Devotions to Help Navigate the Loss of a Loved One
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Chapter 1 - And Suddenly Life Changed
It was a day like any other. I left home that morning to go to work, kissed Alan goodbye and wished him a good day. He had a job interview but was not feeling well. Flu symptoms had been hitting him for a couple of days and he just could not seem shake the illness. Little did I know that when I would return to the house eight hours later my world would never again be the same.
Alan called me that afternoon saying that he still felt badly and had even cancelled the interview. I told him my meetings were finished and I was headed home. I suggested that perhaps we should go to the hospital and have him examined. He told me wanted to wait until morning to see how he was feeling.
On the way home, I tried to call him back multiple times as my concern increased. As I drove into the neighborhood, I vividly recall feeling certain that something had happened. Not wanting to believe it, I actually spoke out loud to God in the car, “Are you trying to tell me he is dead?” I felt God’s arms around me as I drove into the driveway and ran into the house.
The next seven hours were ones I still do not care to recall nor relive. What I do want to remember is that God placed special people in my life that evening. The EMT first responders arrived and did their best while the police officer sat at the dining room table with me, trying to keep me occupied and out of the bedroom. Later, my neighbor came over and took care of the house for me while I went to the hospital.
Both my senior pastor and the associate pastor were already waiting for me at the emergency room. My good friend and teammate from work arrived shortly afterward, joining us in a room tucked far away from the frantic activity that occurs when doctors fight for a person’s life. One of our close friends soon came and began taking over for me, making all the necessary arrangements that would consume my life over the next four days.
Incredible friends drove up and met our youngest son at the college an hour and a half away and brought him home to me that night. My church purchased a plane ticket to get our oldest son home by the next day as he lived out of state. Another friend spent the night with me, even coming into my bedroom and holding me when I awoke and cried in the middle of the night.
My large and extended family all made arrangements to come for the service. My best friend dropped everything and spent the next two weeks with me. She helped with anything I needed and the many things I had no idea I needed. Numerous church members came in and out of my home that week and silently served me by cooking, cleaning, and praying.
Looking back now, I realize God met my needs. He was there in the form of friends and family. I truly believe God uses people to minister to His children, especially in the midst of pain and suffering. I am blessed that my friends were Godly, wise people who did well by me.
In the Bible, we read how Job also suffered great loss. However, his friends did not understand the ways of God. They actually blamed Job for his misfortunes and encouraged him to curse God for the bad things that were happening. I am grateful that instead of telling me I was to blame for Alan’s death and that God was obviously my enemy, my friends supported me through countless, selfless acts of kindness.
There are times the grief and tears still wash over me, though not every day. I have moments where I weep with such vengeance you would think these emotions were brand new and that everything happened yesterday. Scripture tells us that the Lord “will wipe away the tears from all faces.” (Isaiah 25:8 NIV). Therefore, I believe my sadness and tears are important to God and a vital part of my grief journey.
As you open up and release your pain by being sad, allowing yourself to cry, and perhaps shouting and venting out loud a bit, God will soothe you. He hears your cry. He knows your pain. God’s beloved son, Jesus Christ, died so that you and I can have the hope and assurance of once again seeing our loved ones. That reunion in Heaven is only possible if you know Jesus. Not just know about Jesus, but to really know Him.
As we walk through this book together, my desire is for you to see Jesus through my grief journey and be able to look for Him in yours. Hold fast, Dear One, you are not abandoned. Even when your world has suddenly changed and turned upside-down, you do not have to be alone.
I am proud of you for beginning this journey of walking through your grief. Read on and may you find strength for the days ahead by leaning on the One who is strong enough to carry you.
At the end of each short chapter, I have listed a few application exercises to assist you in your journey of grief. I found these exercises helpful and I hope you can use them as well. Take your time and work at your own pace.
Your fellow journeyer,
• Look for ways that God has been with you. Have you been able to see or feel His presence? If so, compile a list to refer back to later. Seeing that evidence written down can make it more real and can remind you of the truth that God is indeed in your life.
• Who were the people that have helped you most in this difficult time? Did God show Himself through them or through a special moment or event?
• Perhaps you need to take some time and ask yourself, “What is my relationship with God?” Do you remember a time in your life that you prayed and asked Jesus to forgive your sin? He died on the cross for you and without Him, you remain separated from God, living life on your own.
If you do not have this personal relationship and would like to know more about it, then turn to the back of this book and read about God’s love for you in the “Meeting Jesus” chapter. He cares for you and wants you as His own, Dear One. Knowing Jesus personally has been instrumental in allowing me to heal and move forward in life.
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About the Book
Grief Letters is a resource for those who find themselves dealing with the loss of a loved one. Navigating death can be frightening and difficult. Karen has written these letters in hopes that by sharing the experience of her husband’s sudden death, she might help you find courage and hope. She has included applications at the end of each chapter to help you grow and learn through your own grief journey. You too can get to the other side of grief and once again feel that joy and happiness are possible.
About the Author
Karen Bransgrove experienced the sudden death of her husband in November 2010. Walking through the journey of grief inspired her to help others who are also dealing with loss. The mother of two sons, Karen is once again finding joy in writing while serving at Riverside Church in Denver, Colorado.