Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Year - Further Along the Journey

Resolutions by Kurt Olson

Each year millions of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. Most are forgotten before January is over.  However, some actually use this day as a marker to take a different direction in their life.   These people have one characteristic that is different from the masses of people who forget their resolutions; they are incredibly tired of something in their lives.   Something has hit them so hard they finally resolve to do what only they can do and take action.   

When we experience deep loss, basic life decisions are difficult enough, let alone contemplating a new “resolution.”  But, I would like to suggest that is exactly what you might need to do.  What is this you ask?   It is choosing to devote the time to confront your loss with renewed passion.  I discovered that when I tried to ignore my grief and pain, it got much worse and depression began to settle in.  However, as I confronted my loss and emotions head on, I realized I could actually keep going.  The pain did not go fully away, but as each day passed my life began to ease a bit and gradually became more manageable.
How does one “confront” their loss?  Here are some suggestions that worked for me.

1.       Keep a pad of paper by your night stand. When you can’t go to sleep, jot down what’s keeping you awake. The same thing applies if you wake up in the middle of the night.  Write down what you are thinking about.  What I want you to do next is say a quick prayer that you will be able handle this in the morning when you have gotten some rest.  Then try to sleep.

2.       Journal your thoughts every day. The pad of paper described above is for quick notes about why you are not sleeping.  Those involved action types of ideas such as did I do this or that, did I call someone?  A journal is different because it is where you write your feelings.  It is writing about what is going on in your head that maybe no one else is aware of.  In the early days I wrote in my journal about all my random thoughts and emotions.  Later on after months of writing, my approach changed. I would read my Bible first, sit in silence waiting for the Lord to arrange my thoughts, and then write in my journal.  A journal is also a good way for you to see how far you have come.  You can read about where you were a month or more ago and you may observe forward progress and healing.   (Note: If you are not experiencing any progress, consider that you may need professional help.  Contact the church and ask for a Care Pastor.   They can help you sort through next steps and provide a referral to a qualified therapist.)

3.       Dive deep into the material that you receive from Grief Support.  Read the lesson, read and listen in solitude to the Bible verses.  Write your thoughts about the question of the week that is in the handout.

4.       When the workshop is in session, connect with your fellow group members in meaningful ways during group time. Your grief journey is not meant to be done alone.  Take a risk and share something that you wrote on your note pad or in your journal from points 1-3 above.  Share something that impacted you from the lesson.  If someone in group shared something about their journey that impacted you, take a risk and tell them how it helped you.

The first three steps are the work that you need to do to help figure out where you have been and where you are in your journey.  This is the hard work in the trenches that doesn’t get a lot of attention but is so helpful to integrating your loss and connecting (or reconnecting) with people in a more meaningful way.  That’s correct; these are activities that will make your connections with others more significant.  If you talk about weather and sports in your group, you will not be encouraged or experience truth in a way that might help you release troubled thoughts that might be plaguing you.  In a very similar way, if I share something off the top of my head it will be very hit or miss on its impact on your life.  But if I take time to really figure out an issue in my life, it is much more likely to be meaningful and impact you in a positive direction.  I still remember some conversations from my first group that changed my life; they were able to put words to my feelings that I couldn’t name at the time.  What a relief that was for me!

When you put all four of the steps into play, you cannot help but change the trajectory of your grief journey for the better, for yourself and for those around you.   But it is up to you.  Is it time to make a “resolution”? 
If you are viewing this through the email feed, please know you can find additional support and encouragement at our home site of www.griefslinky.blogspot.com   

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Holidays III - Further Along the Journey

Traditions by Kurt Olson

“Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe or are even aware of.”  Ellen Goodman

If you attended our “Handling the Holidays” session, we talked about examining your past traditions and explored making a new tradition for you and/or your family. Noted author Ellen Goodman points out that traditions are hard to put words to and sometimes we are not even aware of them. Traditions touch your very core, your soul, and are sometimes very elusive. Take some time to think about the tools we gave you to better manage your holidays. Then you will have the tough job of implementing them.
My thoughts ranged all over the map when I was trying to make a plan for my family’s new tradition. I came up with a couple of questions that helped me define what I was after, and maybe they will be helpful to you too.  Then I’ve listed a couple of other things you might find comforting.

