Category Archives: grief

Hope & Healing in the Holidays

A week before Thanksgiving, I am noticing many people are writing or sharing posts and articles about ways to find hope and healing in the holidays.

But honestly the holidays are still one of the most difficult moments in my grief.

Our daughters, Caitlin and Brielle, come home – though often not at the same time. They are each married now so we’ve also added two special son-in-laws. But when we are all together we are more aware than ever that Leisha is not among us.

After some earlier losses in life, I could still “manufacture” some of sparkle and gratitude of the holidays. I could still muster it mostly because I’m a positive person and worked hard to at least ‘appear’ happy.

But after Leisha died, it was not possible even pretend to make that happen.

I’m sure I’ve shared this before, but for me grief was a feeling of being in a really dark tunnel where the mud was up past the top of my head and I couldn’t move a finger let alone breathe.

The harder I tried to get out the deeper I got Into the mire, into the mud, into the darkness.

Maybe you are reading this because you are desperate-  I just described how you feel right now. Loss has paralyzed you. You are stuck in this dark, damp tunnel of mud with fist raised.

Is that you?

Or maybe you don’t feel so desperate anymore. But there is still this ache that won’t go away and you wonder if it ever will.

While you want more than anything “Keep living until you feel alive again”,  you also struggle to move past that last connection you had with your loved one.

Which ends up being their death.

Does that sound familiar to you?

Or maybe you are walking with someone you care about. You experienced the same loss, but you don’t feel the loss with the same intensity as your mother does or as much as your spouse or friend does. You know what they are experiencing is very real, but you don’t know what to do – or say.  You don’t know how to help.

Who are you walking with?

But whoever you are look around. You are not alone.

You are not alone In the experience of loss- which sometimes is a comfort of its own.  Grief is a lonely journey in many ways, but misery loves company.

But you are also not alone in the journey through grief.

A book that I highly recommend is called “A Grace Disguised’.  The author, Jerry Sittser lost his wife, his mother and his 4 year old daughter in a tragic accident with a drunk driver.  He writes.

“The experience of loss does not have to be the defining moment in our lives. Instead the defining moment can be our response to the loss. It is not what happens to us that matters so much as what happens in us.” 

Jerry says “It’s not our loss that defines us”,
though many of us feel defined by the day
our Husband died,
our daughter died
we lost the job
Or we got that diagnosis

Those are losses indeed- yet they are things we have very little control over.

But if the defining moment can be how we respond to that loss–
well, that we can do something about.  

What do you think about that?
Can you choose how to respond when you experience a loss?
When you think about your losses in your life, what was your response?

Hope & Healing is in our control as we choose our response Click To Tweet

I’m not saying it is easy. In fact, I’m here to say it sure wasn’t for me.

But how about we take a moment in preparation for these holidays and stop to notice our options –  not just in our response to our loss but as move through our grief.

And also through our holidays.

Tomorrow I’ll share with you an exercise I learned to help me in my response in my loss.  Actually, it has a lot to do with the RED SEA again.

See you tomorrow.

What Happens When a Moment Changes Your Life

In the last post, I talked about the big moments we can recall in vivid detail.  We remember who was with us, what happened, how it felt.  Often, we share how that moment changed our life.

I shared one moment that is talked about a lot in scripture- I call it the RED SEA story -when the children of Israel were caught between death – and death.  It was that moment when God showed up like he had never shown up before and they were saved. (You can read more about that in the post from yesterday)

I’m guessing that even as you read that description, you immediately think of one or more occasions in your own story that changed you.

I wish we could sit over a cup of coffee and share those moments together.  I would love to hear about the moment that changed you in the comments section or via email at kathy@greenhopecoaching.com.

For now, I’ll share my story RED SEA moment with you. It was the day my 15 year old daughter, Leisha, died.

I didn’t know how I was going to survive the grief tunnel any more than the children of Israel knew how they were going to get out of Egypt, or get through the Red Sea.

God had to show up! And he had to show up differently than he ever had before! Continue reading What Happens When a Moment Changes Your Life

6 Reasons to Be Grateful at a Funeral

I recently attended the funeral, actually, the celebration of life of a 23 year old daughter of a friend.

The uncanny timing of this particular event was not lost on me.  As I sat at this funeral, I was reminded of another that took place just one week shy of 11 years ago- in the same church- led by the same pastor.  It was a funeral I was very much a part of since the life being celebrated was my 15 year old daughter, Leisha. Continue reading 6 Reasons to Be Grateful at a Funeral

The Day I Made A Word: Cele-dread

Reposted from 4 years ago…

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I Cele-dreaded this day!

