Loss

This is the fifth year we’ll be celebrating Christmas without my mom.

I wish I could say it gets easier.

This year I’m tempted to go back to Mom’s church for the Christmas Eve service we attended every single year without fail. But I know I’ll never make it through without gobs of snotty tissues and red, swollen eyes, so why bother?

Let me start by saying that if there’s one thing I’ve learned about grief, it’s that it’s different for everyone. Shucks, it’s not only different from person to person, but it can be different for the same person from day to day or even hour to hour! It’s completely unpredictable.

So maybe you can relate to my experience, or maybe you’ve responded completely differently – and that’s totally fine. My reaction has bent and morphed from year to year.

But that first year, I surprised myself. After 30 years doing the same thing to celebrate the holidays, after my mom died, I didn’t want any of it. Not the music, not the lights, not the cookies. Nothing.

I completely recoiled at the thought of “celebrating” these traditions without my mom. I couldn’t bear it. It hurt too much.

My kids complained. They wanted to decorate a tree. They wanted to bake cookies. They wanted to sing Silent Night. Of course they missed their Grandma, but they didn’t realize the strong emotional tie that she had to each of those activities for me. They couldn’t understand why something like my grief would or could or should “ruin” their Christmas.

So we compromised. With some traditions that year, I simply said, “I can’t.” With others, I agreed to go through the motions, but they didn’t transpire without silent sobs and gobs of snotty, tear-stained tissues.

If you’re facing the holiday season after experiencing a loss, head over to iBelieve.com to read the rest of this article, including my six tips for facing the holidays after a loss.

 

Related post:

An Open Letter to Grief

 

 

It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it?

In January, we realized that sometimes “Happy New Year” just isn’t enough.

In February, we grieved for someone we’d never met.

In March, we lost dear Kara Tippetts, the brave fighter and mother, who found her sweet relief in Jesus.

In April, we learned the secret to changing the world.

In May, we remembered the beauty of friendship — and agreed that nobody’s cuter than you.

In June, we got to chat with the delightful Trillia Newbell, author of Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves.

In July, my girl turned ten, and I might’ve gotten a little sentimental about the whole thing.

In August, we had our first ever Five Minute Friday Retreat! It was such a gift, and God did some amazing things over the course of the weekend.

In September, we enjoyed a six-week discussion on the book, On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits to a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Click here to read some fantastic discussion points, watch videos from the authors, and check out posts linked up from a number of participants.

In October, we survived our second annual 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes.

In November, we shared our fall fiction favorites, and had the pleasure of interviewing Deidra Riggs about her book, Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are

In December, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of the release of Letters to Grief.

 

Besides the weekly Five Minute Friday posts, here are the most popular posts of the year.

Top Posts of 2015: 

SecretsOfACharmedLifeCOVER

1. Secrets of a Charmed Life :: A Review

 

For the first time ever, a book review was the most-clicked post on this blog at the end of the year. I continue to get clicks on this post every day of the week.

 

Kind of makes you want to read the book to see what all the fuss is about, doesn’t it? 

 

Click here for to learn more. 

 

2. An Open Letter to the Future

I don't know what tomorrow holds. But I

 

3. Books to Read this Season :: 2015 Edition

4. On Being a Writer :: Identify

5. On Dying with Dignity

 

Thank you for being here, and for reading throughout the year!

What would you like to see on the blog in 2016?

Letters to GriefToday marks one year since the e-book, Letters to Grief, was published.

If you don’t have a copy yet, you can grab one here for just $0.99. It’s a super short read — only twenty pages.

If you’ve read the book, would you consider leaving a review on Amazon by clicking here?

To celebrate the one-year anniversary, we’re having a special edition link-up.

You’re invited to write your own letter to grief and share it with us right here.

You could either type your letter into the comments section of this post, or publish it on your own blog and share the direct post to the Inlinkz link-up below.

For sample letters from a similar link-up last year, click here.

Thank you in advance for sharing! We look forward to reading your words.

***

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

Dear Grief,

You are water.

You rain down in rhythmic drops, a constant tapping on the tin roof of my empty heart, and you refuse to be ignored. You’re a leaking faucet, a steady drip into an open wound.

Yet I need you to water my soul. To make me grow. To survive. You stretch me and draw me tall toward the sun; without you I would shrivel up and wither away.

Letters to Grief

Image by Katie Reid, katiemreid.com, Twitter: @Katie_M_Reid

Even in stages of evaporation, you don’t disappear entirely, but wait to be stored up in the clouds until a storm is ready to thunder and pelt you down in stinging drops. Sometimes you’re a pounding downpour, and I want to run from you — to escape to dry shelter and not be touched by you. Other times you’re the gentle patter that lulls me to sleep at night, soothing and almost unnoticed.

At times you stand still, a puddle at my feet — not threatening, but leaving me soggy and uncomfortable.

You’re the morning dew, sparkling in the dawn of a new day, the residue of last night’s tears.

Like the ocean, you pull in strong currents, and your depths are unknown. You come in waves, rising with lofty swells that crash down incessantly. I ride in your crest until you break and I wash onto the shore, empty and defeated.

In winter you form stoic icebergs that line the shore, masses of frozen mounds that keep well-intentioned visitors at bay, too fearful to set foot on your unpredictable foundation.

You’re a powerful waterfall, charging over the precipice and crashing loud into the abyss, leaving a cold mist to rise up in a foggy haze. The melted mountain snow run-off, trickling down the rivulets of rock, causing others to stop and look. You’re a flowing river, free to run its course in unchartered territory not designed by me.

I’m carried along by you, and I am undone.

