The Pandemic of Grief

Friends, we are in a season of grief. Every week, there is loss. Because of COVID almost all of us have experienced the death of a friend, family member, or at the least you are hearing stories of acquaintances who have passed away. Many of these are seemingly healthy people, prior to contracting COVID, and sadly they are people who seemed to still be in the prime of their life, possibly with young children. I don’t feel led to address any stance on COVID precautions. We all know the tools that are available to help us fight this horrible pandemic. I’m also not trying to spread fear. At this point, we also know the risk of COVID. I simply feel led to address the topic of grief and loss and its hard to deny the increasing number of folks who are joining the “grief club.” In a way, it’s becoming a pandemic itself. It’s shocking and heartbreaking to see so many families hurting and I can’t help but contemplate the effects of grief on our current society. Realizing that everyone’s grief journey is different, I do think there are a few things that I have learned on my own journey that I’d like to share.

Grieving people will never be who they were before their loved one died. Losing a loved one causes you to lose a piece of yourself and I’m convinced that it’s a piece of your heart. I remember the person that I was before Sarah died, untainted by death. I laughed more, I focused better, I slept better, I ate better, and my priorities were different. I may not seem different to many of you, but to my family, they can tell. There’s an innocence’s that is lost when death steals away someone that you love. It’s as if the unthinkable actually occurred and there is a distrust of statistics and reasoning. I give no weight to percentages now when I hear them used to minimize a risk. I just can’t help it.

Grieving people need space to just be. Don’t expect them to attend family functions or keep appointments regularly. Sometime, even in route to something planned, a wave of grief comes out of no where and just paralyzes me. Please give grace to those who are adjusting to a new normal. Grieving people often just feel sick themselves. The aches and pains of grief can make you feel like you’ve ran a marathon or even have the flu. The lack of sleep can also cause a grieving person to feel less than themselves. If you’re grieving, some days it’s OK if the most that you accomplish is getting out of bed and doing some self-care, like eating, showering, or taking an extra nap. Grieving people need time to work through the trauma of their loss-some more than others. If you are a friend, co-worker, or supervisor of someone who is grieving. Please give them some margin. Sooner or later, you’ll be in their position of grief too.

Grieving people need to know that you are available to talk about and remember their loved one. Please don’t be afraid to say their loved ones name and share memories or special things about their person. I realize that this may cause you to be concerned that you may upset them or make them sad, but honestly they already are both those things. They may actually need someone one else to validate their loss and feelings. It’s more hurtful when others do not acknowledge the loss that you feel. Tears are not always an indication that a grieving person is having a bad day. Sometimes tears are exactly the thing needed to have a better day. Trust me when I say that is a gift to them to even just speak their name. There are exceptions to this rule. So, don’t be too pushy and just follow their lead after you mention their loved one.

Grieving people need forgiveness. That’s right. I said forgiveness. Grieving people will not always make the right choices. They will do things that are hurtful, selfish, impulsive, irresponsible… I could go on and on. You see, the hurt is heavy and grieving people are just trying to stop the hurt, hide the hurt, or forget about the hurt for a while. Grief shouldn’t entitle us to hurt others on purpose and there are consequences to bad choices, obviously. It’s ok to set boundaries with a grieving person, if they are not respecting you. However, just be aware that extra grace is needed when maintaining a healthy relationship with a grieving person. Watch for indications that professional grief counseling may be necessary and encourage them to seek further help.

Grieving people need Jesus. I follow different types of grief support groups on social media. There are some grief support groups that do not tolerate any sort of faith-based approach to grieving. It honestly is so dismal. I’m even more confounded by it because most will admit that their loved one is still a spiritual being. They believe that their soul/spirit has moved on somewhere and they may even believe in heaven, but they will not acknowledge Jesus. Friends, Jesus is the only one to defeat death. He is the key to heaven. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Unless we humble ourselves and accept His payment for our sins, we will not receive eternal life in heaven. Submitting our lives to Him, not only gives us the hope of heaven, but it provides joy, peace, and purpose for us now, here on earth.

