It Takes Time

A thought occurred to me recently about relationships. Especially as it relates to grieving. It takes literally years for most stable relationships to develop. Good relationships don’t happen all at once or overnight. It is a million little things that we do over and over again that are the building blocks of a good marriage or stable relationship. This involves good decisions. This involves forgiveness. This involves adjustment. And ultimately this will produce a life long committment based on love.

So why then when someone we love dies do we try to rush through the grief process? I know it is painful and that it hurts. I know it is one of the most troubling times we can go through. But why do we think we can dismiss this or brush grief off like it was nothing? You may remember when I wrote that grief is proof of your love. It took years to build that kind of love. We will not be over that grief in hours or days or even years.

Some people think that one year after someone dies is the magic number. That you should be over it by one year. They are ignorant of grief in general. And your grief in particular.

Think of it this way. You fill up a swimming pool with a garden hose and it takes a long time. If you were to drain that pool it may not take as long but it will take time. So be patient and let grief do it’s work in you. You will be glad in the long run.

Grieving Lesson 13

This is the final post that comes from the Griefshare program. I will from time to time have more to say about the things I learned from Griefshare. So let’s get to this week’s lesson.

The final lesson deals with the inevitable question we all will finally come to; what now? Where do I go from here? And how do I get there? If you are still in shock over the death of a loved one file this away for future reference. But if you, like me, feel that the worst is behind you and you feel a faint stirring inside your soul about the future, then this will help you right now.

Moving forward is one of the major steps in our grieving journey. As a matter of fact, not moving on is a problem. And let me adjust my term right now. We want to move forward. Moving on sounds too much like forgetting, and we will never forget. Yesterday was our wedding anniversary. I remember. But moving forward means re-engaging in life. Getting involved with work or people or church or other worthwhile activity. Having fun doing fun things with fun people. Remember, they died, you didn’t.

Moving forward is a process that doesn’t happen all at once. But it does and will happen to you. You will begin to notice who you are in spite of others expectations of you. And you will begin to like who you are now. You may even find yourself being excited about your future. You will beging to ponder the future without fear. It is an exciting time.

One key to facing the future without fear is to shorten your focus. It may not be minute to minute any more, but it need not be years or decades out in front of you either. Just think about what you can see and how you can get there. In time your vision will broaden. Now is the time to reset your life; your priorities, your focus, your life.

Knowing what we need is important. Knowing where we need help is also important. If we don’t know how can others who want to help us know how? Forget what you should be able to do. Forget what you feel you ought to do. God knows, but others don’t. So tell them where you are and what you need. Be specific in your prayers. Be honest with your friends. Tell them; I need someone to eat with me, I need someone to help with my chores, I need you to stop by just to visit me, I need you to call me and just talk.

Here are some final thoughts to finish up this lesson. These are ideas for you to explore on your own.

If you need to see a counselor, do it. Take getting help to the next level.

Cherish the memories you have. In time deal with their stuff. Honor their legacy.

The greatest legacy anyone could leave is love. They loved us. We can love others.

Peace and pain can and do coexist. This is true in life. It is true in death.

Death has a way of refocusing life. Be aware and be wise about this.

Ultimately the Cross is our example. Looked very bad, but brought ultimate good.

With God it is never as bad as it looks. When the outlook is bad, try the uplook.

We all have our lot in life. Something only we can do. Our job is not to live in the past, but use the past to empower our future. You will never forget if you truly loved.

An Unusual Experience

From time to time I experience something that is hard to explain. I will be driving, which is my job, minding my own business, when I will see a woman and for just a second I feel something stirring inside my chest. It is not usually a mutual glance, and I never see them again let alone meet them. It is a flash glimpse that makes me unsettled for a long time afterwards, up to an hour.

I am not looking for a new romantic relationship. I am not staring at or lusting over women that I see every day. I see pretty girls and I appreciate them but that’s all. So when this happens it startles me.

I am not sure what is happening or why it happens. It has happened maybe 3 time in the past 12 months. But it hits me hard every time.

Moving On

I decided today that I am ready to move on in my life. No more dwelling on negative thoughts or dead dreams. I want to be happy, and healthy, and at peace with my new situation. And with God’s help I will be.

We are supposed to be as happy as we choose to be. So I choose to be real happy today, tonight, and tomorrow. Will you join me?

I understand that if you are in the throes of grief my words will grate on your soul and make you mad. But I want you to grieve as long a s necessary and not a minute more.

Single Living

Adjusting to being single has some internal issues that I have had to overcome and some practical issues to deal with as well. Today it was the external practical issues that had me bothered for a while.

I had several things that I thought I needed to do right after work. Come home and do some then make supper and then do the others. I was really wishing I had someone to help me get  to all of these self-imposed chores. I started to get angry about the unfairness of it all.

And then I stopped. I began to sort out what had to happen tonight and what I wanted to happen tonight. And when it all settled down in my mind I crossed most of the things I wanted to do off of my to do list. After a long day at work I needed some rest and some nourishment. So I warmed up some leftovers and had a nice satisfying dinner. Everything else I just didn’t do.

If someone doesn’t like my yard they can offer to help me trim it. If someone would happen to see the dirty dishes in the sink and it bothered them they could pitch in and wash them. But as for me, I got my ACA account set up and my premium paid so I am taken care of should I need medical care. And since it’s too dark out now I took time to write here a few lines.

A man has to know his limitations, and he has to set priorities. No one knows better what I need than me. God knows, but He hasn’t offered to help around the house.

Simple Rules For Grieving

Grieving may be one of the most traumatic experiences we have in life.  I never want to make it seem that grieving is a series of steps or a checklist of things to do. But in studying about grief and living through my own grief I have found some truths that make it a little easier to go on your own grief journey.

1.Your grief is yours alone. It is for you to experience, and only for you. No one can do this for you. No one has the right or the power to take your grief away or to make it according to their plan. Let grief have its perfect work in you. You cannot go around it, you must go through it. Own your grief.

2.Be yourself. Express yourself. Educate others on how to deal with you as you are now. Do what you need to do to get through the pain and sorrow. Don’t let others dictate your grief. Let it out. Holding in or holding back will make it worse in the long run.

3.Make adjustments. You cannot do now even what you did before. Don’t try. Make priorities according to what you must do, not what you think you should do. You have enough stress in your life now, don’t add to it. Let people help you, especially with those little things you feel you should be able to do. Eliminate the word “should” from your vocabulary.

4. Be kind to yourself. Self care is not being selfish. It is essential to your mental and emotional and physical health. Do things that make you happy. Avoid addictive or destructive behaviors. But treat yourself to simple pleasures. Let others spoil you. On your terms.

5.Relax. This may seem hard, but it will help. Get enough sleep. Grief is exhausting. Things will work out whether you fret over them or not. So don’t fret. And don’t worry.

Remember, grief is an expression of love. It is hard, it is stressful, it is all consuming. You will feel shock, anger, denial, bargaining, acceptance, isolation, depression, and hope. Sometimes all at once. But in time you will enjoy all of life again.

Things To Be Thankful For

Darcie D. Sims has written some lines that help us to remember that no matter how life has turned out for us, there are still things we can be thankful for.

It doesn’t seem to get any better, but it doesn’t get any worse either.

There are no more pictures to be taken, but there are memories to be cherished.

The pain is still there, but it lasts only moments.

The house is still empty, the soul still aches, but the heart remembers.

For all of this and much more I am thankful.

Gireving Lesson 12

Today’s Griefshare lesson was on Heaven. I am going to skip the discussion about how to get to Heaven and begin from the premise that in the Bible is the answer, and the answer is Jesus Christ.

You may or may not think about Heaven when a loved one dies.  But if your loved one died as a believer they are right now in Heaven with Christ. That is good news. So we who are still living here have something to look forward to. One great thing about Heaven is that it will be a place of glad reunion. A kind of Family Reunion on steroids. I did not lose my wife. If I lost her I wouldn’t know where she is. But I do know where she is. And can I tell you a little secret? Those who we miss in death do not miss us the same way. They are where we want to be. A place that we struggle to describe.

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

The wonder and joy of Heaven is not the streets of gold or the gates of pearl but relationships with people who have gone on before us. And to meet in person the Lord Jesus Christ and to be with Him will be worth it all. Heaven is a place where there is no night or death or pain or fear or tears or sighing or trouble. It is Paradise.

People have many ideas about the hereafter. They believe in reincarnation or claim to have near death experiences. They believe that it doesn’t matter what you believe or who you serve, in the end they think that God gives everyone a free pass. But that is just not true.

“Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

But if you are truly saved, the anticipation of Heaven and of reunion sustains us through all of the sadness and confusion and grief we experience in this life.

You can survive grief without Jesus. But if you miss Heaven you will never have more than memories ever again.

Not Lonely Anymore

Several things have surprised me along my grief journey. Like when I laugh it feels normal now, not odd or surprising. When I see or hear something pleasant it just pleases me, not depresses me. When I hear a song I like I sing along out loud. When I come home to my house it doesn’t hit me as an empty house anymore. I am slowly but surely getting used to being a single man with all of its ups and downs, but normal stuff not sad or depressing issues. I am grateful to feel this way.

I am alone in life. I have friends and family sure. But I live alone. And gradually it is dawning on me that this is not all bad. I do not feel lonely. I am happy and at peace.

One or two or three years ago I never thought I would be here, but I am and I like it.

Introvert Or Extrovert?

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? These are two words that we all have an idea as to their meaning. We also give preference to one over the other as being more useful or desirable. We are often conditioned this way.But there may be more to these two words than we think.

The word introvert is defined as a shy, reticent person. But it comes from the Latin that means literally to turn to the inside, to turn one’s thoughts inward. So then we get the main thought that an introvert is a person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things. Some may say, contemplative.

The word extrovert then means an outgoing, overtly expressive person. From the Latin to turn extra(or extro).  So then an extrovert is someone predominantly concerned with external things or objective considerations.

I am not going to belabor this idea here. You can do your own study. My thoughts though are that we are not either/or one or the other nor should we be. To be whole people we need some of both qualities. And introvert thinks first and then acts, unless he gets paralysis by analysis and never moves. And extrovert shoots first and then asks questions later. An extrovert may set the agenda but an introvert knows how to make it happen and how to make it work. Some believe that introverts make better leaders because they waste less time and effort by working smart as well as hard.

Again I will leave you with the idea that we may tend to be more intro than extro but whole people will see aspects of both manifested in their personality.