The Gift of Grief: How to Embrace Peace When You Feel Overwhelmed

Sharing my post today, published by a wonderful online site, Having Time, on finding peace and the gift of grief.

“It’s not the events of our lives that shape us but our beliefs as to what those events mean.” – Tony Robbins

She stretched her growing legs out, shoving back the pile of blankets that were keeping me warm.  Her leg then moved outward and kicked me just as I was falling into a relaxed state after a long and demanding day.

Grrrrr.  “Stop it,” I said sternly.  “Move it….’get out of here, go to your bed.”

I could feel my anger escalating. My tired self had no patience for wild antics of my children as all my body craved was sleep.

Her six-year-old, sixty-pound body was too much to move compelling me to bite the bullet and tough it out. My energy was depleted. She had won…

As a busy mom of four lively and spirited children, I yearned for sleep.  To sleep in my bed, without children, without unruly octopus legs interrupting my peaceful slumber would sure be amazing.

Wishful thinking. Was this too much to ask?

I can’t remember the last time I had a totally restful night’s sleep or five minutes to myself.  Just as my negativity began to creep in, it hit me.

What was I complaining about?  That voice became louder.  Stop it, remember, you have so much to be thankful for.   Your daughter is here next to you. Alive, healthy, sleeping in safety next to you, her mother who she loves with all her heart.

Gulp.

Reality check.

Again.

One would think that after having my oldest daughter die at the hands of a tragic accident and facing a life of torture and persistent heartache, would make me immune to such selfish behavior.  Guess again.

Had I forgotten? Absolutely not.  Most onlookers would think that someone like me wouldn’t need frequent reality checks.

Well, that’s the bold truth of this fleshly world we live in. I’m human just like the rest of us. I get worn-out, grouchy and take things for granted. I fail to see the beauty in mundane daily tasks at times and succumb to guilt, regrets and a serious case of bad attitudes.

 

Conversely, I know how awful it could be. I have experienced the worst and at times still, relive those gut wrenching soul-killing sobs and accompanied sharp pains. However, instead of that initial blanket of hopelessness, these intimate moments are followed by an overwhelming peace that embraces me, bringing comfort and healing.  This is the gift of grief.

I can honestly say that having lived through the trauma of the death of my child, my eyes have been opened to a new world. Initially, it was the world full of sadness and unending pain. It was struggling with heavy doubt and perpetual what ifs.

However, eight years later, it has evolved into a world of deep introspect and life lessons.  Grief is constantly developing and growing my heart of compassion while pruning my spirit and blossoming my faith.   Grief causes you to become authentic to yourself as you walk that fine line between past and present, delicately balancing the dynamic emotions that flood your soul, while reflecting on yesterday and pondering what the future holds.

I have learned that I cannot only survive this, but can thrive.  It humbles me to know that without grief, my life would have been entirely different and I would not be the same person I have become today.  For that I am grateful.

So, for now, I think I can handle a few more kicks and sleepless nights if it means I’m able to hold my precious child, feel her warm breath upon my face, and absorb the true blessings that life gives.

 

 

Soul Quenching Savior

I know it’s a couple days late. Seems to be the story of my life. Always a day late , dollar short and behind schedule. Between work and shuffling children around my writing sometimes takes a back seat. Hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?          So, Easter thoughts better late than never.    🙂 

We had always enjoyed the sunrise service in the middle of the desert.   There’s nothing quite like getting up at 4 AM, throwing four kids in the car, making them sleep in their clothes as we drive two hours in the dark, and then climb a hill to make it to the service on top of the giant rock. 

Braving the many times freezing temperatures and harsh wind, nothing stood between us, as year after year, we looked forward to this day.

www.grievinggumdrops.com

 

Surrounded by nearly 200 others swarmed tightly around a big bonfire, we sang hymns and heard the story of Jesus, rising from the tomb just as the sun peeked over the horizon. Exposed in nature, there’s no fuss about dressing up, as you won’t find any suits or Easter dresses here, just pure authentic people coming to worship our Savior with open hearts.

 www.grievinggumdrops.com

 

It’s truly beautiful and in this moment you can’t help but feel the Holy Spirit surround you, making it hard not to become emotional to such a powerful force.  The cool air wakes your soul, conjuring up focused thoughts on life, death, eternity and the true meaning of this day.

  www.grievinggumdrops.com

 

 

 

 Here are some photos of our last Easter sunrise service with Lydia. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfectly beautiful day.  With not a cloud in the sky, the kids hunkered down around the fire, jumping from rock to rock in the cool morning air.  After the service, we enjoyed a hearty country breakfast at the local grange and then spent the day with family exploring and hunting Easter eggs in the sagebrush.

grievinggumdrops.com 

grievinggumdrops.com

 

 www.grievinggudmrops.com

 

It was bittersweet last Sunday as we gathered without my dear Lydia, but I am reminded of the promise of new life He has given us. God sending his own son, to be crucified and die for our sins, now that is a powerful and unfathomable kind of love. Love that is mightier than anything we could ever imagine. However, we did it and were flooded with memories of Lydia, her mischievous smile and zeal for life. Missing her ever so much.

