Posts Tagged Grief Loss and Bereavement

Grieving Mothers

grief, loss, bereavementThe path we walk is hard and long.
We have shared our tears and sorrow,
We have given encouragement to each other,
Given hope for a brighter tomorrow,
We share the title of grieving mother.
Some of us lost older daughters or sons,
Who we watched grow over the years.
Some have lost their babies before their lives begun,
But no matter the age, we cry the same tears.
We understand each others pain,
The bond we share is very strong,
With each other there is no need to explain,
The path we walk is hard and long.
Our children brought us together.
They didn’t want us on this journey alone.
They knew we needed each other
To survive the pain of them being gone.
So take my hand my friend,
We may stumble and fall along the way
But we’ll get up and try again
Because together we can make it day by day.
We can give each other hope,
We’ll create a place where we belong.
Together we will find ways to cope,
Because we are bereaved Moms and together
We are strong. ~ Anonymous

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When sorrows like sea billows roll

Sorrows like sea billows“. . . When sorrows like sea billows roll. WHATEVER MY LOT, thou hast taught me to say,
IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL.”
Horatio G. Spafford

Today is the day. It has been one whole year since my son Kenny’s passing (March 2, 2014), and it seems as if time stood still. The pain is just as fresh. My heart is just as broken.  The tears are just as frequent. And the memories ever present.

I have been trying to write this post for several days now but the right words never seem to come together. I think it’s because I was dishonest about my true feelings. I would love to tell another grieving mother–the pain of grief gets easier or even more bearable with time. I’d love to say the time will come when you won’t miss your child as much. I’d love to say all the things that might make our journey through grief less difficult. But I would not be honest with you, myself, and especially not with God.

whatevermylot.banner2As I wrote this post, I discovered something quite wonderful about God–God is not angry with us when we tell Him the truth. What God wants most from us is intimacy and intimacy with God is not possible unless we are honest. Of course, we need to be respectful because God is Holy, but we must be honest. Honesty is the beginning of intimacy with God.

As parents, naturally, we want to protect our children from suffering–but WE CAN’TWE ARE NOT GOD!  All we can do is release them into God’s loving care. That’s what I had to do with my son. And let me say this:  “We have to totally “trust” God when we don’t have all the answers. We have to say, “God, I don’t understand, but I trust YOU.”  “God, it hurts so much, but I trust YOU.” “God, I don’t know how I will ever get through this, but I trust YOU.”   “God, this is the hardest test ever, but I trust YOU.” “God, I would have liked much more time with my child, but nevertheless, I thank YOU for the time we had.” I had to say, “Not my will, Father, but thy will be done!!”Sorrows like sea billows

Beloveds, I believe God has a purpose for allowing suffering. I may not know what that reason is, but I know what it is not. It is not that He does not love us–care for us–or desires to hurt or harm us.

Jesus, the Lamb of God was slain for our sins and loved us enough to suffer and die for us. No, we may never know or understand God’s reasons for allowing suffering, but here’s what I DO know about my child’s life. I know Kenny loved God. I know he lived a life that was pleasing to God. I know he was beloved of God. And what I am most certain of, and that keeps me in “perfect peace is — I know and I know that I knowit was well with my Kenny’s soulHallelujah!!

Yes, my sorrow continues to roll like sea billows. But beneath all my pain is the”Man of Sorrows — who is well acquainted with grief” and I believe He  does ALL THINGS WELL IN HIS TIME!

 

 

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A Time for Tears

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven . . . A time to be born, and a time to die . . . A time to weep . . . and a time to  mourn . . . .” Ecclesiastes 3: 3ff (KJV)

A time for tears2014, for me, has indeed been a “season to mourn” and a “time to weep.” In fact, on this day of my birth (December 31), I am in tears as I try to listen to a phone message left by my son, last year. Since his passing On March 2, I discovered something about myself —  I cannot control anything — especially my tears. For months, I have either been crying or on the verge of tears. The mere mention of his name, a picture, a memory– recent or past, causes my eyes to water. At first I was embarrassed by these uncontrollable watery outbursts of emotion until I realized that they are simply the sweet relief of a grief-stricken mother over the loss of a precious part of her being. And I understand that whomever I was before his passing, I am now forever changed. I wholly trust God and believe everything happens for a reason and I know God does not make mistakes. These tears are just an external reflection of my internal heart’s cry.

What an awesome God to give us such a means  of cleansing our spirits and laying our utmost brokenness before His Throne. Like the moaning and groaning of prayers, tears speak to God in ways that words cannot express. Biblical commentators suggest, “tears are so precious to God that He gathers them drop by drop and stores them in a bottle. He takes note of our afflictions and troubles that cause our tears and places them in the book of his remembrance; they are taken notice of and numbered by him, and shall be finished; they shall not exceed their bounds. They are in his book of purposes; they are all appointed by him, their kind and nature, their measure and duration, their quality and quantity; what they shall be, and how long they shall last; and their end and use: and are all overruled and caused to work for their good.A time for tears

Beloveds, God never promised us life without loss, pain, suffering, or even tears, but God vowed so much more:

“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” John 11:25

“I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.” 2 Kings 20:5

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4

On this the day of my birth; at the brink of a new year; and yet another day in tears – I am comforted by the fact that “God knows the way that I take,” and knew what was necessary for my will to break. I treasured the gift of my son for 40 years and today I am blessed with a daughter and son-in-law to continue the faith journey. We will all meet again never to depart and what a day of rejoicing that will be.

