I love this phrase. John Eldredge uses it when he teaches about benevolent detachment. It is a way of releasing things to the Lord .. letting go of people, situations.. everything and everyone. It is helpful because often we feel overwhelmed with life.. we are surrounded by needs.. our own and other people’s needs. There is no way we can carry the weight of all that..
There are so many burdens we can carry.. our concerns about ourselves and those we love. Our hopes for the future can feel like a burden because we are moving into the future without God. Our fears about not having enough. We may fear that we will lose something or someone and carry that around with us.. It is all too heavy.
So with this phrase in mind, we can let go.. begin giving all of these things to the Lord ..He is able to carry all of it and in truth He will do a better job when it comes to caring for us and our loved ones that we could ever do.. I am so grateful to know that.. to be able to rely on Him to fall on Him and know that He will catch me. Sometimes I just need to fall apart and believe that He will come for me…He has promised to do that.
So during this holiday season if you are dealing with sorrow, loss, and disappointment remember that there is not much room on your plate.. mine is full. This is the time to start giving it all to Him.. believing that He will take it and do impossible things that we cannot imagine.. His word says He will.
Now all glory to God who is able , through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish inifinitely more than we can ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever. Amen
Monday will be the 1st anniversary of my husband’s passing into eternity. In some ways it seems like it happened yesterday and in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago. The Lord has me set aside by a back injury.. I spend almost all my time alone. I would never have signed up for this season.. I loved my life with Steve before he got sick. We enjoyed each other’s company and I felt loved every single day.. I know he did too.
Without him, I feel homeless.. he was “home” to me. I lost the place we were living in and the things we both enjoyed.. that was hard, but it was stuff.. and none of that matters anymore…without him. I am learning to live on my own for the first time.. realizing the presence of God more and more. He has me set aside and He is healing some deep wounds that needed attention. He is teaching me to turn to him since there is no one I can lean on.. I have wonderful friends and family, but no one is able to truly understand my feelings and sorrows. That is truly how it is for most of us, but we find ways to fill up our time so the grief we and wounds we have inside never come to the surface..
It takes time away from other people and activities to truly get in touch with ourselves.. lots of time. This time for me is a time of reflection and growth. A time to look at my relationships with others and with myself.. I see that I needed that time and the Lord has given it to me… He is doing a deep work and it is often painful.. No one wants to suffer, but I am more and more convinced that it is in the suffering that we see His face and He is able to heal us. He loves us so much that He will allow these hard seasons to show us just how real He is and how much we need Him.. We can claim to need Him and love Him but it is only in the ” valley” that we experience that love coming from Him and find that He is there for us in impossible situations.. I am so thankful for that reality.
“For He wounds, but He also binds up, He injures, but His hands also heal”
This morning as I was reading from a book on waiting I realized that a grieving season is waiting. Maybe one of the toughest waiting seasons that life has to offer. If you have been following my blog you know that I am grieving the loss of my husband and the life we shared together. I struggle with the desire to move ahead .. I need to stay in this season until the Lord does His healing work in my heart.
Grieving tends to be misunderstood in our culture and that can make a season like this all the more challenging. Now that almost 11 months have passed since Steve went to be with the Lord, I know that there are those who say.. you need to move on and think about the good things the Lord has for you. First of all there is no such thing as moving on.. you never move on and leave behind the person you love.. You move ahead and take them with you.. their presence is what enables you to want to keep living.. it is as though they are cheering you on.. telling you to live your life fully..
Grief has no timetable.. none. Everyone who experiences a great loss needs to take as much time as it takes and no one can say anything about that. That does not mean that they are supposed to just keep grieving and not receive healing . Both of these things happen together. It requires a desire to grieve fully but not without hope that God has plans that He has not revealed.. I find this to be very difficult. There are days when a grief attack occurs and I am a total mess.. as though the loss occurred yesterday and there are days when I am very hopeful and believing that the Lord has an amazing plan for me.
All of this involves waiting. Waiting on the Lord and waiting for the Lord. The sadness makes it difficult to believe anything good can happen again and waiting for something that is totally invisible is very hard.. My season of grief a a transitional time and it is a time of preparation.. the problem is what I am transitioning to and what am I being prepared for? So I am waiting and trusting in the goodness of God.
For me, I fall back on His sovereignty.. believing with all my heart that He loves me and will carry me forward in His time. My heart is heavy with the loss but my spirit is remembering His faithfulness and choosing to believe the best.. even on very bad days.. Clinging to Him and calling on Him all the time… So have grace for those who are grieving, they are all around you and they need your understanding and patience. Nothing is worse for a griever than to feel as though their feelings are wrong and they are disappointing the people who care about them.
