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

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Keeping Beauty In Its Rightful Place

When I choose to live within the lavish love of God, outward beauty begins to take its rightful place in my heart and mind.

I don’t always see my self as God sees me.  Sometimes I forget whose I am, and long for acceptance and approval by others. (Isn’t that truly the root of most feverish attempts to make ourselves beautiful?)

Jesus did everything needed to make me beautiful.  I need to dwell in the truth of it.

The easiest time for me to forget how God sees me, is when life is hard.  The enemy of my soul loves to take any weakness and expand upon it.  He does that with all of us, and so we need to prepare ourselves for his attacks.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. 

10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. I Peter 5:8-10 (NLT)

My outward appearance is no more than a piece of who I am. I don’t need to use it to receive acceptance and validation, but rather I have the opportunity to express Christ’s lavish love for me by the way I appear.

Over the years, I’ve learned some practical tips in aiding this goal:

  1. I try to spend time early in the day with Jesus in his Word and prayer.  This gives me the ability to see myself through his eyes rather than the eyes of the world.  If this is a new concept, the book of Ephesians is a wonderful place to begin. (Clue:  Look for all the times it says, “In Him…” and record what we are given or who we are.)  As you read, ask the Holy Spirit to make these truths real to your heart and mind.
  2. I try to dress in the styles I enjoy, not to please others, but to honor God and express unashamedly how he made me.  How would that look for you?
  3. How I dress does affect me.  Even if I’m not going out, I dress so that when I look in the mirror, I’m pleased.  I’m not an avid make-up wearer, but I enjoy wearing pretty jewelry and pretty blouses – whether or not anyone else sees me. How would this change your daily view when you look in the mirror?
  4. There are times when the Holy Spirit will convict me of something I’m wearing. If my appearance objectifies my body or causes men (other than my husband) to focus on my body, I’m devaluing the way Christ made me to honor and express him.

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7b (NLT)

As I grow in seeing my appearance as an opportunity to shine as one deeply loved by Jesus, I become even more beautiful!  I also more clearly reflect that love to the world.

How are we outwardly expressing Jesus’ lavish love for us, beautiful ones?

With love,

Robin <3

How Can I See Myself As Truly Beautiful?

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Good afternoon!  I hope this finds you well. For those who regularly follow, a quick update. Mamma went through surgery very well yesterday, and is already up in her chair this afternoon after her first rounds of OT and PT.  She is doing amazingly well, and so we give thanks to God, who gives all good things. Thanks to many who have been praying. She is doing so well, she is going home tomorrow.

Yesterday, Mom, my sister, and I were discussing the modern beauty trend toward extreme thinness and the “need” to dress in a way that shows so much body to “be beautiful”.  I’m so grateful that God doesn’t need either to see me as beautiful, for I’m neither thin nor do I like to show a lot of skin.

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. I Peter 3:3-4 NLT

God views me as beautiful when I clothe myself with Jesus.

When I’m struggling with who I am, that is comforting!  I am loved and accepted – even if my shape isn’t stick thin.  I can be beautiful to the God of heaven, even if I don’t dress in the latest fashions.  I can enjoy MY skin, because the God of heaven sees me as beautiful when I clothe myself with a growing character that looks like his Son!

How we see ourselves often relates to our circumstances.  When we are struggling, it’s too easy to lose focus and view ourselves wrongly. This week, I would love to look more closely at how we can see ourselves as God sees us.

If you are a man reading this blog, please don’t avoid our table the rest of the week! You may not struggle with “beauty”, but you may have a special woman in your life who does. The men in our lives contribute to how we see ourselves, based upon their personal ideology of beauty.  So, our discussions this week may give you ways to encourage your special lady. So please don’t stay away!

I look forward to being with you the rest of the week.  Discussions will also include practical ideas that have worked for me during times I’ve struggled.  As with any discussion, I’d love your input as the week progresses.

With love and prayers,

Robin<3

Tools for Nourishing the Soul Under Stress

Soul – “the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.”

Excessive, prolonged stress can cause anxiety as a reaction to the body wearing down from overexposure to stress.  This will stress the soul.  So, what can we do to nourish our souls while under prolonged stress?  Below are some things I’ve learned over the years.  I’d love your suggestions as well!

  1.  The biggest thing that nourishes my soul is maintaining my relationship with Jesus.  He made me and knows how to lavish my soul with good gifts, even while under stress.  His word feeds me; worship fills me, and thanksgiving reorients my soul to notice his good gifts.
  2. Ask the Lord if there is something I am doing that is increasing the stress.  My soul can hide so many things even from me, that sometimes, when stress seems more than it should, I ask if there is something hidden within that is contributing (a lie I’m believing; a hurt I’m harboring; or an action that enhances).  God has always answered this prayer – although not always right away.  Sometimes I’ve had to spend extended time with him; and sometimes I’ve needed to fast to get the answer.  God wants my attention.
  3. Is there sin I’m harboring?  My soul can’t be nourished to the full if I’m harboring unforgiveness, or holding onto a thought or behavior that is contrary to God’s peace.
  4. Do I need to let go of control and trust God?  Grasping for control in areas beyond me is a big cause of stress in my life.  Control Freak doesn’t work, but letting God work does.
  5. Am I too busy?  Am I taking time regularly for the purpose of nourishing my soul?  Am I taking time to rest and restore?
  6. Take time to notice beauty.  I have even asked the Lord to help me see his beauty and those things he has given to bless me.  Last week I took the dog for a walk and while outside stopped, closed my eyes, felt the sunshine on my face, and listened intently for a few moments to the birds chirping their songs.  I could actually feel my insides responding to God’s gifts to me in the moment, and I was refreshed.
  7. Take time to eat properly and get regular exercise.  Certain foods and exercise although needed for bodily health, will also nourish the soul by helping alleviate stress.  I’ve found that enjoying the company of a friend while doing both, coupled with laughter, nourishes the soul even more!  (I am just learning about the foods that alleviate stress.  The vitamin D found in sunshine is also extremely beneficial to elevating mood.)
  8. Take time regularly to do something fun. I love to garden – getting my hands dirty is so relaxing for me.  Landscape photography helps me de-stress, as well as putting on headphones and lying on the floor with my legs propped on the sofa.  What is your “fun”?
  9. Incorporate the help of a friend if needed to hold you accountable to nourish your soul regularly.
  10. If your stress is because of danger to you or your children, you may need to seek safety.

