Posted on

Moving on After Loss – Set Free to Let Go

Set Free to Let Go

Loss is a universal experience. No one escapes this life unscathed by its cruelty and the pain and devastation it causes. Though loss is universal in nature, each individual will experience loss differently. For some it might be through the death of a child or spouse. Others will face a divorce and the break-up of a family or a chronic illness or cancer or losing a job that provided for their family. Loss might come by way of a ruined reputation, betrayal by a good friend or rejection by a loved one. Regardless of how loss comes, when something is taken from us that we cherish and hold dear, the pain and heartache that accompanies that is inevitable and very often, life-changing.

Having gone through several significant losses in my own life, I know how debilitating loss can be. Yet, as I’ve grown and matured, not so much in age and experience but in the ways of God, I am beginning to see and understand how the pain and heartache of loss, any loss, can be healed and used by God to expand my soul and grow and strengthen me as person. Not so I can take great pride in myself for having overcome so much, for how sad would that be, if that were all I had to show for the losses in my life. No, when God expands our soul, grows, and strengthen us, in the midst of our losses, it’s so He can open our eyes to a world that is bigger than us; demonstrating that even in this fallen world of sin, death and loss, He is still able to accomplish His perfect plan and will for us and in us.

Romans 8:28 of the Amplified Bible says;

“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”

Many times when people are in the depth of their pain because of their loss, they reject, to the point of anger, someone sharing the truth of God‘s Word with them, thinking it callous, insensitive or “too preachy”. While timing of such things is important, withholding the hope that comes from the promises of God shows a great lack of love and compassion, for ultimately nothing apart from His love and power will set a person free to move on and thrive following a devastating loss.

It is that inability to move on that is the subject of this article. We wouldn’t need to talk about moving on from loss if it didn’t have such incredible power to keep us “stuck”, almost frozen in time or worse, living life only in the past, as if today or tomorrow doesn’t matter.

There is, of course, a time and a season to grieve. Not facing your loss and allowing yourself to feel the pain and sorrow of it, can bring on all kinds of additional emotional and physical problems down the road. Loss requires healthy grief for healing, and healing from grief takes time. However, that time is not meant to last forever. Cherishing memories and special feelings for a lost loved one is by all means important. Remembering special or joyful times in your life are good and healthy. Even sadness from time to time as you feel the emptiness or face the changes loss has left you with, is good and acceptable but a lifetime of grieving is not!

Lamentations 3, talks about there being a season and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven, including mourning;

“A time to week and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” (verse 4)

If we choose to stay in an unending place of grief and sorrow, we will miss all the good things God still has planned for us in this life, and that is a loss of unspeakable proportions. Our loving God delights in healing and restoration for all who call upon Him. He does not intend for us to go through this life wounded and crippled in body and spirit as a result of losses we experience. He wants to heal us for our sake and for His glory and purposes. He is a God of new beginnings, always on the move, demonstrating His power and His love to a dying world.

Isaiah 43: 18-19 (NASB)

“Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new. Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it?”

He wants us to join Him in the new things He is doing but we can’t if we’ve shut our self off from what He offers, determined to spend the rest of our lives in self-pity and despair.

One of the most detrimental decisions a person can make after the loss of a loved one especially that of a spouse of child – or even after a divorce – is that they will never love again. In their mind to do so, would be to open themselves up to that same devastating pain again and who in their right mind, would do that? But to make a decision like that is to ensure that one is very likely to miss more of the good things God still has planned for them.

In his book, “A Grace Disguised”, author Gerald Sittser, who lost his mother, his wife and a young daughter in a car accident talks about this very issue. “The risk of further loss, therefore, poses a dilemma. The problem of choosing to love again is that the choice to love means living under the constant threat of further loss. But the problem of choosing not to love is that the choice to turn from love means imperiling the soul, for the soul thrives in an environment of love. Soul-full people love; soul-less people do not. If people want their soul to grow through loss, whatever the loss is, they must eventually decide to love even more deeply than they did before. They must respond to the loss by embracing love with renewed energy and commitment.”

Expanding our heart to love again after loss is a mysterious part of the healing God gives us. We can refuse His healing if we choose and withdraw to protect ourselves, leading to a diminished soul and an empty, lonely life. That withdrawal could easily be justified by saying another loss is too certain to risk it. Yes, most likely another loss is certain but so is God‘s love and power to heal. It takes courage to live and it takes courage to love – again and again. It also takes wisdom and grace to know and understand that loss does not mean the end of life. With God, it means a new beginning and a reason to move on!

Living Life Set Free is a ten day, amazing journey with God using the books Living Life Set Free and Reflections designed to invite the power of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to radically transform you, change your life and set you free.

[http://livinglifesetfree.com] [http://www.livinglifesetfree.com/living-life-set-free/the-choice-to-surrender-2]

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6221950

Posted on

5 Coping Skills to Help Grievers Get Through Holidays and Special Occasions

5 Coping Skills to Help Grievers Get Through Holidays and Special Occasions

The holidays can be a particularly challenging time for those of us coping with loss. Find five skills the author used to cope when her son was diagnosed with a chronic illness. The holidays can be a particularly challenging time for those of us coping with loss. In this article, I share five skills that helped me cope when my son was diagnosed with a chronic illness.

