5 Verses and Prayers To Comfort The Grieving

Sometimes, my own words aren’t enough, and I know I need a perspective I can’t drum up on my own.  I want to understand God’s ways, but I can’t.  Praying scripture helps.

Below you will find 5 Bible passages that pertain to grief and sorrow.  I encourage you to read each one, and then pray the prayers below, (or your own prayers).  God wants us to come to him in our grief.  He would rather we come to him, even if we are angry, than to run from him.  He made us for relationship with him – in the good and bad.

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. Psalm 31:9 (NIV)

God, I don’t even understand your ways right now.  I don’t get why this happened and I can’t see where your mercy is in all of this. You say you are merciful and show compassion – please help me to see it.  I am worn out with grief, and I can’t stop crying.

Yet it was our grief he bore, our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, for his own sins! But he was wounded and bruised for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace; he was lashed—and we were healed! We—every one of us—have strayed away like sheep! We, who left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet God laid on him the guilt and sins of every one of us! Isaiah 53:4-6 (TLB) (An Old Testament prophesy about Jesus)

Jesus, the Bible says you were weighed down by my sorrow; and carried my grief.  It says that you were wounded, beaten, and lashed for my healing.  Yet, it is so easy for me to run from you rather than to you, like a frightened lamb.  Forgive me.  Give me the ability to run to you, to accept all you’ve done, and stop trying to carry this immense weight of grief on my own.

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;… Isaiah 42:3 (NIV)

God, I feel so bruised and broken inside.  I feel like I can barely make it sometimes, and can’t see how things will ever be right again.  Please help me. Please strengthen me.  Please take this mess and turn it around.  I need you.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago.

They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations. Isaiah 61:1-4 (NLT) (An Old Testament Prophesy about Jesus)

Jesus, the Bible says you came to bring good news.  I sure could use some good news right now. It says you came to comfort the brokenhearted.  My heart is so busted up I can barely breath – please comfort me.  In my grief and sadness, I need to know that you want to give me favor, that you care.  Please take this pain and turn it around.  I need to once again see beauty, rather than such sadness.  I want to be able to be able to speak of the wonderful things you have done, instead of feeling this constant despair.  Strengthen me like a mighty oak tree for your honor.  Please rebuild my life and family. Rebuild what has been destroyed. Revive my life, even though I currently feel like one whose been deserted.

The young women will dance for joy, and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. Jeremiah 31:13 (NLT) (Written when Israel was in slavery because of their sin.  God wanted them to remember his promises; that he would one day return them to their land in freedom.)

God, right now, there is no way I could dance or celebrate – I’m too sad.  I can’t even see a day ahead where I will once again be happy.  Would you please, in your time, do for me what I’m unable to do for myself?  Would you please give me your joy instead of such grief? Would you please comfort my heart and mind? Please, one day, would you allow me to be able to celebrate again?  Please help me to trust you to do this.  To make me whole.  I don’t see how it can happen.  I so desperately need your help.

God is above all of us, but amazingly longs for us to talk to him.  To cry out to him.  To unburden ourselves to him.  He wants us to know him.  That’s why he sent Jesus.  Prayer doesn’t have to be flowery, or fancy.  It just needs to be sincere, and from the heart.

And in talking to God, he wants us to believe he will hear and answer.  If you aren’t certain of that – tell him so. Ask him to work, even if you aren’t certain he exists or cares. I don’t believe he’s offended by our honesty.  Besides, it gives him the opportunity to show himself!

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

p.s. Once again, if this series has been a struggle and you want someone to talk or pray with, I’m a pretty good listener.  I would gladly pray as well.  The form below is for your confidentiality.

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10 Tips to Help Work Through Grief

When I was living the worst of grief, there were several things that really helped me through.  All of us are unique, and so I don’t assume every suggestion will help.  Feel free to scan the list, and read only those portions that pertain to you.

