Overcoming Grief: Plan to Live!

One way to help overcome grief is to plan to live–one day at a time.

children walking down a road     In this series 10 Things I’ve Learned  About Grief” (from the book Dear AmericaI share my own story of loss and grief.  The tenth thing I learned (see the first eight here) about grief is this:
     #10: Plant bulbs: plan to live!
     Okay, maybe you don’t garden, but here’s what I mean: The Saturday after the Attack on America, I took my radio into the garden to stay abreast of the latest news as I planted fall bulbs for spring flowers.
     As talk shows discussed possibilities of future terrorist attacks, biological and chemical warfare, and other possible horrors, the thought suddenly occurred to me that I may not be here next spring to see the very tulips I was planting.
     After all, those people who boarded planes or who went to work at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and New York police and fire stations that Tuesday morning fully expected to be here that afternoon, let alone next spring. Will I still be here? I wondered. Will our society still be here? Will our nation still be here?
     Maybe I shouldn’t even bother planting, I thought. I paused for the briefest of moments.
     No, I determined, I am going to plant these bulbs. I am planting them in faith, expecting to be here next spring to see the flowers.
     I planted the bulbs.
     Whatever it is you love to do, make plans to do it-next month, next season, next year. With God’s help, determine to survive. Trust God to carry you through whatever this life dishes out. He won’t let you down.  (Excerpt from Dear America )
     “Lessons From Grief: Living Is About Dying” is an article by Sabrina Beasley who lost her husband suddenly in a car accident but found something to look forward to. She writes:
“As for me, brushing this closely with death has awakened me spiritually. I can see how short my time on this earth is. Like [the apostle] Paul, I praise God that it’s short. I can’t wait to know the Lord face to face, but for the sake of the dear lost souls who walk hopelessly around me, I have resolved to do everything I can to spread the Good News [of Salvation in Jesus Christ] for as long as I am alive.”
     When losing a loved one makes you want to die, do something you love. Create something to look forward to. Find for yourself a reason to live. Your loved-one would want you to live. And even if you think differently, many others in your life know you, love you, and want you to live. God has a purpose for you, and He wants you to live.
     Through this inspiring video,  “The Call” by Celtic Woman,hear God call you to something great for the rest of your life:
 

Grieving in a Different World: I Want to Kill Myself

By Dianne E. Butts:

When grieving a loved one, it can be easy to hate your new circumstances and even think, My world is so different, I want to kill myself.  Here’s hope.

 

Image: Classical Sunrise by Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Classical Sunrise by Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In this series 10 Things I’ve Learned  About Grief” (from the book Dear AmericaI share my own story of loss and grief.  The ninth thing I learned (see the first eight here) about grief is this:

 #9: Your whole world is different, but that doesn’t mean you will be sad forever. 

We talked in Grief Lesson #8 about how grief can seem to go on forever. I mentioned that many people grieve for a full two years. I wish to clarify what I mean. I know a woman who lost her husband two and a half years ago. Recently I overheard her talking with a friend and she said that people tell her it will get better but she still misses him and she doesn’t expect it will ever get better.

I felt guilty thinking perhaps I was one of those people telling her it would get better.

The other woman said she had lost her husband over a decade ago, she still misses him terribly, and then she told my friend she was right: she will never get over it and it will never get better.

How sad!

When I say grief last for two years, I’m not saying at the end of two years you won’t grieve anymore or feel pain or miss your loved one! Have you ever hit your thumb with a hammer? Or done something else physically painful? With the kind of pain that takes your breath away? At least for a little while, you can’t speak. You can’t express anything but the pain. You can’t move, except to hold whatever hurts and hang on. We learn that if you hang in there, you’ll get your breath back. That’s what I’m talking about.

I’m not saying the pain goes away. I’m not suggesting you won’t miss him or her anymore. Your life has changed and it will never be the same again. But the pain will ease gradually, and after two years you should be able to breathe again. You should be functioning again. If you’re not, you need to seek out help.

Your grief will not last forever. After the death of her husband, I once heard a woman ask her friend, “Will I ever laugh again?”

Her friend wisely and immediately answered, “Yes. YES!

This article “Living Through Grief” on CBN.com has some helpful information about the steps of grief that we normally experience. It also lists three steps to recovery: Grieve, Believe, and Receive. The article offers “Scriptures that can bring hope, strength and peace” and tips for “Helping Others Through Grief.”

