When my dad died of melanoma five years ago, I was shocked – at least the part of me that housed my faith was in disbelief. I’m basically a positive person, but in the case of my dad beating cancer, I took my faith to a new level…I was believing for a miracle no less than “total healing.” I had confidence in a miraculous outcome because I trusted in my prayers and the supernatural power of God. I was certain with all of my heart that my dad would outrun the morbid statistics that were desperately trying to swallow him up into their deadly numbers. No way. My dad was going to make history and beat this terminal disease even at its progressive stage. He endured the experimental treatment that was sure to change history. I actually envisioned the headlines in the newspapers and medical journals describing how this man had beaten the odds and was now cancer free. I knew my continual hope was going to make a difference and that my faith was going to change things. Talk about your positive outlook… it was more like a plan. However, my plans didn’t turn out as expected and my prayers for total healing were unanswered. To my surprise and devastation, the cancer ultimately won and took my dad’s life. In spite of his positive attitude, the prayers of many and all of our faith…he died. What went wrong? I thought this is how it works… pray, believe, stay positive and it will be done. My initial response was to believe our faith had failed, or worse yet, I had failed in my faith. Was it my fault? Was it God’s fault?
I don’t know why that miracle of ultimate healing didn’t come. However, after sifting through a plethora of thoughts and emotions, I realized that my faith did indeed produce miracles, even unexpected miracles. Just because we didn’t receive the specific miracle we asked for doesn’t mean we weren’t richly blessed in the situation. It took time for me to appreciate the fact that my hope produced positive results. My optimistic outlook made the last weeks I spent with my dad simply perfect. We laughed and talked about things that would have been impossible to share if I had of succumbed to defeat or depression. Those memories will remain with me forever, they are etched into my soul, and that is a miracle. Once the melanoma had reached my dad’s brain, the doctors gave him 4-6 months, which totally rocked our world. How could we squeeze all the life we so desperately wanted into that short amount of time? From that prognosis, my dad only lived three short weeks. However, I’m grateful for the misery he was spared; the doctors said it would have been horrible for him. Though we wouldn’t have agreed to it if given the choice, but less time was actually a blessing for him. The prayers that were offered up for my dad allowed him to keep his strength until the very end. He was even able to play a round of golf with his buddies just 10 days before he died. In his “condition,” that would seem impossible. In my eyes, it was another miracle. My dad was the greatest man I ever met; he was just larger than life! However, on April 15, 2008 that champion of a man announced he was “going home.” There was no defeat in his voice; he made the statement as if he was leaving for a vacation he had been planning all his life. The day was spent with an endless stream of family and friends coming to tell him how he had touched their lives and how much he was loved. There was laughter, tears, singing and prayers as my dad moved closer to his “new home.” In a testament of how he was a man of his word and how he lived life to the fullest…my dad passed from this earthly residence and entered into his new home at 11:59 p.m. The entire day was a miracle to behold.
I still don’t know why my dad didn’t receive a total healing from cancer but I do know my continual hope did make a difference and that my faith did change things. I didn’t get the miracle I expected, but we witnessed many other miracles throughout that journey. I don’t feel God abandoned us, quite the contrary, we could feel His presence. I still trust in a God Almighty that comforts us and will be by our sides as we go through unspeakable, and sometimes unexplainable, pain. In spite of everything, I believe faith and hope produce the best outcomes. Just because you don’t receive the miracle you asked for doesn’t mean your faith was unproductive. Your hope definitely makes a difference. Hope affects today, the day you are living right now. It brings strength, encouragement and allows joy to infuse the situation. In this imperfect world full of deterioration and free-will, things happen out of our control and beyond the power of justice. However, my faith is not in vain and neither is yours. Keep your faith and remain in hope through all the trials and struggles of your life…it makes the journey so much more miraculous.
I encourage you to fully examine your own situations where you have felt your prayers were unanswered and your faith may have failed you. Look around you and dig deep to discover the miracles you may have missed.
Do you see blessings in disguise? How has your faith produced miracles? Has your positive outlook made hardships more bearable? How does your “hope” make a difference in your life?
I have felt so inadequate in my ability to “do something” while my brother (affectionately called H) fights cancer and recovers from his brain surgery. He suffers from the same disease that took our father’s life in 2008. I couldn’t “fix” it for my dad and I can’t “fix” this for my brother; he’s in God’s adequate hands. However, I did realize that I could offer hope to H each day to help him fight a battle I know he can win! He’s a warrior; an inspiration of hope himself, but even the greatest warrior needs a strong army supporting him. My desire is to uplift my brother and his family, just offer them a little more encouragement, and maybe I would somehow feel “useful” in this battle of a lifetime. I want to think I helped in a situation that is out of my control. It’s the only way I know how to contribute to this fight.
Our Life as One
I soon realized this “fight” is not only cancer…it’s all the struggles of life. It is our life, not lives. We become connected as our “lives” intertwine together; we are simply a component of one huge “life.” Sometimes it’s hard to wrap my mind around it, but it’s true. We have all survived piercing and devastating pain along with experiencing ecstatic joy. We each have had our triumphs and failures. We have been abused and we ourselves have hurt other people. We have been wrapped in bondage and tasted freedom. We have felt strength and weakness, confusion and clarity. We have been fearless and afraid. We have helped others in their time of need and we have grasped for support when we needed it ourselves. We are not that different; we are alike indeed. We all seek security, love, a better life and peace. We are all God’s children, alive together…now.
We are all going through difficult times from time to time whether it’s a super-stressful day, trouble with a wayward child, trying to find a better job or battling a life-threatening illness. We are all going through something. I want us to ban together and join forces so no one stands alone. The enemy always seeks out the weak or tries to isolate his prey from the protection of others so he can easily devour and destroy. Don’t fall victim in trying to do it all alone…I’ve tried. We weren’t created to live isolated. We were created for community and were meant to flourish in the positive support that can offer. I’ve been hurt by “community of others,” just as you may have been… but its time to risk involvement. Place yourself in an uplifting environment and surround yourself with encouraging people and let’s ban together as one.
In honor of my brother’s intense and fierce battle with melanoma, I am excited to launch a new campaign today… a campaign of H.O.P.E. (How Our Peace Endures.) I’m talking about yours and mine. How does your peace endure? Mine can only survive with HOPE. What does hope mean to you? Do you get enough of it? Where do you get it? Jesus Christ has been my “hope” in all situations. He has given me strength to prosper and endure while providing hope when the situations in my life were hopeless; He keeps my hope alive indeed! “I can do all this (LIFE) through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). I also receive hope in the selfless acts of others, in kindness and in love.
It’s my prayer and purpose to bring us all closer together in a positive way. I passionately want to instill hope and encouragement to a negative and hurting world. Please help me do that by simply participating and/or spreading the word. My goal is to present a place where hope can always be found. That place may not always have the right words, or offer solutions to all the world’s problems but it will be a safe place to come for support and encouragement. Some days, I may need your support or words of encouragement. In fact, I know I will (it’s part of my imperfection!) All are welcome. If I can provide a place that offers you hope for today, then you can pass it on to others tomorrow and they can pass it on further; it grows exponentially. Before you know it, we’ve all made a difference. “Making a difference” can be a random act of kindness, a smile, a positive reinforcement…no matter how small the act, it could be the one that ultimately saves a life!
Come together with me and let’s make our own difference through peace, love and support. Sounds so simple and cliché, but if we start uplifting each other instead of tearing one another down, we will become stronger individually and also as a society. Get on board with me, don’t do this alone…you don’t have to be alone…I don’t have to be alone.
Keep moving forward and keep your hope alive. Join me in a daily search for hope and encouragement through my H.O.P.E (How Our Peace Endures) Blog along with posts on Facebook (Tanya Kilgore, Author) and Twitter (@TanyaKilgore). Let’s do this together and stay connected! Let’s spread H.O.P.E. together wherever we can…and let me know how your peace endures on this crazy journey called life!
Hope exists. Recovery is possible. Healing is waiting. Peace is here.
Once again, we see the shocking and disturbing images through the media of an event that has ripped peoples’ homes and lives apart. We hear the stories from the victims and their families and our hearts break as we see their pain and shock of such overwhelming grief and loss. I try to imagine what they must feel but my mind won’t allow it. It’s impossible for me to understand the magnitude of their grief. I’m talking about the Oklahoma/Texas tornadoes, the bombings in Boston, recent school shootings, wildfires, earthquakes and so much more. Our hearts hurt for those grieving and we feel helpless as we watch their devastation unfold in front of us.
Closer Than You Think
Watching the endless feed of information and images from the media can put a surreal feeling to these events. It’s almost like the brain tries to protect the heart, so it attempts to see it all as a “movie“ rather than someone’s reality. Watching these sometimes-personal images through the media can feel voyeuristic, a sort of invasion of privacy. Without realizing it, we may tend to view these events as distant when indeed they are not. The people we see suffering are our neighbors, coworkers, family and friends; they are our fellow countrymen. The close proximity of such devastation is unsettling. The victims of these tragic events are not oceans apart from us, they are here near us and they need our help.
What Can I Do?
You may ask, ”What could I possibly do to relieve the pain in such overwhelming disasters?” Each and every person can do something! The grief of these victims cannot be erased but it can be eased by the compassionate and practical actions of those reaching out to help. You can do something of value; your actions will indeed make a difference. You can give time, money, support and/or prayers. Volunteers are needed in many capacities, as well as providing food, clothes, supplies and monetary donations to shelters, organizations and departments of first responders. After traumatic events such as these, there are scholarships and other funds organized to help victims and their families. Many of them are set up in the honor and remembrance of those who lost their lives. Donations to those now, and in the future, will help people in many ways for years to come.
If you are a griever for whatever reason, I challenge you to reach out to fellow grievers in their time of need. Help in any way you can; every act of generosity will help someone in some way. You will also reap the rewards of your kind acts – your heart will be lighter and your spirit will be stronger as you help another griever. When assisting others in their time of need, you will also discover encouragement, hope and altruistic love are contagious.
Please check for donation centers/churches in your area or contact any of the following organizations:
- American Red Cross redcross.org
- Samaritan’s Purse samaritanspurse.org
- World Vision worldvision.org
There is always hope in the face of disaster. We have witnessed extreme gratitude, positive outlook, determination and strength in those affected by these tragedies. I am personally encouraged by their display of hope shining through their grief.
I pray comfort and continued strength for all suffering today with blessings and favor as they rebuild their lives. God bless the first responders and volunteers who put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of others.
If you are the victim of a devastating event, let us know what helped you the most?
Sometimes we’re apprehensive about helping someone we don’t personally know, how would you encourage “strangers” to become involved?
Let me know of any organizations or funds that need our help.
Stress Negatively Affects Your Total Being
Stress and grief have a way of exhausting the body, mind and spirit, especially after dealing with prolonged anguish. At times you may feel your entire being is completely spent from warding off the pain of life and fighting the surrounding negativity. In those times, it seems impossible to do anything constructive to give you an edge up on the perceived war, or at least regain your footing in the battle. Maybe you’re just tired of the daily struggle and your soul cries out for a cease-fire so you can tend to your battle wounds.
Using Music to Heal and Renew
Music can be that temporary reprieve you’re looking for, that desired escape from reality and the stress it holds. More importantly, it can be used as a way of dealing with your grief and even helping you face it head on. In times of confusion, exhaustion or grief, it’s good to let song and melody take over while you momentarily rest. The pleasing sounds can be comforting and healing to the body and soul, especially in a time of pain; stress can be lifted from your mind while muscles relax and vital signs ease toward normalcy. It can also be used as a way to vent your feelings and emotions that may otherwise be difficult to release. Music is now widely used for therapeutic purposes in clinical settings and prescribed as a healing tool. Go ahead, take advantage of its natural healing properties and utilize this melodic remedy for renewal at almost anytime, any place at no cost.
Nurture Yourself Through Music
Let you’re appreciation, discovery and joy of any and all music consume you completely for a rejuvenation of strength. Use the under tapped power of music to help heal your entire being from the inside out. There are different approaches you can take to experience your own musical therapy.
- Get in a quiet place to listen to your favorite music. Be still, close your eyes and completely absorb what you hear. Don’t think of anything with your mind; just feel the music with your heart. Listen to the rhythm, keep the beat, be aware of the melody and become a part of the song.
- Put on another style of music you’ve never listened to, whether it’s rap, big band or even what your kids or parents enjoy. Open your mind to appreciate music you’ve never explored before.
- Relax and take a slow deep breath; let the sounds of soft music surround you like a warm blanket and comfort you.
- Try a different rhythm, one with a strong beat. Feel the power and joy of hard, pounding music as it strengthens you and replaces the stress or sorrow in your heart.
- Find a song that expresses what you are unable to say, empathize with the words and emotions then try to release your own. Maybe you can identify with a song of sadness, loss, anger, or one of courage and rebuilding. Listening to worship songs help me when I’m too confused or hurt to tell God exactly how I feel.
- Perhaps you are gifted in music and would like to lose yourself in the energy of the song you choose to sing or play on an instrument. (You could try this even if you’re not musically talented!)
- Explore your own ideas on how the power of music can be used to restore your strength, motivation, energy and determination to connect back into your life with renewed joy.
Nurture your body, mind and spirit.
Rx: Apply the soothing or cathartic melodious balm to distressed and aching soul as needed. May repeat as often as desired without any fear of overdose or harmful side effects.
“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach
There is always some form of stress in our lives; those attacks, big and small, that create anxiety and grief. Some are nuisances and some are devastating, but there are always stressors attempting to rob us of our peace and health. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in your life or how great the stress is, you should always be mindful of your health, fitness level and emotional state. Actually if your stress level is extremely high, you are at risk for more, and even serious, health complications. Now I don’t want to sound like your mother, so you ask yourself…are you getting enough rest? Are you eating nutritious foods? Are you exercising regularly? Are you feeding your spirit positive energy? Are you taking care of yourself? One of the most detrimental mistakes we can make in our daily lives, and in the grieving process, is to neglect our health, which affects our overall well-being.
Grief and stress can create an enormous attack on all three parts of your being. Your body, mind and spirit each feels the negative affects and each needs to be protected, fed and nurtured for optimal health. The body, mind, and spirit cannot be separated so you must give equal respect and attention to each component. There are things you can do to improve the health of your overall being and increase its ability to battle the stressors that life brings.
- You must keep your body healthy and strong with good nutrition. Eating disturbances can sometimes occur during grief and stressful times and there may be a tendency to overeat, under eat, or seek comfort in unhealthy foods. Try to make better nutritional choices for your body like drinking more water and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables instead of junk food and sugary snacks.
- It’s also very important to be physically active to combat stress and grief. It’s best to avoid too much TV, video games and other sedentary habits and get up and move instead. Get your body moving; it improves the health of your mind and spirit also.
- Sometimes grief can be very exhausting so getting enough rest is very important. Your body, mind and spirit will all benefit from plenty of rest and a good night’s sleep.
- Take care of your mind by reading, learning, and engaging in stimulating conversations.
- Feed your spirit through prayer, meditation, reading encouraging words or the Bible, and enjoying quiet time.
- Share your thoughts and feelings with someone in your support system.
- Journaling and the creative arts also help to relieve and express emotions that can negatively affect the body, mind and spirit.
- Be mindful of your appearance with good hygiene, dressing nicely and wearing a smile. You feel better and more confident when you go out looking your best.
- Nurture your spirit by giving of yourself and helping others. Find creative ways to enhance someone’s day or even positively change someone’s life!
Use Healthy Energy to Combat Stress and Grief
It’s so very important that you take care of yourself, especially if you’re experiencing grief of any kind. Whether your grieving the loss of a loved one, dealing with the loss of your job or recovering from an illness, you need to make your health a priority. Creating a good balance of the body, mind and spirit will also help you to remain healthy and strong. Keeping your “total self” in a healthy state allows you to use your positive energy to combat the stress and grief life brings. So make it a priority to take care of yourself and use your valuable energy for positive progression, whether in grief recovery, stress reduction, or life in general.
The holiday season is “officially” over! No it’s not. For a griever, the holidays are never over. Okay, so Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas finally came to an end… but more holidays and special days continue. Birthdays, major holidays, anniversaries, and other special days can be particularly difficult after a death or significant loss. Even the most obscure holidays can be a reminder of your grief. Of course the last five Father’s Days have been painful for me since Daddy died but now I even miss the cards that I received from him on “Sweetest Day!” (What is that anyway? Probably just another holiday that the greeting card companies came up with, I’m not sure.) If there was a card for a particular day, my mother had to send it and I know she prompted my dad by to buy a card on that day every year… but I miss it anyhow! Think about the special days that stand out in your life. What about the Memorial Day picnics? The annual 4th of July fireworks show? The Labor Day parade? The birthday celebrations? What about all the anniversary days you can think of? Then there is the holiday coming up… the official “holiday of love,” Valentine’s Day; does that one stir up painful emotions?
Sometimes the people around us can forget about how those days may affect us, or maybe they don’t even know about certain days that we hold special. However, as for grievers, we don’t forget. My dad gave me a small box of chocolates in a heart shaped box almost every Valentine’s Day while I was growing up. (I still have the pink one in my keepsake trunk.) That is my memory that I cherish. Now I don’t want my husband to read this and go buy me chocolates in a heart shaped box! That was my memory that I shared with my dad. I don’t want to recreate those events in some pseudo-way, I just want to treasure those memories and I hold them close. Sometimes I just want to recall them alone and sometimes I like to reminisce about those memories with someone else.
Openly Discuss with Family
Holidays and special days can be very important times for individuals and for families that are grieving. These times are difficult for you as a griever, however other family members may be grieving also and want to share their thoughts and feelings too. This can be a perfect opportunity to talk and truly communicate what these days mean to each person. It’s a time that you can help each other in the grieving process. People deal with loss differently and may have diversified views on how to approach these special days so all family members’ expectations and feelings should be considered during these times. What is comfortable and desired by each person may vary, so to avoid confusion and even more pain, it’s best to discuss openly as a family unit. Let your desires and ideas be known to your family and also to your support system and then in return, listen carefully to each of them.
Remember the Past while Making New Memories
When holidays and special days come to you, my fellow grievers, embrace them with joy – not dread. Think of pleasant memories from the past that are associated with that day, then create new memories for the future. Here are a few suggestions for remembering and honoring your loved one, or what you lost, on very special days. However, you or your family can come up with your own ideas. It doesn’t matter what you do to recognize your loss or how you celebrate these days, as long as you feel comfortable doing it.
- Make a card or buy a card for your loved one.
- Draw a picture of a special memory concerning the special day.
- Share stories and memories of the special days you celebrated in the past.
- As a family, participate in a special activity together and have fun while remembering.
- Light a candle or set a place at the table in memory of a loved one during a special mealtime.
- Watch home movies of previous holidays and special days.
- Make a special ornament using a photo of your loved one or of a family memory.
- Look through photos, scrapbooks and mementos either alone or together as a family.
- Make new traditions with family and friends concerning a special day or holiday.