  1. Be very careful with the use of medication and alcohol.  Grief doesn’t allow us to think most clearly, and so things we would normally never do, could become a problem.  One area I had to be particularly careful of was help in getting to sleep. Three to four times a week, I’d have a glass of wine to help me relax so I could more easily fall asleep.  I chose not to use alcohol nightly because I was afraid it could become a habit I’d later have to deal with.  I have heard of others becoming addicted to sleeping medication during this time. Talk with your doctor, but please don’t quietly self-medicate.
  2. Choose what fills your mind.  I had the radio tuned to my favorite Christian station almost 24 hours a day, playing softly in the background.  The words and soothing music kept me focused on truth, and helped me refocus more easily away from thoughts that could otherwise have plagued me.  Also, on many occasion, the Lord orchestrated a particular song to be played at just the right moment, embracing me with his love.20150626_203124
  3. Train your mind and “heart” to turn to Christ and his promises when panic about the future assails.  When fear and panic about the future would begin to plague my mind (usually at night or first thing in the morning), I would remind myself that I didn’t need to think about it right then. I would literally turn my thoughts and heart to focus on Jesus alone.  Forcing the thoughts of the future to take second place to facing Jesus Christ. It took time to train my brain to remain focused, and avoid the panic.  Tomorrow, I will share some verses that may help.
  4. Learn your body’s indicators of being over-stressed.  When I began to notice feelings of being unsettled and anxious, I eventually learned these were often indicators that I was spending too much time in activity in order to avoid grief. Learn your indicators.  If you aren’t certain, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you your personal indicators of a need to stop running and rest.20150626_210108-01
  5. Set aside time to rest. Resting is so much harder while grieving, because it gives our minds time to think.  Thinking causes pain, so we avoid resting.  Yet, our bodies need rest. They need down time to heal from the trauma caused by the grief. Also, so many of us have had a space of time prior to our loved one’s death where we were busy caring for them.  Our bodies, minds, and souls need time to rest and restore.
  6. Set aside time to grieve. This may seem obvious, but it isn’t.  We don’t want to feel pain, so we avoid grieving.  However, I am learning now, almost 9 years later – we will grieve.  If we avoid taking time to grieve now, the emotions will come out one way or another – and they may not come out in ways constructive to us or others if we refuse their release.  I’m not saying we can always choose the place or time we release emotions, that isn’t possible. But, I have found it helpful to ask God to orchestrate down time when I could grieve before him.  This became especially important when I began feeling as though I was becoming unsettled and anxious because of over-busyness.  Those God-orchestrated moments were special moments between us where I would wail and voice my pain, the tears washing and cleansing me on the inside.  A sense of release and relief always followed.20150701_202353-02
  7. Don’t rush the grieving process.  I have read it isn’t wise to make any major life decisions for at least a year. Our brains aren’t able to think clearly enough.  Even though the numbness, for me, lasted about 6 months, the second year was the hardest. Everyone’s timetable for grieving is different – so don’t assume another person’s timetable for yourself. However, I’d add, if you are several years into grief, and aren’t any closer to healing than the day of your loved one’s death – please consider professional counseling.  Getting stuck in grief isn’t what God want’s for your life!
  8. Don’t rush getting rid of your loved one’s belongings until you are ready (unless extenuating circumstances require it). This shouldn’t be decided by friends or family.  When I was ready (about 6-8 months into grief), it helped me to purposely choose organizations that would appreciate my husband’s things.  I took photos of his “collections” which made it easier to release them.  I also chose to keep several mementos, and gave away items to special friends and family members for them to remember him by, making this stage memorable and less difficult.  However, if it has been years since your loved one’s death, and you are still unable to get rid of their belongings, this may indicate you are stuck in grief and may need professional counseling to help you heal.20150701_185956-01
  9. Make use of local resources.  Hospice often has local grief groups.  I’ve mentioned GriefShare.  Also, a book that greatly helped me was “A Sacred Sorrow“, by Michael Card.  It taught me the gift of being able to “lament” or grieve openly before God, and his loving response to those who grieve.
  10. Finally, cling to Jesus and his people.  If you aren’t in a loving, supportive church home, find one.  My church family’s love and support during this time helped more than I can say.  Stay in his Word – even if you can only read a verse or two a day – the Psalms are wonderful.  A good devotion for this period of time for me was “Streams In The Desert“, as the daily readings were collected by Mrs. Charles Cowman, a woman acquainted with grief.