Don’t let thoughts linger in your mind that make you think terrible thoughts like I want to kill myself. Don’t give up. Hang in there. It does get easier.

Video: Listen to this beautiful, hope-filled song performed by Lynda Randle: “I’m Free.”

May you find freedom from your grief.

Read other articles on this site by Dianne E. Butts HERE.

 

Reminders of Loved One’s Death with Suicidal Thoughts

By Dianne E. Butts:

 Grief from Reminders of Deceased Loved Ones: Lesson 5 in 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief.

 

It’s a main thoroughfare through where my Mom has lived for more than thirty years and so I’ve had to drive it often. But for years after the drunk-driver-caused crash that killed my brother, I couldn’t drive past that spot without noticing the big chunk missing out of the curb where his motorcycle ended up.

Sudden reminders of someone we loved who died can hit us when we least expect it, and these sudden depressing reminders can bring suicidal thoughts to our minds. Do you have reminders of your loved one’s death that make you think about suicide?

Here’s the fifth thing I’ve learned about grief. (See our other lessons in the category: 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief.)

#5: Once you think you’re doing better and begin venturing out into the world again, your grief will hit you when you least expect it.  Driving past a familiar scene, hearing a church bell ring, the smell of grapefruit in the produce department—something special to you can suddenly remind you of your loved one and the intensity of grief can overwhelm you.

When this happens, you need to know this is a “normal” part of the grieving process. You might well up with tears. Try not to be embarrassed. The truth is, those around you will most likely understand—probably more than you’ll know (because they’ve been through it themselves).

Sometimes, when suicidal thought keep trying to push their way into a person’s mind, that person can see these reminders of their loved ones as a “sign” calling out to them. But they are not calling to you to commit suicide or join your loved one in death. These are reminders of the love you felt between you and the person you lost.

Sometimes we can make things seem the way we want them to seem—whether consciously or unconsciously. That can happen even when we talk to God. I once wrote an article about praying specifically in order to see answers to our prayers, but I also included some “Pitfalls to Praying Specifically.” When we desperately want to hear from God, we can not only make ourselves believe we heard from Him, we can also make ourselves believe we got the answer we wanted.  Some of the pitfalls to praying specifically are “Manipulating His Answers,” “Not Accepting His Answer,” or “Not Asking Because We Fear His Answer.” If we want to hear from God, we need to let Him answer and not “put words in His mouth” so to speak.

That article also includes some ideas to avoid prayer pitfalls, including keeping a prayer journal.

If you’re looking for a sign or want to hear from God, be careful that you’re really getting the message He wants to give you. And don’t let reminders of your loved one’s death make you think about suicide.

Video: Here is a wonderful song about Jesus’ death, breaking through darkness, and the fact that death and hell will never reign again. “Love was in the Room” by Booth Brothers.

Kill Myself? Grief and Forgiveness for Stupid Comments

By Dianne E. Butts:

 Grief from Stupid Comments: Lesson 4 in 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief.

 

Words are powerful. Words can lift us up and encourage us or make us feel so low we don’t want to go on. It can enter our minds to think, The stupid things people say make me want to kill myself!

After we lose a loved one, we’re already deep in grief. When people—especially friends—say stupid things, it just kicks us lower. But you know what? It could be they didn’t mean to say something so stupid. It could be they had no idea how their words sounded to you.

I was a teenager when my brother, riding his Harley Davidson, was hit by a drunk driver and killed. I remember one friend telling me, “You just need to forget your brother and move on.”

Forget my brother?! I thought. I don’t ever want to forget my brother! Plus, at the time, he hadn’t been gone twenty-four hours!

I really don’t think my friend intended to say something mean to me. I really think she was trying to help. She just said something really dumb, probably without thinking through how it sounded.

So here’s the fourth lesson I’ve learned about grief. (See our other lessons in the category: 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief.)

#4 Forgiveness:  Some of your friends may say dumb things…but they mean well. Other people don’t say anything at all or disappear from your life. Any of these actions can be very hurtful.

(See also grief lessons: #1 Exhaustion, #2 Guilt, and #3 Anger)

When I was grieving the loss of my brother, I finally figured something out. I discovered I did much better when I gave people a break—when I chose to forgive them for hurtful words and to assume that their intentions were good.