John 3:16…”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Navigating Relationships Between Childhood Friendships and Grief

Childhood can be a tricky thing for growing little humans.  Finding where you fit in, figuring out your personality and who you want to be, how to act and learning what to say, can be challenging to say the least.  Add a bit of grief or struggle on top and a child’s world is compounded immensely.

Having four children sprinkled through elementary and middle school, this is something that has laid heavily on my heart lately as I have observed my children navigate through the tangled web of friendships in their schools.  

Finding the true definitions of a friend has been a challenge for them. They have experimented with learning lessons the hard way by hurt feelings, being excluded from games on the playgrounds, pushed down, being told to “leave, you’re not wanted here,” to “I’m not supposed to talk to you,” among many others.

It’s rough. All kidding aside, the last thing any parent wants is to have their child being treated terribly arriving home after school with tears in their eyes. It opens your heart to places you never felt, having these innocent beings reliant on you to provide comfort and understanding when you have none.

 Yes, it  tears at the tender heart deep down. I wish I could protect them from such pain.

No one wishes for their children to be ostracized by their peers.  Thankfully, my kids are resilient.  They are real, honest, kind-hearted and strong.  I am so proud of each and every one of them. 

Don’t get me wrong, they each have their moments of irresponsibility, speaking without thinking, or rudeness that needs corrected, among many other undesirable traits. Outnumbered, they’ve at times made me think I will never survive the four of them with all the joking, fighting, yelling and craziness my sweet darlings provide.  Yet despite it all, I can say I am truly proud of the individuals they are becoming.

I work extremely hard to try to instill the proper values in their expanding minds. So far, my monsters are well rounded, compassionate kids with big hearts, willing to help anyone out.  

They don’t care what anyone dresses like.  On any normal day, you will find my kiddos in hand me downs, prized apparel acquired at yard sales and thrift shops.  Their second-hand shoes and mismatched socks make them who they are.  Thankfully, they don’t pay attention to what people wear or feel inadequate to be lured into comparison.       

They don’t discriminate based on social hierarchy, popular status, or appearances.  They don’t bat an eye to unruly hair or tattered clothing and remain joyful non-materialistic little people.

In our family, we just don’t have time for that.  A quick glance will reveal my little people frequently covered in dirt wearing stained shirts with chocolate faces. To some they may look like they just rolled off the wagon train, and that’s okay. 

Through it all, they remain confident in who God made them to be.

Our children have visited homeless shelters on many occasions and have observed life on the other side of the fence.  It has humbled them, yet opened their hearts to see children who are just like them, ignoring the different lifestyles while engaging in laughs and play with other children as if they’d been friends for years.

They look forward to saying their prayers every night together, they know what real pain and sorrow feel like.

They don’t judge based on gossip or rumors.  They don’t bully others attempting to outcast others from their circle of friends, even though others may have done this to them. 

It’s is my hope that they will always reciprocate and never take advantage of others. They are not fake, pretending to be someone’s friend one day and then the next day not knowing who they are. 

Fancy new cars, name brand clothes, economic status or living in a fancy house doesn’t apply to them.  They can mingle and mix with the best of them, joining hearts with all kinds.

My children have bloomed into compassionate hearts that are the first to console a hurting friend or to lend an ear if someone is sad. They are proficient in seeing broken hearts, observing their parents sorrow and unending love for their sister in heaven.

And you’ll find that our house is not immaculate. Sure, we do the basic house work but have found there is so much more to life than stressing about weather all the toys are picked up, or the floors swept and mopped daily.

They may not look or act like they have it all together, but inside they are perfectly fit. The puzzle pieces of their soul are connecting at just the right moments, fertilizing that growing heart.

You see, our family has learned the hard way, what really matters in life.  Years ago, we didn’t realize the value of what we had until it was suddenly taken away from us.   We’ve reached the lowest of the lows together and are slowly crawling our way back out.   One day at a time, 8 years and counting.

Enduring my young daughter’s tragic death was a slap in the face to the life I was living.   One thing grief has taught me, from being at my lowest point in life, was to be humble.  I was humbled by the simplicity of this life, humbled by the blessings God has given me.  Contentment and gratitude rose to the forefront of my reality.  And it not only taught me, but my children as well.

Lately, the uneasy feeling of grief and friendships has hit my family pretty hard.   Hurt feelings from people you thought were friends, who turned out have never heard of the golden rule or believe it doesn’t to apply to them.  Observing my children question someone’s harsh words, not understanding this fleshly world we live in-I struggle to find words to offer as an explanation.

However, I can say that having your heart torn open and shattered beyond belief, makes you appreciate the life you have, fuels you to live it with a purpose and passion like never before. It’s crazy to think of how our family may not have understood these valuable lessons had our daughter not passed away.

We all need to experience frequent reality checks and to treat others with love and kindness. Most importantly, we need to remember that it doesn’t matter what others think-we are all  equal and unique in God’s eyes, made for a special purpose and nothing can ever change that.

So I leave you with this heartwarming quote from Proverbs 31 Ministries to ponder….