You may also wish to read:  “Happy Anniversary Dear“, “White Picket Fences

I have received no compensation of any kind for my recommendations. I am not a licensed counselor, so my recommendations are from experience alone, and not intended to be professional in any way.

I would love to know what has helped you work through grief.  Also, if you would like to share any prayer requests, or wish to talk, the form below allows you to contact me confidentially.

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

10 Common Effects of Grief On the Body

Grief changes you on the inside.  It causes you to shift priorities and see the world through new eyes.  That’s not a bad thing, but at the time, when grief is heavy, it can be overwhelming.  It isn’t just missing your loved one – it is an all encompassing, world changing, internal exploding event.

Yet, around you, life goes on and everyone seems to easily “forget” that which shifted your universe forever.

Grief is so life-altering, that it catches you off guard.  In the middle of grief, you may feel as if you are going crazy.  It’s scary.  But trust me, you aren’t – it’s just grief.

Those around you may think you’ve become irresponsible, distant, aloof, and even unpredictable.  They can’t understand what you are going through unless they’ve been there.  They’ll learn.

If you are in the middle of experiencing deep grief (and I’m not talking about the grief that comes when you are sad a few days), here are some things you may experience.

  • Feeling numb – A gift from God, to help our brain, emotions, and body deal with the stress of the loss.  For me, it lasted about 6 months, and I was grateful for it.  It lasts differing lengths for everyone.
  • Experiencing brain fog or forgetfulness – After my husband passed, I would forget dinner engagements with family and friends.  Not because I didn’t want to see them – my brain was so consumed with grief it literally couldn’t hold the information. Gary and I both experienced, after the death of our first spouses, times when we would suddenly forget normal events and have to be reminded, often.  We also each experienced moments where we’d be driving and suddenly realize we’d forgotten where we were going.

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  • Difficulty being in crowds – Even though I’m normally a fairly outgoing person, it was as if my brain was on overload, and the thought of being in a crowd overwhelmed me.  I loved going to church, as I could sit in a pew secluded with a friend and God.  It fed and soothed me, but going to a party where I’d be expected to mingle was more than I could take.
  • Difficulty in carrying on simple conversations – Having to listen and concentrate on a conversation for very long brought on feelings of panic.  My brain couldn’t handle it.

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  • Sudden intense emotion – Even months after our losses, both Gary and I noted that even small things would trigger deep emotions of sadness, with crying, that required our immediate attention.  Believe it or not, these are gifts (even if embarrassing) to off load emotions our body must deal with. People understand.
  • Difficulty maneuvering daily routines – A short time after Norman passed, a friend asked me how she could help.  “Could you please sit down with me and go over the things I need to do in a week.  Help me set up a schedule. I can’t seem to do that for myself right now.” It helped greatly.

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  • Diminished ability to handle stress – There may be literally mountains of paperwork to be completed – especially if the death is a spouse or a parent. It can take months to sort out.  If you lost your spouse, you suddenly need to learn new tasks and routines that your spouse performed. This all needs to be done, while grieving.  The responsibility is immense, and adding any other stress – even if seemingly “mundane or simple” can be too much.
  • Difficulty sleeping – Gary and I, after the deaths of our first spouses, each found we dreaded going to bed, choosing instead to watch TV late into the night.  Bedtime is a time when the busyness of daily activity ceases and no one is around but “me and my thoughts”.

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  • Total loss of energy – This is a common feeling when dealing with grief. The body is consumed in dealing with extremely heightened emotions, using all its resources for that task. In addition, many who’ve lost a loved one had months or years prior to their spouses death where they were needed to care for the ailing loved one. The body just shuts down for a time in order to heal.
  • Life has become a long dark tunnel – A friend who recently lost her son, stated her life seemed to be going in slow motion in the dark, while all her friends seemed to have left her behind.  I felt the same.