  1. What are the one or two things you would like to do this holiday that you did in the past with the loved you lost?
 It can be something you do with friends or family, like cutting down a live Christmas tree where you tell stories of past Christmas’. Or it can be private; one friend of mine sits down and has a cup of strong Irish coffee, which is something she did with her late Irish husband. She hates Irish coffee, but every holiday while he was alive she had a cup with him because he liked it. For her, the tradition is drinking her coffee alone and remembering the times together with her husband. It heals her soul a little each holiday.

  1. If you could honor your loved one in some way, what would you do?
From the panel discussion, each of us did something different to remember or acknowledge our loved one’s character or passions. For me, it was to give a goat to World Vision because of the pain Pam felt when our World Vision child lost his goat. It reflected her heart for those who have less. Donna included photos that her husband Kurt took in her Christmas letter. (He was a professional photographer.)   Barb writes letters or notes to her daughter Laurie and puts those in a special Christmas stocking hanging on the fireplace.

  1. Take out your Bible and see who God says you are.
 You will see that God loved you so much He sent His Son to die for you. God views you as precious in His sight. Read about how he well he knows you in Psalm 139.

  1.  Take time for you.
 This is the time in your life where you get a pass on all of those “HAVE to do” lists. You don’t HAVE to send out Christmas cards to everyone. You can do some, or skip a year sending out cards, or as in my case, skip a decade or so of sending them. J

This is the third in our series of three Holiday posts.   If you are viewing this through the email feed, please know you can find additional support and encouragement at our home site of www.griefslinky.blogspot.com

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holidays II - Further Along the Journey

What Do You See? by Kurt Olson

Do you normally tend to see yourself as an optimist or a pessimist in life?  My tendency is to be a glass half-full type of guy. I tend to try and find the silver lining in things. I am also drawn to people who are optimistic and see what others can’t.

Back in school I remember reading about Chester Nimitz, a very famous U.S. Navy Commander who isn’t well known today. I remember him because he led the United States World War II efforts in the Pacific after Pearl Harbor, against incredible odds. Recently, I received an email about him that reminded me why I admire him; Chester Nimitz saw things others didn’t see. 
December 7, 1941 was one of the most tragic days in our United States history.  We were reeling from the shock of being attacked, because we didn’t think it could happen to us. We lost 3,800 men in that attack, as well as many of our battleships. But when General Nimitz surveyed Pearl Harbor, he made some interesting statements.

On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and Navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked. As they returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, "Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all of this destruction?" Admiral Nimitz's reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, "The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?"  Shocked and surprised the young helmsman asked, "What do you mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?"  Nimitz explained:

Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk--we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined up in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed the dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

Mistake number three: every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in top of the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That's why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make, or God was taking care of America.”
My dad, who was drafted because of this war, joined the Navy where he served on the battleship USS Washington.  He talked about a Navy Admiral Chester Nimitz and what an inspiration he was to the men he led. When Nimitz asked his men for more effort to get the ships that were destroyed at Pearl Harbor back into action, he rolled up his sleeves and went to work alongside all of his men and it encouraged the troops.

I never served in the armed forces so I don’t know the horrors of war. But my dad told me a number of stories of this man that he observed from a distance. How he led his men against incredible odds and turned the tide of the war. He was the optimist of all optimists in the face of trials.
So what about you - where do you see yourself? Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty type of person when it comes to trials in this world?

Take stock of where you are on your grief journey and what you need to do to keep on going.  How is your attitude toward life?
Side note:  December 7th also has special meaning for me personally, because on that day back in 2002, my father passed away. Every time my dad and I talked when he was alive he told me that he loved me. He is one of the reasons I am so comfortable with who I am and my abilities.

For those who have served in the armed forces, I would just like to say thank you. I know it’s usually done on Veteran’s Day but can you really thank someone enough for putting themselves in harm’s way for our freedom?

This is the second in our series of three Holiday posts.   If you are viewing this through the email feed, please know you can find additional support and encouragement at our home site of www.griefslinky.blogspot.com


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holidays I - Further Along the Journey

Holidays and Beyond by Kurt Olson

Holidays are always special because it is on those days when we typically go above and beyond showing the normal, everyday appreciation to those we love.   But now, one or more of those held so dear to us have died and it feels like the magic of the holiday has metaphorically ‘left the building’ without them.   Can you really be thankful on Thanksgiving?  Is there really a merry in Merry Christmas?  You wonder if any of this is remotely possible without your loved one. 

