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Posts Tagged ‘grief’

I never thought I’d make it six minutes after my brother’s death, let alone six years. But, here I am. Still standing.

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I put on my father’s old leather boots, grab my walking stick, and head up the mountain…

IMG_6540IMG_5006.JPGBy the time I get to the top, I begin to remember the life well-lived instead of only the death that swept me up in its furious agony.

 

IMG_6538And although I can’t explain it, my heart finds a moment of peace in remembering a day I’d rather forget.

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My jaw has been clenched tightly for over a week and I know it. Birthdays will do that. When you’ve lost a loved one, these special days–once so joyous–become about mustering just enough grit enough to get through.
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Jay would have turned 39 today. Stop!

JAY. IS. TURNING. 39. TODAY.

I’ll grind my teeth down to the gums if I don’t allow myself to have a good cry. And so, I do.

I am.

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“What are YOU going to do for Jay’s birthday this year?” We bat this question around among family and friends; comparing notes about honoring his birth and dealing with the reality of his death.

So just what is a girl to do on days like these?

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Strange things. For a split second I wonder if anybody’s watching,

but I don’t really care if they are.

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I’ve done this before, in birthdays gone by.

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But, the waves of grief feel much stronger this year and I know why. Losing ‘Grammy’ has added to the grief of losing Jay and I wonder how something so subtractive can add so much weight.

Like the corners of a photograph, Grammy and Jay hemmed us all in. But now we feel like a family frameless.

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And so I grieve. Again.

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And I heal. Again.

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I remember. Again.

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I release. Again.

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And, He Redeems. 
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Again. 

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FOREVER.

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IMG_5549“It’s time,” I said to my husband as we sat together a few weeks ago, talking about the ways grief has touched EVERY part of our lives.

“Time for what?” he responded.IMG_5547

“It’s time for you to film my grief story. So many people are suffering the agony of traumatic loss like we did when my brother took his life. We have to do something to let others know there is help and hope. Will you do that with me?”

IMG_3022So, here it is. If you or someone you love has been touched by traumatic loss…

Please share this video with them.

This is my Story…For Those Who Weep (video)

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I think about death a lot. Don’t misunderstand me. I do not have a death wish. I just wish there was no death.

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Three years ago, I lost my brother and now I’ve lost my grandmother, too. Jay was the highly-favored “baby” of the family and Grammy was our beloved matriarch. To me, they were the opposite ends of life’s delicately-balanced scales and now, I’m tipping.

Why didn’t I know the latter half of my life would be so painful?

-That there would be more goodbyes than hellos.

-That the depth and intensity of my love would become the depth and intensity of my grief.

Why didn’t somebody tell me?!

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I’m lying on the kitchen floor in a puddle; pressing my hot mess against the cool tile. The wailing has subsided to a low moan. My limbs hang limp. Grief is the great paralyzer.

I am a leper slumped against the city gate.

“Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, Why stay here until we die? If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die.” 2 Kings 7:3-4a

The lepers knew that if they didn’t get up, death was certain. If their enemies didn’t find them first, leprosy would eventually chew through their skin. Their only alternative was to get up and go into the city. But death was certain with that option as well. They were hard-pressed either way, or so it seemed.

Enter God.

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With Him there is always a third option as unnerving as that option may seem.

“…Let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.” 2 Kings 7:4b

God’s third option included an unthinkable risk: entering enemy territory. But what did these lepers have to lose? Nothing.

And everything.

“At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, ‘Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!’ So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.” 2 Kings 7:5-7

If I stay fetal on the floor, the grief will kill me and I know it. It. Is. Killing. Me. But if I get up, I’ll have to live without the ones I love. I cannot bear the thought. It is impossible to envision a day without them in it. I don’t want to. I can’t!

God, is there a third option for me?

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I never wanted to touch death, it’s just that I’ve been touched by death…and it hurts. Sitting up I pour some cool water into the palm of my hand; sanity splashing me in the face.

Dragging myself to my feet and drawing in a deep breath, I walk over and toss my cry towel in the laundry basket. Kleenex just doesn’t cut it anymore. My steps and thoughts go around in circles before I finally make a decision.

I will enter the enemy’s camp–grief, my Philistine beast.

I will face my enemy head on. After all, what have I got to lose? I pick up my Bible and press it tightly against my chest. I’m not going in there alone.

God, help me.

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And, He does!

Taking some 3×5 index cards, I open my Bible and copy down meaningful passages of scripture.

“O LORD, from the depths of despair, I cry for your help: Hear me! Answer me! Help me!” Psalm 130:1-2

“For he has not despised my cries of deep despair, he has not turned and walked away. When I cried to him, he heard and came.” Psalm 22:24

Verse upon verse, card upon card. There’s a pile of truth mounting at my feet and it sends a shaft of light across grief’s inky black.

The Word is the sound of God in the camp of my enemy.

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The verses I copy down remind me to open my mouth and pray through my pain.

Prayer is the sound of God in the camp of my enemy.

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Praying reminds me to praise Him with my tears.

Praise is sound of God in the camp of my enemy.

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Convinced I could not make it through the next moment, I realize an hour has passed and I’m still breathing.

My breath is the sound of God in the camp of my enemy.

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The story of the four lepers ends when they plunder the abandoned camp of their enemies and share the spoils with others.

I must not keep the plunder from this battle all to myself.

Several hours later, a grieving friend calls. I read her the verses that, hours earlier, plucked me out of death’s grasp. We read the Word of God together. We pray. We cry. We praise. We plunder.

WE are the sound of God in the camp of our enemies.

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FinalCopyFTWW9-25-14fFor Those Who Weep–A Grief Response Journal

Coming November 10, 2014

When you lose someone you love, your heart shatters into a billion tiny pieces. Grief and pain override every other emotion and peace can seem so very far away. If your loved one died tragically, your grief is amplified by shock and the traumatic nature of your loss. How can you possibly survive such heartache? That is where author, Penny A. Bragg, found herself following her brother’s untimely death.

For Those Who Weep—a full-color grief response journal—contains the author’s raw emotions and sacred experiences which occurred during her journey toward hope and healing. Bragg masterfully integrates her artwork into each of the essays in the book; as she reconciled her loss and her faith in God. For Those Who Weep also invites readers to respond to what they’ve read; applying it to their own pain and healing.

Pastors, lay leaders, bereavement counselors, and friends of those who have suffered a loss will also consider this book a priceless resource as they minister to the brokenhearted.

$19.95

Pre-order your copy today.

ForThoseWhoWeep@gmail.com

All proceeds go to fund free art classes for those who are grieving a loss.

 

Because death blows your heart into a billion tiny pieces.

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My latest grief article entitled, “Through the Ashes,” was posted today on the My Purpose Now website.

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IMG_0639For the last year, I’ve been voluntarily teaching free art classes to those who are grieving a traumatic loss due to suicide, murder, and accidental death. It has been an incredibly sacred experience.

To continue funding these free classes, I’ve set up a “For Those Who Weep” Etsy shop which contains my original collages, prints, notecards, and journals. All the proceeds from the sales go back in Inverse Ministries (our non-profit organization) so that we can continue offering these free classes in our community. Your purchase will help a hurting heart find healing. Please spread the word.

 

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