Beloveds, 2014 for me has been a year of challenge, change and serious choices. I vow this day, never to take anything or anyone for granted. I will trust God even more with my whole heart, mind and might. Even in my tears, God is strengthening me through His Word and is keeping me in every circumstance. Daily, I am reminded to pray without ceasing and to encourage myself.

Yes, this has been for me a “season of weeping” and a “time for tears.” But please understand– every sleepless night and tear-stained day drew me closer to God. I may not understand it all right now, but I have no doubt, I will understand it ALL better by-and-by. ButUntil Then,”

My heart can sing when I pause to remember
a heartache here is but a stepping stone
along a trail that’s winding always upwards
this troubled world is not my final home.

The things of earth will dim and lose their value
as we recall they’re borrowed for a while.
And things of earth that cause the heart to tremble
remembers there, will only bring a smile.

But until then, my heart will go on singing.
Until then with joy I’ll carry on
until the day my eyes behold that city
until the day God calls me Home.

Prayer:  Father, thank You. Thank You. Thank You—for everything in 2014 that moved me – to pray – to believe and yes, even to tears. In Whose Name Who Numbers Every Tear Drop and Records each one with Loving care ~ Your Son—Our Savior.  Amen

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A Reality Check

10451741_321428124708095_1798475418633675657_n“My Sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My Hand.” John 10:27-28 (KJV)

“While praying one day a young woman asked, “Who are you Lord?” He answered, “I Am.” “But, Who is “I Am?” she said. And He replied, “I Am Love, I Am Peace, I Am Grace, I Am Joy, I Am The Way, The Truth, and The Light. I Am Strength. I Am Safety. I Am Shelter. I Am Power. I Am The Creator. I Am The Beginning and The End. I Am The Most High.”

The girl with tears in her eyes looked toward Heaven and said, “Now I understand. But Lord, Who Am I?”
Then God tenderly wiped the tears from her eyes and whispered, “YOU ARE MINE.”

This anonymous story reminded me of an innocent conversation I had with my daughter-in-law about something my son had “playfully” done in his youth. Surprised, she asked, “Who My Kenny?” And I quickly responded in my motherly tone, “No. MY Kenny.

On March 2, 2014, God (the one who formed him in my womb) said, “NO! MY KENNY!”

PRAYER: Yes, we are yours, Lord. Thank you for reminders (no matter how painful), of WHO and WHOSE we truly are. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen

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Grace and Grief: A Personal Perspective

 

GRIEF AND GRACE“I am the resurrection and the life, and He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:21-24).

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

This is my first post since the tragic loss of my son (Kenny) who was killed in a motorcycle accident on Sunday, March 2, 2014. On that fateful day; he stopped by my house as had become his custom. But that Sunday, church services ran extremely late and we missed each other. So he returned home and said to his wife, “I stopped by to see my mom, but she was still at church.” Then he said, “it’s such a beautiful day, I think I’ll go out for another ride.” He left and never returned to us.
Some hours later, I received a phone call from his wife saying, “He’s gone.” Those words stopped me in my tracks and to this day, still re-echo in my mind.” My child, my only son, a vital part of me–was gone. How could this be?  The reality of this truth shattered me—Instantly, my heart and spirit were irretrievably broken!!
And it was not until I stumbled upon a series of articles by Dr. Ben Witherington, a great Theologian and Bible Scholar who lost his daughter, showed me the great strength I needed for this hour. Dr. Witherington clarified some things about grief and the grieving process for me, and I highly recommend his books for anyone who has lost a child. Clearly, he understands, there is no life event that rivals a parent’s grief at the loss of a child prematurely. He tackles both the practical and theological questions with grace. Here is an excerpt from one of his articles “Good Grief Soundings”:

“Having recently gone through the devastating experience of having our beautiful 32-year-old daughter die, completely unexpectedly . . . I was determined to be open to whatever positive thing there might be to glean from this. I cling by my fingernails to the promise of Romans 8:28 that “God works all things together for good for those who love him….”

I can tell you my friends, that the spirit of this woman of faith, who always had a rhema word for others was completely devastated. I was so lost that day. I cried for hours and days. In fact, the Psalmist paints the picture of my despair when he says, “I am poured out like water . . . My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me (Psalm 22:14).” When I heard those words, “He’s gone,” I ran from room to room then stood in the middle of the floor and screamed heavenward, “No! No! God, I can’t take this! This is too much!” I screamed from the top of my lungs, “No, not my child Lord. Please not my child!”

This is without a doubt, the hardest post I have ever written and I pray I will ever have to write. Dr. Witherington is stronger than I, to be able to debate Theology in the midst of what I am sure is unspeakable pain. But this post for me is not about my Theology–it is about personal grief and loss. I write this post from the depths of the heart and spirit of a grieving mother who is broken. I am completely changed. Life for me will never be the same. How can it be—I have lost a vital part of me. I am in indescribable and unimaginable emotional pain. And as much as I would like to inspire you today—I must be honest and authentic as I  share my truth. I am grieving, but I am trying very hard to move forward and to begin writing regularly again. Please bear with me as I work through my pain. But trust me when I tell you my faith in God has not diminished. It is the very thing that has sustained me and kept me sane. And, I agree with Dr. Witherington when he says, “the beginning of “good grief” starts with the premise of a good God.” He also says, “Christians are the very ones to grieve deeply because they have loved and been loved deeply. For us grieving as those who have hope means grieving knowing that resurrection will reverse Death. It means we grieve knowing that Death will not have the last word about us. Life will.”

Even so, I am still grieving my beloved Kenny’s passing as if it happened yesterday–I desperately miss him every day and I cannot say with certainty when this pain will end. Perhaps that is why I was so deeply moved by the points in Dr. Witherington’s Article, “Good Grief: Soundings, Part Two – Five Things Not to Say to the Grieving.” I found (Point 2) particularly relevant and I pray Dr. Witherington will forgive me for substituting my son’s name in the following:

“People say, “You’ll get over it soon.” “Wrong!! I hope I never get over the loss of my (son). I don’t want to forget (his) love, (his) smile, (his) joys, (his) sorrows, and so many millions of other things that formed the sum total of (his) life. I do not intend to get over it. I intend to get beyond it by the Grace of God, but in no way forgetting what happened to (him) at the end of (his) life in this world. There will always be a (Kenny)-shaped hole in my heart—Period!” (Emphasis added)

BELOVEDS, life happens, and sometimes it hurts. Healing our pain will take as long as it takes–no more nor less.  YES, LIFE MOST CERTAINLY WILL BREAK US, BUT  REST ASSURED WE ARE MADE STRONGER AT THE BROKEN PLACES!!!

A PRAYER FROM “THOUGHTS IN SOLITUDE” BY THOMAS MERTON
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does, in fact, please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore, I will trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

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MY HEART HURTS

531554_10151293191886736_262611408_n“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2 KJV

An indescribable pain overwhelms this mother’s heart and I have nowhere to put it, but in this post. It hurts so deeply there is no depth. There is no bottom to this pit of pain. I am screaming volumes, but no one can hear the echoing silence.

On March 2, 2014, my precious son, my man-child, my gift from God at 40 years of age, was torn from my breast!!!  INSTANTLY KILLED IN A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye!!  KENNY 001

Officiating over 200 funerals–decades of ministry could not prepare my heart for this hurt beyond aching. Words do not come to describe this soul-wrenching pain that bursts from the seams of my love for this child—this beloved flesh of my flesh.

I will not—I cannot hold back – the agony is too great. My heart hurts and hurts and hurts–Day in and day out– Nights bring no relief.  I cannot will these tears to stop.  Lord, please help me!  

Grace gave us three glorious last days and promised to be sufficient for my tomorrows, but TODAY, I am sadder than sad—broken beyond broken—shattered with no strength to be strong!! TODAY THIS MOTHER’S HEART HURTS!!!

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The Pain of Loss

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“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”  (Matt. 5:4)

 This brief picture story reveals the depth of the pain of loss and the visible anguish we feel when those we love are seemingly permanently snatched from us.

As I understand it, these pictures along with the following story, was first printed in a French newspaper and has circled the internet for many years.  

A flock of birds had stopped on a highway (somewhere in the Ukraine) perhaps  just taking a rest or maybe they had spotted a bit of food.  A vehicle passed by injuring one of the birds and it is unable to move from the roadway.

Her mate lingers nearby offering solace and eventually he brings food to her.  On one of his return trips he finds his mate dead and seems to try to shake her awake and attends to her with love and compassion.

Aware that she is lost to him he cries out in obvious anguish.  Every time a car passes, the bird flies off for a moment but then returns to mourn, his heart clearly broken.  Shocked at her death, he tries to move her.

Eventually the photographer, concerned for the safety of the living bird, put down his camera, picked up the lifeless bird and removed it from the road.  The grieving bird lingered in a nearby tree, “crying” out loud with adoring love and reluctant to move on. No one knew how long he stood beside her and cried, devastated by the loss. But there he stood beside her lifeless body with sadness and sorrow.

I lost several loved ones in 2010–a Husband; a Brother; and a lifelong Friend;  I also have a special affinity for entertainer Michael Jackson, and was deeply affected by his death because of the common skin disorder (Vitiligo), we shared.

But, they are all gone now, and it is painful to think of the world without them in it.  Nevertheless, I have discovered, the Scriptures offer great comfort for pain we cannot explain and for loss we cannot control.  There is peace in knowing “our times are in God’s good hands.” God loves us and it has always been a part of God’s plan for us to spend eternity with Him whenever our lives on earth are over. God understands our pain and grief, so the death of loved ones is not a sad thing for God–only for us.

And so, I rest in the Lord and the comfort of God’s love.  I allow the power of God’s Word to heal my heart and trust that God sees our tears even before they fall. By faith, I believe as the songwriter has wisely penned, “Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.”

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