Finally, I will close with the following song:  “O My Soul” by Casting Crowns

With much love,

Robin <3

Shoring Up the Body Under Stress

Last Thursday morning, as the panic began to rise for the first time in about 3 years, I gratefully remembered something else I’ve learned.

Someone dear to me who also dealt with panic attacks after her husband died, discovered that our bodies have a gland ‘adrenal gland‘, that helps us deal with stress.  With extended stress, that gland can become fatigued, precipitating the effect of “overloading our circuits”, resulting in anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, and other related symptoms.  After a period of supplementation specifically to strengthen this gland, her panic attacks were brought under control.

Since learning this, I have kept Adrenal supplements in my cabinet.  This past Thursday, as I began to feel that horrible “rush”, I realized I hadn’t taken any that morning.  Within about 1/2 hour, my body began to settle down – sweet relief.  (I use a product called “David’s Adrenal Support – from a local health food store called “David’s Natural Market“.  My friend uses a product from Metagenics, called “Adrecet” found on Amazon.)  Someone recently recommended a beverage concoction that tastes like lemon cream and uses somewhat normal healthy ingredients that support a healthy adrenal gland – “Singing Canary“.  I’m still figuring out if this helps, but it is so healthy, it can’t hurt.

I have also learned through the years, of other supplements that help me deal with prolonged periods of stress (such as care giving, moving, death of a loved one, and adjusting to step parenting to name only a few such periods of life).  Vitamin B complex helps with the brain fog and grants me energy. Magnesium (I love the product “Calm”) has a calming effect (but it can also be a laxative, so I can’t overdo it).  I’m also experimenting with Essential Oils from ‘Young Living’, as they are guaranteed to be a therapeutic grade.  (I am a distributor for ‘Young Living’.)

I have also learned, especially under prolonged periods of stress, a high quality vitamin and probiotic are essential.

Lastly, because I’m sharing my experiences with helping the body deal with stress, I want to add – menopause is a huge change for the female body, and can stress our emotions (bringing on feelings of anxiety).  When I went through menopause, my moods shifted quickly and quite unexpectedly at times.  My mom mentioned that when she went through her change, someone recommended she use “progesterone cream”.  I purchased some through a company called ‘Arbonne’, but you can get it at many health food stores.  It was amazing!  Within a few minutes of application, I could literally feel my body and my emotions calm down.  I’ve since recommended it to others who have shared similar results.

Once again, I must stress – I’m no practitioner.  I am only able to share my experiences.  I would never be able to recommend to someone else what they need.  However, I have learned over the years that in order to deal positively with prolonged stress, I must take care of my body.  Our foods no longer provide all we need for our stressful lifestyles.  God has provided help in other areas.  His gift to us.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 (NIV)

Tomorrow: “The Importance of respite during the stress for my soul”.

Love you, and thank you for joining me –

Robin <3

 

Incorporate A Piece of “Normal”

What were your holidays like before life changed?  Would there be one thing that you could incorporate to lift your spirits this holiday season?  Don’t look at the whole of what used to be, but look at one thing you can do now.

The Christmas after my husband passed away, Evan was newly settled into a hospital 2 hours flight time away, in order to help him deal with his cascading emotions. My sister-in-law and I planned on meeting there to enjoy Christmas with him, and so I wasn’t going to be home much.  Regardless, for me, I needed something to remind me of normalcy so I didn’t get severely depressed and overwhelmed by my great losses.  I purchased a pre-lit, table top Christmas tree that I could easily plug in when I was home.  It was a small gesture and took only about 5 minutes to accomplish, and compared to what I had done previous years it wasn’t much, but in those moments when I was sitting quietly, it brought me joy as I gazed at the twinkling lights.

Take 5 minutes within the next week to do something that will incorporate a piece of normal.  If you aren’t certain what to do, pray about it.  If you are unable to even do that right now, ask a friend to suggest something and then ask them to carry it out for you.

Suggestions:

Play that song, have a friend make that recipe, put out a bowl of your favorite ornaments, have the kids color a paper Christmas Tree to tape on the door, string one strand of lights over a window, put a wreath on the front door, wear that favorite Christmas sweater, purchase a faux Poinsettia for your table, spend time with a friend who understands….

And remember, you aren’t alone, so run to Jesus!

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With love and prayers,

Robin <3