Posts Tagged With: Grief

Day 37: Books…

I often get asked for my book recommendations for grief and bereavement, and I am always very keen to pass on my favourites. 

  • Always and Forever – A really good picture book for very young children. Beautiful illustrations, lovely story, really touching and doesn’t shy away from difficult stuff. 
  • A Monster Calls – A book I can not recommend enough, for both teenagers and adults. To understand teenage grief, this is the book (or film) to go to.  
  • Still Here with me – For adults who are desperately trying to understand what it is like to experience significant bereavement as a child or young person. Letters written by real children and young people. 
  • God on Mute – If you’re a Christian and a part of grief is struggling with the concept of unanswered prayer, this book is phenomenal. I have read my copy until it has fallen apart. 
  • Grief is the thing with Feathers – If you fancy something a little bit arty, weird and poetic, this might be for you! 
  • Once More we Saw stars – A book I’ve not actually read, but is the next grief book on the list. I’ve heard the author speak on a podcast about grief and his story and this book are heart breaking but incredible.

I hope that someone finds a book that they fall in love with from that list, or even just one that might be useful. 

Lex xx

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Day 36: If death is a natural process of life, why do you think so many people are uncomfortable talking about it and the various aspects of grief…?

It was either Benjamin Franklin or Mark Twain who first said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”– it’s been attributed to both of them and I can never get a solid answer. 

I mentioned in an earlier blog, the idea that as humans there is only one thing we are made to do, and that’s die. Our bodies are not programmed to last indefinitely. And so it is natural that death is a part of life, and with that grief as well. 

But with developments in medicine and science, we push death further and further away from us. As a modern society we have become unaccustomed to our own mortality- we believe, falsely, that we and all those whom we love are invincible. It’s good that more people than ever before survive things that, even 10 years ago would have killed them, but it just means that everyday we get a little bit worse at talking about death and grief.

This prompt is the exact question I ask as an icebreaker when I am teaching a bereavement lesson. I ask people to come up with all of the reasons that people would be uncomfortable and not want to talk about grief- and then we do it any way. 

Because that’s the thing, there are hundreds of valid and genuine reasons why we want to keep death and grief at arms lengths- acknowledging their existence in life goes against the most innate instincts in our caveman brains- survival. But just because something is uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean we just don’t do it- because then it stays awkward. 

Have the difficult discussion. Break the ice. Explore the shadows. Let’s make it not awkward again. 

Lex xx

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Day 35: Reflect on Isaiah 41: 8-10…

I couldn’t not choose this prompt to write about at some point, considering I have Isaiah 41:10 tattooed on my arm, it being a really important verse for me. 

Isaiah 41: 8-10 reads…

But you, Israel, my servant,
    Jacob, whom I have chosen,
    the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
    and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
    I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
10 do not fear, for I am with you,
    do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

I never cease to be left in awe by these words. While Isaiah is speaking comfort to the nation of Israel who are in exile, these words, his promises are true for us today too. We are called God’s friends; we are told that God has chosen us, called us from the ends of the earth and will not cast us of nor forget us. How incredible is that? That we get to be called friends of God, in the midst of exile, confusion and grief we have the best friend. 

And not only that, but a friend who makes even more powerful promises to us. We are told that in our grief, in times of exile, we need not be afraid or fearful, because God is with us. We are told we will be helped and strengthened. God will hold us in his hand. 

Again, God doesn’t promise that all the bad things will disappear. He doesn’t say, I’ll whistle and you won’t be in exile or pain anymore. God promises to be our friend and to be with us in the pain. 

An intimate friend to hold our hand when we are grieving, these are the promises we can depend on in our grief. 

Lex xx

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Day 34: When you’re having a particularly hard day or week, what do you wish others would understand…?

I wish more people understood grief ambushes. I wish people knew that I am as blindsided by my reaction to something or sudden change in mood as they are, if not more. 

I wish people understood that I know when I am making it difficult to live with me or love me. Knowing it and being able to change it are two very different things. 

I wish people understood that, yes, I’m still grieving and it still hurts.

I wish that people would understand that mentioning my mum isn’t going to “upset me more”, that isn’t a thing. 

I wish people would understand that sometimes I just want people to come and walk in the shadows with me. 

That’s part of the reasons that I wrote my book, that I’m still writing these blogs, because we could all do with a bit more understanding of each other’s grief. 

Lex xx

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Day 33: Dear World…

Dear World, 

I’m so sorry. I’m really sorry for your loss, of freedom, of stability, of safety. I’m sorry you’re grieving, world. Because you are, it’s grief that you’re feeling. 

Be kind to yourself and everyone else, world. Be kind, because people are important and we need to love them a little bit more today. We need to make sure that the people we love, are in no doubt that we love them. 

Be gentle, world. Be gentle with yourself, because this is tough right now. Care for yourself gently and intentionally. Treat everyone you meet carefully, because we all deserve it at the moment. 

