BROKEN WORDS

Over the years my wife and I have been told many platitudes or well meaning comments that weren’t helpful. In fact they were the opposite; they were very hurtful.

Here are some of the comments we heard that were hard to hear:

“She’s in a better place”
“God needed another angel”
“God must have took her early before she would turn away from Him”
“At least you know she’s in heaven”
“I know what your going through, I lost my uncle, dog, etc.”
“You can always have more children”
“When I’m having a hard day I just remember and think of what you’re going through and I feel better.”

There are others but for peace of mind, I will not mention them. 

While meaning well, they blurt these words out before giving them much thought. They are broken words; words that feel like salt in the wound. It would have been better to keep quiet.

Grieving over the loss of a loved one is difficult. We are not taught how to grieve or how to help others grieve in school. In fact even many professional counselors are challenged in this area. Most people in general do not have any idea what it is like to be in our shoes. This is why we need to make peace with what others say. 

If we are not careful we can end up being resentful and bitter towards those who hurt us. But, these broken words become an opportunity for forgiveness. It can also help to know they meant well and we need to let it go. Don’t we have enough to deal with already?? Besides, we all can say inconsiderate statements at times too. As God gives us grace and mercy, let us extend grace and mercy to others also. 

Remember how great our own need is for a savior and forgive. This is sometimes easier said than done. We must also remember that according to the Bible, in order for us to be forgiven we must also forgive (Matthew 6:14 – 15).

If needed, discuss it with the person who hurt you. I recommend much prayer before meeting so that it will be a conversation with love and diplomacy so the relationship will not be hindered further.

Words can be healing as those in God’s word, or hurtful which often come from fallible people. Read the truth and promises of God’s word which bring comfort, encouragement, peace and joy.
Remember Christ is the perfect answer for the imperfect world. 

Moving on? Is it possible?

For a parent who has lost a child those two words – “moving on” are repulsive and incomprehensible. It even seems impossible. Many feelings of guilt and remorse even accompany the thought of smiling again.

Now that we are in the month of August and with school approaching, I am reminded of the all the firsts without Jenae as a family. Living without our daughter was just wrong, unreal, and unnatural. Most times, we felt forced and unmotivated to live our lives. Anything we did brought a flood of memories and heartache. The thought of not spending anymore time together and creating new memories with Jenae was heart breaking. It is still hard at times, but through Jesus there is hope.

This month brings back memories and emotions. This is mainly because Jenae became sick on the last day of school and pasted three days later at the end of May. A few months later, summer break was over and it was time for the kids to go back to school. I remember thinking how can I take my older son back to school without his sister?! The THREE of us always commuted together, talked and shared about many things, and giggled along the way. How can Jenae’s school mates continue school with out Jenae?! The worse thing was and is that no one wants to acknowledge or talk about this. Some people we knew would even pretend not to see us in public and go the opposite direction.

No matter how badly we wished we could go back in time and change things to include Jenae, it was just not possible. We would be forced to live without Jenae. Our daughter who we loved immensely. We would also have to find a new normal that would fall way short of what we were used to and wanting. Our house felt like the dark times lived by the beast in the Beauty and the Beast movie. We were faced with a unwanted reality that we didn’t sign up for. Now what??

I can remember in the first month, not knowing if I had eaten anything all day… then grabbing a bowl of cereal near midnight to have some kind of nourishment. It took some time but we were able to endure through prayer, God’s strength, word, and encouragement. In the beginning the prayers helped us to get by the next minute, then later it was the next hour, and then day by day. So in my opinion, living without someone you greatly love is very hard but can only be done with divine help.

Even though it was hard to know God was with us at that time, we now see God’s hand that kept us from falling in a dark inescapable hole. Sometimes right at the last minute! Despite our own actions to try and bring our own healing, Jesus brought what we really needed. This a lot of times was in correcting our interpretation of His word and also through His grace in our lives. We are so thankful that He keeps His promises and has never left us nor forsaken us as many others did. When life gets tough; abide / trust in Jesus and wait upon Him. He is the source of strength, truth, comfort, and the peace that surpasses all understanding.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENAE! 🎈❤️

TODAY YOU WOULD BE 24!

So many questions:
In losing a child many questions and “what ifs” come to mind. Every day we ponder something. As a parent it is just normal. But on birthdays the questions ring LOUDER.
Like what would Jenae look like now, how tall would she be. Would she have gone to school to become a marine biologist? Would she have obtained a job at Sea World like she dreamed of? Or, would she have gotten a job in Santa Fe? Would Jenae be driving around the sparkly pink VW bug she hoped for? Today on her birthday would she want to celebrate her birthday with a Oreo shake?

So many other questions come to mind, but I don’t question that she is in paradise with her Lord and Savior. This gives us hope and a great excitement that one day we will see her again.

I am grateful for the years and times we had with her. They are a great blessing. Glory be to God. We are thankful to be chosen by God to be Jenae’s parents. It was a unmerited privilege and blessing.

Many times we can live life and take it for granted. When you lose someone so close to you, your perspective changes and you appreciate everything more deeply. What we have today can be gone tomorrow in many different ways. No matter how hard life can be, there is always something to be grateful for, if you have Christ. Every day is a gift from above and there is purpose.

So Happy Birthday baby girl. You are thought of often and missed everyday.
We Love you “Mostest Mostest” and beyond…
❤️❤️❤️

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THE UNWANTED JOURNEY

Losing a child is an unwanted journey; an exclusive club we didn’t sign up for. In many ways, it is similar to the Israelites wandering in the desert in desolation, waiting to enter into the land of milk and honey. 

Isaiah 43:18 (NKJV) 18 “Do not remember the former things,  Nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing,  Now it shall spring forth;  Shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness  And rivers in the desert.

