know the plans I have for you,” declared the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

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.

Marking time

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Do you remember a time when you just couldn’t wait for something to happen? Perhaps it was saving up for and planning a vacation. Maybe you were excited for opening day and the first game of the season. Others enjoy the anticipation of a visit from special guests coming to town. Whatever is it you recall, when waiting for something special, we tend to find ourselves just marking time.

As we face a loss, it may seem that we are marking time, just waiting for the pain to pass and the days to brighten. Each morning we wake up and go through the motions with a heavy heart and a dulled mind. Time seemingly stands still as we dread each day that is now so different. We are simply marking time, willing the clock to go faster and to put the horrible experiences far behind us, hoping that we might forget the painful journey we are living.

I look back on the first four months after my husband passed away and truly cannot tell you many details of my days or nights. There are times that I regret not remembering more. Yet I realize that the lapse of memories during that time is probably a result of the shock I had experienced.

As the confusion and dullness gave way to clarity, I realized a decision had to be made. Did I really want to live my days just marking time? In doing so I would fail to contribute to the world. I believe we are all here for a reason – a purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Marking time will not allow us to accomplish the purpose for which we are created. Certainly I believe there is a time to be still and grief our loss. Every one who has experienced grief needs time to process and be comforted by others. Eventually though, there comes a point when we should be willing to move forward and do our best to make a difference in the lives of others.

Where are you in your grief? Are you still in the marking time phase? Have you been there a while? Be encouraged to know that there will come a day when you can do more. Look for it and determine to continue moving forward on your journey.

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.

 

A Little Messy

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A couple of weeks ago at work, it was discovered that someone had failed to push the coffee pot all the way back on the hot plate while brewing a fresh pot. As a result, the coffee flowed from the top spout and down the outside of the pot, instead of inside as intended. By the time the mistake was caught, hot coffee had made its way all along the counter, under the microwave, even pouring into the cabinet drawers on the other side of the counter space. The kitchen was certainly a little messy.

Journeying through life is a little like that coffee station. When we are not positioned correctly, things can get a little messy. What is a correct posture of grief? While each journey is unique and will look differently for everyone, there are some common points to consider.

One posture of grief that you should be prepared for is change. Upon the death of a loved one, life is bound to look differently. The hole left by the absence of a person is real and gaping. Whether your loss is sudden or you have seen its approach for a while now, it changes your life and you face the challenge of learning to discover and live a new “normal” life. Their loss tends to make your life a little messy while taking you on a different, undesired path.

Another helpful posture is to appreciate that we ache much because we love much. Even though it hurts to say good-bye, even if for a little while, your life has been shaped by the relationship you had with your loved one. Trust that their impact on your life served a purpose. Be willing to step into the mess of the pain. Dealing with the sting of loss now will aid you in advancing in your grief journey.

Being willing to move forward leads to a final point. Your grief is a passage, not a place to stay. It is vital that you not stop the flow of grief as you process and maneuver the messiness of your difficult path. As you move onward, you will see progress. Be assured and encouraged that you still have a very real purpose in life. You may not understand what that is at the moment. At those times of doubt, it must be enough to trust and believe that there is indeed a purpose and continue to seek it.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2 (ESV) Even when things get a little messy, embrace your journey. There are times we need a little mess to appreciate the beauty on the other side.

Until next time –

Karen

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Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order at link below:

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

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.

 

Resolutions

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Here we are at the last day of 2014. Congratulations! You have made it through this year! One popular tradition in beginning a new year is to set resolutions by which to live. These promises to ourselves can become daunting and overwhelming at times. While our intentions are good when we set these goals, we can easily feel defeated when we fail to keep them. The last thing people in grief need to take on are feelings of inadequacy and defeat.

I want to propose an alternative to setting resolutions for this coming year. I looked up synonyms for this word and thought it would be fun and more beneficial in our grief journeys if we did the following instead.

Let us be resolved to face life one minute, one hour, and one day at a time. When we look too far ahead while facing grief, we can easily become overwhelmed and lack the hope we need to maneuver through this difficult time in life.

We can live our lives with tenacity. Holding fast to what we do have and the things we know is necessary to keep us grounded during a dizzying, confusing journey. Scripture assures us we can know God’s faithfulness. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23 NKJV)

We have purpose in this life. We may not know what that purpose is at this time. However, just realizing that God does have a reason for us being here can be hope enough to cling to Him and search for our purpose in living.

The decisions we make in the coming days are up to us. We can decide to live each day the best we know how. Those days will not be filled with perfection for none of us are perfect. However, they can be filled with good times, laughter and joy amidst the tears we still shed at times along the way.

When asked in the next few days what resolutions you are setting for this coming year, you can answer in the following way:

“I resolve to live with tenacity realizing I have a purpose in life. I will make the best decisions possible to honor my grief, my loved ones and my Lord.” Happy New Year my friends.

Until next time –

Karen