This is the day – you know –
the one you CELEBRATE  because it acknowledged a great accomplishment by people you care about.
But also the day you DREAD because it reminded you that something is not right about this day.
I’ve worked hard to ‘prepare’ myself for this day
I didn’t know how having it all happen just before Mother’s Day might affect me!
I’ve cried- or needed to cry- often
I couldn’t figure out why-
Why do I feel so very sad
Why do I feel so full of grief
Why can’t I stop thinking about her
Why…does…it…hurt…so…bad…???
This is the day when
her close friends are graduating,
I’ve known that Jameson & Kelsey & Abby were all graduating this May. I’ve been excited for them and watched closely as they posted pictures and updates of all that is happening and all the plans to come.
This is the day when her sisters, Caitlin & Brielle,
are getting engaged,
and hunting for the right dresses
And choosing bridesmaids,  and colors, and flowers
and planning showers, and weddings and receptions
But this also the day I remember- that she isn’t here!
The day I ponder in so many ways what could have been, if only…!
This could have been her year to graduate from some college
To have a boyfriend
Maybe even to be getting married too.
I can see it happen.
I celebrate these dear people and the steps they are taking
But I dread the emotion because it reminds me that it will never, ever be ‘right’.
No matter how hard I/we all try.
She will always be gone- the bold, boisterous, life of the party, troublemaker that she was
We will always miss her presence with us
I always miss her
Cele-dread!
But today Tim read 1 Cor 13- 3 times he read it during Shalom
Each time the words I heard were
‘if we do not love, we are nothing.’
I loved!
I still love!
Just because she is in heaven doesn’t mean I have quit loving her!
It’s because I love that this day hurts so very deep.
It’s my love that causes my heart to break
On this day
On all of these days of celebration.
As I look as these precious people- men and women that she loved too!
Some that she never got to meet
I rejoice for what God is doing in them- through them- around them
I celebrate the love I feel for them- and they for me
I cherish it!
I could NOT not love them.
That would be far worse to me
To have never have loved at all
It might mean that it would not hurt so much now
But what would make life worth living without that love.
I could fear losing and therefore not love so that I would not get hurt
But truly to ‘not have love, means I have nothing’
I have a heart that is full- of emotion, of sadness yes, but also of joy, and gratitude,
For the life I knew
For the sense that I am loved
And that I love still!
That’s something!
I celebrate!

So. Much. Pain.

I’m in the people business
Know people
Care for people
Feel for people

Because of this I have to be very aware of how I take in the emotions & pain of others. It can effect me not only emotionally, but physically as well.

Over the last few days a series of losses took my breathe away.

Death of a 26 year old friend of Leisha’s
Death of a 16 year old friend of a friend
Our friend’s 17 year old fighting for his life

Watching our parents process letting go of strength, while mourning each week the death of another friend or loved one.

Watching the girls navigate life and wondering what’s ahead for them and any future generations.

I’m not trying to take on all this pain but I’m struggling about what to do with my own emotions as I create a bigger picture for ministry I know I am part of
That involves more people
More stories
More pain.

Ah!
There it is!
The truth!

I fear feeling more.
Hurting more.

Then I reflected on the other messages
Continue reading So. Much. Pain.

A Broken Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving Eve, though I have seldom heard it described in such a way, not like Christmas Eve or New Years Eve. But tonight it seems appropriate. It is the day before ‘the day’ set aside for thanks and gratitude.

Yet I sit huddled on my sofa, tears just boiling under the surface waiting to spill over. Emotions are all over the place and I wonder if I will ever again feel free to experience joy without a deep sense of sadness.

If all the conditions were right, Continue reading A Broken Thanksgiving

Thank you Professor Sittser

This past week, I have been working intently to finish up details for publishing the Lovely Traces of Hope book.  I had one of those moments  as I sat late into the night reading/ editing/ proofing yet again through my own story.  

For the umpteenth time, I was reading through Chapter 14, Turning East, which I have sent to many of you already. (Click here if you haven’t read it yet.) In that chapter, I share excerpts of Jerry Sittser’s book called A Grace Disguised. Jerry literally led me through much of my grief through the sharing of his own story.

Several months ago as I was reworking that chapter for the book, I sent Jerry a letter to thank him for being bold enough to share his story because of the influence it has had in mine. 

Here was his reply…

Continue reading Thank you Professor Sittser

A Book to Proof

I was sittting at the Arby’s across from the mall in the area that is all window. People watching at its best.  The sky was clear with the exception of a few, very small, very white clouds slowly drifting by.  What a beautiful day!

Every thing about this moment was life-giving. Even the woman Continue reading A Book to Proof