Even on my darkest day, I can know, because of Jesus, that I will be reunited with Sarah someday. Even on my darkest day, I can know that the Holy Spirit will comfort me and give me strength to endure the sadness. Even on my darkest day, I can still feel joy. I may be sad for myself because I miss Sarah, but I can know that she is experiencing pure joy and happiness. Even on my darkest day, I know that death has been defeated and one day, it will not exist. God is patient, but there will be a day that every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.(Philippians 2:10-11) If you’re still not sure about Jesus, I encourage you to research Him for yourself.

Inside My Head

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while. God has been prepping me, prodding me, and encouraging me to let go of any fears that I have about it. I’ve always said that aging people lose their “filters” because they are more comfortable with themselves and they just don’t care what other’s think about them anymore. I wish I could be more like that. I confess that I want people to like me and be comfortable around me so, that’s where the struggle has been. I don’t want anyone to think that I am “unstable.” I am ok. I am strong and feel very supported and hopeful. So, please do not read more into this than necessary. My goal in sharing is simply to raise awareness to the issue of grief and child loss. So therefore let me invite you into my head for a day in the life of a grieving mom…The thoughts inside my brain will be in quotations…

My brain slowly wakes my body as I realize, it’s time to get up and go to the bathroom. “What time is it?”…Then it hits me, “Sarah died.”…”Did I have a dream about her? I wish I could remember.” Stumbling through my morning routine…”Getting up will make me feel better”…contemplating the sick feeling in my tummy because I know she’s not sleeping in her room. I listen for Libby to see if she’s waking up on her own, if not, I go to her room to turn her lamp on and wake her. At some point during this routine, I say good-bye to Chad for the day. As he looks at me, I imagine that he’s wondering how my day will go and he’s thinking, “Is she ok? or is it going to be a hard day?”

As I pass by Sarah’s door, I have to look in there…”Maybe I can see her in there.” I want so desperately to see her as she is now, healed and whole. As I glance, my stomach turns over with grief and tears swell in my eyes, but they don’t always fall. “I just miss her Jesus!” I continue to head downstairs and on with my day and decide not to give into the grief. I enjoy my coffee, catch up on my FB feed, watch the news, help Libby stay on schedule with her morning routine, and tell her good-bye as she heads to school.

Then, it’s just me and Jesus. I read, listen to worship music, sometimes write this blog, and about every 5-10 minutes the thought that Sarah is no longer here enters my mind. It never stops through out my day. Sometimes when the thoughts come, physically my heart flutters or my stomach churns. Often times my knees get weak, but in time I’ve learned to push back the urge to fall and I just keep going on with the day. On the good days, I counter those thoughts, with the truths from scripture. Sometimes though the sadness wins and that’s ok. I need to let the emotions out.

Most of you know, Sarah played piano. She played very well and was a natural. At some point in the morning, my routine has been to sit at the piano and play. Sometimes I play for hours. Sometimes, it’s just one song. There’s a nearness to her and God that I feel when I play. I know she’s making music in heaven somehow. I’m thankful for the gift of music and how it connects us. It helps to know that through her memorial fund we’re going to be able to help other kids discover their gifts through music.

As I continue on with my day, I visit with family, friends, do chores, and other business, I laugh, I feel joy, and have my same sense of humor; but every few minutes, my brain reminds me that we’ve lost Sarah. It still stings. Even after 7 months it feels surreal. Some days if I’m going to town, I go by her grave. Some days if I’m going to town, I just can’t. Some days when I see her phone, I pick it up and scroll her photos, or watch her videos so that I can hear her voice and her laugh, but some days I can’t. It just hurts to much.

I have no expectations for what my days should be like. I’m doing the best that I can to minister to others through our pain because I feel very strongly that I’m suppose to. That’s the only thing that I’m sure of. God wants to use our grief journey, just as He used her cancer journey, to somehow strengthen other’s faith and give hope to those who are hurting. If you’re grieving, your days may be completely different than mine. If you’re grieving for a significant other, a child, or someone that you were extremely close to, I’m curious to know, how often your brain reminds you of their passing? For me, some days it’s more than others, but every day-it’s still a lot. I know there’s no right or wrong answer. The important thing is how I counter the negative with thoughts of hope. I discovered a verse again that has helped me:

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 1 Thessalonians 5:8

I know, it’s that “hope” word again! This verse confirms that the hope of our salvation protects our minds. How cool is that? Our faith and love acts as shield for our hearts, but our minds are not without a defense. Oh, how I need protection right now as I’m in the trenches of grief.

