Posts Tagged ‘grief’

Are you the parent or grandparent in pain from a broken heart? Is your pain from the choices, behaviors or struggles of your photo cred. Jordan McQueenchild or grandchild? Mental illness, addiction, self-injury, an  eating disorder, suicidal tendencies, same-sex attraction, incarceration, or an unplanned pregnancy?

They feel like elephants sitting on our chests. They hang like menacing storm clouds over our heads, creating a constant state of anxiety and panic we can’t shake. Nausea is our regular unwanted companion. Maybe you’re a relative or friend of someone this describes. If so, I wrote this for you.

In my opinion, there are 5 things parents in pain (and yes, I’m a member of that club) want their loved ones and friends to know:

1. We need a lot of patience and understanding. Lots of it. We’re not ourselves. We can’t think straight. We may be more forgetful than usual. We may look all right on the outside, but inside we feel like we’re dying. (more…)


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The phone chimed unexpectedly.  “Dad? What’s up? I didn’t expect to hear from you until later.” What I was about to hear would shake my world. His voice was weak. He could barely speak. I held my breath. “Dena . . . honey”, he choked out, full of raw emotion. Then came the shocking news. My precious mom had died peacefully while getting ready to come go home from the assisted living facility. “Noooo!!!”

shock2Have you been on the receiving end of a call about your son or daughter that left you in shock?

I’ve had those kinds of calls about my daughter, too.

It felt like someone punched me in the stomach; like a rug had been pulled out from under my feet.

I felt nauseous. Stunned. Heartbroken.

I was in shock.

“It can’t be.” “I don’t believe it.” “It can’t be true.” “How could this happen?” “This has to be a bad dream.” “It’s unreal.” “It’s not possible.” (more…)

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rockwellCan you remember when a special event was ruined for you because of something bad that happened? Maybe it was your birthday. Maybe it was Christmas.

I remember when this happened to me. It was Thanksgiving day in 1997 – a sunny, cold fall day in central Illinois. I was up early to prepare my family’s special breakfast before we watched Macy’s Christmas parade. I look forward to it all year-long. The house was full of cheerful anticipation as tasty aromas drifted in through the house.

Suddenly the phone rang. My world was about to come crashing down.

“Hello?” I answered, expecting one of our parents wishing us a happy day, but it was rather early for them to call.

“Dena, honey,” I heard my dad’s quivering, emotional sounding voice on the other end of the hard, plastic receiver. My stomach began to sink. Something’s wrong.

My mom was doing so much better after an eight month-long illness. She was finally going home today. I couldn’t wait to talk with her for the first time in months. It was going to be a wonderful day.

“I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but I just got a call from the nursing facility and it’s about your mom . . . honey, she passed away early this morning while they were helping her get dressed.” Nooooo!!!!

Thanksgiving has never been quite the same. Her visitation would be on my birthday a few days later. I didn’t want to celebrate anything that year. Thanksgiving? My birthday? Christmas? Who cares.

Have you had a similar experience with one of your children? You’ve been so hurt, wounded, rejected, shocked, and disappointed that now you could care less about the holidays. There will be no Norman Rockwell Christmas for you. (more…)

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Flowers growing out of the ashes of Mt. St. Helens

Flowers growing out of the ashes of Mt. St. Helens

September was Suicide Prevention Month. I know it’s October now, but I still wanted to share some great resources to help parents (or anyone) who is recovering from a suicide (or any death).  A dear friend of mine lost her husband to suicide a little over seven years ago. Her life has changed forever – so has her children’s. But as a result, God led her on a healing journey that resulted in her becoming a mental health counselor.

In this post I’m going to share her favorite books. Finding good resources to help with such a difficult grief isn’t easy. As Christians, we have a different world view that affects how we cope with death, but suicide is a horse of a different color. (more…)

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malaysian airliner crashMy heart ached when I heard the news about the tragic crash of the Malaysian Airliner. As I thought about it and prayed for the families it occurred to me that there are many commonalities here with hurting parents whose children are abusing drugs or alcohol, have a mental illness, struggle with self-injury or an eating disorder, are in and out of jail or prison, or struggle with a same-sex attraction.

The crash was unexpected. None of the passengers or their loved ones saw this coming. No one imagined this would ever happen to them or their family.

The lives of the loved ones are changed forever. They will never be the same.