Healing can actually come through remembering. Celebrate and remember those past days with a smile but also put your energy into making, and enjoying, new memories and traditions for the future.
I have always fallen short of the expectations I had for myself, and now I’m ready to change that. My entire life I’ve struggled to meet my own expectations, other people’s expectations and even God’s expectations (or what I thought the Creator of the Universe expected of me.) Failed attempts litter my past and for some reason lately, those failures have begun to haunt me. I’ve recently wallowed in regret of all the times I’ve wasted being selfish, naïve, contrary, rebellious, stupid, head-strong, drunk, careless, self-centered and self-defeating. I have hurt so many people throughout my sorted past, but I’ve inflicted the deepest pain upon myself…then and now. However, I’m ready to pack away all the hurtful memories, remorse, guilt and shame then put it all where it belongs…behind me! Even though I am forgiven for the sins of the past, they seem to bully their way back into my consciousness, spending far too much hurtful time there. I can’t extinguish those events or memories but I can diffuse the negative emotions they carry. I actually don’t want to forget anything of my former self or life, because I’ve learned so much from the experiences; I just don’t want to hurt from that knowledge anymore. It’s not productive to be weighted down with the past and all the grief it holds. Yes, my failures are a part of me, they helped form the person I ultimately am, however, those negative things don’t define me. Let my past remain and exist, but from this point forward, it will NOT determine who I am now or where I’m headed.
Redefine and Reconstruct
Putting my “old self” behind me and making personal changes doesn’t mean erasing my former self and starting from scratch. However, “redefining myself” does mean a thorough self-evaluation of what positive changes need to be made. I want to be redefined consciously, not be defined by a stream of ignorant accidents and hurtful events. It will be a task to determine what changes are necessary in my life and within myself. Some aspects of my being need to be deconstructed before reconstruction can even begin and there are other parts of me that I want to completely extract from my being. To achieve recovery I have to deal with addictions, obsessions, grief, weaknesses, unforgiveness, hang-ups, stereotyping, sadness, unresolved anger and I’m sure there’s more. Rebuilding is a process and a progression. Actually, there are some virtuous parts of me, so I don’t want a complete personality overhaul to the point that my true character is no longer seen. I want to preserve the good and even quirky aspects of myself that make me unique; I’m simply seeking to enhance and improve those.
Be Your Best
My ultimate goal in this process is to lay the grief down and become “whole.” I want to finally live in freedom; to be the best version of myself and to live my best life. Now I know that my “best” will vary and continue to grow and change. I also know I will not always exemplify my “best” in every moment. However, there is something deep down in each of us that truly knows what we want from life and who we want to be; I’m striving for that. It’s not a perfect person I’m seeking to be, but a strong, moral, forgiving, loving, good and helpful person. I know that’s in me. I pray I’ll be empowered to live in “my best” each day for my benefit and the benefit of others. Take time to think about that. Do you need to leave the past behind and put your energy toward being the best you can be? With some soul searching, healing and changing, I believe every person striving toward their “best” will make valuable differences for themselves and the world around them.
Resolution of Change
After careful consideration of my New Year’s resolutions and feeling the impact from recent national tragedy, I‘ve decided to make genuine changes in myself and in my life. Devastating events and grief have a way of putting our lives into perspective and pressing us to reevaluate our priorities. We all need to take the time to access the true nature of who we are and see if we’re exemplifying that in our daily lives. In these days of high technology, social media, Internet and texting, we may have slipped in the art of personal communication and face-to-face contact. The irony is that with all of our mass social involvement, most of us are left feeling a bit detached. However, in the face of grief, we still come together as a compassionate nation. Together we mourn so many senseless deaths that now seem to occur on a regular basis. Perhaps in some way, we could honor each life lost or altered, by looking to better our own selves and our own lives. Maybe, just maybe, if we each made serious evaluations and positive changes in our selves and our lives, we could honor those victims, making their deaths or suffering not as “senseless.” We obviously can’t change the past, but our decisions now could prevent future grief and tragedies. What we tolerate today and refuse to act upon will remain as obstacles for our children to overcome. Change is in our hands and it’s our responsibility.
You may think that any differences you could possibly make would only affect you and maybe those closest around you. However, any positive change you create will not only spread out to those closest to you, but they will also ripple out into the world in a “Butterfly Effect.” The Butterfly Effect was named from a theoretical example that the flaps of a distant butterfly could cause a hurricane’s formation weeks later. It’s a chaos theory, which demonstrates how small initial differences, can lead to great and sometimes unexpected, consequences over time. I’ve seen this in action, where insignificant and minute changes ultimately had large affects elsewhere. You can do that! You alone can create positive effects that touch family, friends, coworkers, fellow classmates, and even strangers. Those effects could exponentially grow beyond your imagination. Any one of those you touch could take your lead and continue to make a difference, reaching and changing even more lives; and so on. You can create a movement that positively affects the world even long after you’re gone. Think about that. We should all strive to leave a legacy of positive change…a legacy of love and compassion.
Moving Forward into Change
The first change I want to make this year is to open my eyes to the people around me and really see them. I want to engage with them on a deeper, more personal level when necessary and offer hope whenever I can. Too many times I play it safe and stay on a surface level; now I want to dare to be involved and understand what their needs and hurts are. I believe the majority of “mean” people are hurting people so if we tended to those wounded in a more caring and effective way, I also believe we could cut down the world’s level of “meanness.” Lofty dreams, but obtainable. Moving forward from devastation and pain into compassion and involvement could begin the healing process and create a stronger community as a result. Our nation cries out for healing and if you listen closely, you’ll hear the individual cry. I urge you to respond and make a resolution of change that will heal your own troubled heart, the grieving hearts of others and those precious hearts of future generations.
I think of myself as an “encourager.” I truly want to help people be optimistic and see the positive side of a situation; I try to instill hope in everyday life. However, I realized recently that I am not always strong, or even optimistic; sometimes I’m downright negative. This felt like failure to me, an unacceptable flaw, to be weak, confused and completely overwhelmed, but there are times when tears come at a steady pace and I progressively feel worse in my grief. I have felt alone while surrounded by family and friends. I have been afraid, although in a secure environment. I have experienced depression, though my blessings were abundant. This negativity also brought feelings of guilt, which only exacerbated my despair. Why do I feel this way? I thought I was doing better? How could my emotions flip around like this? How could I feel so empty and numb at times? I am a complete “whyer”, not a whiner, but a why-er. I always have this deep need to know how something works or why something happened. Always. I usually exhaust myself in search of the “truth” or at least some sort of resolution. In this particular situation of feeling lost and sad, I decided to let the “whys” go. I can spend way too much time diving into these questions, which rarely provide an adequate answer. So, I let it go… at least in this situation. No more “whys.” I’m going to accept there are going to be days that are overwhelming and don’t make much sense; just plain ole sad days. As a “recovering griever,” we need to know these days will come. We are all trying to overcome pain or grief of some kind, and although we may make great strides in our progression…some days just suck.
From Negative to Positive
There are friends and family members that try to encourage me during these difficult times. They try to assure me that the extremely hard times will pass and my strength will return. At the time they speak their optimism, I secretly say to myself, “yea, yea…whatever.” I do appreciate the fact they’re there for me, and they care, but there are times I just can’t share in the optimism. That’s okay. I realize it’s okay to feel like this at times; I even release the guilt that comes with it. However, I don’t ever want to allow myself to stay in that place for an extended time; I want to avoid “depression.” I try to accept there will be difficult times that push me back a bit; I experience negative emotions and difficulties. Then, I pick myself up and move forward seeking the strength to return to my faith in brighter days and a positive outlook.
In my deepest grief, or just a really crappy day, I realize my Creator also cares about me and how I feel. Just when I think I’m too confused to make a rational decision or too weak to face another painful day; He sends help to me through the words of a friend, a hug from a loved one, the feeling of His presence, or He reminds me of a perfect scripture. Last time I was feeling so lost, I remembered these words that gave me comfort; Psalm 30:5 “…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Thank you Jesus! We are not exempt from suffering; painful experiences will come. However, there is a hope of a stronger tomorrow. I still woke the next day with the same oppositions and trials, but I had an improved attitude and strength so I could approach those situations more effectively. I was also able to see my blessings more clearly and appreciate the good that surrounds me. Supernatural support is priceless and is always available.
I talked about “stuff” in my last post and how too much of it can be overwhelming. I believe most of us have an excess of unnecessary belongings that tend to rob us of precious time and energy. Hopefully, you have made an attempt to release yourself from all the unwanted physical and emotional “stuff” that weighs you down. Maybe you did try to “lighten your load” and then became stuck. It can be a tremendous task to sort and get rid of our belongings and the belongings of others. It’s even more difficult if we are going through the things of a person who has died or is no longer in our lives. I reiterate, it can be an extremely tough job to let go of the objects when they have sentimental value, belonged to a loved one, or provoke fond memories. Going through my things, I heard myself saying, “That was my grandmother’s crystal bowl, that’s my favorite uncle’s clock, that is the artwork from my child when she was in kindergarten!” Do I really need any of it? Do I even want it? Why do I hold on? Possibly I keep these things out of desire, guilt or just being overwhelmed. Maybe I feel that holding on to these things will keep a part of a person’s memory alive. When grieving, it can be especially hard to let go and move forward because somewhere inside you may think if you do indeed let those things go, you’re leaving your loved one behind. You may feel that if you discard the item, you’re letting go of someone you love! We must all realize, including myself, that it’s okay to let these objects go; it’s not a betrayal to anyone and it doesn’t change the memories or the feelings concerning that person. Why do we associate objects so closely with people or memories? Maybe it’s because we can still touch the object even though the person is gone. Irregardless, you don’t have to hold on to their things to hold on to the memories or the love.
I know I wanted to save so many “old” things for my children to keep and preserve. Did I think it would provide them with a piece of history long gone or offer them a heritage of some sort? My children strongly assured me that they have no desire to take the bubble-wrapped possessions in my trunk. They truly had no use for their great-grandmother’s ceramic bird collection, their worn out baby clothes or my first set of china. They are smart enough to know that they don’t want to be burdened with other people’s stuff. In exchange, my children assured me they would rather have photos, scrapbooks, and stories to be passed down. They understand that the essence of a person or a family is not imbedded in the things they possess, but the true legacy to be cherished is visible through our hearts and memories. Wow! Who raised those kids anyway? That’s a smart generation.
Take Positive Action
I encourage you to go through the “stuff” in your personal space and home; and for goodness’ sakes, get rid of that storage building you’re making monthly payments on! Think of how you could bless someone else by donating those unused items to a thrift store or to someone who could actually use and appreciate them. Also think about the money, time and frustration you would save. There are so many benefits that arise from such positive actions. Feel good about yourself when making these decisions to let go. However, if you truly want to remember some of these special items but realize you no longer have the space for them – then “keep them” in a photo. You can create a scrapbook of special memories that span generations and it only takes a little shelf space! Trust me, a photo can evoke the same fond memory as the object itself; I have actually done this.
Release the “stuff” and be free from the bondage and burdens it holds. In your new-found freedom, you can put more energy and time in adding to your family’s collection of fond memories in a different way. Provide your loved ones with the precious, but intangible, feeling they get when the word “family” is mentioned. Let them remember your presence and participation, not your things. Give them the gifts of joy, acceptance, laughter, affection, sharing, fun and unconditional love. THAT is the legacy you want to have passed down, not the dusty old relics packed away in the attic.