I read a unique analogy of grief recently. I honestly don’t remember where it was, but it basically said that our grief is sort of like an infant at first. It requires a lot of nurturing and work at first. As it progresses and ages, much like a toddler and a child, it won’t require as much supervision, but it’s certainly still necessary to give it plenty of attention and care. Eventually, it matures. It will always be there and we can visit it and attend to it, but it’s no longer necessary to devote so much time to tending to it and caring for it.

I’d like to know if those of you who have been grieving for a while, agree with that analogy? I’m really curious to know how often your thoughts take you to your grief? Are you reminded often of your loss? If you’re comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Nothing comforts my heart as much as reading scripture.  The Bible is full of promises for us to claim as our own, if we are believers.  According to Dr. Everk R. Storms, of Ontario Canada, writing for Contact Magazine, he spent a significant amount of time counting them all and concluded that there are indeed 8,810 to be exact.  There are different types of promises found in scripture:  Man to God, person to person, angel to person, etc. 7,487 of those promises are from God to man.   That’s a lot of promises!

When do you make a promise?  When you do, is it something that you take lightly or does it carry weight?  For me personally, when I make a promise, it’s significant.  A promise is something that is usually held for a special moment of building confidence or trust into something that another person may deem as uncertain, or insecure.  As the girls were growing, I tried very hard to never make a promise casually that couldn’t be kept, because I knew it was laying a foundation of trust for us to build on– for the rest of our relationship.  If someone breaks a promise, we usually don’t forget.  It’s painful and teaches us that we can’t completely trust that person. 

How much more should we value the promises of God?  Each one is like a gift that we can hold and look forward too.  He knew that we would need reassurance. He knew that we would feel insecure. So, He has woven His promises through-out scripture so abundantly to give us strength, power, joy, and courage- to keep on going.  It’s impossible for Him to break a promise. It’s important to note that there is usually a prerequisite to the promise. So, be sure and search them out. Usually that prerequisite aligns us with His heart and will.

Today, as I read the red letters of Jesus and read again some of the promises that He made to us, I’m reminded of just how well He always knows exactly what we need, especially as it pertains to grief.  As I study the time that Jesus was on earth with His disciples, much of what He told them was to prepare them for the grief that they would feel when He left them.  He was preparing them for a separation after His death on the cross and even after His resurrection because He ascended back to heaven.  He knew that the separation would be hard for His disciples and He wanted to prepare them.   His promises in John this morning were so fresh to me.  Right before he was arrested and taken for crucifixion, He said these words:

“The world will greatly rejoice over what is going to happen to me, and you will weep.  But your weeping shall suddenly be turned to wonderful joy(when you see me again).  It will be the same joy as that of a woman in labor when her child is born-her anguish gives place to rapturous joy and the pain is forgotten.  You have sorrow now, but I will see you again and then you will rejoice; and NO ONE can rob you of that joy.”  John 16: 20-22

Did you catch those promises?  Weeping turned to joy? Not just plain old joy, but a “rapturous joy” the kind of joy that makes us forget our pain that we have had to endure.  Knowing that, makes our grief somehow a little easier doesn’t it?   He compares it to childbirth…or for you guys, it’s like when you know you have to have surgery or a medical procedure on your physical body to fix something.  You know you’re going to endure some pain for a bit, but eventually, you will be better than before.  Our pain is temporary.  The pain of grief is temporary.  I find so much comfort in Jesus making a point to even tell us that.  It’s a promise that strengthens me and makes my grief manageable today.  Tomorrow, I may need to read it again or find another promise, but I’m so thankful that they are there for us to claim. 

What promise is giving you strength today?    

Welcome To The Club

The growing club of grief.