The loved ones couldn’t prevent this from happening. They had no control.  There was nothing they could do to change things. (more…)

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Has it been a really long time since you’ve seen your child? Do your eyes long to see them, your arms ache to hold them? Are they deep into addiction; in a mental hospital; incarcerated; estranged from you for some reason? Has it been quite surprised-man-awhile since they wanted to be with you so much that they hugged you in tears? Maybe you don’t think this could ever possibly happen.

The Old Testament tells us about a parent who got a big surprise one day:

“. . . As soon as Joseph appeared before him (Jacob, the father he hadn’t seen in twenty years since his brothers sold him off as a slave), he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time (Genesis 46:29b).”

The father in this verse thought his son was long dead. He’d grieved the loss and moved on. He certainly never imagined this day was possible. I’m sure he never asked God for it either. It was over. Done.

But you never know what tomorrow holds. Tomorrow just might have a surprise for you. When God is involved, things you never thought possible could happen.

I remember a time when my daughter, then 19, had relapsed after four months in rehab and some time in a half-way house. She was out on the streets again and didn’t want anything to do with her dad or me. She was deeply involved in drug and alcohol abuse; was a self-injurer (cutting) and bipolar (untreated).

I knew the risks of losing her were high. In my heart I felt as though she’d already died. I began grieving her death. It was an agonizing time of deep pain. I held out little hope for a loving reconciliation, though my whole being longed for it. I knew God could do it, but would it happen for us?

Then something amazing happened. A totally unexpected surprise I never saw coming. After a chain of events, my daughter agreed to go into another rehab program. We received word of these things through a mutual friend who was trying to help her.

The day of being reunited finally came (at her request – also amazing). I wondered if she would be happy to see me or not? How would she treat me? I didn’t know what to think.

I’ll never forget it. I walked into the dining area of the rehab program and as soon as my daughter saw me she came running, arms open wide, with a huge smile on her face. She threw her arms around my neck, and in tears hugged me so tight I could hardly breathe.

While we embraced, both of us crying, she whispered in my ear, “Mom, I love you soooo much! I’m so, so sorry I hurt you and dad. I can’t thank you enough for coming. It means so much to me!”

Things haven’t been perfect since then. We’ve had our ups and downs on the road to recovery, but our loving relationship has never relapsed. Every time we see each other she always gives both of us great big bear hugs – sometimes, there are tears.

Hold on dear parent. You never know what tomorrow holds. God just might be preparing a surprise for you, too!

O God, help each mom or dad reading this not lose hope and give up. Help them believe you could surprise them – even tomorrow. Encourage them as they read this post. You could reconcile them with their child, too. You could bring them home with a big hug any day. Strengthen them to wait one more day, and then another.

By your power and outstretched arm.


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Crisis of any kind can put a marriage at risk. It is a treasure that must be carefully guarded.GuardCrisis comes to parents in many forms. Our biggest one was when our daughter began getting in trouble with alcohol and drugs in high school. Our painful journey continued for years. It would include self-injury, mental illness, sexual assault, suicide attempts and rehabs – the perfect storm for marriage trouble.

In situations like these, disagreements and conflicts increase. Irritability, misunderstandings and blame occur. Grief, confusion and helplessness consume.  My husband had heard these words of wisdom years earlier in a college class. He remembered them when we needed it most and took them to heart.

What can you do to guard your marriage when you have a rebellious child?

We determined we would be more intentional about our relationship by doing these 8 things:

·         1. Make time for fun. Plan a weekly date. Declare it a “no prodigal zone” not talking about your child.

·        2. Take turns being the bad guy. Don’t let one parent always give discipline or have the hard conversations.

·         3. Put your marriage first, not you child. One day they will move on and you will be left with one another.

·        4.  Memorize and practice these statements. “You may be right.” “What do you need from me right now?”  “I’m not the enemy.”

·        5.  Divorce is not an option. Remove the word from your vocabulary and never threaten it in the heat of the moment.  This gives security.

·         6. Forgive each other for mistakes and failures.  No one is perfect.  Give grace. We both need it – a lot.

·         7.   Be a united front. Don’t disagree in your child’s presence. Work out differences privately ahead of time so they can’t drive a wedge between you or play you against each other.

·         8. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to “fix” each other. When sharing feelings, offer a listening ear and an understanding heart.

 Which one of these will you to start doing?

These Scriptures encouraged us:

“Two are better than one . . . If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.” I Corinthians 13:4-8

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