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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Re-post, Introducing Me

This is actually found by perusing the categories at the top of my opening page.  I’ve decided to re-post it because I’ve made some necessary changes.

If we intend on having coffee regularly, or even on occasion, I’d love to get to know you better.  I figure it’s only fair you get to know me as well.  I won’t take up too much of your time, but please let me tell you about myself.  I also figure because we will, on occasion, converse about topics that may hit close to the heart, I thought I’d answer some questions you would ask if you could.

Why did you decide on “En Courage”?

Life isn’t easy, and we all need a good dose of courage now and then!  I know I do.  I want this to be a safe community, where you can encourage and be encouraged when life is at its toughest.

Do you wonder sometimes how you are going to make it?

Do you wish there was someone who understood the cries of your heart?

Do you need hope that there is more to life than the immediate heartaches and struggles?

Do you need to know, this moment, that you aren’t alone?

This space, our table, is a good place to find some courage and hope for the heart during those hard times.

What allows you the ability to write about the hope that you speak of, with such conviction?

I’ve experienced some of the hardest of life and have found where hope and courage to keep going can be found!

Being a teenager for me wasn’t discovering boys and enjoying proms. My pre-teen and teen years were hard enough that I’ve often said I would either be dead, or have lapsed into very unhealthy life choices, were it not for Jesus and parents who taught me about the beauty and power of a relationship with him that protected and carried me.

Raising an adopted son with moderate to severe autism, from 5 years old has brought more challenges, heartaches, and joys than we ever could have imagined.

Losing my first husband to melanoma in 2008 after 25 years of marriage is probably the greatest challenge I’ve ever faced.  It was a 2 year illness that slowly seeped his life away.

Blending two families who have each been through much trauma and heartache since 2012, has had its own challenges.  My son has lost 2 previous families and now a father.  My step sons, also adopted. lost a previous family, and a mother. My husband and I have each lost a spouse to death.

Yet, in all of this, I have come to know a God who is alive, extremely loving, immensely gracious, overwhelmingly compassionate, and powerfully able to change lives.  Because of him, I have found a hope that is enduring.  I want to share that with any who will listen!

What will I gain from spending time with you on “En Courage”?

Through sharing the stories, struggles, and victories of life, I want you to discover there is hope.  Not when you have it all together.  Not when you can finally fix yourself or others. But when you are at your weakest, and when life is darkest.  Because Jesus is safe.  Because His love is relentless. Because He powerfully made a way for US.

I would love to hear from you!

As we sit over coffee, and you begin to feel more at ease, please share your heart and stories with us.  Either at the common table for all to read, or in the quiet of a private email.  email.rlseaton@gmail.com

With love,

Robin  <3

Book Reviews – Ideas for Loving Purposefully

This week we have looked at standing with the struggling.  Today I thought I’d share a couple of books that have encouraged me recently in my pursuit of loving others.  I hope you enjoy!

For your information, I have not nor will I gain anything monetarily or otherwise from reviewing these books.  This is purely for your information and encouragement.

LISTEN LOVE REPEAT, Other Centered Living In A Self-Centered World

by Karen Ehman, New York Times Bestselling Author 

“Karen’s words here speak my heart language – and echo the heart of God.”  Ann Voskamp

I am currently reading this gem.  Karen takes her own experience of being loved and purposefully loving others to the next level.  Her ability to write in a way that places no judgement on the reader, encourages us to do as the title says, “Listen, Love, [and] Repeat. Placing loving others above ourselves.  Each chapter is full of examples on how to listen for someone’s “heart drops”, as she calls them, and find a way to love them in a purposeful, intimate gift of love based on what you’ve learned from/about them.  This book is an easy read, but you won’t want to rush through it – every chapter needs time to ponder and personalize.  (Purchasing the book through the link above will support Proverbs 31 Ministries.)

Karen’s blog “Karen Ehman, live your priorities, love your life” is delightful, and diverse!  I especially enjoy her weekly post “#LoveYourLifeFriday .

if you find this Letter, My Journey To Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers

a memoir by Hannah Brencher

I was first introduced to Hannah at a “Propel” Women’s Conference in Orlando last December.  She was a delightful speaker with an inviting personality that speaks “life” without a word.  Her book tells her story of a college graduate with big dreams, headed for New York City.  She finds herself very lonely. So lonely, in fact, that she ends up writing letters to absolute strangers, leaving them in the subways, restrooms, and in coat pockets all over New York City.  This advanced to her writing a blog and offering to write a letter to anyone who would request one, no questions asked.  I will let you ‘hear’ the rest of the story from her.  The book is absolutely delightful, and will tug at your heartstrings.  Hannah has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, USATODAY.com, Chicago Tribune, and dozens of other publications.

You can learn more about Hannah and her purposeful love ventures at:  HannahBrencher.com or MoreLoveLetters.com

Both books leave me realizing that loving others can be an adventure, if I allow God the freedom to move me and propel me in new ways!

With love,

Robin <3

p.s. Please let me know what you think about having book reviews once in a while.  Let me know if you read these, and what you think!  I will be off line for at least a week traveling and helping out my mom.  I’ll enjoy when we get back together again, real soon!

Even Though I Can’t “Fix It”

When my deceased husband and I adopted Evan at 5 years old, he struggled greatly, as anyone would.  We mistakenly thought, however, that love, and our “vast wisdom” would eventually fix everything.  It didn’t, but with time, God is.