Some people disappeared and didn’t want to hang around with me anymore. I finally learned it was because they didn’t know what to say to me. When I decided to let it go even though they weren’t the friends I needed them to be, I could move on and find stronger friends who could help me through my sad time.

There are no magic words. If you’re trying to comfort a grieving friend, realize you don’t have to say the perfect thing. Just your presence, a touch, or a tear communicates your love and concern.

You might think a lot of suicides are caused by mean things bullies say. According to the article “Bullying And Suicide: The Dangerous Mistake We Make” by Katherine Bindley, further investigation often reveals other factors were involved in the suicide.

Madelyn Gould, a professor at Columbia who studies youth suicide and prevention, said in the article “If someone is being bullied, they should not jump to the conclusion that one of [their] options is suicide. What they should jump to is, one of the options I have is to get help.”

If you’re thinking, stupid things people say make me want to kill myself, it’s time to find a stronger friend and ask for help.

Video: Please take a few minutes to listen to this beautiful song.  It talks about thinking and sinking so low and then says “lift me up to higher heights than I’d ever known before”! Take time to listen to: “Thank Him for the Miracle” by the Booth Brothers:

Grief and Anger: Thinking About Suicide

By Dianne E. Butts:

 Grief with Anger: Lesson 3 in 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief.

 

Sometimes when we feel angry, we want to hurt other people by hurting ourselves. When grieving, some left behind after the loss of a loved one even think silently– and may feel like screaming at the top of their lungs– “I’m angry and thinking about suicide!

I’ve learned some lessons about grief: #1: Grief Plus Exhaustion May Increase Suicidal Thoughts  and #2:  Grief and Guilt with Suicidal Thoughts? Ask for Help.  The third thing I’ve learned about grief is this:

#3: It’s okay to feel both grief and anger.  Some people may feel anger towards those who caused the death of their loved one—the drunk driver, the terrorists, etc. Others may feel anger towards the illness, like cancer.  Some even feel angry with their loved one for leaving them alone, for making them face the future without them, for dying. Still others are angry at themselves for that last argument or forgetting to say, “I love you.”

Some people become angry with God.

These feelings are natural and are not wrong. Anger is not sin (see Ephesians 4:26), but what we do with it can be wrong.  Revenge is never right, and harboring anger in our hearts will lead to emotional, spiritual, and even physical problems. Instead of remaining angry, why not find a wholesome way to “vent” or express your strong feelings?

Here are some ideas:

  • Expressing strong emotions through words is surprisingly helpful. Talk to a friend, a family member, or a counselor.
  • Join an organization, such as one that fights drunk driving.
  • Look for ways to help our nation in difficult times. Volunteer.
  • Raise money for cancer research.
  • Write your deceased loved one a letter telling him how you feel, how much you love him, or whatever you didn’t say.
  • Visit her room or grave site and talk to her out loud.
  • Talk to God. Be honest. Tell Him how angry you are at Him, but don’t stop there. Ask Him to help you work through all your feelings.

When we are sad, when things are not going well in our lives, or when we are angry, we can feel far away from God. In an article I wrote titled “When You Feel Far Away From God,” I wrote this:

“How many times have I felt so close to God one day, but so far from Him the next? I wondered… Why does God feel far away just when I need Him most—when I’m in difficult circumstances or when my situation looks hopelessly impossible?

“I never intend to move away from God, especially in tough times. Yet sometimes He feels so far away. What has happened?”

In that article you can read what I wrote about how our feelings can deceive us. Just because we feel God is far away doesn’t mean that He is far away.

He is close enough to feel your pain and know your thoughts, even when your heart is crying out “I’m angry and thinking about suicide!”

Video:  If you’re feeling both grief and anger, God knows and He cares. Listen to the wonderful words of this Country Western song “God In Heaven Knows” by The New Hinsons:

 

Grief and Guilt with Suicidal Thoughts? Ask for Help

By Dianne E. Butts:

 Grief, Guilt and Asking for Help: Lesson 2 in 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief. Includes Post-Abortion Grief.

 

As I write about lessons I’ve learned about grief, you may recall lesson #1: Grief Plus Exhaustion May Increase Suicidal Thoughts where I talked about how being tired is just one symptom of grief.

