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Posts Tagged ‘grieving process’

Sometimes I feel like Swiss cheese of a person. cheese

I have holes in me that seem to still have question marks – still ache from time to time. Grief reminds me of my holes. Each one has a label of sorts.

Some days I spend time wondering about what would have been with my holes. You see because grief leave a mark and void in our being. We learn to compensate and function through these holes, but they are real and very present.

Some of my holes ache in simple ways. I miss everyday things and routines that could’ve been.

The other day I was thinking about my dad. He loves gardening and traveling. We used to have a big garden and evidence of mysterious places ventured around the house. Looking back it makes me wonder… I wonder what life would’ve been like for me on those everyday levels had he not started a new life. I wonder about what different memories I would’ve had in my life had those small things been around.

There is deep grief that is felt when change happens. I ache over small and everyday things that I miss. I am not a person who likes change, especially when it is a result of hurt.

Small things are just as valuable of memories as the big things. Smells, words, and familiar places can bring out memories and questions. I think it is okay to take the time to touch the scars and feel the ache.

Every chapter of life will bring on different stings to grief, but it will also bring on new healing. Grief is not a linear process. It has no warning or timeline. Grief only has a Healer. 

Joy and sorrow are harnessed together for life.

What kind of every day things do you miss right now?

How are you experiencing grief these days?

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Every New Year I feel very ready to kick the previous year to the curb. I am ready for all things new come January. New Year’s always gives me the hope of just that…NEW.

For the past two years, I have joined in the growing community of choosing a OneWord for the year. To be honest, each year my word has made me its _______. Still trying to live a life of FOLLOWING in 2011, and continuing to work on my jealousy through CELEBRATING others in 2012.

This year….this year I need new. This past year shattered me on so many levels. Sitting here at the table and looking at the proverbial puzzles pieces of my heart, I wonder where to start.

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Have you ever had those seasons in your life where you feel like more than the wind has been knocked out of you?

There is hard and then there is feeling defeated with no fight left. I am exhausted from pain, brokenness, discouragement, conflict, transitions, rejections, and deferred hope. I need a break.

Every war has times when the fighting ceases for sleep and rest. Every boxing match has rounds when each fighter gets a breather to regroup.I am that fighter in the corner needing a breather. I am that wounded soldier needing rest from the front lines of life.

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SO my ONEWORD for 2013 is HEALING.

To be honest, slowing down and healing is not easy for me. Whenever I broke a bone or sprained an ankle I was bad at heeding to the instructions for healing. There is a reason doctors say it takes six weeks for broken bones to heal. I always that it was just a suggestion. I should have committed to waiting.

The patchwork and Band-Aide management of my life has become unstitched. It is time to let the Healer do His thing.

This year, I am focusing on the healing stories in the gospels. I want to learn about the what, who, why, and how of Jesus’ healing miracles. Hoping He heals me there.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.”

These are some promises I am holding onto this year as I put back the pieces of my weary self. My hope for this year is that of a renewed hope, trust, peace, and forward motion through grief. 

What is YOUR OneWord of 2013?

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“There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

– Winnie the Pooh

We all have circumstances that we are facing. We are fighting battles that seem to take every ounce of energy we’ve got.

All circumstances affect our lives. Some we walk ourselves into, and some receive no invitation at all.

There are some circumstances that we can move through with ease – lasting a moment. However, there are some that take a lifetime to heal through.

Our lives take dealing with. It seems a bit like playing a hand of poker. We are all dealt a few cards, some we can trade in for new ones, but inevitably we have to learn how to play with the hand we hold.

Every hand challenges our survival skills, character, reasoning, functioning, and faith.

About fifteen years ago, I felt like I was dealt the cards of tragedy. I went from a “normal” home that had routines, vacations, and rules to one of brokenness and divorce. My world shattered through the confessed words of my father’s affair.

I no longer knew words like stable or security. Our social status changed as a family. I learned how to function in the word “apart” more than “together.”

What do you with the cards in your hand that hold the full house of grief?

What do you do when your life is forever changed in ways you never asked for?

Grief is a lifelong process. It is not linear in nature. It has no timeline or warning. It is known and felt in every season of life. Grief only has a healer.

The truth about every circumstance is that we learn just what we are made of. Challenges bring out the deepest parts of our character in how we handle fear, insecurity, and doubt. BUT I promise that you will also learn that you are smarter, braver, and possess more strength then you imagined you had.

This week I am going to talk about glimpses of my life’s grieving process written in a book that I was a contributing author for.