It may come as a surprise but your holidays will need to heal from your loss too.  The meaning of the holidays hasn’t changed, but the way you celebrate them probably needs to shift or might even need major reconstruction.  For me, it became a time to remember my late wife’s generous heart.  I tip my head to her generosity but donating a goat to a needy family through Compassion International.  Another smaller thing I do throughout the year that changes my thoughts, honors her memory and helps me heal is what I call my “Do Good” column in my yearly budget.  I made the decision to set aside 1% of my earnings to do some good for others. Some call it “random acts of kindness” but I prefer thinking of it as my divine appointments from God and His generosity.  It’s those times when a friend or a complete stranger is brought my way with a need. Do I give to everyone who comes my way?  No, but I do find myself freed up to help someone out if I have the money set aside.

The reason I do these acts is to help out others with a bigger need than I have for that money. But it also does something in my heart. I was recently in a restaurant where a woman had her hands full with her kids. Most of the restaurant was giving her dirty looks. I could see the tension on her face trying to feed her kids and calming them down. I asked the waitress for her check and paid for it. Then I asked the waitress to hand her a note after I left that simply said, “Congratulations you been chosen to receive a free lunch from a complete stranger. Have a great day!  You look like you’re an awesome mom. Great job!”  I do not remember anything else I did that day, but I remember that woman.

Do you have any room in your life for random acts of kindness? Your assignment this week is to find just one person to whom you can show a little bit of kindness and take action.   And remember, do so with humility and without any possibility of repayment.

Scripture tells us in 1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”  (NRSV)  Pass it on.

 This is the first in our series of three Holiday posts so stay tuned.  If you are viewing this through the email feed, please know you can find additional support and encouragement at our home site of www.griefslinky.blogspot.com  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thanksgiving & Christmas Ahead - Further Along the Journey

Handling the Holidays after a Loss by Nancy Hamlin

My mother died on July 1, 1993, so we went into my daughter’s birthday, (November 25th), Thanksgiving, and Christmas thinking we had grieved.  When I look back on this time, I want to laugh at how totally crazy were we in thinking that we had even begun to understand what my mother’s death meant for our family.

I went “over the top” for my daughter’s birthday, making this elaborate Teddy Bear cake from a mold, and I think it took me 6 hours to put the star frosting on, star by star.  Julia had far too many presents for a 2-year-old, one present after another.  She couldn’t even comprehend all of the unnecessary bounty.

I was frantic.  I didn’t stop moving.  I made Thanksgiving dinner and then proceeded to buy  tons of Christmas presents.    On Christmas day, my husband, daughter, father, and brother kept opening presents until we were exhausted. I remember us sitting in my parent’s living room after opening the presents.  We were all very quiet, just looking at each other, and I remember feeling…terrible, just terrible. What was wrong? What did I miss? What didn’t I do right? Why did I feel so incredibly sad?

The answer is that I had not planned on anything feeling different. I had not planned on what it was going to feel like to NOT have my mother at my daughter’s 2nd birthday, or at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.  I so wish I had. I so wish we had. We caused ourselves unnecessary additional pain because we were all pretending that we could just “go on” without her and not feel this amazing void, this huge hole in our lives. Oh my. It was so sad…

Lesson learned – DO NOT go into your holiday season and pretend that nothing has happened, that you can just do everything the same as before and it will “all work out.” IT WON’T.  Be wiser. Be healthier. Plan. Do something different.  Realize that the whole world has changed and don’t fight it.  Embrace it.  It’s your chance to make some decisions that make you feel comforted, loved, and cared for. You can do this….you can handle the holidays and grieve and love and rest in God’s care.  The best way to honor your loved one is to not just survive, but to THRIVE. 

If you are viewing this through the email feed, please know you can find additional support and encouragement at our home site of www.griefslinky.blogspot.com

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Next Day - Handling the Holidays

Now is the time to think about the holidays coming up in the next several weeks.  Thanksgiving with Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve and Day are approaching with their own set of past memories,  rituals, and traditions.  Don’t let this time of year scare you or force you to do things that are not healthy and honoring to you and your journey.  Spend the next few days thinking about how YOU would like to honor these days and holidays this year.

