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.

Overcomer

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What does it mean to be an overcomer? The definition given by Merriam-Webster is “to defeat something or someone; to successfully deal with or gain control of something difficult.” I always feel inspired when I hear the song Overcomer by Mandisa. Some of the lyrics say, “Whatever it is you may be going through I know He’s not gonna let it get the best of you… You might be down for a moment feeling like it’s hopeless. That’s when he reminds you that you’re an overcomer.”

As you journey through grief, there will be times when you feel you simply cannot go on. The emotional toll and physical pain of loss can feel unbearable. Confusion and doubt persistently fill your mind. Everywhere you turn, you see reminders of your current situation. At those times it is important that you not give in to defeat. It is exactly when you feel weakest that you can find a way to survive and even learn to thrive again.

Develop into an overcomer! Realize that your weakness only accentuates the strength of God that is available to you. As you call out to Him for help, cling to what you do have. Remember this acronym and be encouraged –

Open up to others so they can help you.

Visualize the sun coming out the next day and life looking better.

Effort is necessary on your part to work through the process of grief.

Reality can be cruel. However,

Commit to living each day the best you know how.

Offer yourself grace in the days ahead.

Make everyday count.

Even if you only manage to get out of bed on a difficult day, you are victorious.

Remember that you are an overcomer!

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” Psalm 28:7 (NIV)

Until next time –

Karen

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

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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.

Quotes

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This past summer during the preteen camp I run for our children’s ministry, several people said some funny things which became quotes to remember. “Fear the bonnet,” “Who stole the milk jug?” and “I got bit by a goat and went to unicorn land” were among the best ones. As we walk through grief and loss, there are certain phrases that are brought up time and again as people quote what they think we need to hear.

“I know how you feel” and “They’re so much better off now” are among the quotes that really are not helpful to hear as you journey through sadness and heartache. Hearing them can hurt and remind you once again of your loss and the sadness that overtake you at times. Even though these statements may be true, they are hard to hear early into your journey.

However, there are some quotes that can help as you move forward and begin to heal. Reciting, memorizing, and quoting scripture can be incredibly empowering and healing. Claiming promises from God gives hope not only for you today but also for your future.

Healthy self-talk is vital for healing and forward movement in your grief journey as well. Telling yourself that you can survive the pain that aches down deep inside injects hope into each hour you face. It is these quotes that help you believe in your head that you will eventually be okay even when all your heart knows now is darkness.

Yesterday I heard someone say, “I don’t want to hear I can’t.” While she was talking to children at the time, this is a good lesson for everyone. Instead of handing your life over to defeat, quote positive things instead. Some examples of helpful quotes to tell yourself might be: “I can certainly do this.” “If he can do it, then I can do it.” “I still believe there is a purpose in my life.”

These quotes point to better things just around the corner. Do not settle for the sadness that invades your life now. Push ahead and keep looking for the good in each day. Sometimes that is hard to find and the only positive statement you come up with is, “The sun came up today” or “I didn’t fall down and skin my knee this afternoon.” Keep trying and before you know it, you will find your special quote that will stick with you and be the boost you need for your tough days.

Until then, borrow one from someone else. One of my favorite quotes from scriptures is the promise that no matter how bad things seem, nothing can defeat you when you look to God for your strength.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38, 39 (NIV)

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.

Brave Your Jungle

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Jungle – The Merriam Webster dictionary defines this as:

“a tropical forest where plants and trees grow very thickly; a harsh or dangerous place or situation in which people struggle for survival or success”

Here is a picture of my cat sitting among my houseplants. I imagine she likes to pretend this is her jungle where she is hidden from the world. In the center of all those branches and leafs she is hard to see. She manages to position herself so she can view out and make a quick escape if the need arises. I smile as I watch her. She certainly enjoys her jungle, which is an example of the first definition above. However what about the second definition addressing struggle and survival in harsh or dangerous situations?

The grief journey can certainly appear to be a jungle with its unknown twists and turns. Darkness obscures a clear path on which to walk. The denseness of the situation can cause you to become disoriented and isolated; feeling lost and alone. What do you do then to maneuver as you learn to brave your jungle?

The jungle associated with loss can vary and look different to people. Perhaps you are called to brave your jungle of fear. I know that in the past few years dealing with fear has been a common occurrence. What if something breaks? How is it possible to do life alone? People tell you there is nothing to fear because they will be there to help. While the reassurances are nice, they are not there in the middle of the night when you lie awake planning strategies to make it through the next day. Ultimately, the responsibility to learn to deal with the fear is yours and you must brave your jungle.

Saying good-bye is certainly a challenge. The farewell to your loved one is just the beginning of change and good-byes when you are on the grief journey. Life is no longer the same. Acquaintances you had as a couple sometimes tend to fade away. People are no longer comfortable being around you. They do not know what to say so they avoid associating with you. Friends that have been supportive when your grief was fresh and new now face challenges of their own. As time goes by, life happens. Jobs change, people move, families shift gears. You are called to brave your jungle as you watch people you love and have depended upon grow distant.

As you fight and make your way through the jungles of fear and good-byes, isolation can grow up around you forming yet another jungle to journey through. The thought of facing another week in your situation can be difficult, much less trying to picture where you will be a year from now. Looking too far into the future is frightening and unimaginable. How can you live well next year when you are not even sure how you will manage the next month?

When you face these times; when the path is dim and difficult to walk, you must choose to brave your jungle. Be stubborn. Be persistent. Be determined. Be….brave. Remember that your strength does not come from yourself; at least not a strength that will endure the long journey ahead. For that kind of stamina, you must count on Someone stronger than yourself. God desires to be your strength. He wants to provide, protect, and renew your strength so you can wake up each morning to brave your jungle through the grief journey. Bravery is within your grasp when you cling to Him.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;  they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

Until next time –

Karen

Choose to give hope to someone in your life today. Share Grief Letters with those you know 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.

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.