Fortunately, these feelings diminish with time, if the grief is dealt with and not shoved aside in fear; and if healthy relationships are a regular part of your life.

God is faithful, and grieves with us.  He is not aloof to our grief.  

Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way. Psalm 23:4 (TLB)

Tomorrow, let’s discuss some things that assist in traveling through this time.  I hope that recognizing you aren’t crazy, and you aren’t alone in your experience, eases your fear. Also, if you are a loved one looking on, may this list help you navigate your loved one’s emotions with less fear.

As always, if you want to talk, or need prayer, please email me below – I keep every conversation confidential.

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

 

 

How Do I Deal With Grief?

I’m in a bit of a mood this week, saddened by the death of my friend.  Praying much for the family, grieving with them as friends.  And remembering……the time I was where they are now.

Really, it can’t help but bring back memories.  And it can’t help but cause my heart to want to pour out all I would long to tell them, if I could.  All I would long to tell their closest friends.

“This is what grief looks like from the inside – no matter what it looks like from the outside.”

“This is what you may experience.  You may feel like you are going crazy, but no, you aren’t crazy.  It’s just grief.”

Yes, things will come back to a new, beautiful normal, in time, because of Jesus.”

“Friends and family – this is how you can help. This is what they may need you to understand.”

So, dear ones.  Please join me this week as I tackle pieces of my own story – and how God has taught me to deal with grief.  I may get teary eyed a bit, and so may you.  Especially if you’ve been there.  As the week progresses, if something tugs at your heart – share it.  If you disagree with something I say, or have a differing viewpoint – we all come at grief from differing personalities, and vastly varying experiences. So please share.  If you find these posts beneficial and know of someone going through it right now – please share with them.

Finally, if this brings up your own story of grief, I would love to share your sorrow.  I would love to pray.  Feel free to let me know.  The contact form below if for those moments when privacy is desired, but total isolation is not.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… Isaiah 53:4

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

Happy Anniversary, Dear!

In time, God can heal the grief of losing a loved one – turning great sorrow into a beautiful song!

Today would have been my deceased husband, Norman’s 59th birthday. He’s been gone now for just over 8 years.

As I think on this anniversary of sorts, I marvel at the works inspired by the grand love of an amazing God since my best friend left me!

The last 8 years have been some of my most difficult, yet also some of the grandest for getting a magnified view of the character of God.

With every tear and anguish, he has made himself not only known, but felt. He has been so close that I can sense the pressure of his touch to my fingers, and the warmth and smell of his breath as he has spoken peace over my troubled heart and mind.

I am learning that I won’t make the time, or put the energy into the effort to yield and listen and follow my heavenly Father without such painful interventions into my world. My agenda, my control won’t allow his sovereignty on its own. My self centered heart must be captivated. Yet, to begin to experience the beauty of his captivity, and to have the God of the universe pay such close attention to me, with such grace and healing love, now begins to enthrall me.

Only as I begin to quiet and listen with my soul to his Holy words, spoken from his heart to mine, can I begin to realize that the things I fought to maintain control of, in fact only controlled and destroyed me.

God’s captivity, thus frees rather than chains me.

In the last eight years God has protected me from my own foolish choices, and has also blessed me with gifts I am still learning how to unwrap. I have been blessed with a husband I now call best friend. He is kind and thoughtful, and we are becoming all God has made us for, through the joys and the sorrows of the good life we share. God has extended my family with two sons. Our story together has only begun, and God is using our struggles in becoming a family to reveal more of his grand character to me.

God has held and kept my son, even with the severity of his autism and personal pain through the many losses he has endured, even before losing his dad. He is growing and maturing more than most thought he ever would.

I have so much to be thankful for as I look back on this anniversary. Thank you, Lord Jesus for these amazing reminders. Thank you for the opportunity to begin to see a grander scheme encompassing the pain! God, you are amazing!

