Trusting God with our Whys (via Simple Seeds of Light & Joy)

A note from a friend walking family and friends through the terrible tragedy of the loss of young life.

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 Proverbs 3:5-7 When the phone call comes? When the door rings and someone with tear running down their face is standing there? When you see someone at the store and they say, “Have you heard?” When we find out something that breaks our heart, how do we trust the Lord with all of our heart? When that … Read More

via Simple Seeds of Light & Joy

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The Flowers

This post is from a guest contributor, Lena Sawyer.  I was touched by how beautifully her poignant note expresses the grief process and wanted to share.

The Flowers

by Lena Sawyer

What’s strange about people is how they survive their emotions.  Emotions are killer….. And when I lost my grandpop, I felt like there was no getting over it.
That, because I was in Italy and they were there, I would be miserable forever, forever mourning on my own.
Everyday, though, I felt better and better, I was anything but alone, I was surrounded by people who understood loss and understood how to love me back whole.

I still feel it, I still feel that part of my heart that wants to love something that isn’t there to hold, it’s reaching to grasp something that hands can’t wrap around.  But just by remembering him, something grabs hold of ME and I can love it.  I still love my grandpa, but it doesn’t hurt so much.  I came back to the States a few weeks ago and I am finally getting the chance to see my family.

My grandmother has a yellow vase of orange daylilies on her kitchen table.
When I first saw them, they were beautiful…vibrant orange, wide open and bloomed.
Four blooms.
But the next morning they had all closed.
They had become ugly and dry, shriveled and browned.
So I asked her why she kept them and she said, “Oh, I’m waiting for them to open up again. They’re daylilies, you know? That means they reopen every day and when the flowers die, you just trim them off and new ones come in their place.”

Four days have passed and the lilies keep coming and going.
She trims the dried-up stems and makes space for the new ones…the dewy, moist, orange petals emerge and everyday, the daylily remains a lily, but it stretches in different directions, its colors change and sometimes we get only two blossoms and some days, four.

Yesterday, we changed the water and the blossoms arrived in time for breakfast in an orange more vivid than we’d seen in days.

My grandma is living without my grandpa. Parts of her life have expired and she allows them to be as she allows herself to be: to adjust, grow and change, develop, learn, thrive even.
God, it sucks to see the blossoms close at the end of the day…they look so worn and pathetic…so much that it makes me wonder whether those lilies will be there again. But the lily, that lovely stem, continues.

My grandma has never forgotten that there is yet life in her.
She doesn’t forget that her source is that water.
She changes and grows and has to say “addio” to things that have been a part of her…things that were beautiful.

But the water remains, and just the same, so does her vivacity.   From sunrises to sunsets, she may be less or more than the day before, but she is always a lily.

My grandmother is lovely.
She loves and lives in her source of life, her water, her Lord.
And He is more constant than the tide.

“The flowers you gave me are rotting and still I refuse to throw them away.
Some of the bulbs never opened quite fully
They might so I’m waiting and staying awake.
Things I have loved I’m allowed to keep”
~Regina Spektor

Hope in God for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance, and my God
Psalm 42:11, 43:5

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Understanding Trauma

This is a great resource article by Melanie Woodley:

Trauma is a reality of human existence; it appears in our literature, our history, our drama. It has captured the attention of human service practitioners in the past, but it is only within the last 25 years or so that we have begun to focus on the long-term, serious effects of trauma, especially on our children.

It began when Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was recognized as a formal mental disorder, with its inclusion in the DSM-III in the early 1980’s. That early understanding has been enhanced by further research that has revealed the permanent physiological impact on brain development and growth. PTSD and other severe reactions to trauma cut across cultural and ethnic boundaries; they affect all socio-economic classes, and can impact adults as well as children.

Read the full Associated Content article by Melanie Woodley here.