The Israelites wanted to turn back to Egypt. I think we all here have longed for the past when we had our loved one.  In order for one to heal you have to let go of the past and step forward into the future. This is easier to fathom when we know Jesus walks with us as our guide and that we have many others who are like minded and able to help pick us up when we stumble. Once the Israelites were in the promised land they were glad to be there. We need to cling to the promises of God. For they are His good intentions for us. 

Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

So remember, you can not move forward if you are inwardly focused and stuck in the past. God has a plan for your life, trust and move forward with Him and He will guide you, strengthen you, and bring you comfort, peace,and rest. 

Isaiah 43:2 (NKJV) When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.

TOUGH GRIEF ON FATHER’S DAY

We are now in the month of June and Father’s Day will be approaching in a few weeks.

We lost Jenae on May 30th 2005, and less than three weeks later it was Father’s day. I wasn’t looking forward to that day, but ready or not, it came.

The day felt wrong, strange and awkward. Memories of the last Father’s Day with all my kids present came flooding back. Worst of all, there was no one I knew who I could relate to as a father. A father is supposed to guide their family in grief. Being new to Grief it was hard to navigate. You find yourself asking how to do that.

That is why it is tough to be a father who loses a child. You become isolated due to social standards placed on boys/men growing up. Like stifling a cry when in bitter pain; pretending it doesn’t hurt or matter despite it is all you can think about. Thinking that strength is not showing emotion and is also avoiding talking about the elephant in the room. This has been labeled “The Boy Code” (Google it).

Then there are biases that people think. Like only the mothers really hurt when losing a child. Because the relationship is different the pain is different but men do grieve pretty hard as well. Many people dismissed that I was grieving. When people found out about the loss of Jenae, they would say oh how your wife must be hurting. Very often, men’s feelings can get dismissed and overlooked. Not having anyone to talk to about grief makes it difficult to process and heal.

With that, John 11:35 states that Jesus wept. Jesus saw in person the great repercussions of disobedience and sin from Adam and Eve when Jesus’ friend Lazarus died. Was Jesus weak; was He not strong? No, he was God in the form of man and He conquered the grave! He is stronger than anyone who has lived on this earth. He is our example to follow. God gave us emotions for a reason, and running from them is like sticking your head in the sand, like an ostrich. No matter when you look out from the hole you are hiding in, the pain will still be there. Mourning is a prerequisite to healing.

Jesus is able to comfort and help us. If we are prideful and try to handle our grief and the grief of our family on our own strength, we will fall short. Because it can be hard as a man to have someone who understands to talk to, we do good by surrendering our pain to Christ. It may seem like a platitude in saying Jesus is the answer, but that is truly the truth. It took me many years to find that out the hard way. Jesus has the perfect answer to our grief and man who is imperfect does not. Pray and seek Christ. He will calm the pain like He did the waters and the winds for His disciples.

Following are some scriptures to go to when needing strength:
God bless you and I pray God comforts and gives you and your family peace on Father’s Day.

Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

Isaiah 41:10
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Psalm 34:10
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.

Deuteronomy 31:8
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Isaiah 43:1-3
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Joshua 1:9
Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Feel free to share your favorite verse in the comments below…

GRIEVING ON MOTHER’S DAY

Special Mother’s Day Pin

The month of May can very hard on mothers who have lost a child. So I thought to interview my wife to see what insight she would give to mothers who are new to grieving or for those who have a hard time coping with Mother’s day.

Tim: So Mother’s day is coming up and I was wondering what advice you might have to the mothers out there who have lost a child? Especially for those who will be encountering Mother’s day for the first time or to those who are hit pretty hard with grief.

Sandra: Well, I remember when the first Mother’s day without Jenae was approaching. I dreaded the day coming. First of all, I had been feeling like part of my identity was lost. The feeling of loss hit me hard in being a mother who no longer had a daughter. Because Jenae was our only daughter, it left a great void in many ways.

Tim: What ways do you think the void was most evident?

Sandra: I didn’t’ have a daughter to do girl things with anymore. I felt disconnected from the families of Jenae’s friends, and had lost communication with them. When we did see them, they didn’t know what to say to me. I don’t blame them because it is very hard to know what to say to someone who has lost so deeply. A big part of it was that there wasn’t any reason for them to interface with me. This was because there were no more play dates or activities to coordinate with them any more.

Tim: What was the most helpful thing that helped you get through that first mothers day?

Sandra: I will never forget it, but my friend June who had lost a son a few years back was very helpful. She thought to make me a special mothers day pin to wear on Mother’s day. It had Jenae’s picture with a fancy trim and some shinny sequences. Jenae loved shinny sparkly things. June told me that she made me that pin so that I could keep Jenae close to my heart and as a special memorial. As a mother you never want your child to be forgotten.

Tim: How did that make you feel?

Sandra: I was emotional, but in a good way. It was such a blessing to hear someone mention Jenae’s name. That and the fact that someone remembered her and me on a day that was so difficult. I will always remember it. This uplifted my spirits and made the day more bearable. Also, prayers were a must. It is a good thing to ask others to pray for you when the grief is most heavy.

Tim: Having others pray for you is a double blessing. A blessing to you and also to the people who pray. This allows others to understand what you are going through and know how to help pray for you better. God blesses this in many ways.

Tim: Do you think we should make pins for mothers who are grieving with their child’s picture, like June made you? Not everyone has a good friend that would know to do this or would read this post.

Sandra: Every one is different, but yes. It could make a difference to many.

Announcement: In the month of May, we will be making photo pins like the one above for all mothers who would like one.

Please email a favorite photo of your child and your address to mr.g@graceingrief.org and we will send you a pin to wear. We know how hard special occasions can be and want you to know that we care and hope to make the day easier to cope with. This along with prayer goes a long way. God bless, encourage, and comfort you.