WHO would you like to spend time with? WHERE would you like to spend time? WHAT would YOU like to do?  Don’t let this holiday season sneak up on you and overwhelm you. Think about what you need and don’t be afraid to be slightly selfish for a change.  Take care of yourself this year.  There will be other years where you can “go with the flow”, where you will be in a better position to compromise with your family.  But this year, take care of YOU.  Your heart, your soul, and your loved one’s memory will be better served.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.”  Psalm 27:1-3(NASB)

If you are viewing this through the email feed, please know you can find additional support and encouragement at our home site of www.griefslinky.blogspot.com

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Handling the Holidays After a Loss?

The first years following a major life loss are challenging to say the least.  Changes in the family structure, loved ones absent from the table and long standing traditions beckoning to be "the same" surround Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s.   We need to re-evaluate, re-position and re-create how to deal with these significant days in our lives.  Join us on Wednesday, November 13th to learn about triggers that high-jack your emotions and situations that rob you of joy, as well tried and true approaches from fellow survivors that allowed them to honor their circumstances and remember what is most important now.  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Week 8 Further Along The Journey

A Legacy by Kurt Olson

Football season is in high gear across this country.  It’s played in the pee wee leagues and all the way to the NFL. Two of the most talked about positions are the quarterback and the receiver, and there have been many legendary players from both of those positions. This isn’t the type of legacy I want to write about today though.  Instead, I would like to look at the basic ideas of these two positions and make some comparisons to the concept of legacy in our own lives. To simply define the roles; as a quarterback, one of your primary job descriptions is to pass the ball, and as a receiver, your primary job is to catch the ball.

Quarterbacks   Quarterbacks need to deliver the ball on target at the right moment when the receiver breaks free. It doesn’t just happen by magic. The quarterback and the receiver work on it together in practice. A pass isn’t just thrown in any direction randomly, but is thrown to a specific spot, and to a specific intended receiver. Admittedly, legacy doesn’t work exactly like that. We don’t get the luxury of practice in giving our legacy to our kids. But when you think about your every-day life, you have the opportunity to raise or lower the legacy bar you are leaving by your actions.

A quarterback doesn’t get into the Hall of Fame by completing just one pass; he gets in because over the course of his career he has completed a number of winning passes.   Each day you can leave a little deposit on your life long legacy. The legacy my Dad left me was telling me that he loved me every day. I know men who have told me they never heard those words once from their fathers. I never had to guess if my Dad loved me. Does that mean that my Dad and I never had words?  No, it doesn’t mean that.  But it is a message I heard from him every day, and I knew he was in my corner and he loved me. 

Receivers  The job of the receiver is to catch the ball. By nature they have the ability to catch passes, whether they are from a great throw, or if they are poorly thrown. That is good news if you are cheering for the receiver in a football game.  However, it might be lousy news if the person you are leaving the legacy to is a great receiver and YOU are throwing a poor legacy message.
I was thinking back on the legacy my wife left my kids. Pam was a well-educated woman, an Electronic Engineer with a degree from Carnegie Melon, and with her Master’s from IIT. When we had our three kids and it came time for them to go to school, Pam decided to build into them more herself, and home schooled them as long as she could before she got sick. She also modeled every day what it looked like to be a Christ follower. My three kids have all decided to be teachers, and more importantly, they all follow Jesus.
Here are some things to consider:
1.      What is the legacy your loved one has left? How has that changed the way you do life?
      What is the legacy you are leaving? If the legacy isn’t what you would like others to remember you by, consider this; it’s never too late to change the message.
3.      Start today!

If you are viewing this through the email feed, please know you can find additional support and encouragement at our home site of www.griefslinky.blogspot.com

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Week 8 The Next Day - Legacy

When we think about the legacy we will leave behind, we are confronted face-to-face with the end of our own life and death.  And because that can be a difficult, we put off really considering how the way we are living our life now will directly impact the legacy that we leave when we die.

Don’t ignore the obvious.  We are sitting here in the loss and pain and sadness, can we not use these feelings for good, to make conscious decisions right now that will affect our legacy in the future?  Think…how you would like to be remembered.  What impact on this world would you like your loved ones to talk about for years to come AFTER you die?

It’s NOT morbid. It’s the reality and truth we live in AND – good news – we still have the ability to influence the outcome.  Our loved one is gone.  We are not.  While our living without them can seem burdensome, grab something that can be inspiring, grab onto something that can really change the world you live in.  That something is YOU and how you choose to live your life going forward.  Open your eyes and see, pray and then get moving.  There is something that still needs to be done that you were made by God to do.

Who wants to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant…oh, I wish you had ________________.”    It’s a choice, you decide.

Are you interested in helping others in their season of loss and grief?   Check out this insightful book from Stephen's Ministry shown on our website http://griefslinky.blogspot.com/    “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” (Proverbs 25:20)

If you are viewing this through the email feed, please know you can find additional support and encouragement at our home site of www.griefslinky.blogspot.com

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Week 8 Introduction - Leaving a Legacy

Join us for the last night of the fall workshop on Wednesday, 11/6 at 7:30 p.m.  Former Willow Creek Community Church Pastor and Teacher Gene Appel challenges us to consider what we would leave behind if this were our last year here on earth. Uplifting and thought provoking, Gene encourages us to grab the time we still have to create a legacy that is enduring, impactful and God honoring. Pastor Appel walks us through what God outlines as a lasting legacy, ending with a powerful and emotional real life example that will force us all to think about our future differently. 

Learn more about our teacher by following this link: https://db.tt/UQw9fnzE

Are you interested in helping others in their season of loss and grief?   Check out this insightful book from Stephen's Ministry shown on our website http://griefslinky.blogspot.com/ 

“Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” (Proverbs 25:20)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Week 7 Further Along the Journey

Welcome to My Club by Nancy Hamlin

I spend most of my time making decisions about things I control.  Everything from what I want to buy at the grocery store, to what I want to wear today, to when I am going to get a new car, to who I am going out to dinner with tonight, to who I feel like talking to, to who I want to email…..you get the picture. Most of us spend our time making our own decisions about our own lives, sometimes consulting with others, often not.

When death comes rushing into our lives, it is like a tidal wave washing over us.  All of a sudden we are furiously treading water, swimming, trying to get our head above the waves just to catch our breath. My problem with this image is that I didn’t get to choose to jump into the water. I didn’t ask to have a tidal wave wash over my life. I am spending all of my energy, all of my survival skills on something that I never, ever wanted in my life.  What is going on? I do not want to be here. I do not want to improve my swimming skills or my treading water skills. I want to be on dry land.

Once I experienced a major death in my life, I became a very unwillingly member of the “survivor of a death” club.  I did not choose to be a part of this club. I do not want to be part of this club.  Again, I keep coming back to having no choice in the matter.  But here I am and I have to live in this.  I need to try and figure out what being in this club means.

While being in this club has many things about it I do not like, I have to admit it has totally changed my attitude towards life and death, and providing comfort and care to others going thru this similar journey.  Before my mother died, I had no idea what it felt like to lose someone I loved; to experience the depth of the pain, and the incredible heaviness of the feelings. I didn’t know the length of time it took to get on dry land again. Now I “get” it. Before, I didn’t.

Now, because I “get” what it is like to experience a death, I can be a completely different type of support system for my family and friends. Being “in the club” allows me to offer empathy, love, care, appropriate support, and words and actions that were totally foreign to me before joining the club. I didn’t know how to treat someone walking through a death before I walked through my own experience.

Am I a better friend? YES.  Am I am a better boss? YES. Am I a better family member?  YES.

And maybe that makes being in this club not so bad sometimes. I try to remember this when I can reach out and truly comfort someone who trusts my care…because I have been there; when I can talk and just listen, and not fix someone who is hurting…because I have been there; when I can hug someone without being asked…because I have been there; when I can just be there… because I have been there.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.  For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.  Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.  We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.     2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NLT)

If you are viewing this through the email feed, please know you can find additional support and encouragement at our home site of www.griefslinky.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Week 7 The Next Day - What We Have Now

So here we sit.  The crisis is over, whatever it was that got us to this point. Whether it was due to an accident, a disease, old age, or something else, our loved one truly is gone.  Wow. They are finished here on earth.  How can that be?  It is just too hard to think about sometimes.  We feel like we are sitting in a pile of ashes. We have only the leftovers...after the love is gone. We are left….but with what?