Lesson #2 is to recognize additional symptoms and know when to ask for help:

Some people may temporarily experience sleeplessness, nightmares, lack of appetite or greater appetite, fear, increased anxiety, or various other difficulties. These are “normal” for people working through grief, but if they continue or become overwhelming, ask for help.

It’s hard to ask for help. I’ve also learned even when we reach out for help, the help we find isn’t always helpful. If that has been your experience, I challenge you to try again. You are too important to let a mismatched counselor stop you.

In the article, Choosing a Christian Counselor at  CBN.com,  David Martin states: “In order for a Christian to make a good decision about a Christian counseling professional, there are some important factors that need to be understood as well as the various options that are available to you.” (Click through to that article for more good information.)

For help, CBN.com recommends these organizations that you can call right now:

New Life Ministries: 1-800-NEW-LIFE (1-800-639-5433)

Rapha National Network: 1-800-383-HOPE (1-800-383-4673)

There are various reasons feelings of guilt may be associated with the loss of someone. For many women and men, that relates to  abortion.

Post-Abortion Grief and Guilt

In a guest post at Kathi Macias’ blog, I wrote about how it’s common for people with an abortion in their past to grieve and even think about suicide. (If this applies to you, click here to read more about that.) But women (and men) the world over need to know that God loves them, that He will forgive them, and that He is right there with them no matter what they have done or what they are facing right now.

At the Abortion Recovery Help webpage, the list of  Symptoms of Post Abortion Syndrome  includes depression and thoughts of suicide. Whether you are a woman or a man, pro-life pregnancy centers offer free, confidential programs to help you through after-abortion struggles. Find one closest to you here: www.OptionLine.org.

Even if this common cause for grief does not apply to you, feelings about the loss of a loved one can be complicated, and counseling frequently very helpful. If you are feeling overwhelmed, do ask for help, from a friend, any of the counseling resources previously mentioned, or:

CBN’s 700 Club Prayer Counseling Center at 1-800-759-0700

This video,You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up), may help:

 

Grief Plus Exhaustion May Increase Suicidal Thoughts

By Dianne E. Butts:

 Grief Plus Exhaustion: Lesson 1 in 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief.

 

I’m not a professional counselor. I don’t claim to be an expert in anything. But I know grief. I’ve learned a bit about grief through my own experiences. I’ve learned grieving takes an extraordinary amount of energy and therefore grief can make you tired. And when you’re tired, a lot of thoughts can sneak into your mind. And so I know that after losing a loved one to death, feeling grief  plus exhaustion may increase suicidal thoughts.

I’m sure you’re wondering how I know all this. I was thirteen when my parents filed for divorce and shortly after that my Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Living alone, due to the divorce, he endured major surgery all by himself, but I wouldn’t say he ever really recovered. He hung on for more than a year, but cancer slowly took him. I was fifteen when he died.

After I graduated from high school, my brother, who was in the Marines, came home just in time for my eighteenth birthday. We had a grand time on my birthday—going dancing and riding motorcycles all night long. The next day he was riding his Harley and was hit by a drunk driver. He died within minutes.

Around the same time I lost two grandparents.

Yeah, I know grief.

What I know of grief due to the death of a loved one I learned through personal experience. After sorting through all that, I made a short list of ten things I’ve learned about grief.

Through my first ten posts on this blog, I’m planning to share with you those ten things I’ve learned about grief in the hope that it will help you and encourage you and lift you up. You see, I know that when bad things in life get you down, often you get a few extra kicks. Then it’s easy to want to give up. That’s when suicidal thoughts can begin to edge their way into our thinking.

But life isn’t bad. Life is good. And if you know some of the tricks the bad things in life try to use to keep you down, then it’s easier to not let the bad win. You can battle back—and find the will to do so even if you don’t feel it now.

I will be sharing 10 Things About Grief with you at this blog, thinkingaboutsuicide.com. Here’s the first thing I’ve learned:

#1: Grief takes a surprising amount of physical energy. Dealing with intense emotions can drain our strength. You may need more than the usual amount of rest for a while.

To lift you up, InTouch Ministries provides a list of “God’s Promises” for those in Grief.

One way to battle back to the good side of life: get some rest. Remember everything looks darker when we’re tired. That’s why feeling grief plus exhaustion may increase suicidal thoughts.

Here’s a video on YouTube that may be a comfort to you: