Sunday, September 29, 2013

Week 2 - Further Along the Journey

Living The Unchosen Path By Nancy Hamlin 
Public Domain

After each loss I have been through, one of my first thoughts has been, “This was not in my plan. I never expected this person to die. What am I going to do now? This is totally unexpected.”  This includes my mother’s death from emphysema after a 7 year battle with the disease and watching her slow decline. Her death should not have been unexpected OR unplanned…. But to me it was! My father’s death in 2010 was as sudden as a phone call in the conference room at work, “I’m so sorry, but your father just died.”  Then I got the email one morning that said, “My father committed suicide last night. I will let you know more later.” It was from my childhood friend from the 2nd grade. I don’t want death in my life.  How did this happen?  This was not part of MY plan, this death stuff.

We were not created to die, (we were created in God’s own image – eternal!) so yes, don’t be surprised if you wonder why this event is happening in your life. Death is not part of our life strategy or part of our overall life plan is it?  It tends to lurk in the shadows as one of those possibilities that only happens to other people, or to really old people. So why would I need to make death part of my plan? It’s NOT going to happen to me. Really!!

We now sit in the middle of this unfamiliar and unreal space wondering what to do with this new life? We think; I don’t want this new life. I don’t want to live a life without my loved one. I don’t want to live a life I have NOT planned for, a life I have not chosen. I did not choose the place where I am now living. I did not choose to be a widow, a widower. I did not choose to be fatherless, motherless, parentless, or without my beloved child. I did not choose to be without my partner, my brother, my sister, my grandmother, my grandfather, my very best friend.  I am somewhere right now I never chose to be – nothing is left of my old life.  I am empty.  I feel like I have nothing left……..where am I going?

In Proverbs 3:5-8, it states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (NIV)

As we journey down the path we did not choose, we can trust that God knows the way before us.  We can trust that God knows what’s around the corner on this foreign path, and is leading us into a future that looks different than our path today.  It is a path which holds glimmers of brightness, color, and light. There will be sunlight, and yes, even warmth. Let us trust His promises.  Meet you on the path He has promised in His Word.  
Public Domain
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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Week 2 The Next Day - Grieving with Hope

Like traveling through the “Grief Slinky”, Pastor Hybels believes God’s approach to grief is a healthier way than the hopeless approach, which is often what we experience as we grow up.  The struggles we have in balancing how we feel vs. how we are expected to act are a continual tug of war between our hearts and minds.

 In the next week, think about the times in your life when you feel one way and act another way.  How does this make you feel?  For example: Conflicted? Stressed? Phony?  Safe? Protected?

The more we can live out our lives the way we feel, the more we can experience God’s grace, mercy, and love.  Take one action in your life where you act one way and feel another, and work on aligning the two parts.  For example, if you are talking to a friend and feel like they are not listening to you, rather than pretending you are really okay, gently tell them you feel you’re not being heard. Say this with grace, but be honest and see what happens to your heart and your relationship.  It will not be easy, but God will bless your efforts.

Suggested reading: “The Healing Path: How the Hurts in Your Past Can Lead You to a More Abundant Life”, by Dan B. Allender

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Week 2 Introduction - Grieving with Hope

Join us September 25th at 7:30 p.m. in Room 100 as Willow Creek Community Church's Senior Pastor Bill Hybels teaches via DVD on focusing how God wants us to grieve in a healthy and God-honoring manner. Beginning at a young age in watching how our own families deal with grief, through the societal influences that shape and influence our patterns, Pastor Hybel's compares and contrasts healthy grieving vs. unhealthy grieving and identifies the components that make up both paths. Ultimately, we want to grieve as God has created us to reach a place of hope and healing.

Learn more about our teacher Senior Pastor Bill Hybels by following this link:

Monday, September 23, 2013

CNN's Piers Morgan with Rick and Kay Warren - An Abbreviated Transcript

"The interview was raw and real. The CNN crew and their staff watched almost breathlessly. For an entire hour, you could’ve heard a pin drop, everyone was so riveted by what God was doing through the conversation."

Rick takes an opportunity to pass along some of the most significant things they were privileged to say during this interview about the loss of their son Matthew to mental illness and suicide earlier this year.  The abbreviated transcript can be found at this link

We pray that something in this transcript speaks to your heart and brings you closer to the God that is waiting to hear from you. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Week 1 - Further Along the Journey

Endings...and Beginnings By Nancy Hamlin 
Senior Pastor Wayne Alguire, of Trinity Baptist Church in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, teaches on the topic of “Endings and Beginnings.” He says, embracing the endings and beginnings of the grieving process is not only about acknowledging our loved one is gone.  It is also a process that allows us to KEEP our relationship with our loved one in our lives in new and different ways.

Alguire contends that our relationship with our loved one does not end when they die, it changes and needs to develop into something new - and we are a big part of creating the new dynamic. Finding healing and hope in our lives is about recognizing the changing nature of our relationship with our loved one, NOT severing the ties. The relationship never goes away…

“It has to end to begin.” Sia Furler, songwriter, from the song, “Numb”.
In order to begin the new relationship with our loved one, we need to draw a line in our history and acknowledge our loved one is physically gone forever.  This “drawing a line” activity allows us to truly declare the old relationship is over, is done, and will never be the same again.  As part of “drawing a line”, we need to recognize and acknowledge what IS gone and lost from our relationship. Physical closeness, hugs, and conversations, sound, smells, and touch are some of the things truly lost to us through death.

Our next step in creating this new relationship is recognizing and articulating the things about our loved one “we can take with us” into the new dynamic.  Photos, letters, emails, mementos, rituals, clothes, books, household belongings, recordings, music, and movies are just a few of the things that can come over the line with us and ground our new relationship. They are real, tangible, and give us a foundation on which to begin again.

Finally, we can move to a place where we become “the author of our loved one’s life” as teacher Sibyl Towner shares in her grief teaching. We share the memories, the stories, the recipes, the conversations, the wisdom, and ultimately the love of our loved with the world at large.  Our ties are not severed but changed into a new relationship of honor, love, respect, and admiration as we continue in relationship with our loved one in new and different ways while we are still here on earth.    

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Week 1 The Next Day - In the Right Place

Being in the Grief Support Workshop is a great place to grieve within a supportive community. However, you should also take time to evaluate the other “places” in your life and how they are either helping or hurting your grief journey.

Awareness of the places that are good for you is important.  You can intentionally schedule your life so there is time for such things as a walk with a friend, going to church, sitting silently in a favorite chair gazing out the window, listening to soothing music, or crying and laughing with beloved friends.  Finding your “right places” can be restorative, a comfort, and a way to hear God’s voice in your journey as well.

Spend time over the next two days writing down the “right places” in your life that allow you to be real in your grief, real in your process, and restful as you journey through the healing process. Then make a schedule for spending time in your “right places” over the next few weeks.  Psalm 62:5 “Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him.”

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week 1 Introduction - In The Right Place

When we grapple with the intense, spiraling emotions surrounding the death of our loved one, we are left searching for answers, comfort, care and direction. Listen as three past participants share first-hand their real life stories of walking into the Grief Support community for the very first time - their hopes, fears, expectations, surprises and what helped them along the healing path.