Now more than ever, it seems several are being forced to join the club that no one wants to belong to. It’s happening in our local community, in the state, across our country, and the world.  There will be more deaths this year, than ever before in the history of mankind.  That leaves a lot of us behind with holes in our lives that can never be filled.  Unfortunately, grief is still a topic that so many are uncomfortable preparing for, thinking about, and dealing with- when the time comes.  I’m certainly no expert and it would be really sad for someone to be a grief expert, but here are a few things I’ve learned since I’ve been a part of this club:

  1. Don’t have any expectations for what you may feel, think, or do as a result of your grief.  Even when we think we know ourselves and how we would usually react to something, we aren’t ourselves right now.  Grief taints every circumstance-especially in the immediate future after a loved one has passed. An unexpected emotion may blindside you and the best thing to do, is to go with the flow and not expect yourself to react like yourself, if that make sense?  I’m not only talking about the feelings that come with sadness.  Our emotions will “run the gamut” as we venture forward and we will use them to deny, protect, and avoid the real work of grief.  This is where grace comes into play.  Have grace with yourself and hopefully others will have grace with you as well. 
  2. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-we don’t all move through grief at the same pace.  Never expect yourself to be “over it” or done with it.  Likewise, never expect a grieving person to be at a certain point in their healing, just because time has passed.  We all arrive at different times and that’s ok.  Along that same note, just because a person seems ok one day, doesn’t mean they are ok the next day.  At this point in my grief journey, the days are usually quite normal, but at night–when all is quiet, my thoughts always go to Sarah and I miss her so much, it’s hard to breathe.  I do still have days when I need to just sit in my grief and allow myself to feel what I feel.
  3. People will act awkward around you at first.  They won’t quite be sure how you are coping.  So, they may avoid mentioning the death of your loved one.  So, if you’re feeling up to it, please keep talking about your loved one that has passed.  Those who are grieving with you will want to talk about them as well and it really is therapeutic for all of you to remember.  Those who aren’t necessarily grieving, will seem uncomfortable at first when you mention your loved ones name, but that’s not because they don’t want to talk about them.  It’s because they don’t want to cause you to be sad.  Mentioning your loved one first gives them permission to talk about them to you.
  4. I’ve briefly mentioned this in some of my other posts.  Grieving can sometimes physically hurt.  So, please do what you can to relax and destress your body.  You will feel like you’ve been ran over by a truck at times, but if you can-stretch, go for a walk and just be outside for a bit.  Eat well, stay hydrated and allow yourself to nap, if your sleep schedule is off.  My sleeping pattern is so different, since Sarah has passed.  I find myself still waking up early and because of that, sometimes I go to bed much earlier now.  If I wake up in the middle of the night, sometimes I just go ahead and get up.  I usually spend that quiet time reading, listening to worship music, and just visiting with God.  I’ve had some very precious times in the early morning with The Lord.  He is very near to the broken hearted and I know that strength comes from Him when we admit our weakness to Him. 
  5. When you’re ready, you may want to find a creative outlet for your grief.  Do something to honor your loved one.  You don’t have to be the best artist, singer, writer, etc. Maybe it’s as simple as finding a favorite photograph and doing something special with it to make a keepsake.  Many people have found comfort in making pillows, quilts or other memorabilia out of their person’s clothing items.  Maybe writing a letter or keeping a journal would be helpful for you.  It doesn’t have to be for anyone else’s eyes but your own.  It will help you process what you’re feeling and express it in a tangible way though and there is comfort in that. 

These are just a few of things that come to my mind today about being in the grief club.  Please know there are many things that will change, but it may surprise you to know that some things may change even for the better.  People in the grief club don’t seem to take the same things for granted any longer.  The terrible thing is that we have to sometimes join the club before we realize what it means to truly value life and all that goes with it.  Hopefully, even in the midst of your grief you will know that you are never alone.  Scripture tells us that God is near to the broken hearted (Psalms 34:18) and He cares deeply when our loved ones die.(Psalms 116:15) I pray that you will feel the nearness of God and that you’ll also stay connected to the other members of the grief club through blogs and FB pages like Grace In Grieving or other types of support groups.  Grieving people are really good listeners and we can relate to one another in our loss.   It has helped me so much to read all the responses and comments to my blog posts.  Here’s the thing about grief-sooner or later, everyone becomes a member.  None of us are exempt from loss.  When it happens, I hope you will find grace in your grieving. 

This is the song that we closed Sarah’s Celebration of Life with. Maybe it will bring some comfort to someone who’s new to our club. I’m just going to leave it right here…

The “Unspoken” Stages

If you’ve journeyed through grief or studied the topic in depth you’ve probably heard about the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The stages are not necessarily always a pattern. Some people skip over stages quickly, or stay in a particular stage at length before moving to another. For myself, I’m feeling some “sub” stages that may fall in one of those categories-or honestly, maybe they don’t at all. I am wondering if others have also felt some of these. WARNING: This is real. this is raw.

