Living with Grief Part Three

“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.”
Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

This is the conclusion of our series on living with grief. May you live in hope of heaven! Some time has passed since these difficulties have come into our lives and I can confidently say the joy of the Lord surely renews our Spirit.

8. The new ‘normal’ – Life will never get back to the normal you once knew. It will be different, sometimes surreal. With time, there is a new normal. We should remember those we love, even when they’re gone.  Communicating that love to those who never knew the loved one can aid in the healing. Sharing stories about our deceased relatives and friends give our children a vision of heritage that they appreciate. That love continues to connect us from life through death.

9. Helping others who are grieving – The only comments people said that brought me comfort was that they were hurting with me. I remember very clearly a friend saying, “My heart hurts for you.” Sharing in the grief somehow made it easier to bear.  Sometimes the best thing to say to others is nothing.  My dad calls it “A ministry of presence.” Just being in the presence of a grieving friend often brings comfort that they are not alone.

10. Remembering with thankfulness the things of God – In times of difficulty, I try to remember examples of what God has done in the Bible, my own life, or my friends’ lives. This reminds me He is in control and is working His plan- nothing is out of His hand. Death is a natural part of God’s plan so that we are not separated from Him eternally. Often, we suffer with an “illusion of permanence.” We were never meant to be here forever. God has appointed a time for all to live and for all to die. Because of Jesus this is not our home. The pain, hardships, and disappointments we have in this imperfect world are all temporary. In my grief, I thank God for the privilege of knowing the deceased loved one, remembering the good things I’ll miss.  Being thankful for that person brings divine healing to our heart and soul.

11. Immerse yourself in beauty– My kitchen overlooks the forest. Everyday I would open the blinds and stare outside, letting God’s creation comfort me. God has made nature and beauty to touch our hearts and bring us serenity and peace. It costs nothing and can be a sanctuary amidst well-meaning people not giving you the distance to grieve.

Grieving is a process that never truly finishes. As long as we are in this imperfect world, Jesus promised we will have sorrow. He also promised to be with us and promised consolation. Thanks to Jesus, our time on earth is temporary! There is healing- and eventually we have a home with Him where there is no more sadness.

In him,

Amy Horton

Living with Grief Part Two

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” 
Proverbs 4:23 NIV

The last daily dose we examined some ways to help ourselves through the grieving process. We considered extending grace to others when we are hurting, and focusing on daily tasks to help us restore some normalcy. This is part two of the series. Here are three more  practical ways to help as we mourn and heal during times of tragedy or loss.

5. Find the good – Look for it, no matter how small. I focused on any good news I could find during the sadness. These things were small comforts, but they helped.

6. Set your heart- When the heart breaks it is like a broken bone. If it’s not set appropriately it will heal crippled- perhaps with guilt, anger, or bitterness. In your grieving, seek to keep the attitude of your heart healthy. You can do this by healthy mourning, praise and worship, finding comfort in a Bible reading or talking to trusted friends.

7. Take it to God- Whatever emotion you have in the healing process, God can handle it. He has BIG shoulders.        Remember, we have a Savior who’s acquainted with grief.  Jesus wept at His friend Lazarus’ death.  He knows how we feel.

The book of Job is a whole entreaty about mourning.  Job mourns, his wife mourns, his friends mourn with him.  Eventually Job takes his grief to God who sets him on a solid path.  God reminds Job that He is in charge and that nothing happens that He doesn’t allow.  Once Job repents of his bitter attitude and returns to God with humble acknowledgment, he begins to heal.  And in the end, Job is restored.  We can be restored too.

For our final daily dose in this series, we will finish with some additional ways to find  and extend comfort to others. These can be as simple as spending time in nature, or remembering what God has done in our past.

In Him,

Amy Horton

Living with Grief Part One

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” 
Matthew 5:4 NIV

The past 6 months have been filled with some incredible joys (birth of our first baby) as well as incredible heartbreak (death of a family member). After a second time of mourning, I decided to write what I was learning about–mourning in a healthy way. So rarely does anyone preach on this, and there are so few resources. Hopefully the following suggestions will prove beneficial when you face a season of grief.

1. Rally the troops- Get everyone you know to pray.  If we truly knew the power of prayer I’m sure we would engage it more.  This is one of those times when prayer reaches into the crevices of the heart in ways we can’t begin to understand.

2. Focus on daily tasks- When bad news is heard, there is a period of shock. It can be difficult knowing how to go on as you mentally process this news. Caring for yourself physically is a tangible first step in the process. Eat enough, drink enough, rest. After hearing difficult news, I knew I had to continue eating and drinking because I was nursing my child. I also found comfort in the normalcy of everyday tasks like doing dishes and laundry – you need to take breaks from the grief while you can. Grief comes in waves; take advantage of the breaks. Also find what you might do to ease the load for the someone else – a meal taken to their home, a quick phone call of encouragement (more on what to say later), pick up the kids at school or run a quick errand.

3. There is no skipping the process- Many well-meaning people will find a ‘silver lining’ and move on. This never actually facilitates the mourning process.  To fully heal, expect to experience these steps: Disbelief and/or Denial, Anger, Depression, and finally Acceptance. You may vacillate between these emotions and the order is different for everyone. There is also no specific time limit to this process.

4.Words heal but they can also hurt- Expect that during a grieving period or perhaps at the funeral someone will say the wrong thing. This is because people care but many struggle to adequately express their own feelings in words. No one can truly understand your loss; it will be different for everyone. The worst culprit is “I know how you feel” or bringing up an example of a minor loss that doesn’t relate. Accept their comments in good faith.  A simple “thank you” will often suffice in response. Someday you will be in their shoes on the outside of a tragedy trying to comfort someone who’s experienced a loss.

Some additional points in the grieving process will be coming in parts two and three of this series. There will be tips on keeping the right mindset as we grieve and allowing God to help us heal.

In him,

Amy Horton