We are left with our lives. Not the lives we might want, but the lives we now have in front of us.  The truth is, those lives are going to continue, and how they end up will be heavily influenced by our choices, our decisions, and our hearts.  So while we feel very out of control over our loved one’s death, we actually are confronted with many ways in which we are in charge.  We need to make good decisions for our lives and our futures.

Words that describe our feelings now may be; scary, frightening, new, fresh, overwhelming, exhilarating, heavy, or depressing.  There are a lot of ways to feel and experience where we are now and what we have now.  However, we are not starting this new journey with nothing.  Almost everyone has loves and complications and relationships and families. We probably all have a lot of things in our lives already that we have not considered, have discounted as not enough/important or are not seeing at all.  So our question is...what do you really have NOW?

Spend some time this week writing down everything you have in your life that you think is positive – those who are left, work, a house, a car, a nice comfy bed, central heat, food - remember the little things, not just the big things.  Spend some time thanking God that you actually have them.  Then think for just a few minutes about how those blessings can be your base for other good things…..for other blessings…..for your future. You can do it.


If you are viewing this through the email feed, please know you can find additional support and encouragement at our home site of www.griefslinky.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Week 7 Introduction - What We Have Now

Join us Wednesday, 10/30 at 7:30 p.m. to hear noted speaker and author Miriam Neff as she brings a wealth of faith-filled wisdom to understanding our life after our loved one dies.  While there are many things that we lose after experiencing a death in our life, there are also many things that we gain. It is important to acknowledge both aspects of the process and claim new aspects of our life and ourselves as we journey towards wholeness, healing and new beginnings.

Learn more about our teacher by following this link: https://db.tt/z5zHv2Oq 


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Week 6 - Further Along the Journey

Keep On, Keeping On by Kurt Olson

Did you hear about the 17-year-old tennis player Vicki Duval? She was the 298th ranked tennis player who won in the US Open this year against the 11th ranked and a former U.S. Champion.  Though that was quite a feat, but it isn’t really all of her story. Vicki has seen and lived through some life-changing tragedies from her homeland in Haiti. 
Vicki Duval
Time Magazine
At age 7, Vicki and her older sister were kidnapped and held for ransom by men in Haiti. She and her sister survived that horrible ordeal.  In 2010 her dad (a doctor) sent the family to the US while he stayed in Haiti to help out the poor in their country. The office where he was practicing collapsed during an earthquake and he was buried under the building structure, but was not killed. He was able to make a phone call to Vicki’s mom, intending to say goodbye before he died, and that he dearly loved them. Vicki was there when her mother collapsed to the floor in grief. Miraculously, her father did manage to pull himself out, and though he still suffers some physical problems, he is alive today.

At a young age, Vicki is battle tested beyond her years. I couldn’t help but wonder if those events somehow had something to do with this recent match as she struggled to win. In her words, Sam, her opponent, didn’t have her best match, and she had the match of her life so far.
Each of us to some degree experiences this battle testing when we suffer loss and are dealing with grief. We experience it when we struggle to keep going, keeping up with the day-to-day, and when we feel like giving up, but we don’t give up.  Could this be the heart of the message God is telling us in His word? 

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 (NIV)
So let’s keep going. God’s promise is true!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Week 6 The Next Day - Where Is Our Hope

As we discussed in our workshop, “hope” can be about the last thing you think about when your loved one dies.  Death itself is the opposite of hope. Death is about endings, not beginnings, darkness, not light, stops signs, not green lights, not a future vision, but looking back at what was.

As you move through your grief journey this coming week, make a list of those things in your life that could, over time, lead to hope-filled thoughts. Your list might include the important people still in your life who love you, and who need your love as well; like your children, spouse, brother, sister, father, mother, or close friends. Your list might include a stable job that provides a comfortable life for you and your family. It might include dogs and cats and other family pets that are always there to provide you with comfort and care.

Death can cloud our future and our feeling of hope.  Don’t let it steal your joy forever. Don’t let it blind you to the things you still have in your life that are hope-filled, positive, and unique.  Where is your hope?  It’s right here.  When is your hope? It’s right now. It’s just waiting for you to step back and take notice.

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  Romans 5:5 (NRSV)

By Nancy Hamlin

If you are viewing this through the email feed, please know you can find additional support and encouragement at our home site of www.griefslinky.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Week 6 Introduction - Where is Our Hope?

Grief Support Sr. Leader Nancy Hamlin moderates a live panel of Grief Support leaders in discussing what has given them hope for their future, personal vision and a sense of healing and God's presence as they journey on through their life without their loved one.   Please join us on Wednesday, October 23rd at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Week 5 - Further Along the Journey

Just Enough Light by Nancy Hamlin

I am a planner.  I like to know what I am doing today, every hour, and then tomorrow, every hour, and then next week, next month, and then the next month. Knowing what is going to happen in my life makes me feel calm, in control, centered, and okay.

When my mother died, I was 34, my daughter Julia was just 18 months old. I had been married for 9 years. I was an ADULT. But the feeling of control left my life.  I felt like I had just been pushed off a very high cliff. Even though my mother had been sick with emphysema for over 7 years, her death shocked me. It rocked me. It just took the foundation out from under me.  I had no clue what was happening to me. I really did not know how I was going to go on living without her in my life.

I had no joy. I had no happiness – even for my daughter. I had no sense of hope for feeling joy again.  I was terrified that I had entered a new realm of living where I would never again truly feel like living.  I call this the “black and white” period of my life.  Everything felt like it was in black and white, and the color had left my life forever.
A wonderful book I have encountered in my journey is called “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On” by Stormie OMartian.  Her premise is that God gives us just enough….food, energy, knowledge, comfort, care, and LIGHT for our path, for where we are TODAY.  God does not give us the big huge camp flashlight that allows us to see into the future, or what is down the road, or years from now.  No.  God gives us his grace, mercy, and love in a portion that gets us thru TODAY.  He gives us enough for where we are right now, this very minute.

If we step back, that actually sounds wonderful and sufficient.  But we are not creatures of the “now”.  We are creatures of the “what is going to happen next”. God never promises to reveal His plans for us further down the road.  Rather, he reveals to us what we can handle right now.

 “So don’t worry about seeing or understanding what the future holds.  God wants you to trust him as he leads you, even though you can’t see clearly ahead.  And don’t be overly concerned about fully comprehending the past. Only he knows the whole truth about it anyways.  You have HIM now.  HE is your light and that is all that matters.” 

“Just Enough Light”

Sometimes only the step I’m on,
  Or the very next one ahead,
        Is all that is illuminated for me.
God gives just the amount of light I need
   For the exact moment I need it.
At those times I walk in surrender to faith,
   Unable to see the future
   And not fully comprehending the past.
And because it is God who has given me
    What light I have,
             I know I must reject the fear and
            Doubts that threaten to overtake me.
I must determine to be content where
     I am, and allow God to get me where I
                 Need to go.
I walk forward,
             One step at a time,
                       Fully trusting that
                             The light God sheds
                                      Is absolutely sufficient.

Quote and poem from “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On”, page 25, by Stormie OMartian

Friday, October 18, 2013

Week 5 The Next Day - Shame and Regrets

As we intentionally move toward choices for health and healing it’s a good time to take stock of what we wish we could “do over” from our past, and in our relationships with our loved ones. As we learned last night, there is no place for shame in our journey, but regret is a natural part of our learning and growing process. Regret propels us to make positive changes.  It also propels us to re-evaluate our behavior and move toward a future that includes increased self-awareness, acceptance, and love.

Take some time this week looking back over the past 24 months of your life.  Write down a few things you wish had gone differently, things you wish you could change, or do over. As you review your list, also jot down what you can do differently in the future as a result of your awareness. If you wish you had said, “I love you” more often to your loved one, can you begin working those words into your everyday exchanges in small ways? If you regret the state of your relationship when your loved one died, take a look at your current relationships and determine if there are any areas that need to be shored up, restored, or redeemed right now.  Use your honesty and bravery to give yourself a new road map for the future. You still have time to make changes in your life that will bring you increased peace, contentment, and joy as you let God bring forth new things from the darkness of your loss.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Week 5 Introduction - Shame and Regrets

Teacher, counselor and fellow grief traveler Sharon Voyda takes a close look at the role of shame and regret in our emotional reactions to death and defines the differences between toxic feelings and healthy feelings in our process. Exploring the roots of these two powerful emotions can be the foundation for continued healing and freedom from becoming stuck in the mire of shame and self-doubt in our grief process.   Join us Wednesday, October 16th at 7:30 p.m.   Learn more about our teacher by following this link: https://db.tt/RNWbXnEz