1. Loneliness- I find myself at times feeling extreme loneliness. It doesn’t matter if I’m by myself or with a group of people(not that Covid has allowed much of that), but that lonely feeling is just there. I’m sure it’s because I’m just missing Sarah and long for her company more than anything. We always want what we can’t have, right? In my heart, I know that I’m not truly alone. I know the truth, but my feelings are just not aligning with it right now.

2. A feeling of Quietness- not sure if this one makes sense, but I’ll do my best to describe it. It’s that sort of “inside your own head foggy feeling” despite being surrounded by noises or activity. I’m easily distracted by my feelings and thoughts and I can totally tune out and find myself not being present with what’s happening around me. The music in the background, which I would usually feel so connected to, feels so distant. The sound of my sigh screams louder than anything else in the room. I also feel for some reason quieter when I’m speaking up or engaging with others sometimes. Like everything else is going forward despite what I have to say, so why should I say it? Again, the reality is that when other’s are with me, they are listening and they are so attentive, but my feelings or presumption about what they might be thinking are just not accurate right now.

3. Having NO filter for the trivial/insignificant stuff or drama-There’s so many things that we waste our time worrying about. I just can’t care about the same things that I used to—Not when there are so many families dealing with real pain from things that they have no control over. So much just doesn’t matter. I just want to shout “Please have gratitude for every precious opportunity that you have to spend time with your loved ones!”

4. A feeling that I have to pretend to be ok—This is certainly not original with me. My friend, Jonna, when her husband Larry passed, used this phrase: I’m going to fake it, till I make it. We have to. The heaviness and sadness that we’re feeling is just to much to present constantly to others and it’s just not fair to project our sadness onto them. So, we push back the grief and sadness and agree to the small talk, to protect others and also just give ourselves a break from the heaviness of it all.

5. A loss of valuing my own life- I know that sounds a bit scary, but if you are grieving or have grief, than you probably understand. I don’t fear death and at times ask for it. I’m ready. I don’t want any one to think I’m suicidal. I’m not. Let me be clear… I trust God’s timing for life and death completely and you should too. I fully understand that I’m not wise enough to make those decisions at the right time. I know that God still has a purpose for me to be here and that eventually, He will turn my mourning to dancing and I will feel that life is worth living. This is another one of those times when I can’t just trust my feelings in the moment. I know that Chad and Libby need me and I would never want to cause them to grieve more. I actually pray everyday for Jesus to just come take us ALL home. The apostle Paul made statements that I find myself saying “For me to Live is Christ and to die is gain.” “Death where is your victory? Where is your sting?” This world is just not my home.

6. Jealousy-This one is really ugly. I have found myself feeling jealousy about the stupidest things. The normal things that I’ll never get to do with Sarah— shopping, extra curricular stuff, life events, etc… Hear me out, I don’t like this feeling at all. It has nothing to do with the people that I’m feeling jealous of. This feeling is really more about being angry with God for allowing my plans to be wrecked. That’s why it’s so important to fill my head and my heart with His truth. God is not the enemy. He never caused her cancer and the things that Sarah is experiencing are so much better than anything trivial that life here could have offered her. Still… when jealousy raises its ugly head, I know it’s just the grief talking and I can’t trust it.

7. A loss of purpose-I know I’m still a wife and a mother, but beyond that—I’m not sure what I’m suppose to be “doing.” The things that I was passionate about pre-cancer, were important, but my heart just isn’t there yet. I loved my job, singing at church(which I can’t seem to do without crying), volunteering and serving for very noble causes, etc. I still feel to wounded to jump back into those things. Other than this blog—it’s very clear to me that I’m suppose to share this whole process with anyone who may relate. So that’s what I’m doing. One step at a time, right?

I’m sure there are more “sub” areas of grief. If you’ve got one to share, please do. Just expressing these feelings is sometimes enough to disarm them. This page is meant to combat some of these hard and temporary struggles that grief throws our way. Thanks for all the new Likes and follows!

Image may contain: bridge, plant and outdoor, text that says 'Grief takes you on a path you'd NEVER choose to travel, through a darkness like no other, at a pace only you can set, ...all alone, even though others may surround You.'