Take deep breaths. Eat well. Sleep when you need. Brush your teeth. Put some trousers on. Don’e eat all the biscuits. Also, eat some biscuits. Talk to your friends. Love. 

It will be alright at some point world, it wont “get better”, we will lose some people along the way, but the sun will rise again. 

Lex xx

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Day 32: Words…

I’ve nearly run out of words. I continue to be completely rocked by how much the world we are all currently living in feels like grief. Constant, perpetual, mind numbing grief. And we are talking about it all the time, because we have to, there isn’t much else to do.  But it’s zapping my words somewhat. 

I love words. Words are important. More words will come. I continue to encourage us all to use our words to illuminate ours and other people shadows. But today, see this as a pause for breath, a pause for thought, in the midst of the words.    

Lex xx

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Day 31: Support Circles…

Sometimes, it can be comforting and healing to remember, that while someone you really want to be here may not be, there will still be lots of people in your circle who want to support you. And it can be helpful to place them in circles, giving you an idea of who you would go to if you needed support. 

It is a really cathartic exercise, thinking about the people still in your life who love you and are in your corner. And it can be fun to be creative and actually design your circles. So here are my support circles…

Support Circles

Today, I encourage everyone to have a think about their support circles, it might not just be for when you are grieving, it could be for these interesting times we currently live in- which many people have commented actually does fee a little bit like grief. 

Have a go, remind yourself of all the people that love or support you. 

Lex xx

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Day 30: Reflect on Romans 8: 35-39…

I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with when someone becomes a Christian, is the realisation that we are not promised an easy road. There is something in giving your life to Christ, and the other self denial, and taking up of one’s cross that comes with it, that dupes us into thinking that we should therefore get a fair go of life. 

It isn’t the case though. And what’s more we are told the opposite, that in fact things are going to be tough! 

But what else are we told?

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written,“For your sake we are being killed all day long;  we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are reminded in Paul’s letter to the Romans that we will suffer. That there will be hardship, distress, persecution and all sorts of dangers that could lead to our death. We are humans, and when we become Christians, that doesn’t change. We are flesh and blood, designed to wear out. One days our bodies will get poorly, get old, get tired and die. And so, just as death is part of the human condition, so is grief. Because as humans we are not only made to die, we are made for relationship. 

Grieving is written into our DNA. 

But what are we promised in spite of these hardships? That nothing separates us from the love of God. That God’s love is stronger than death. 

It’s not just an idea that Paul has, Paul says he is convinced of it. I love that word convinced, because it gives me the feeling that he’s tried other ways of thinking, he’s held on to other ideas, but this is the only one that has stuck. He’s left holding on to this because his life literally depends on it. 

I am convinced that we will all die. I am convinced that grief is one of the most painful things we will all have to experienced. I am convinced that God’s love is stronger than the grave and I cannot be separated from it. 

Lex xx

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Day 29: What heals you…?

There are many things that bring healing, not all at the same time and not always to the same degree, but it is so comforting that there are things in the world that heal. 

  • Sunshine. Sometimes we are more like flowers than we care to appreciate, just a little bit of sun our faces, feeds and heal our souls and hearts. 
  • Salt water. Being in the sea. Being near the sea. Smelling the sea. Sweating. Crying. Salt water heals some of the hurts. 
  • Dirt. Whether it is getting in the dirt gardening or cleaning off dirt in the house, there is something about getting back to basics in the dirt that is healing. 
  • Moving.
  • Creating. It’s why I write. But there is also painting, singing, dancing, taking photos. Creating reminds us that there is hope and new life and potential in the world. 
  • Silence. Sometimes a quiet world helps us to heal when our hearts and minds are anything but.

Lex xx

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Day 28: Wisdom…

I, by no means nor stretch of the imagination, consider myself to be wise. Those closest to me will attest to points in my life marked by a distinct lack of wisdom and complete ignorance of any kind of logic. But let it never be said that I don’t make mistakes, and sometimes I even manage to learn from them. To that end, I do have some collected wisdom; of grieving, thinking, writing and teaching these last few years. 

  • It will bloody hurt.
  • No seriously, it will hurt, a lot… but not all at once and not the same for ever. 
  • If people say let me know if you need anything, both you and they will be relieved if you give them a practical job to do. They want to help, but they don’t know how. 
  • If you’re releasing balloons, don’t do it near a tree. But actually, just don’t dot it anymore, it’s hella bad for the environment. 
  • Don’t eat all your feelings. 
  • Shop around for a therapist. It is ok to have one session and realise it isn’t gonna work out, it’s like dating. When you know it’s right, it’s right. 
  • People will think you’re “over it”– be kind to them. 
  • You might think you’re “over it”– be kind to yourself.
  • Carry on loving. Love often, love joyfully, love hard.

Lex xx

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