Our culture is saturated with people who are facing all types of loss and Covid created many more losses than anyone realizes.. I am praying to be one of the people who reaches out to the broken hearted and brings comfort…so that my own pain is not wasted. Remember when Jesus quoted from this passage in Isaiah? It is our mission in these times.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning
If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that I often write about grief and loss. And you probably know that my husband passed last August. He had early onset dementia. My season is tough right now. Steve is gone and I miss him every single day. He was the love of my life and my soul mate. No one can take his place in my heart.
At the end of March it will be 7 months since he went to be with the Lord.. March 30th would have been our 19th anniversary and April 14th would be 20 years since we met.. He will not be here to celebrate those dates with me.. that is incredibly hard.. I wanted to grow old with him.. I am definitely growing old but without him.
The grief is still very fresh but it is different than it was 3 months ago.. I think I have grown used to it. It is less intense but still knocks me to the ground regularly.. I get up a little more easily.. I’ve had a lot of practice now. This blog post was inspired by some reading I have been doing on grief and how best to help grievers. I feel as though most people have no idea what grieving people need and that is not really their fault. We live in a culture that denies loss and death and worships youth. In the midst of that culture people are facing loss and death every day.
What do you think when you hear about the mass murders that just happened in our country? I know.. it is scary and sad and awful. What about the families that lost loved ones? Once the headlines go away.. they are supposed to go back to their ” normal” lives. They will never do that. Life does not go back to normal when there is that type of loss. My life is never going to be normal again.. and neither will yours when you experience the loss of loved ones.
My passion is to educate people on this topic because grief and loss are real. Denial does not wipe them out. What do grievers need? Not advice .. not scripture band aids.. not platitudes.. They need compassion and understanding. They need someone to be with them in their grief.. to listen.. to cry with them.. to talk about the loved one who is missing. They need to know that those around them remember that person and are not afraid to bring up their names or to ask questions. They need others to realize that their reality is totally different now.. When you are grieving you are not the same as you were before the loss and you will continue to change as you grieve.
People do not get over grief.. they learn to live with it. They join a club they never knew existed.. the club is filled with those who have loved and lost. It is real and everyone eventually joins. As for me, my life has been filled with loss. I have been widowed twice and lost many friends and relatives. I have learned to grieve fully so I don’t end up self- medicating because I am stuffing my feelings. As a friend of someone who is grieving.. you can help them heal by being present with them in this process. I want to encourage you to do that. Don’t be afraid of it.. it is not contagious and you are not going to make a mistake. The biggest mistake you can make is to shy away from someone who is hurting.
I am fortunate to have friends and family who are not afraid of my pain. People who understand and listen. God has blessed me in this season. My hope is that I will continue to be there for those people who will face the impossible. I don’t have answers for them.. I can only reach out to say that God is with them and that He loves them and will take care of them.. because He is doing that for me.. each and every day.
It was 11 years ago that I started this blog. In the beginning I really didn’t know what a blog was and I had no idea how to start one or how to keep it going. I was on Facebook and felt frustrated because I wanted to express more of myself than I could there. So.. I started this blog. Throughout the years I often wondered if I should quit.. just leave it up but never add to it. I decided to keep going and to write one more post.. and then another one and then another one.. and here we are today.
Maintaining this blog is like living life.. we take one step and then another and another and here we are. I write because I hope that what I share helps others and that my vulnerability helps people open up to their true feelings and struggles. I don’t get much feedback but that’s OK.. it is something that the Lord has called me to do and I really enjoy the process and the comments:)
My last post was a few weeks ago and I feel like I have been moving forward quite a bit since I posted on February 1st. I am still grieving , of course. It has been almost 6 months since Steve went to be with the Lord.. sometimes it seems like years and sometimes it seems like minutes. The grief comes and it goes. I know it will always be like that but I am learning to live in this season with hope. So many things happened at once for me that I was literally reeling for months.. trying to understand what happened and hoping to get insights into why. Well.. I know what happened.. I lost everything almost at once but I don’t know why. What I do know is that I can survive without any explanations. God is not going to reveal to me the reasons for taking Steve and that makes sense to me now. He is the Lord and He gives and takes away..