1. Schedule a Specific Time to Cry

If the onset of your trauma and/or loss is still fresh you may be like me, out of my mind in pain and crying non-stop. I decided that I needed to give myself a coping skill and that was to schedule a crying time for every day.
I would become overwhelmed with thoughts of what had happened and I could feel the crying coming on and then I’d stop myself.  I’d say, “No, you have to wait 4 more hours and then you can let it go.”  That would move my brain forward enough to get over that crying session for at least 10-15 minutes.

2. Do One Nice Thing For Yourself Every Day – No Kidding and No Excuses!

I would NOT get out of bed until I thought long and hard about the one thing that would make me feel better for just that one day.

‘Nothing can make me feel better’ was the answer that was always there but I’d push myself to pull out just one thing. Most of the things were extremely simple: taking a long bath, making a café mocha with extra whipped crème, or taking the dog to the dog park.

3. Seek Out and Attend a Local Support Group

I went online and entered the cause of my grief (i.e. brain disease, death, cancer, etc.) and looked for a link (URL) that ended in .org since this generally means it’s a non-profit and most non-profits are really set up to help. Do yourself a huge favor and find and attend a support group, even if it’s just for one time only. You can visit my web page (http://www.mourningexpressions.com/ ) and click on ‘Grief Resources.’

4. Find Three Things to be Grateful for Each Day

As I was grieving it was hard for me to imagine that I would ever be happy again, I just could not see it.  It occurred to me that I needed to find something to be grateful for every day.  I started with, “I’m so grateful my son is still alive.”  “I’m so grateful I was here and can be here to take care of him.” Start small with, “I’m so grateful the heat is working and my house is warm.” “I’m so grateful that I can make myself some tea this morning.”

5. Make Sure You Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Grief is extremely stressful and it takes a lot out of us not only emotionally, but physically as well. I had a real issue where I could not sleep.  But I knew that getting 6-8 hours of sleep would go a long way in helping me cope and get through the journey.  See your doctor or a psychologist for help if you find you can’t and haven’t been sleeping.
It is my sincerest wish that these coping skills that I’ve shared coupled with Mourning Expressions makes your journey measurably more bearable.

Posted on

Grief, Mourning and Lament

Grief, Mourning and Lament
carousel
images not found

Summary: Having recently lost someone close to me this author explores grief from a scriptural standpoint as he grieves his personal loss.

Grief is emotional suffering brought on by bereavement, mishap, or disaster.

Grief and morning come in different forms in the scriptures. It also comes in different forms in today’s world. Grief is emotional suffering brought on by bereavement, mishap, or disaster. To grieve is either to cause or feel sorrow or distress. The concept is found in the Scriptures under a variety of circumstances. Isaac and Rebekah experienced grief when their son Esau married a Hittite woman (Gn 26:35 KJV). God mourned the misery of Israel brought upon them by disobedience (Jdgs 10:16 KJV). Hannah was so sad because she had no son that she appeared to be drunk while praying (1 Sm 1:16 KJV). Similarly, Samuel, distraught at King Saul’s disobedience, prayed all night. Job was exceedingly sorrowful over his personal loss (Jb 2:13; cf. 6:2; 16:6), and the psalmist poetically demonstrated distress and sorrow (cf. Pss 6:7; 31:9, 10; 69:26 KJV; 73:21 KJV; 95:10 KJV; 112:10 KJV). The Book of Lamentations is devoted to the expression of grief, and the prophets in general speak of judgment because Israel had grieved a holy God.

Jesus experienced sorrow and distress (Mk 3:5; Jn 11:33), including the death of a friend (Jn 11:35). The Jews are said to have been grieved as the apostles taught about Christ (Acts 4:2 KJV). The apostle Paul instructed believers not to grieve one another (Rom 14:15 KJV) and did not want to cause any sorrow himself (2 Cor 2:1–5 KJV). Most of all, the believer is not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30). A believer may, of course, suffer grief and suffering in an alien world (1 Pt 2:19 KJV). In Bible times grief was given particular expression at a time of death by means of shrieks, wails, and laments (cf. Jer 9:17, 18; Am 5:16; Mk 5:38)( cf. Baker encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House).

Human grief has been defined as: “Keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret; a cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow” (Dictionary.com). Grief is the profound human experience that accompanies major loss. It entails cognitive, emotional, and spiritual processing. While much has been said about the course of grief (e.g., Kübler-Ross’s well-known stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) for most people grief is a convoluted and complicated process that waxes and wanes. Despite the fact that each individual has a unique journey through the valley of grief, there are common aspects of grief that nearly everyone experiences.

Grief is an awareness of the pain of having lost someone or something significant in one’s life.

Grief is an awareness of the pain of having lost someone or something significant in one’s life. It can manifest on an emotional level as sadness/depression, emotional numbness, mood fluctuations, anger, resentment, guilt, hopelessness, or loneliness. The individual may be flooded with recollections or attempt to quash all memories. He or she may experience cognitive impairment in concentration and memory. Relationships may be disturbed. Physically, disruptions of everyday functioning in sleeping, eating, and sexual activity are typical. Fatigue/lethargy or somatic symptoms, such as headaches or digestive disturbances, may occur. Spiritual manifestations include anguished questioning of God, anger at God, and/or deep longings for which words are inadequate. A grieving person may feel a need to cry out to God almost constantly or, conversely, feel that his or her prayer life has dried up completely. The pervasive way that grief affects all levels of functioning can lead to a sense of disorganization, inducing fear that the pain and other symptoms may render the individual completely nonfunctional.

Some people attempt to circumvent the pain of loss by avoiding embracing grief, but this only serves to foster psychological and spiritual dysfunction.

