NOTE: Commentary is made as a private citizen and not as Regional Coordinator for Silent No More or Leader of Rachel's Hope, unless otherwise stated.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

How Can We Possibly be Brave during Grief?

“Mom, they sentenced me to ten years in prison.” 

In Everyday Brave, Loretta Eidson tells the story of how a phone call from her son plunged her down the deep dark hole of depression. Loretta grieved for a prodigal: the death of the vision and dreams she had for a son who took a wrong turn in life. She aptly describes both the emotional pit of grief and the only way to dig out of it: bravely calling on God and others for help.

Most of us have a plan for our life—we may feel certain we’re headed in the right direction. We had it all figured out. Everything’s under control. Then suddenly one day, we find ourselves living out a completely different scenario. Sometimes it’s better than we expected; but if not, we grieve. We grieve the loss of a job, a relationship, loved ones, animals, possessions, dreams—the list goes on. Loss leaves a void in our heart. It hurts and we’re miserable. 

I understand. I’ve experienced grief too. When I was ten, my thirty-six-year-old highway patrolman father was murdered with his own gun in the line of duty. At thirteen, I had to wear a body cast for aggressive debilitating scoliosis and miss two years of school. I’ve experienced a failed marriage. I’m a three-time breast cancer survivor. My daughter was a teenage prodigal. A difficult relationship with my mother, who disowned my sister and me. Moving away from family and friends. Medical issues. Relatives and close friends dying. Yet still, I can say, “Praise God!” He was with me through it all, and I know he will always be there for me in the future. 

God uses difficult circumstances in my life to give me a sensitivity and compassion for grieving and hurting women so I can better minister to them. And He will do the same for you. Someday He will use your heartache to help someone else going through a similar loss.

Death seems final—and sadly, it is if the one we’ve lost is not a believer. We mourn the opportunities when we wish we’d been braver to share Jesus with them. Even if we know the person is a believer and we will see him or her in heaven someday, it takes courage only God can provide to get out of bed each morning and face the loss and loneliness. There is no easy or quick way to grieve, no timetable for how long grief will last. Grieving is a process. Raw wounds may never completely heal, but when we seek God’s help, we can bravely face our tomorrows. One day at a time.

Dealing with grief bravely doesn’t mean keeping a stiff upper lip and hiding or denying your pain. It does mean being honest with others and yourself, and having the courage to admit you’re hurting and might need outside assistance, which can take many forms: counseling, medical, pastoral, family, friends . . . time.

As hard as we might try to prevent hardships and grief, we never know what tomorrow, or even the next hour, will bring. Many difficult trials happen to us or to our loved ones whether we’re ready or not. That can seem unnerving, but then God’s Word reminds us that as believers He has a plan for all of our lives, even when it seems obscure at the moment and we cry “Why Lord, why?” through our tears. 

Grieving is a lonely time. There’s little anyone can say to console us; no one can relieve or remove our pain. The Bible tells us that Jesus understands. He was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isa. 53:3 nlt). We can pour out all our pain, even pain that touches our deepest soul, to Jesus. Only he has the salve that can eventually heal our wounds, though there will always be a scar that fades with time but never disappears completely.

In the Bible, Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, and Rizpah, Saul’s concubine who watched both her sons murdered and their bodies left for the vultures, suffered a mother’s anguish of outliving their children. Can you imagine their heartache and pain? Their suffering and devastation? Maybe you’ve experienced that kind of grief and you know exactly how they felt. I’m so sorry. Still, no matter the twists and turns, the tragedies, the heartaches and pain, we sense God’s loving presence helping us brave through the unwanted circumstances, just as Naomi bravely mentored new believer Ruth and Rizpah courageously advocated for her sons’ eventual burial. They found purpose in their pain.

I’ve always found journaling my feelings, prayer requests, and praises helps me work through difficult seasons. That’s why there’s a Prayer and Praise Journal in Everyday Brave. Sometimes a journal can be a trusted confidant that just listens and doesn’t give advice. Always, it’s God assuring us that one day He will turn our mourning into dancing. Until then, the psalmist reminds us: “My eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you” (Ps. 88:9—emphasis added).

Grief is difficult to talk about, but it usually helps to talk. What has helped you during times of grief?

*Any excerpts from Everyday Brave used with permission from Leafwood Publishers

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 20 books. Her passion is to mentor other women in sharing their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. Her new release is Everyday Brave: Living Courageously As a Woman of Faith available at Amazon,, Barnes and Noble, and signed at author’s website.
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About Everyday Brave: In Everyday Brave, Janet explores the extraordinary bravery of fifty ordinary women in the Bible. Twenty-eight women of today also give testimonies of realizing their strength and courage through God’s love. As Janet shares the stories of these women, she reminds us that the real heart and substance of bravery comes from unconditionally placing our hope in the only One who can give us the courage to stay the course.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Domino Effect of Loss

Experiencing loss is something we all have and will face throughout our lifetime.  As we get older, the number of losses increases, sometimes to unbearable proportions. One would think (or hope) that after a certain amount of losses, the sting would somehow lessen and the tears would no longer flow with abandon - instead, become a controlled trickle.

In reality, we find that after each loss, the sting is the same (and sometimes worse).  We might find ourselves muddling through our day with a deep sense of sadness for weeks or months and wonder if we are going crazy.  In most cases, we are not. It's called the "domino effect."

You see, when we lose a family member, friend, or beloved pet, it triggers the memories and emotions of past losses.  This avalanche of feelings can be a little overwhelming, frightening, and most of all, depressing.  We find ourselves either an emotional bowl of Jello or completely shutting down – isolating from everyone and everything. It's okay. It's normal.  Yes, it is uncomfortable and painful, but all part of the grieving process.  Trying to fight it is unhealthy.  As they say, "Go with the flow." 
Being in the business of grief, I thought understanding the dynamics would inoculate me from feeling the pain and anguish.   Not true.  My brain knows what is happening, but it doesn't communicate that knowledge to my heart. 

What we all need to remember is that the losses we face, and the subsequent period of emotional upheaval is a testament to love.  It reminds me of a phrase in an old movie that goes something like this - "How lucky I am to have someone in my life that makes saying goodbye to so darned hard."

In memory of my friend Joan Maucere who left us this past weekend and inspired this post.

The choirs of angels are singing as
Heaven gains another beautiful soul.