My challenge is to keep living and believing that there are purposes for me without him.. not easy. As I spend time alone these days.. the fear is less.. the loneliness is less.. that is a huge gift. I miss sharing my life with Steve.. I won’t get over that.. but I am learning to live with it.. believing that God is the redeemer. So each day I take steps like I did when I started this blog.. one blog post at a time and one step at a time. One day I will look back and realize I made it to 1 year.. then to 5 years and maybe 10 if I am still here. God will carry me into the future even though it looks like a blank slate. He wrote the story of my life and He will unfold it page by page as He has always done. My job is to trust Him and to know that He is good.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
That is the life I am living these days. I live in a room.. like a semi studio attached to a house filled with a family that rents to me. It is my own private space and I am thankful that the Lord brought me here. I was living here 5 months ago when my husband passed on. I have no idea how long I will be here or where I could ever go since I have a very limited income.
So the challenge is to accept what is and to learn how to spend time alone with God on a totally new level. There are very few distractions or responsibilities in this season. It is a huge adjustment. My nature is to want to take care of people and now I just have my cat and myself. Some days we do well.. other days are so hard that all I do is think about everything I lost. My husband, my home, my things, my job .. the beautiful valley I walked in almost every single day.. all gone.
Days that I struggle to not be angry at God and probably almost everyone else.. anger is a part of grieving. Other days I am so sad I have to drag myself out of bed and force myself to eat and exercise. My life feels empty and no place feels like home. I am writing this because I want you to know the context of this post. So I spend lots of time alone. I know God is with me but I am lonely for human contact… missing the hugs and kisses that Steve gave so generously. Does it help when people say but you are not alone.. God is always with you.. No it does not help. Why? Because I am grieving and it is painful and it is a solitary road that no one truly understands. There are moments when I know God is close.. but they are surrounded by many more moments when I think to myself.. what happened to my life? Where am I?
Covid life has not made this any easier. People and places are off limits and here in California many churches are closed, so that dimension of life is also gone. I don’t enjoy watching church.. on Zoom or Facebook live.. it reminds me of a bad TV show. So now I am struggling with my relationship with the church.. feeling disconnected and discouraged.. wondering what it all means. I struggled with church all my life as a Believer and got disillusioned over and over but kept returning. This time is different. As I have prayed about it and wondered what to do.. I get the impression God is saying don’t be afraid to be alone with me and to let that be enough. This doesn’t mean total isolation but it does mean not looking to church for support or meaning in my life.. It means not clinging to something that is gone.. maybe not forever, but at least for now.
I often think about those people who spent time in prison or heroes like Corrie Ten Boom who was in a concentration camp. There are many examples of people who are models of what it is to be a person of great faith. They suffered alone with God and He was enough. Let that be my story Lord in these dark times.
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”
The title of this post is drawn from a picture that I saw in my head about grief. Of course it is related to Alice In Wonderland. After googling rabbit hole and grief I came across a movie made in 2010 called “Rabbit Hole”. I never saw the movie but I know it is about a couple who lose a child and the grief they experienced after the loss.. it sounds almost too sad for me right now.
The reason for rabbit hole is that after Alice fell down the hole, she was in a different world and that is the experience of grief. When you lose someone close to you, your world totally changes and it is surreal. People you know go about their business as though nothing has happened. I almost want to stop them and say ” don’t you realize everything is different now?”. Then I remember it is not for them.. only for me. I am in a world that I don’t recognize because my husband is with the Lord now. At the same time, the world itself turned upside down several times.. last March and actually yesterday was a day like none other.
Back to the world of grief.. I often wake up and wonder where I am.. I moved 3 times in just a little over a year and most of the things I looked at and used for 18 years are gone.. I have days when I wonder if I could find them all.. a strange thought since many of them are in Idaho and lots of things are here in different homes of friends and family and some went to strangers through the Goodwill store.. My world turned upside down three times and then Steve passed 4 months ago and my life disappeared.. the life where I spent every day for years looking out for him and taking care of him .
So I have fallen into the rabbit hole and I continually find myself wondering where I am.. It is easy during a grieving season like this to feel lost or crazy .. or just totally different from other people. All of these things are true.. except that I am not crazy.. I am grieving deeply and fully.. Trying to make sense of a world that makes no sense.. trying to feel at home.. when home to me was my husband.. anywhere he was.. that felt like home.
Covid could be making your feel like you fell down that same hole. Maybe you are grieving things that are no longer possible.. For some of us, yesterday was a trigger too.. what happened to the country we grew up in? Is everything out of control? A very challenging time to be alive.. in so many ways. So.. you are not crazy if you feel scared or depressed or disoriented right now.. You are just a human trying to cope with a very broken world where loss is a big part of life.. You will land on your feel and so will I. Our God will come for us in the middle of the mess and rescue us from the heartbreak we may be feeling now. He is for us and with us.
