So delighted! At last, my devotional, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache, is out! This book has opened many doors for me to meet with others who are in pain due to the many sorrows experienced in life. I am speaking on the book's themes (forgiveness, anguish, anger, praise) on radio shows and at groups around my state and the country. I wrote this devotional from my own anguish after losing my four-year-old son Daniel to cancer.
I feel many Christians tend to brush over the impact loss has on our lives. Acknowledging a person's pain is key in order to be able to walk with him/her in their sorrow.
How do you help those you know who are suffering now with loss (financial, health, death of a loved one, broken relationships) in their lives? What have you found to be effective when you have been the one having a tough time getting out of bed in the morning?
Many people know I lost my brother last year, tragically. I have also kissed the cold forehead of my mom, step mom and father... we also have a son (who is being baptized Easter Sunday) who was born with no thumbs, no esophagus, no anal opening, missing a left radial forearm bone, seven hemi-vertebra, and much more, and he has had 39 surgeries, including open heart and open spinal.
One of the things we have experienced is that well-meaning people want to "fix" us or the situation. All we really wanted was to be left alone, but then again we don't want to be left alone... Make sense?
I am very curious to see what you all have to say about this friends. I need to get back to the magazine, but will be back to check on this. Thanks Alice for starting this conversation.
Thanks, Fred, for getting the word out about this discussion.
People do want to fix us, don't they? I think there are times when we just want to be left alone and other times, when we want to be heard. We aren't always easy to figure out. Perhaps that's one of the things that makes this journey of loss so difficult. We don't know what we need at every given moment.
I have heard Nora talk about your son. What a celebration Easter will be!
I know exactly what you are saying, Fred. When I am in the midst of pain I tend to shut people out. Sometimes even God. I don't turn my back on Him, but I have lost ways to communicate in my grief. I love the passage of Scripture where it describes the Holy Spirit taking over for us when we have no words. I think that is such a fitting picture for one who is grieving in his/her very depths.
I try to treat them with the love, understanding and compassion I would want. Love is the key in my opinion. If you pray and do it with love God finds a way to make it to their hearts.
When it has been myself struggling to get out of bed; it's feeling victorious for any achievement. Sometimes it is just forcing myself out of bed, sometimes it's another step and another.
I think we are too hard on ourselves and don't give ourselves the proper 'job well done' because we compare ourselves to others. God knows when it's an achievement for me to get out of bed. He knows I'm trying my hardest and that should be enough. I'm like anyone else and sometimes even knowing that doesn't bring comfort, but NO movement is failure in my eyes. Even if you open your eyes you have greeted the day.
Remember to be good to yourself and celebrate those victories no matter how small they seem. :)
Make love your aim! I think this is so true, Sabrina. Really loving someone is key. Also, not being critical of another as he/she struggles is important, too. We don't know what hardships others are facing---spiritual, financial, health-wise, etc. Walk beside them, seek guidance on what to say or not to say, and give lots of hugs! -)
Thanks, Sabrina, for joining the discussion.
Your devotional sounds great. I completely agree with you that loss needs to be acknowledged in order for people to walk through their sorrow and gain hope again. When I had a miscarriage seven years ago, I went looking for a book to offer me hope and found the choices offered were lacking. I promised God back then that "someday" I would write the book I so desperately needed myself.
Long story short, I finished "Empty Arms, Heavy Hearts" this past January and am waiting for a response regarding publication. The book is a compilation of men and womens' stories regarding death of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, or older. My prayer is that God will use that book to help comfort others as well as offer them hope that you can smile again after tragedy, but that the pain doesn't need to be hidden in order to heal.
Thank you for sharing about your journey and thank you for talking about your devotional. I look forward to reading it.
Cheri Swalwell :)
Cheri, thanks for joining in! So glad that you can reach out to others in their sorrow. I hope you hear some good news soon about your book!
Thank you - It's all in His hands. :)
Cheri, this is the grief counseling course that I studied. More from a caregivers perspective. Allowing parents to say hello to their child before they are forced to say good bye. Mostly we learned to listen and even cry with these parents. The only way to help is to share their grief with them.
That sounds like a great program. I love that the caregivers are allowed to cry with the parents. I know I would never be able to help minister in a situation like that without feeling the parents' pain alongside them. Grief hurts...and everyone is touched and affected in situations like that.
It's interesting because my whole life I tried to "be strong" and get over stuff by "stuffing" it. However, when I lost our baby I "allowed" myself to feel the grief. I didn't try to be strong, get over it, pretend it didn't matter because I had never met the baby yet. And I think by allowing myself to grieve, I am healthier and more able to reach out to others than I would have been otherwise. God definitely walks with us through our suffering. I don't think He wants us to pretend it doesn't matter either.
Thank you, Sharon, for explaining that course. What a great course to participate in.
I'm all for weeping boldy! This was some of the best advice I received from a minister right after Daniel died.
Too many Christians want you to put on a happy face. There is a time for sorrow. The Psalms are filled with so much about asking, lamenting, wondering, and crying out. I love that book!
So glad that you allowed yourself to grieve when your baby died. In my opinion, that is the healthy way to be. It takes a lot of tissues, but it certainly helped me.
I agree - I wish I had learned that lesson sooner in life instead of stuffing things down. :)