For any who may be struggling with the death of a loved one, GriefShare is an amazing organization full of amazing people who have been where you are, and who can walk with you through this time.  If you would also like to share with me, I’d be very glad to listen and pray with and for you.

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

p.s. You may also wish to read: White Picket Fences and I Do Matter

White Picket Fences

All I wanted was a little white house with a white picket fence. That didn’t seem too much to ask.  After all, I had gone through several years of difficulty with our son, and two years of watching my husband fight and lose his battle with the dreaded “C”. Wanting the rest of my life to be free from suffering seemed reasonable.

In time, however, I began to realize some of the consequences of my dream.  I was no longer as sensitive to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.  I was becoming more focused on temporary pleasures (a nice house, a nice bank account, vacations) rather than on spiritual things.

Oh, I was still going to church every Sunday and having my daily Bible readings.  I was still praying and trying to listen – but my growing desires for ease and comfort were desensitizing me to the fellowship with Christ I had once known. A fellowship that had been rich and beautiful during those excruciating seasons.

God used a dating relationship and the book “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan, to begin my journey back to him.  It took seeing myself through the life of someone who was as I had become; and then realizing through the book what I had lost, to begin to bring me to my senses.

It also took time, reflection, and repentance (turning away from the path I was going, to a new path) to realize that my problem wasn’t the fact I had suffered.  The problem was I had believed a lie – about life and about God. I had come to believe that “suffering” was just a stint – a gig I had to endure to earn my stripes.  I didn’t understand the suffering I had gone through was the very thing that taught me who God is, and what his heart looks like, as his Spirit comforted and embraced me in the middle.

I had also failed to see that by running from any and all possibilities of future suffering, I was forfeiting “the fellowship of suffering“, as Paul calls it in Philippians.  A special bond with Christ borne in sharing adversity together.

God graciously used two other books to soften my heart and open my eyes to the truth:

A Sacred Sorrow“, by Michael Card.  After 9/11, some leaders in American churches realized Christians don’t know how to grieve – or in Old Testament terminology – “lament”. Unfortunately, over time, much of American Christendom had come to believe that to please God we must always be “happy” and “praise him joyfully” – leaving no place for sorrow in worshiping Jesus.

But, we aren’t able to maintain constant “joyful praise” because life throws us hard balls that knock us off our feet.

This book taught me, God is also pleased when we come to him with our anguish and our cries, clinging to him through our grief or lament.  God seeing our lament as a sweet form of worship!  The author used examples from the Bible (Job, King David, Lamentations, some of the prophets, and even Jesus himself) to show how God even blessed those who chose to lament to him, even when their words were angry and harsh.  It changed how I see God and suffering.

David – Seeking a Heart Like His“, a Bible Study by Beth Moore. God called David, “A man after my own heart” (I Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22).  The study seeks to show how David over his lifetime was able to gain such a recommendation from God and how we too can have that kind of relationship with him.  God used this Bible Study to show me I really hadn’t known his heart for me at all.  I also realized, as I studied the life of David, I wanted more than a “white house and a picket fence”.  I wanted Jesus.  I wanted to know him, and have a close relationship with him.

I also began to realize that this type of relationship with Jesus was the only thing that would really satisfy me in this life, even if it meant suffering.

Did I surrender my dream easily?  No. I now knew the horrendous cost of suffering and it was hideous to me.  Yet, it began to dawn on me I was paying a much higher price by “refusing to allow” any suffering into my world.

When I did finally surrender, there was a sense of peace I hadn’t experienced in a very long time. Did this change everything instantly?  No!  For weeks I had to daily surrender as circumstances gave me choices – his dream or mine?  But the hardest part – the beginning of surrender – was finished.

There have been some pretty tough struggles since, but I am learning to know Jesus and his peace are worth everything. Neither he nor his peace can be bought at any price.  I am also realizing that

White houses with picket fences aren’t worth anything if Jesus isn’t living there, as only he makes a house a home.

 

“…and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10 (NIV)

With love and prayers,

Robin <3