My guest on By His Grace this week Lauren Birchmire and I are kindred spirits when it comes to grief and loss. We both experienced the loss of our father’s suddenly and had to get married without our Daddy’s to give us away. We both know the anguish that comes from losing a child, and our hopes being crushed. But we also know that where there are deep wounds there is deep grace that comes from Jesus. When we cast our cares on Jesus we exchange our heavy burden for His peace that transcends our understanding. Lauren shares a little more of her story on the blog today. She offers some practical tips and advice on how to help a friend or loved one who is grieving.
Finding Hope in Grief
by Lauren Birchmire
We use the word hope in many ways; I hope my children behave today, I wish the monthly budget is balanced, I want to get that raise, I hope my husband starts listening to me more, I think I can get this “to do list” done today.
It’s not wrong to hope for these things, but it can turn into hurt or hang-up when we ONLY put our hope in earthly thinking. I’ve hoped in the same way. I longed for my husband to stop drinking, I desired a healthy child.
I hoped for the miracle that didn’t come.
I’ve learned I can’t put my hope in just earthly events. We live in a fallen world, and it doesn’t work as God created. I have to remind myself daily of this truth. I ask God for peace and to put my peace and hope in Christ.
When you lose something so precious, we can either ground ourselves in that hurt; and be bitter or say to God, USE IT.
I have hoped and grieved a few times in this earthly life.
I suddenly lost my father to pancreatic cancer. We had no idea he had cancer until two weeks before he passed.
I’ve grieved my husband being an alcoholic, and not trusting him any longer.
Thankfully, by the grace of God, we will celebrate six years of sobriety in March. In April of 2017, we found out the news that our first child, our daughter Makena, would be born with a heart defect. We had two precious weeks of parenting her before her first surgery in late August of 2017. She had her second surgery on September the 6th, about 12 hours after that second surgery she went into sudden cardiac arrest, and went to heaven. We will never know this side of heaven why she went into cardiac arrest. My daughter lived for 3 ½ weeks.
You might be feeling the stain of grief or some other emotions, but one thing I know for sure, YOU’RE NOT ALONE!
We grieve many things in this life, loss of job, money, a hurt that a loved one caused, separation from family or friends, the death of a loved one, etc.
We need to grieve and allow others to mourn too.
We are a society that pushes things away; if I pretend it is not there, then I won’t feel it.
That is a lie from Satan; he loves to twist the truth and make it sound so believable. We enter a pit of despair that we feel there is no escaping, but There is a way out! God provides the way, and through entering into that pain; you will come out the other side.
This does not mean the grief ends. It can hit you on the most mundane moment in a day, one simple memory will provide a puddle of tears, but I know who is collecting all those tears…Jesus. He will walk through that grief with you if you allow it. I had days that I would start sobbing while changing the laundry over because it reminded me of all the baby clothes I washed and prepped for Makena. I sobbed while washing the dishes because I felt I should be washing bottles or her little body instead.
I say to enter the pain, feel it, allow yourself to cry and cry out to God; He can take it, the good, the bad, the ugly. HE wants to hear it ALL.
Do not fear to reach out to someone you trust to share these deep hurts with, find a trusted Christian counselor, dive into a bible study about grief and loss, or find a Celebrate Recovery group near you. I’ve done all these suggested, and it allowed me to be in a healthy place with my grief; that I could not have done without Christ.
We aren’t meant to do grief alone.
What can you do for a friend or loved one who is grieving?
- BE PRESENT!
- Offer to do those dishes or laundry, sit with them and listen, watch a movie, and offer more than once.
- Don’t try to keep the pain away, but enter it with them. Don’t say the cliche things like “oh they’re in a better place,” “oh they wouldn’t want you sad,” “Thank goodness the illness was short, not drawn out.” Or “at least you had time to say goodbye.” Lastly, the biggest one of all, “God must have needed them.” God doesn’t need anyone; we need him!
- Don’t say the contrite things as it just makes that person feel like they shouldn’t grieve. Be present, offer to help, listen, validate their feelings, speak God’s truth to them lovingly when Satan tries to whisper lies to them. That is it. If they cry, go ahead and cry with them. When we grief well it keeps us healthy and prevents us from seeking other hang-ups or habits that bring us into bondage, not freedom.
I do have some earthly hope, our second daughter will make her entrance in about eight weeks, but my daily hope that gets me through each hardship, each day of grief is that this life is temporary in the long term and one day it will all be set right.
God has called me into public speaking on grief, addictions, and hope. My loving husband and I are starting a ministry called, Makena Ministries “United in Tragedy to bring hope” I believe God is using my story to share what true hope in living in Christ’s care can do even in the darkest of circumstances.
Nothing is impossible with God! He makes beauty from the ashes and promises to carry us through the storms of life. For more information about Makena Ministries, you can email the Birchmire’s at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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