Inciting Incidents just released this past week. I am so excited. I, along with six other authors, dive in depth into our own stories, unpacking our personal inciting incidents.

If you want to get your own copy and read more go HERE!

What circumstances are you facing right now?

How are you dealing with it?

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Sometimes the phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20” just ticks me off. I have a love/hate relationship with it.

I appreciate looking back on a season of life and having “aha” moments, but I always wish that I would be able to see those things as they are happening.

We do learn from our mistakes as we look back on them. We gain wisdom from seeing clearly what God might have been up to as we reflect, but I just wonder why it takes looking back some times.

The grieving process is one of those ongoing things in my life where I usually have to look back to make sense of my heart.

Even now, I shake my head at the ways the wounds of grief manifest itself in my responses, fears, insecurities, and doubts.

I wonder.

I wonder why doesn’t God reveal the total effects of pain and hurt in our lives all at once? Why am I still just realizing some of the effects of pain – pain that seems so long ago – playing out in my everyday responses?

I find myself just asking, “God why not just show me? Why not just show me the effects of pain all at once when it happens?

It is in these times of asking that I remember a story in Exodus where God has a similar conversation with Moses. God is explaining to Moses that he is going to lead His people from the desert into the promise land. He talks about all of the foreign tribes and lands they will conquer to take over the promise land.

Just when you are getting all psyched up from the list of successes God is going bring for His people, he adds in a little part that deserves a double take. It’s one of those parts that should be italicized and called “fine print.

God tells Moses, “But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you.  Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.”

Wait…wha….?

All of those great victories He just spent time talking about in the verses before are not going to happen all at once!?

I am learning that God is a God of process. It is because of His grace that we do not get to feel or even see the effects of everything all at once. It would be too much to handle.

We need His grace of the “little by little” in our lives. I may throw tantrums for understanding things through hindsight, but God cares about my abilities to handle things.

Little by little, God is doing something in us.

Little by little we get to the place of being able to take “possession” of something going on in our hearts and lives.

Little by little is where wisdom and understanding comes in.

Little by little is His grace for us.

What is something going on in your life that you wish God would show you more about what’s happening?

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Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.”

David was a man who knew sorrow and grief very intimately. David experienced a life full of tragedy, betrayal, abandonment, discouragement, loneliness, hurt, pain, sorrow, and affliction. David also made poor decisions that contributed to his grief (adultery and murder), but he knew sorrow in repentance.

Pure grief is the stage where sorrow and deep sadness are known. Not everyone chooses anger as their primary emotion. If this is true for you then you will most likely find yourself in this stage. As anger can be described as that fire burning up within you, pure grief is a deep sinking feeling of sadness. If you experience hurt or pain in this stage it is like someone damaging the levee of your heart, and the water starts to overflow.

The easiest way to recognize pure grief is by the response of crying. I am not talking about the kind of tears that flow after watching a Hallmark commercial, but tears that seem to have no end. Unlike anger, pure grief is felt in the marrow of your bones. Pure grief most often finds it’s outlet through your body. With pure grief comes a deep ache and often a heavy pressure on your chest.

In this stage you may find yourself staring off to know where, standing longer in the shower, sleeping more frequent, crying more often than not, lacking motivation, and just feeling down. Pure grief is not loud to anyone else but you. Sorrow has a sound that only your heart hears. Other people can see it, but you feel it.

Anger is not my go to emotion. More often than not, I find that pure grief is the stage I bounce back and forth from within my own life’s story. I remember in the first few months after the breakdown of my family, I slept a lot. I felt exhausted all the time. This was not a result of too much activity, I assure you. My heart felt like a ten-pound weight was just hanging from it. I had little motivation to do anything or see anyone. Some might think I was depressed. I felt down for a long time. However, the amount of grief I was feeling corresponded with the level of grief I was working through. This was no short-term healing.

The response time, with both anger and pure grief, is not always immediate. Sometimes you might not feel the effects of sorrow or grief until a day or two after your wound was inflicted. This is the time that when you do feel pure grief, you might not be able to pinpoint what exactly you are responding to.

What do you do with sorrow and pure grief?

With anger, self-control is necessary to manage your emotions. With pure grief, there is not a lot you can do to find release. For me, journaling has been a huge outlet when working through my thoughts and wrestling with my pain. One of the hardest things to do with grief is to choose to sit in it. It is very tempting to fill our time with things that help us ignore our grief. I encourage you to acknowledge when you feel deep sorrow and be patient with your pain.

Sorrow leaves the heart in a very tender place.

What do you do with your grief masked in deep sadness?

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So far we have tackled two out of the five stages of grief. Within the first two stages of the grieving process, denial and bargaining, there is little need to find an outlet. Both denial and bargaining do not require a lot of emotion, therefore these two stages might be easier to overlook in your process of grief. Now we are moving into stages that require and demand all your emotional attention.

The third stage in the grieving process is anger. It is hard to outrun your thoughts and emotions of anger. Not only are you aware you have entered into this stage, but a good bet is that everyone else around is aware as well. Anger is an emotional response as a result of a wrongdoing. Anger is that emotion that burns up within the deep parts of you. The one thing you can count on with anger is that it will find a way to release itself.

There are two responses in dealing with anger.

The first response is turning inward and using anger against yourself. One classic phrase of inward anger is, How could I have been so stupid?” When someone has hurt us, we can blame ourselves instead of the one who caused the hurt. Another way inward anger masks itself is by taking on too much responsibility for the wound. This response is most often chosen when the wounder does not take ownership of the wounds they inflicted.

I experienced inward anger many times after my father left. I often spent hours thinking through what I could have done differently to make him stay. I went through a gamut of thoughts: if I had been smarter, spent more time with him, talked with him more, etc. then he would not have chosen to leave. My father was not around to work through the conflict with me, nor was he claiming any of the blame for his choices. We often think that there has to be some explanation for what happened. If the wounder is not willing to take that ownership, we may take it on for them. The fact remains that my father chose to leave. This was not my fault.

Inward anger can be experienced silently and subtly. Inward anger can manifest itself in our beliefs about ourselves. Inward anger can lead to low self-esteem, dismissal of encouragement and compliments, always taking on too much responsibility for conflict, always thinking you are the problem in every scenario, harming yourself, and believing you are not or will never be enough.

Outward anger is hard to find a right outlet for. Outward anger can be hard to shake and is the hardest emotion to sit in. More often then not, the wrong people experience the wrath of our anger. Outward anger can be described as an unleashed beast. I am sure you have experienced being on the receiving end of anger so you know what I mean.

This is a hard stage to experience. I want to encourage you to watch how you respond in your grief. Ask yourself the questions:

  • How often do I blame myself?
  • How much responsibility do I take on in conflict?
  • What do I do when I get angry?

For those of you reading this who are saying, “but I don’t struggle with anger,” tomorrow we will look at what pure grief and sadness look like.

How do you struggle with inward or outward anger?

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The second stage of the grieving process is bargaining. A bargain is usually described as a transaction or agreement that takes place between two people. One or both parties usually walk away with something in the end. This is an emotionally tricky stage to spend a lot of time in. When it comes to grief, it is very hard to see the results we want in the time we may demand to see them.

Bargaining can happen on two different levels.

The first is bargaining with ourselves. These are the inner vows we make with ourselves as a result of grief. They are usually unspoken and sometimes even subconscious. If I were deeply wounded by someone I care about, I may defend myself against ever feeling that type of pain again. In the first stage, I deny that the hurt happened, but with bargaining I make a vow with myself to avoid future pain in relationships.

The second bargaining strategy we might use is with God. When we experience a hard situation, we may try to bargain our way out of it through prayer. A great example of this is Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel in the Old Testament. Hannah was mocked and ridiculed profusely for not being able to bare any children. One day she entered the temple and broke down with loud cries to the Lord. That day she made a bargain with the Lord saying, “O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life…”

Bargaining statements can be recognized by the words “if” and “then.” In the case of Hannah, she prayed, “God if you give me a son, then I will give him back to You.” Looking back over my own story, I have made many vows with myself to defend against future pain. When my father left, I vowed to never feel that level of pain again. I made the bargain with myself that said, “If pain is near, I will do everything I can to defend against feeling it.” As a result of this vow, I struggle with intimacy in relationships that are healthy and safe to risk in. This vow has also hindered me from risking and knowing true intimacy with God. I have had to work on breaking my vow and learning to risk.

All pain is hard; no one likes it. But some wounds can be trusted; some pain is worth risking for.  I don’t want to defend myself against grief so much that I lose out on knowing deep love and intimacy. My grieving still illuminates old vows and bargains in me. I guess that is why grief is called a process.

Some questions that I am still working through are:

  • What is my response when my bargain leaves me empty?
  • How do I respond to God when He says no or nothing at all and it feels like He didn’t hold up His end of the bargain?
  • What do I do when I walk away from a bargain with nothing?

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