What do you say

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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!

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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.

Mixed-up words

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A friend of mine shared that her three-year old son had somehow confused two words in his rather large vocabulary this past week. He has a toy piranha fish that he enjoys along with a small play turtle. He became distraught when he misplaced the fish and came running to his mom saying, “I can’t find my parmesan!” He has continued to use these mixed-up words – parmesan instead of piranha – giving his family cause to grin and laugh as he tries to figure it all out.

I, myself, have a very embarrassing case of mixed-up words that occurred in my college days. Yes, even adults can misunderstand and confuse words. Instead of calling the famous musical Porgy and Bess, I was saying Porky and Bess. Much to my embarrassment, I was called out on it and was subject to some good ribbing for a while. The words I spoke to myself after this experience was that I should just keep my mouth shut.

Unfortunately, misunderstandings and mixed-up words occur while processing and dealing with grief as well. The pain experienced by such instances is real and can be long-lasting and not nearly as cute as exchanging parmesan for piranha. The grief journey can deeply associate feelings and emotions with the words we hear from others as well as from ourselves. Not all of those emotions can be trusted.

Here are some examples of how you can confuse feelings and words while on your grief journey. It is important to treat yourself with grace while traveling a difficult and often obscured path, realizing that misunderstandings happen – both for you and for others.

Examples of the confusion that can occur for those grieving are often words you speak to yourself:

“I’m alone and cannot survive without my loved one.”

“I am afraid and have nothing to live for now.”

When you hear these expression counter them with:

“I have not had to do life on my own before. But I will survive this because I choose to. God promises to never leave me and I will cling to Him.” (Romans 8:38, 39)

Perhaps there are people who use mixed-up words when they communicate with you. They may be trying to show they care, yet their statements are less than accurate.

“I know just how you feel.”

I call these mixed-up words because they are not totally correct. The person speaking to you cannot possibly know exactly how you feel. They have not had to say good-bye to your loved one. Even if they have experienced grief and loss, their situation is not identical to yours.

“God needed him in Heaven.”

I also believe this last comment is inaccurate as God needs nothing and no one. He is self-sustaining and self-sufficient. To state that God needed Alan in Heaven is false. God loves Alan and yes, I believe Heaven is where he now resides. But God does not cause loved ones to die because they are “needed” elsewhere. While I do not claim to understand everything about death and loss, I do believe and trust that God numbers our days and has a reason and a purpose in all things.

So what do you do when you encounter mixed-up words? Give grace to yourself and to those around you. Realize that most people just are not comfortable around the grieving and lack the knowledge of what to say and how to say it. Hear their heart and embrace the love with which they speak while sifting out the mixed-up words they may express. And perhaps – just perhaps – the words of a small three-year old boy can make you smile. “I can’t find my parmesan!”

Until next time –

Karen

(picture used with parent permission)

Let me encourage you to share Grief Letters with those you know walking through loss and sadness. This devotion book is filled with stories of my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief.

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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.