Grief is a necessary emotional response to loss, a healthy and normal healing process that parallels the healing process the body goes through in reaction to physiological damage. Some people attempt to circumvent the pain of loss by avoiding embracing grief, but this only serves to foster psychological and spiritual dysfunction. Social support, attention to one’s spirituality, and consistent self-care facilitate the grief process. Resolution of grief occurs when one has been able to accept and express all the feelings the loss generated and to move on into a “new normal” life. Spiritually, people often discover that navigating through a profound grief experience strengthens their faith and fosters spiritual growth (assistance by G. G. Scorgie, Ed.)Dictionary of Christian spirituality. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).

Jesus grieved. After his long outburst of anger against the Pharisees and teachers, Jesus grieved for Jerusalem. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! “For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’” (Mt 23:37-39). He has longed to gather and protect his people, but his love has been spurned. Soon he will leave the temple for the last time, and the presence of God will no longer dwell there. Jesus will not return unless and until the people welcome him as their Lord and God.

Jesus was grieved at the Pharisees hardness of heart. “He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there with a withered hand. And they (the Pharisees and religious leaders) were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, in order that they might accuse Him… And He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And after looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored” (Mark 3:1-5). This indignant anger was not inconsistent with the love and pity of Jesus. Murder was in their hearts and Jesus knew it. Anger against wrong, as wrong, is a sign of moral health (Gould). He was grieved at the hardness of their hearts. Mark alone gives this point. The anger was tempered by grief. Jesus is the Man of Sorrows and this present participle brings out the continuous state of grief whereas the momentary angry look is expressed. Their own heart or attitude was in a state of moral ossification (πωρωσις [pōrōsis]) like hardened hands or feet (Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament).

At Gethsemane Jesus was grieved to the point of death. “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me” ((Matt. 26:38;Mark 14:34). Jesus grief was so severe that He sweated blood (Luke 22:44). Throughout history, there have been reported cases of hematidrosis, a bloody sweat that emits from the forehead of a person under extreme emotional stress. When the tiny blood vessels of the forehead rupture from the stress, it combines with sweat and forms the bloody sweat. The stress would have to be intense for hematidrosis to occur. A stress like facing death.

Isaiah 53 describes the man Jesus and describes His afflictions and grief. “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him…Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted” (Is 53:3-4, 11). Jesus took our griefs upon Himself and bore the torment thereof. Yet man (we) had no idea of what He bore on our behalf. “WHO has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” (v. 53:1).

Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45). Lazarus was a close friend of Jesus and Jesus grieved along with Mary and Martha. “When Jesus therefore saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who came with her, also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit, and was troubled, [grieved] and said, “Where have you laid him?” (John 11:34-35). One of the most moving scenes in the life of Jesus is the death of Lazarus. Here we see not only the power of Jesus to raise the dead, but the emotions of Jesus moved by the grief of those around Him. Martha’s faith is evident as she approached Jesus, four days after the death of Lazarus, and professed belief that He could save her dead brother. When Mary came as well and Jesus saw her grief and the grief of those with her, he was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (11:33). Scripture then tells us that Jesus wept (Jn 11:35).

Weeping and lamentation are part of the human experience.

A lament (noun) or lament (verb) mean collectively: “To feel or express sorrow or regret for; to mourn for or over. To feel, show, or express grief, sorrow, or regret. To mourn deeply.
an expression of grief or sorrow”. Weeping and lamentation are part of the human experience. So it is not surprising that there is a rich literature of lamentation in the O T. Well over a third of the psalms in the Psalter are laments, individual (e.g., 22, 42–43, 139) and communal (e.g., 44, 80). Most of these follow a lament form that moves through complaint and petition to a testimony of praise at the end (Anderson, 1974:56–58; Martens: 301–2). Chapters 3 and 5 of the book of Lamentations follow this lament form.

The laments in Isaiah 15:1–9 and 16:6–11 present the experience of lament, but not its formal character. This experience is described by using the words and emotions of grief and despair (weeping, wailing, mourning, tears). Moab is both the subject and the object of lament.
What is in view here is a national lament, not merely for the loss of wealth and possessions, but also for the loss of a homeland. The means of production is gone. Security is gone. Well-being is gone. The tragedy is all but impossible to imagine.

Probably most important is that we can grieve the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:30 says: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption”. How do we grieve the Holy Spirit?

Lying grieves the Holy Spirit Eph 4:25). The Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth,” and He hates with immeasurable hatred all falsehoods—all lies—black lies and white lies. It causes great grief to Him when a lie escapes the lips of a child of God. We also grieve the Spirit by uncontrolled anger (Eph 4:26). The next thing that is mentioned as grieving the Holy Spirit is stealing (Eph 4:28).

The Holy Spirit is grieved by corrupt conversation (Eph 4:29). The Holy Spirit is grieved not only over our use of corrupt speech, but also over our neglect of good speech. There is a whole class of actions, words and feelings that grieve the Holy Spirit (see Eph 4:31).
1. Bitterness.
2. Wrath, sudden anger.
3. Anger, settled anger.
4. Clamour. That means the noisy assertion of our own rights and wrongs.
5. Evil speaking.
6. All malice. That is the root of all the rest of the evils mentioned.

In contrast with these actions that grieve the Holy Spirit cited in v. 31, verse 32 sets forth the attitude of heart and life toward one another that is well pleasing to Him. Unless we are thus “kind, tender hearted,” the Spirit is grieved.

Why should we not grieve the Holy Spirit?