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Memorial Day: Grief and Gratefulness

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.  All holidays are difficult for families who have lost loved ones, but Memorial Day must be especially difficult to process as others plan picnics and backyard parties.  Parades, street fairs, vacation plans coincide with graveside visits.

This is an excerpt from an article featured in The Gazette, What to say to grieving families, and why it’s important to remember, about the grief families experience as they remember those they have lost:

“But after the crowds go home, grief is rarely tidy, say those who have lost a child in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some people inadvertently contribute to the heartache with awkward talk of closure or a tone-deafness about the significance of Memorial Day.”

So what expressions of sympathy are truly helpful?

“The kindest thing you can do is just say, ‘Tell me about him,’ because if you don’t talk, you get sick. I’ve had some terrible times after Jake was killed, but for me, being of service is the way to go. I’d hope Jake would say, ‘I’m proud of you, Pops.'”

See the full article here.

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Children

When you are a child,
You can be so blissfully unaware of things.
To the point where it’s kind of like living in your own protected, loved, cared-for bubble
That you know nothing of the world outside.

When you are a child,
Your parents protect you from the world to the extent of their abilities.
They set rules and boundaries to help you grow and mature,
So when they let you wander off into this world,
You’re somewhat prepared for what’s ahead.

When you are a child,
You are at a very impressionable age,
Watching people live, you begin to follow them, for that is all you know.
Your character is just a product of what you’ve seen and done.
You learn to live how people have lived for thousands of years.

When I was a child,
I was put in a situation that,
Took me out of my bubble,
Sat me down in the world,
Let me look into its unstable reality,
My parents were unable to protect me,
When our lives really depended on it,
We were thrown into the open unprepared.
The greatest impression was laid down upon my life,
Tasting fear for its authenticity,
Learning about things no child should ever know.

I am still a child,
One who stands a little weird and off because that’s who I am,
One who still loves the same Savior who she was persecuted for.
One who found security in Something; you’d have to experience to understand.
I am still a child,
Affected by one man’s pure hate for my Savior.
A Savior who ended up,
Showing up.
When I needed Him the most.

Kristen and Judy

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Whatever It Takes, As Long As It Takes

Photo by Kristen Purcell 2010

When faced with terrible circumstances each of us has a choice to make regarding the cycle of grief.  We can either choose to enter-in and submit to it fully, or pretend, behaving the way we think we ought.  One of the reasons it can be so hard to navigate, is because little credence is given to the lasting effects of grief in our society.  As a Christian, it is not often that we can  express our deep hurt or anger without someone reminding us of God’s sovereignty.  Though true, the well-intentioned reminder is not comforting if poorly timed.  It is vital to understand than our need to grieve does not diminish our beliefs.

Jesus wept.  Isn’t that encouraging?  It is not just our weakness, it is right and proper.

Trying to cover our pain or reality with hyper-spiritual precepts or common clichés only prolongs the anguish that still resides deep within us.  When grief is ignored too long there is an encampment of such that leaves us wondering why we are not experiencing healing or joy.  No matter how many good and positive events there are around us, the disappointment and still unanswered questions remain.

Surrendering to the cycle and journey of grief brings healing unlike anything else.  In our haste to simply move-on, we try to hold our breath emotionally, hoping it will just pass.  This is exhausting because it doesn’t ever really pass. We become distracted with the next event, allowing the unresolved hurt and pain to set up residence in our soul. This creates a false belief that if we give it a small corner of our psyche, it will leave us alone.  What begins as a real and reasonable response to a terrible event or circumstance, can develop into an anchor of negative responses and emotions that leave us chasing the antidote or numb from trying.

It is important to be open and available to experience the emotions that surface, rather than struggle to contrive the emotion we ought to have. It is remarkable how tightly this can all be woven together.  Our willingness to admit the emotions that seem so un-Christian and face the pain, allows us to partner with a good and loving God, releasing it to His mercy.  Embracing the grief process does not just happen, it is something we choose—whatever it takes, as long as it takes—because our healing can only be complete on the other side.

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