He has prepared a place for us… better than our wildest dreams.
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
The very beginning of 2021 is finally here. We are still in the first week.. before you know it we will be well into 2021 and it will no longer be a new year.. it doesn’t take long to get used to things. New things become old in a very short amount of time. I started out this year with a bang..literally. I was out walking with a friend and ended up tripping on an uneven sidewalk and before I knew it my forehead was bleeding everywhere and my friend and landlords were all trying to help me .. I was surrounded by very caring people. Late into the afternoon I went to the ER.. got stitches, x-rays and a tetanus shot. I am currently struggling with bruising, scrapes and muscle pain.
The good news is I did not break anything ..no bones.. teeth or glasses. I am so grateful it was not worse. So here I am wondering how to look at this fall. Will 2021 be a terrible year? I hope not.. I’ve decided to look for the deeper reason for this fall. I always look for meaning and for God’s purposes.. I don’t always find them but I always search. It is easy to see that He is slowing me down.. giving me a reason to stay home and rest and reflect. In the last few days I realized the need for that rest.. not just because I hurt everywhere but because I have been running non stop since my husband started showing signs of dementia. In the skilled nursing the people always say that it is a marathon not a sprint. Dementia can last many years and unfold day after day.. at whatever pace it chooses.
I recently realized that Steve showed some major signs early one that I did not recognize. The earliest sign was probably 7 years ago.. the more obvious changes began 4 to 5 years ago. So I ran the race with him all that time until 4 months ago and in reality I have not been eager to slow down and remember all that has happened. One thing I do know is that I need to do that.. to grieve fully.. I need to remember and reflect.. to really look at my story and to realize how much I have been through. So I am doing that.. writing this is part of my therapy. I will also be working with a Hospice Grief Counselor to get the support I need. This will enable the past to go into the past and bring me to a greater level of acceptance.
God..the healer wants my attention and He has it. I am learning to receive help.. I am allowing myself time to be here now and break the habit of always trying to move ahead ..My future is a blank slate and I know from the other time I was widowed that the Lord has brought me to that place so He can lead me at His pace and I can rest in His sovereignty.
As for you.. my hope is that you did not start 2021 in such a dramatic way but that you too will take the time to reflect on all the losses and disappointments we all faced in 2020. There may be more in 2021, but we will handle those better if we take the time to realize what has happened and let the Lord comfort us and heal us.
Our God is faithful in all things.. at all times.. He never changes and we can trust Him in all circumstances.
Sometime last year I started a journal to deal with my grief using art. I returned to it recently and realized that it truly helps me process my emotions. In my case creating beauty is the key. For others it might be just drawing something or using color to soothe the soul.
Here are a few pictures from that journal:
i am hoping these might inspire you to try doing something as you process your losses from this year. We all have them and sometimes words are not enough
I woke up thinking about this journey and how hard it is.. my usual morning thoughts. I knew Steve was going to die and I tried to prepare myself for the day when I would lose him. Of course that is impossible. We cannot be prepared for the death of someone we love no matter how hard we may try.. once they are gone the waves of grief sweep over us and we can only hang on and wait for the next one.
He is gone..yes I know where he is.. but that does not always help. I thought of the wall that divides us from our loved ones once they move out of this world. It is so hard.. we know they are there, but we cannot see over that wall or climb over it or see through it.. It feels like they are within our reach but that wall stands in the way..
I try to talk with him and tell him things.. wondering if he can hear me .. trying desperately to imagine that he is able to know what is happening to me. My heart aches to hear his voice and at times I hear it in my head.. telling me not to worry or be fearful.. reminding me that I can continue without him.. it helps and it doesn’t. I want to tear down that veil and run into his arms.. to tell him that I love him and that I miss him.. my heart breaks into a million pieces.. I gather them up and keep going.
This is grief my friends.. it is real and it is hard and we were never created to be able to endure it alone. I am so thankful for my friends and family .. for those who support me and help me keep his memory alive. I am most thankful for the Lord.. the God who carries me through each day.. even the days when I tell Him I hate Him and all He does is wait patiently so He can love me again.. He picks me up off the floor and tells me to rest.. to let him restore me.. to let Him bring healing to me in the midst of the darkness.. He is with me and for me and I know this.. I can run from Him but there is no where to go.. I try to blame Him but I know that this death is a result of our broken world and not punishment from Him.. He is good.
He has Steve now ..He loved him so much that He rescued him .. he is reunited with those who went before him.. released from the suffering and the pain.. safely home.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”