Why should we not grieve the Holy Spirit? First of all we ought not to grieve the Holy Spirit out of consideration for Him. The claims of the Holy Spirit upon each of us are infinitely greater than those of a mother. We should have a more tender consideration for Him than for her. Not only is He a being of wondrous dignity and glory, a Divine being, whose rights are supreme, but He is a being of wondrous, matchless tenderness and love.

We ought not to grieve the Holy Spirit out of consideration for ourselves.The results of grieving the Holy Spirit are very grievous to ourselves. What are they? The Holy Spirit cannot do His whole work when He is grieved. He is hindered from doing in us what He would do. For any measure of blessing and power in any direction we are absolutely dependent upon the Holy Spirit. See the similarity of grief experienced by the Spirit and human grief. When we grieve we cannot accomplish our full potential in the Lord.

If the Holy Spirit is grieved our prayers will be hindered. The great secret of profitable Bible study is studying the Bible under the Holy Spirit as our teacher. If then the Holy Spirit is grieved we lose something of our joy in Bible Study and almost all of our profit. True joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). If, then, the Spirit is grieved our joy will be hindered. We may even lose altogether the joy of our salvation. Power in service is lost by grieving the Spirit. The warning of our text is a very important and very solemn one. How much depends upon our heeding it. Anything that is unholy or wrong in deed or word or act grieves Him (parts from Torrey, R. A. (1901). How to work for Christ a compendium of effective methods. (pp. 387–388).

Jesus said: “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. “And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come” (Mt 12:30–32). Blasphemy against the tender, loving Spirit, grieves Him to the point that forgiveness cannot thereby be found. It thus affects our entire salvation that the Holy Spirit was commissioned to bring.

However in the end the Lord turns grief to joy His true purpose.

However in the end the Lord turns grief to joy His true purpose. “THE Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives, And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1-3).

Posted on

Women Grieving For Their Loved Ones

Women Grieving For Their Loved Ones

carousel
images not found


Women Grieving: I watched as my fellow village women gathered around my mother as she cried her heart out while the pallbearers carried the body of my late sister to the grave site. I said, ‘Lord, do you not see this? Has my mother not suffered enough, six of her children now to the earth, plus the husband, does she have to go through this?’ And the Spirit of God rebuked me saying, ‘Only I know what your mother is able to endure.’

The Spirit spoke to me about a woman in the Bible we can all learn from when it comes to grieving for a loved one. That woman is Mary the mother of Jesus.

She experienced pain at the deepest level we can all imagine. When she gave birth to her little boy Jesus, as per the Hebrew tradition she took him to the Temple for dedication. While the Priest was peforming the dedication rites accompanied by the necessary words, he also threw in a very disturbing word, something no mother wants to hear. The Priest said to Mary, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against; (and yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also); that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35

What strong words to say to a young mother who just had her first child! But for Mary this was not the first time that she had been spoken to in such a manner.About two years ago she had been minding her own business when an angel appeared before her and saluted her with these words, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you”. Luke 1:28. The Bible goes on to say that Mary was perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of a salutation this was.

But the angel reassured her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called theSon of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end”. Luke 1:30-33

Mary was worried about becoming pregnant; because as a virgin betrothed to a young man named Joseph, she was patiently waiting for her wedding day.

This time the angel did not reassure her saying; “Do not worry the baby will come nine months after your wedding night!”

The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the Holy Child shall be called the Son of God“. Luke 1:35

I went to Bible College at a late age. At the end of every semester exam I would come out with my head throbbing and blood pressure high. It never got better, even at the end of the very last semester, after four years of studying. Hence I can empathise with Mary. The more she tried to understand her predicament, the more perplexed she became. But by the grace of God; I succeeded in attaining my Diploma in Religious Studies. Mary also overcame her fear and ran to her relative Elizabeth where a miracle was in the making through the birth of John. For the angel had said to Mary, “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month…For nothing is impossible with God“. (Luke 1:26-37)

The Holy Spirit overshadowed her as promised and Mary gave birth to her little boy, Jesus. At the appointed time she took the boy to the Temple for dedication. That is where we meet her today as the story of her life unfolds. With the help of her capenter husband, Joseph, she raises her son.

Other than working in the capentry business like his father, Jesus took a keen interest in his Jewish religion and soon became a keen student at the Temple courts. At the age of thirty he became one of the most sought after evangelists. He was a great Teacher and miracles portraying the power of the Holy Spirit were evident.

Many were his teachings, and many people received salvation into the Kingdom of God. Many were also healed from all kinds of diseases and afflictions.

But as this Teacher, Jesus the son of Mary became more and more popular so did those who opposed his teachings.  His teachings conflicted with their religious values. Their hatred of him grew bythe day, until finally they decided to kill him.

So we find the prophecy given to Mary by the Priest Simeon in Luke 2:34-35coming to fulfillment. Mary’s heart was about to be pierced.

They came for Jesus on the night soon after the Passover as he prayed in the gardenof Gethsemane at the Mount of Olives. They knew he would be there that night as it was his custom to go there and pray.

After seizing him they took him to Pilate for a well rehearsed trial. They found him guilty, even though he was not. He was condemned to die by hanging on a cross. They beat him up, severely, spit on him, mocked him, called him all kind of names and then put a heavy wooden cross on his bruised back and made him carry it Mount of Golgotha.

Where was Jesusmother while all this happening? At home; unaware of the rubble? Away visiting relatives? No, she was right there in the midst of the mass of onlookers watching her son, the Great Teacher suffer. With every blow they struck him, Mary’s heart was being pierced; her insides were being shredded to pieces. I have seen pictures of lynching on television; they are horrific. Mary had to endure that; but the worst was yet to come.

When they got to Golgotha they laid his body against the cross and drove long heavy nails right through his hands and feet into the cross. Then they lifted him on the cross for the whole community to see; and thus they hung. Mary was there at his feet, barely able to look up at the tortured frame of her son; the son that God had given. The son who had performed so many miracles in the short three years he had evangelized the country of Judea. The son who was not just hers and Joseph’s; but who was in reality the Son of God.

He had the power and authority to call down angels to come and stop this horrific torture before him but did not. Everything that was happening had to happen because this was the will of his Father in heaven for him. He had to die for the sins of the world; that we all humanity would be forgiven because of his precious blood shed on the cross at Calvary for us.

Did Mary know this? Probably; but that did not take away the sharpness of the pain she was feeling. So Jesus beckoned her close so he could make eye contact. Then he also called John, the disciple he loved very much. To both he whispered, ‘Woman, here is your son and son here is your mother. John 19:26-27. Why; because John was the closest of the disciples to Jesus. Over the years Jesus had shared his deepest thoughts with his mother and his closest disciple. In that darkest hour he was reassuring them that both would be able to comfort and give each other strength.

Then his crucifiers took a crown of thorns and shoved it on his head, making his head bleed. Then they took a sharp spear and drove it through the side of his belly; both water and blood oozed out. John had to hold Mary tight lest she collapsed at the weight of her son‘s imminent death. Then Jesus died. Thirty three years of his life on earth as Mary’s son had suddenly come to an end.

What would you say about that? If you were Mary where would go with that anguish and pain?

God has not spared us from the pain of losing a loved one to death. He did not spare Mary, the mother of His own dear Son. But in whatever He has allowed us to endure, He has also given us strength through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in us.

On our own we are frail and weak, but because of the Holy Spirit in us we are comforted, strengthened and able to stand the storm.

The Holy Spirit will reveal the Word of God and.give us hope despite the bleakness of our circumstances. Three days after Jesus was buried, Mary and the other women in Jesus‘ life went early to the grave site. With spices in their hands what did they expect to find at the tomb? Luke 24. Mary remembered snippets of the conversations she had had with Jesus; that on the third day he would rise from the dead.

Women have had it hard right from child birth. But the same God who is able to sustain the woman through childbirth is also able to sustain her through grief and pain. He will never leave her nor forsake her, for He is the same God yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:5b, & 8)

When we pass through the valley of Baca (Weeping) we make it a spring of Joy.Psalm 84:5-7, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you (Lord), who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion”.

Yes, you can smile even in the midst of grief; especially when God brings a wonderful memory about your loved one. Tthat is how healing begins.

My mother is strong today because she believes in God. She has faith that someday in heaven she will be reunited with her husband and children. He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion. (Philippians 1:6)

Woman, your grief and pain does not mark the end of your life. The devil has not won. Trust God and He will give you the peace and strength you did not know was in you. He will keep her in perfect peace she whose mind is steadfast, because she trusts in Him. (Isaiah 26: 3)

Job, at the tragic death of all his children said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21)

King David at the illness and death of his son said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live. But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:22-23)

Jesus to Martha and Mary when Lazarus died said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”. (John 11:25-26) Even though we will die in the flesh our soul will live with Christ eternally.

Finally, we have a promise in Revelation 21:3-4 that there will come a time when every tear will be wiped away. ‘And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

No more tears, no more grief, no more pain. Praise the Lord!

Posted on

The Culture of Grief Avoidance

The Culture of Grief Avoidance
carousel
images not found

Grief Avoidance: What do you think about when you hear the word grief? Maybe sadness, or loss or death. Maybe you think of particular times in your life when you experienced those things. Then again, maybe you don’t think much about it at all. I’ve seen lots of folks who have only the vaguest conception of grief and they would likely describe it in negative terms; meaning it’s sort of like jury duty. You know you might have to experience it sometime, but you hope you can get out of it or around it, and if it comes you plan to stoically get through it as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Our culture has strongly influenced our understanding of and our experience of grief. (This creates Grief Avoidance)

Our culture has strongly influenced our understanding of and our experience of grief. Grief is now generally thought of as a disease only the weak suffer from, is it not? There is a strong public notion in the phrases, “It is what it is” and “Fake it till you make it” and many other platitudes that encourage one to press on and be strong and not look back. This notion seems to be that when adversity strikes that the person who is admired is the one who is able to rise above it all unaffected. They stay positive, they keep going, they turn that frown, upside down! And when these particular qualities are prized, other qualities, which are contrary to such positive ones, such as sadness, melancholy, heartache, disappointment and grief are viewed with disdain. If you are experiencing them you must not be able to be positive, to raise above, to move on, and so you are treated with scorn or pity. Oh, it may be delivered subtly. But it’s there. I realize this is not universally true, but it is generally accurate. Our culture has lost an understanding of the value of grieving. And maybe more than lost it, maybe it has been avoided for quite some time. The message now seems to be that one must present themselves as presentable in order to be accepted. By why has grieving been rejected as an acceptable way to respond to losses?