There is a huge difference between being there for someone in their struggle, whether it be fear, anxiety, stress, or in this case adoption; and thinking I can “fix it”. I was very naive, and a bit arrogant (well maybe a lot arrogant),  but don’t we all go there at times?  Don’t we all think we can “fix it” for us or someone else?

I don’t know why, but it took a lot of years, a lot of heartache, and shear exhaustion before I began to realize I can’t fix anyone’s life for them.  Truthfully, I can’t even fix my own.

Even though I can’t fix it, Jesus can.

I often, without meaning to, want a quick fix because I want relief for myself or my loved one.  Yet God sees the bigger picture, longing to make us whole and free, completely lacking nothing – in spite of our circumstances.

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.  John 8:36 (NLT)

Relief is a cheep substitute for Freedom.

So, what can I do to help?

  1.  Stand with my loved one, no matter how hard it gets.
  2. This is not too big for God – keep my focus on God as I pray for their focus.
  3. Pray for their endurance and strength, asking the Holy Spirit to do His loving good through the struggle.
  4. Worry is just another form of “fix it”.  Yield it to God.
  5. Stop pointing out how they can “fix it”.  Words, even wise ones, can eventually become no more than ugly noise.  Pray for their receptivity to his voice, and be quiet.
  6. Never say, “It will be all right”.  It may never be “all right”.  Rather pray that they become able to experience a very loving God, and see his magnificent plan emerge from the ashes of what they now experience.
  7. Ask for God’s wisdom regularly.  Speak in his timing with the words he longs for them to hear.
  8. Remind them (and yourself) regularly of God’s magnificent promises.
  9. I may need to step back temporarily to regain perspective.
  10. If the situation becomes toxic, I need to trust if God says “let go”.  My letting go doesn’t mean God has.  It may be the very thing necessary to bring the healing and wholeness I long for them to experience.

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:15-17

I’d love to hear what you’ve learned.

With love,

Robin

I Want To Be That Kind Of Person

None of us were made to carry life’s loads alone.  Yet, often we act as though we must.

Superwoman is a fictitious character, but we be often act as though she is real and someone to emulate, as we wrestle with this fear, and try and leap that stressful situation with a single bound.  At least until fear overtakes and stress is too vast, and we crash.  I know God looks at me sometimes, shakes his head and says, “Girl, I love you lots; so when will you learn I didn’t make you for this.”

I am so grateful for those in my life who haven’t allowed me to stay too long in “Superwoman” mode.  There are those who know me and are willing to give me that look, while asking with that knowing glance, “How are you really doing?”  I love those people.  I can’t be fake with them, and I’m so grateful to God for that.  All of us need someone like that in our lives!

This week we will explore how to be that kind of person for the one in our lives struggling right now.  Once again I’d love your feedback.  Your suggestions as to how you try to be that kind of person for someone else, or how you have grown to let such people be that kind of person for you are invaluable.  We need each other!

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)

Looking forward to this week together!

With love,

Robin

p.s. – Take a look at my new FB page – just for this blog!  @rlseaton1960

In it you will begin finding quotes and interesting info about people who make a difference – people who encourage and people we can emulate.  You will also get additional inspiring information you won’t find on the blog.  Please join me!

 

When Christmas Won’t be Christmas

Sunday morning as I paused to text 2 dear friends currently in the throes of hospital visits and cancer treatments, my thoughts were transported to Christmas 10 years ago.  I remember wondering, in the flurry of holiday activity surrounded by my own husband’s daily cancer treatments, what it all meant.  He’d been diagnosed with internal Melanoma during Thanksgiving week. My mind was still numb to the reality, but aware enough to know life wasn’t the same, and some huge monster had invaded our home, and  I was scared if I thought too much. All of a sudden, who cared if the Grinch stole Christmas, and how horrible would it really be if some child didn’t get the toy they’d hoped Santa would bring? Suddenly, much that seemed to matter to the world around me no longer mattered to me.  I needed a huge dose of hope and an assurance that even if the world was moving at break neck speed over seemingly trivial things, that someone saw us, and our struggle, and cared.

Is that where you are as the Christmas season approaches?  If so, whether cancer, or a wayward child, or…. I get it. Even now in the stillness and peace of my home 10 years later, grief slaps me afresh as I replay those scenes. Reality is, life is never fixed by Hallmark’s “Christmas Magic”, no matter how much we’d hoped it would be.  Christmas can be messier than we’d like to admit.

I did find the hope I longed for that Christmas, as an amazingly intimate God bent down and wept with me in so many ways.  As I daily, quietly spent time with him to quell the chaos around me, the Holy Spirit began to comfort my heart with an amazing thought:

God’s Son’s first Christmas was very messy.

As that thought sank in, I began to look at Christmas from a completely different paradigm.

I  wish I could sit with you, pour you a cup of tea, hold your hand and encourage you  with the idea that everything will turn out just fine. But I can’t.  I can assure you from the other side of the mess that because Jesus chose to enter a world full of messes that first Christmas, there is hope beyond what you now face.

Would you join me the next 4 weeks leading up to Christmas Day?  Each week we will look at a different aspect of the first Christmas, and allow The Father and the Son who came to cry with us.

The first day of the week I will share a meditation to ponder.  Other days I will share a prayer, a song, a short story of hope, or a suggestion for making the holiday easier.  Please join me.  Also, please, speak up!  I’d love your thoughts and comments as the weeks progress – how this is helping or not, and what is or has worked for you.  Thanks!

With love and prayers,

Robin <3