But as your Master fixed limits for the sea which He created and “set its doors and bars in place,” so He limits you.⁠ As He says to the waters He formed, so it is with you: “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt.”⁠

As much as you threaten to flood and drown, you will not overcome. For there is One who gives living water — “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”⁠ And you, Grief, will dry up and be gone forevermore.

***

The holidays can be a particularly vulnerable time for people who are well acquainted with grief.

Do you know someone whose heart may be aching this season? Consider gifting them with a copy of this book.

Thanks for joining us today! Looking forward to reading your letters!

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I realise this post has the potential to spark a measure of controversy, though that’s certainly not my intention.

Here are some questions for you:

What makes Christians different from those who don’t love Jesus?

What do they have that non-Christians don’t possess?

What marks them and sets them apart from the rest of mankind?

You might be thinking of the word, “forgiveness.” Amen, and thank God for it.

Forgiveness is a huge aspect that sets Christians apart from those who are not.

The presence of the Holy Spirit is another major component we shouldn’t ignore.

There’s another significant difference that always strikes me whenever a non-Christian person has died:

It’s the element of hope. Its absence is deafening in a funeral home.

 

hope

 

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13 Paul writes to the believers, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (emphasis mine).

“The rest of mankind, who have no hope.”

Isn’t that just so sad?

Doesn’t it make you want to reach out and offer hope to those who don’t have it? 

Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

As believers in Christ’s death and resurrection, we have confidence. We have assurance. We have hope.

Let’s rejoice today in this gift of hope. Let’s hold unswervingly to the anchor of our souls.

 

Anchor Hope

And let’s do everything in our power and in God’s to be a beacon of hope to those in the darkness.

 

***

Letters to Grief - Final cover

Part of the reason I wrote my e-book, Letters to Grief, was to offer hope.

If you know someone who might be in need of hope today, consider sending them a copy of this short book. It’s only 20 pages long, and it’s only $0.99, so you really can’t go wrong.

Maybe it’s the first step that God is nudging you to take in offering hope today. Or maybe you’re the one in desperate need of an anchor.

Either way, I pray this book is a blessing. 

Our community suffered a great loss this week. An 18-year-old 2015 graduate was killed in a car crash early Sunday morning. Just like that, she was gone.

She woke up and probably thought it was going to be a normal day, just like any other. Instead, she met her Maker. By God’s grace, she trusted Christ as her Savior and is now enjoying eternity in His presence.

A few days ago, my almost ten-year-old daughter asked if she could have Pop Tarts for her upcoming birthday breakfast. Her 8-year-old brother quickly pointed out, “You might not even be here then.”

It might sound morbid, but my son understands that tomorrow is not guaranteed. At least, not in this life.

But for those who have put their faith and hope in Jesus Christ, there IS the promise of a better tomorrow — a tomorrow with “no more death or mourning or crying or pain,” for all who believe (Revelation 21:4).

Until then, it’s easy to fear what lies ahead beyond the horizon, beyond what our fallible eyes can see.

I wrote the following post several weeks ago, but apparently the Lord had me save it for such a time as this.

 

***

In light of this week’s events, I’m also offering my e-book, Letters to Grief, FREE from Monday to Friday this week (6/29-7/3) on Amazon Kindle. 

Click here for your free download.

(If you don’t have a free Kindle reading app to use on any device, you can get one by clicking here.)

***

An Open Letter to the Future

 

Dear Future,

The other day, I watched a friend stand up to you. She was afraid of you. She went to bed scared and woke up terrified.

Weary of the fear, she put on her brave.

I watched with silent applause as she squinted her eyes and leaned into you. She gripped a raised umbrella, shielding her cheeks from the force of your wind.

She doesn’t know what you look like, but she held on tight and walked forward in the face of your shadowed anonymity.

I want to be her.

Instead, I feel your tension in the middle of the night.

Your fickle moods manifest in my sleep.

I feel it in the clench of my jaw when I wake. I massage the knots and try to rub your uncertainty out of my face but you’re locked deep beneath the skin.

Your question marks are lodged between muscle and bone and sometimes I forget that I hold the key to release you.

I try running more, as if the exercise will free me from your tension.

The secret to a good night’s sleep is found not in running, but in resting.

Resting in the One who holds you and me both.

I may not know what you hold, but I know the One who holds you — and that makes all the difference.

 

I don't know what tomorrow holds. But I

 

You are not the boss of me.

I need not stand in fear of you.

Yes, you’ve made me waver in the past. I’ve lost sleep over you. I’ve longed to know what you look like.

But I know the One who made you, who owns you, who sees you and knows you.

I don’t need to fear you, because in Him I trust.

 

Image courtesy of kaitlynbouchillon.com, used with permission

Image courtesy of kaitlynbouchillon.com, used with permission

 

You are divided.

You exist in before and after. An invisible curtain looms within you, unseen, but known.

This side of the curtain, you are a black hole. A void. Dense fog.

I can’t see whether the sunset is crimson or grey, whether the sunrise is rose or shrouded in gloom.

But soon the clouds on your horizon will blow away and the Light that has come into the world will make you fully known.

Beyond the curtain, there is certainty. Surety. Hope. Clarity.

 

“She is clothed with strength and

A great day is coming when all your question marks will turn to periods. Full stops.

The dead will be raised to life.

Every knee shall bow.

No more tears. No more death.

No more clenched, aching jaws.

No more question marks.

Only hope.

Only promises fulfilled.

So I step into you gently, unsure of how or where my foot may land today — but persuaded that beyond the curtain, I’ll find the solid Rock on whom I stand.

 

 

Related Post: An Open Letter to Grief