Let’s think about it on an individual scale. When someone is grieving, they are sad. What do you feel when you are with someone who is sad or who is struggling? I’m betting that many feel a pull to cheer them up, or to fix their problem. Why? Is it simply because you feel keenly in touch with their struggle and want to help them? Actually, I propose that often it is because we rather feel awkward. We don’t know what to do with someone’s sadness or neediness, or helplessness. And if we can bring them out of it, or fix the situation, then we don’t have to feel awkward anymore. The problem with this is that many times grieving people don’t cheer up easily or their struggles don’t fix easily. It’s what separates grieving from regular sadness or even from situational depression. Grief is mostly about things that can’t be fixed, because it is about loss, not about lost and found. And since it can’t be resolved simply, many people don’t have the stomach for it. I don’t mean to be cruel. For the most part they have not had how to sit or walk with grieving people modeled for them. And they probably haven’t experienced someone offering it to them well either. What they experienced was trite-isms and expectations to get over it and so that’s what they know.

The problem is that grief is really too deep and raw for most people.

The problem is that grief is really too deep and raw for most people. And our culture is too shallow and so it drowns in those depths. Unfortunately for us, it is in the depths that maturity, character, virtue and faith grow. And so to run away from grief is to run away from what we need. When we avoid those who are grieving, we abandon those who need us, when someday we will be the one in need. For maybe we think we can run from experiencing real grief, but we surely cannot run from experiencing loss.

I believe there is a desperate need in our culture to shift our definitions of strength and weakness. Strength is not in moving on without grieving and grieving our losses is not weakness. On the contrary, avoidance of grief is based in fear, whereas acceptance of the grief process is about courage. To come back to honoring the grieving process, we must acknowledge that we have taken a self-centered and shallow approach to the terrible impact of losses. We must own that we as a culture have shied away from true helping, because it was too hard for us. Then, we need to come to appreciate the value of grieving again.

Grieving is really about facing losses and feeling the depth of the loss.

Grieving is really about facing losses and feeling the depth of the loss, rather than pretending that they didn’t really hurt us. It is about going through stages of wrestling with how to cope with the myriad of feelings and unwanted changes to life situations as well as how to go on without hardening one’s heart. Gerald Sittser in his book on loss, talks about it in terms of a kind of darkness. He says, “A willingness to face the loss and to enter into the darkness is the first step we must take.”1

I love how Sittser explains the process he himself went through and how he grew from it. His book is his own story of struggling with facing loss, and it’s a testament of courage and strength. His is one of those good models of how to grieve.

Our culture has strongly influenced our understanding of and our experience of grief.

“The soul is elastic, like a balloon. It can grow larger through suffering. Loss can enlarge its capacity for anger, depression, despair, and anguish, all natural and legitimate emotions whenever we experience loss. Once enlarged, the soul is also capable of experiencing greater joy, strength, peace, and love.”2

Grieving is a God designed process that can expand our soul. By learning to appreciate this we can not only prepare ourselves for the work to come when we experience loss, but we can also bear to learn how to walk with others through their grief. Practically speaking, that means to end the trite-isms and trying to fix or bring someone out of it. But instead, honoring their struggle is to invite the negative emotions and not put a timetable on getting over their sadness. Find ways to take care of yourself, since it will be a drain on you.

For those in the midst of loss, this means simply to give yourself permission to be right where you are and not try to buck up or move on too quickly.

For those in the midst of loss, this means simply to give yourself permission to be right where you are and not try to buck up or move on too quickly. Lean into some safe people with vulnerability and open up. If they can’t bear it, don’t believe that it means you need to get over it and don’t pretend everything is okay if it’s not. It means that they don’t get the grief process. I know that it is exhausting to have to help someone learn how to help you. If they have been a good friend, it may be worth it to explain it to them or have them read something, so they can learn how to be a better friend. Just because our culture in general doesn’t honor grieving doesn’t mean that people can’t learn to do so.

Let us honor the process of grieving, and change our culture to one that honors true strength!

Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org
Posted on

Love Never Dies (Poem)

Love Never Dies (Poem)
carousel
images not found

Love Never Dies

Love will not die
When we take our last breath
But keeps going strong
Long after our death
Love is a life force
That lives on and on
Giving comfort and hope
When our strength is gone
LOVE LIVES FOREVER
Beyond our living
Reaching and touching
And continually giving
LOVE LIVES FOREVER

Posted on

Child Loss: Never Really Mine

Child Loss: Never Really Mine

 

He was never really mine,
this child whose birth angels foretold.
Though I cradled him in my womb for many months,
labored, gritted, bore down until he was expelled,
this child, my achievement, was someone else’s from the start.

There was never a burden so wonderful as the weight of him in my arms.
The heaviness of that little body kept all of the loose ends in my soul
from flapping about. My heart was happily tethered to him.

His scent was a hint of heaven, like a breeze suggesting
things to come. He smelled of sweet innocence and wood shavings,
bright and clean. I would breathe in all that was good and true and real
as I held his silken head beneath my chin. Joy would ignite in my chest
expanding so that I thought my heart might burst from happiness.

As I watched him grow from a boy into an awkward young man,
I was reminded of who he really was. I tried SO HARD to forget.
After all of those years, I thought that maybe God
would let me keep him, my firstborn.
Many times he would be missing and each time,
after hours of frantic searching, we would find him in the temple.

Although I wanted to warn him away, I knew that I could not.
Though my heart denied it, some small piece of me knew that was his home.
Scholars and priests were astounded and pleased at his understanding.
I saw in them the gleam of greed as they angled to make him
their protégé. If he wasn’t really mine, he certainly wasn’t theirs either.
That realization assuaged some small part of my feelings of loss.
I even had to smile at these men, so unaware that they
were unaware. And I, a poor woman of an obscure tribe
could see what they could not.

