in the context of grief and healing
Our years and days fall into cycles. The seasons repeat these cycles and human celebrations follow them. This circumstance can be very troubling for a person who is grieving. It has been for me. After experiencing the pain of remembrance that came with certain times of year, I developed a strategy. I told myself I would visualize my life as a forward trajectory of days, similar but different. Like siblings or cousins, these days would bear some resemblance to other days, but they would be unique.
For example, my church celebrates Halloween by inviting our community to a Trunk or Treat event during the day. Last year I participated and looked forward to seeing Steve afterward. This year he was gone. I thought about opting out. However someone needed help with a costume. He wished to be a door with the 95 Theses posted on it! (Lutherans celebrate the Reformation during this season.) He asked for my help, especially with the document. This would certainly be different. I had not attempted gothic lettering in decades, but decided to do it. I bought a flat ¾ inch brush and practiced. What fun! I practiced some more at church, creating a document that could stand for the 95 Theses in German. Not nearly as long as the original, and surely not in German, but at least it looked medieval, and I had the fun of creation.
I still mourn and weep, sometimes, but I also work on living in the present. This allows me to be open to hopeful messages from God (Sometimes these make me weep too, and that is good). For instance, yesterday I found a crimson bloom on an impatience plant I’d brought inside in the fall. I was surprised and encouraged to see this flower open in January of one of the coldest winters we have had in years.
God will surprise you. He may give you an opportunity to travel. He may cause someone to cross your path you haven’t seen in years. As you open your eyes and ears and drink it in, you will likely be blessed in the present moment.
Hello Folks, I am obviously new at blogging. The formatting tools are foreign to me, so I’m setting them aside for now. Another mystery is the sequencing. I thought my first entry would appear first in the lineup. It doesn’t, my first post appears last. The thing is, I wrote most of these over a year ago. I had lots of thoughts but wasn’t ready to jump on the technical part.
Anyway, bear with me! I think you will still be glad you did.
Before I write anymore I need to let folks know that the healing steps I’ve mentioned so far did not spring forth without a lot of struggle and reflection. Most of all, these are God’s ideas. They were pretty much given to me.
By frugal I mean it’s important to recognize what I can and cannot afford, emotionally and practically.
For example, I cannot afford
– To be forever sad and down in my socks
to stay cooped up in the house. Isolation leads to depression. I won’t have it.
– To imagine I am the only one in the world to experience mind-numbing sadness
to indulge in envy. That doesn’t mean I don’t experience it, just that I can’t afford to stay in it. If I did that I would miss out on God’s good gifts for me right now.
– To go off at people I love just because they don’t respond the way I want. Not only is that rude but it damages precious relationships.
– To acknowledge the date with great sadness every single year. There are many significant dates that creep up and try to ambush me with joys remembered, forever gone (it would seem). Songwriters call these moments bittersweet, and that’s about right. I cannot afford to dwell on them, so I recall God’s promise in 1 Corinthians 13:8, “Love never ends”. I am certain we will see our loved ones again.
God helps us. Trusting Him is difficult in the beginning, but He always comes through. I keep on seeking Him, just like Job did. I believe that God loves us and wants us to have full access to Him. He gives us Himself in His Word and also in His presence during quiet times. I strive to “Fear not, only believe.”
Next I will reflect on the Problem of Time
I believe creating helps us get outside ourselves. When my spirit feels very low, stuffed down inside myself, it helps to create something. That’s how writing helps me.
There are times, however, when certain kinds of creating are painful. Then I have to figure out something else. In the past I did a good deal of art, mostly watercolor. Last spring I stumbled on the idea of collage. This seemed to fit the abstract nature of a photo that interested me. I shopped for interesting papers and began to cut and paste. Steve saw the start of my effort. Five days later he died. I put that project away and didn’t look at it for weeks. Even just remembering I had those colored and textured papers in my canvas tote made me sad.
Weeks earlier a friend at church had asked me to help with crafts in her young Sunday school class. I decided to make good on that. She said the kids loved to cut and paste, perfect! I brought my papers in to them and let them work. Children are natural designers, I didn’t teach them much except how to cut on a fold. Their joy was contagious. We still do this today.
After my husband Howard died, I looked for a book that would help me with grieving, that would give me comfort and direction. I found nothing that helped much. These books never mentioned God’s work in our lives. I needed a strategy on how to cope that included God. Later on, after the second loss, I did find a great book, “Grieving God’s Way” by Margaret Brownley. I recommend this one!
I needed an outlet, though, so I took up journalling again. The act of writing made me feel more in control. It also helped me identify my raging emotions.
For me, thinking and writing go together. And praying. I feel better when I record my thoughts. I feel creative. Looking back through my posts of a year or two ago I am amazed to see that I am teaching myself to cope. Writing has helped me grow. That’s why I call it prayer.
I used to think journalling was kind of silly, since I already knew what I’d done that day. That was before I came up against certain challenges that helped me see how productive and healing it can be.
Try journalling, and remember, the journal is your space. There are no rules. You write when you need to and only what you want to. ▲
I wish to write a message for anyone who is grieving. If you have lost someone dear this may be something that will help you. I have walked this way too. My husband died just over 5 years ago. I was accepting the hole in my life and adjusting, more or less, when I met a new love, a gentleman who had also lost his partner. We hit it off almost immediately and began dating. After ten months, my friend died suddenly. I am still reeling from the shock and loss, but by God’s grace have begun developing strategies for healing.
I also hope to entertain you. I know how hard it is to focus, how it is to experience the constant need for distractions from the pain. If my ramblings help even a little I will be very pleased.
I know something of the devastation you are feeling. I can never fully know your grief, but I do know some grief. And I care, so I am writing to let you know there is hope and it is real. No one should have to face grief alone. Don’t assume you do.