A young man grew into a man of no small influence.
He began to wander, speak, heal. I felt him slipping from
my grasp. My heart cried, “Not Yet! I need more time!”
It took scrabbling through crowds of sweaty, dusty
men just to catch a glimpse of him. I had to elbow my way
to the front so I could hear the low, clear timbre
of his voice. His voice was the song of my soul.

Oh how the people loved him! Fickle, Fickle fools!
He was no threat to you! He desired no wealth, no fame,
no acclaim. Your robes may be white, but there
is blood on your hands!

As I stand here beneath him at the foot
of this barbaric cross, I can see
that he is very nearly gone. My
entire life’s purpose has been caring for
him and here I am helpless.
As his mother, I can offer no comfort, ease no pain.
The flies surrounding him have greater power than I..
At least they can touch his beautiful face, the
cheeks that I’ve kissed many thousands
of times. I would give my very life to
kiss him one last time, but I can’t reach even
the soles of his feet.

As he breathes his last breath, It takes
every last bit of my reserve to
draw one more. It
would be far easier to stop breathing
with him.

This is not how I thought it would end!
My soul is torn; my heart is crushed!
Where is God in all this? Why send an angel to
herald his birth and then let my son, HIS son
be murdered at the hands of greedy cowards?
How can my greatest gift become
my greatest source of grief?

My heart, the heart of a mother, will
forever expect him to stride through the door.
I will forever see him in my dreams and long
never to wake. As I stroll the market,
I will remind myself to breath when
I remember he isn’t here to enjoy
his favorite meals. I will strive
to remember every contour of his face.
I will search my memory straining to recall
the sound of his voice.

Others will whisper, there is Jesus
mother. Maybe they will believe that
he was a traitor, but I will know the truth.
I will hold my head high.
My precious little boy was God‘s own son.
By a miracle I conceived, by a miracle
I was chosen to carry the Christ.
Though I may grieve all the days of my life,
I will find beauty in the sorrow.
My son was never really mine alone.
But I will see him again on the other side
of eternity, and he will be the king in Heaven
that I thought he would be here on earth.

Posted on

Dying Words

Dying Words

“You see my calamity, and are afraid.”

Dying Words: These are the words of Job to his friends. Job’s friends made great efforts to solve and explain Job’s suffering. Job saw through the thin veil of their compassion to the naked fear shivering beneath. We want there to be explanations for the bad things that happen to good people. In the presence of terrible human suffering we are afraid. We look for explanations and solutions. Life doesn’t make sense and we want it to. As Christians, we are literally groaning with all of creation for the Day when all things will be renewed. That Day has not yet come, but the seed has been planted.

The dying usually don’t want to be dying. They wonder how their loved ones will get along without them. So they often try to take care of us. The dying caring for the living.

The dying usually don’t want to be dying. They wonder how their loved ones will get along without them. So they often try to take care of us. The dying caring for the living. Dying people learn intuitively what the living want to hear. We like it when dying folks have a sense of humor. It serves our own feelings when those at the threshold of death make light of their predicament or act dismissively of their pain. We especially like it when the dying mute their fear and face the Inevitable with confidence and courage. These things make us feel better. We then reward the dying for their “strength”. We say things like, “She is so strong.” “I can’t believe how positive he is.” “He is holding up really well.” “Wow mom, I wish I was as strong as you.” Their posture toward death lends us hope that maybe death isn’t so bad after all.

For some, death is a welcome stranger. The dying process can be so cruel and prolonged that death is a blessing. In these cases death is good only by comparison though. Death is still monstrous, an affront to the living. In the Christian tradition death is viewed as a natural consequence for sin. It is cancerous in nature. Jesus wept when beholding how we mourn our dead loved ones. For the Christian it is promised that death will be “swallowed up in victory.” In Revelation we are told that death itself will be thrown into the lake of fire in the last judgment. The death of Death.

Dying people usually have very complicated feelings around their experience. Our culture has developed a terrible allergy to all that is unpleasant and uncomfortable. Dying people make us very uncomfortable. Dying people are acutely aware of how uncomfortable they make people. Many of them will take their cues from us and act accordingly. In death, they will try to be what we need them to be. Some won’t cry because, “I need to be strong for my kids.” But in private moments, when given sacred space – they weep for the life they are losing. Others will say things like, “Well there is always someone who has it worse than me.” The implicit message is that my loss isn’t so bad after all – so don’t feel too bad about it. Then there is a whole host of dismissive statements employed that suggest the dying person’s demise is ‘no biggie.’ “Gotta go sometime.” “Well, it was a good run.” “Can’t live forever.” Or, as one particularly ornery nurse in the Emergency Department likes to remind me, “None of us gets off the planet alive!”

Dressing death in a clown suit can have acute therapeutic value in some cases. Those statements are often uttered to manage our feelings by blunting the sharp edge of grief. The person dying has intrinsic value in God’s eyes though. Their death is sad. Grief expert Alan Wolfelt explains that to grieve well is to love well. Anticipatory grief is the grief that begins before our loved one dies. Bereavement means to be “robbed, deprived or plundered.” The sadness we feel as our loved one fades away is real, healthy and deserves a place at our emotional table. We do no service to our loved ones when we collude with them to undersell their experience. If your dying loved one tells you that he needs to be strong for you, remind him that you don’t need that from him. Encourage him to feel whatever he is feeling and to feel it fully. If she tells you she is fine but you sense an ocean of emotion beneath the surface, she may be holding it back for your sake. Let her know she can stop trying so hard to keep the outside from looking like the inside. The dying have enough work to do without having to take care of our feelings.

Maybe you can be the safe place where your dying loved one can feel the freedom to lament, rage, cower or confess.

Maybe you can provide him or her sanctuary. One of the last things Jesus did before he died was despair.

The despair and forsakenness of the cross was an overture to his Resurrection. But he also did work on the cross, serious work for our sake. Most but not all people experience an urgency to get their inner house in order as the time draws near. Our need for the dying to “be strong” can hinder this vocation. As the dying soul is freed to work openly on her own position with God, the result is often peace. The ancients called this “Shalom”. Shalom is when we have made peace with God and our neighbor through Jesus. “Some glow before they go” as Hospice staff have been known to say.

What we can offer the dying is relationship. Relationship is the great promise of the Christian faith. As the Psalmist reminds us, “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” God gives us nothing less than Himself in the blackest nights. In their hour of travail we can companion with our loved ones and be honest and loving sojourners. The hope is that someone will walk the long walk with us when our time comes.

The dying are like prophets. They have very important things to tell us. Their vantage point is unique as they stand at the cusp of the living and the dead.

The dying are like prophets. They have very important things to tell us. Their vantage point is unique as they stand at the cusp of the living and the dead. They have much to teach us about life and death, regret and joy, forgiveness and hurt. For Christians, dying is a season of meaning-making and life review. Blessings are bestowed, curses are lifted. It is a time of ends and beginnings, rending and mending, embracing and letting go. Death is the birthing pains to new life. Echoing our Christian ancestors we say, “Maranatha!” (Come, O Lord!)

Posted on

A Meaningful Life

A Meaningful Life

A Meaningful Life was written in honor of the Chandler family as they celebrated the life of a beloved husband and father.

I pray that it will lift you to see meaning in the relationships that were placed in your life whether the person is still here with us or not.

A Meaningful Life by Cassandra Grant

A life that is filled with meaning
is not in the length of one’s days.

It’s not in the length of time here on earth
in which one may stay

A life that is filled with meaning
is a life fulfilled

Committed to the purpose
of doing the Father‘s will

A meaningful life is not determined
by how boldly a man enters a room
or how loudly this man may talk.

But by how many are changed along the way
as He lives out His daily walk

A life that is filled with meaning
is like a fruitful tree

That any can come around hungry
and be able to pick from thee

We celebrate the life of Rev. C. W. Chandler
A meaningful life indeed
As we gather from His life
fruit to grow on our trees

So that our witness and not our words
will cause men to come to Christ

And it is at that very moment
that we have lived a meaningful life

Posted on

Mom Is Dying: A Son’s Love

Mom Is Dying: A Son's Love

My sister called me at work and informed me that mom is dying.

In late March of 2013, my mom who had been in a nursing home for about four years, health took a bad turn. She was in the final stage of renal failure. My sister called me at work and informed me that mom is dying. We didn’t know when. She could live for weeks or months. I started to visit her daily after work and kept my sister updated on my mom‘s condition.

At some point Hospice was called to help keep her comfortable. My sister had talked to me and told me not to tell my mom that she was dying.

One day when I was visiting my mom, she was confused and asked me what was going on. I told her that Her health was going real bad. She didn’t understand and was afraid. I did my best to encourage her and went home.

That night I prayed and asked God what to do.

That night I prayed and asked God what to do. God answered telling me my mom deserved to know what was going on. God told me how to approach my mom and tell her she was dying. I prepared myself for what would be the hardest thing I have ever done. Rising to God‘s call to offer my mom hope and peace.

The next day at work I thought about it all day long and told God I can’t do it. Who am I to prepare my mom to meet the Lord? I realized there is no one else and it was my duty to do it. If I loved my mom, I would do it.

After work I went to visit my mom with my bible in my hand and asked not to be disturbed, that I needed to talk to my mom. I think the people at the nursing home knew what I was about to do.
I walked in and my mom was crying. I pulled up the chair and cried with her. She was confused and afraid. It became clear to me that I had to tell her in order to clear up her fear and confusion.

I asked her if she remembered what she learned about Heaven in Church. I took her hand and started talking to her about what Heaven would be like. I read scripture to her about there being no more sickness or disease. I showed her verses about how we would get new bodies that would never fail.

As I continued, I felt the presence of God in the room. Still holding her hand, I told her that Jesus is getting ready to take her hand and lead her to Glory. I noticed right away that her confusion and fear had lifted.

I went on to tell her she needs to think about what’s coming for her. Not think about leaving me.

My mom looked down for a minute and then looked up at me saying she didn’t want to leave me. I explained to her that it isn’t her choice. That it is God‘s will and she has to accept it. I went on to tell her she needs to think about what’s coming for her. Not think about leaving me.

As her time drew nearer and nearer, she lost consciousness but was still here. I talked her as though she were awake. I told her when God calls her, to leave and not look back.

On Thursday April 25, 2013, my father and I arrived because her time was very near. I sat next to her bed and watched her breathing get shallow. I talked to her and told her I was there. I held her hand and at 6:30 P.M., Jesus took her hand and lead her to glory.

I knew that God has transformed my mom, giving her a new body that will never fail. She knew until the end that I loved her. God used me once again to help her until it was time to let her go.

Preparing my mom to go be with the Lord was the greatest act of love there is. If I had to do it again,I would without hesitation.