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Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith

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#Tragedy

MOVING FORWARD WITH LOSS AND GRIEF.

If we love then we will not make it through life without experiencing grief.

Strategies for dealing with grief.

       

In my last vlog I said:

Life’s beauty is inseparable from it fragility.

The greatest beauty is found in love.  

With love also comes great grief.

If we love then we will not make it through life without experiencing grief.

Living with arms and hearts that embrace life and love will also bring lose.

This loss can be in the form of the death of a loved one, 

Being made redundant from your work place, 

A diagnosis that threatens your life, 

A business transaction that has been lost,

Lose of business that you have given your life to.

A pandemic that separates, isolates and devastates your security and well being.

BUT WHAT if I could show you a way to processing grief and loss that will lead to a greater depth of joy, a new perspective ON life and new purpose FOR life. 

Some real keys to living with and through grief.

First: When we deal with our grief don’t look at it like its a spiralling downward as much as its a way we move forward through pain and challenge.  It’s what Philippians calls the “forgetting what is behind and straining forward”.  

Sometimes going forward means straining and grief is THAT.

JESUS lived for 33 years on this earth and he lived in a way that not one moment or experience he had was wasted or of no value to him or those who would know him.  

In the Garden of Gethsemane we see him grieving again, weeping over his coming death and wanting the comfort of his friends with him. 

In Matthew,: “My soul is sorrowful, even unto death; remain here and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38 ESV).

And, of course, lamenting to God is praying like Jesus did. Jesus prayed a psalm of lament on the cross, crying out “Father, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, Psalm 22:1 ESV).

Jesus grief was seen over the death of His friend Lazarus.

He loved and in His love for Jerusalem, for humanity, for you and I he experienced real grief.

His grief was not wasted neither is our grief.

You may not see any meaning that can be immediately attached to the grief you are going through but the way you go through your grief could in itself attach meaning to it.

This is a world full of brokenness, and grief reveals the truth about that brokenness. 

I think this is a topic again so needed right now more then ever.

It’s a subject that again is 

not negative but positive, 

not destructive but building, 

not disempowering but empowering, 

not weak but strong,

not fearful but courageous.

If we lean into grief the way we should we will bring meaning and purpose to what may seem such meaningless circumstances.

Yes I believe when we see no obvious reason for loss and grief we have the grace and ability to bring meaning to it.

Can I first begin by saying sadness and grief though similar are not the same.

If we think of sadness its not depression and its not grief.

Sadness unlike depression and grief is shorter more temporary emotion we have in lose or disappointment.

When we see that 958 people died in England we are sad but for the loved ones of those who died they will experience deep grief.

Our sadness may only last for a few days or until the next commercial or news report of another tragedy or triumph.

Their grief will stay with them  in some form or another for the rest of their lives.

When I was diagnosed with MND a terminal illness for those who loved me deeply it was a time of grief for others it was sad to hear about Phil.

And thats ok because none of us who love deeply will go through life without grief.

May I also say that grief can have many levels and layers too it.

If your mother was to die at the age of 98 from natural courses your grief will be real but for you to loss a child at a young age to cancer or some other illness or tragedy. May I suggest that grief would be a whole other level and depth so profound that it would impact your life story for ever.

Grief goes deeper, its life changing, its an experience that brings a changed life. 

There is a before and an after this happened when it comes to a life impacted by grief. 

Before this loss and after this loss!

For me it was I was healthy before i was not, with this MND.

I will continue to live, love and enjoy life but life will be different and so will I.

Even if I was healed today my life will never be the same as it was before the diagnosis.

Grief has the ability to make us more loving, patient, compassionate, accepting and gentle.

This will only happen if we face up to grief, truth up to it.

To do this with any sense of truth we have to know that with grief, 

its ok not to be ok, 

until you are ok, 

and you will be OK.

When I lost my sense of self worth and significance after being diagnosed with MND and as a result having to leave a job I not only deeply loved but that I had been called to.  

I loved being who I was and doing what I did so when I lost that ministry as i knew it then my grief was real and tangible.

Grief is not sinful.

It’s  a good and godly response to love and passion lost.

Sometimes we repress grief and try to move through it quickly, or even deny that it is there. 

We might fear that it is a sin to feel this way. 

If we believe it is sin, it follows that we should move away from this negative feeling quickly. 

We fear our grief may cause us to question the presence and work of God in our lives.

What I learned during this time is that it was not the end of me or my life but a continuance of it in ways i never imagined.

I would get up but I would be different.

It was going to be a straining, a stretching,  a reaching but not a breaking.

What i suggest you do in your time of grief is be honest with your feelings and emotions.

Either write them down like no one will read them, so there is no filter by what you should say or be expected to say.

Lament to God as though he is the only one who hears and he knows anyway so your not going to shock Him.

Confide in a wise friend, pastor, counsellor, therapist who you can trust with the truth about how your feeling.

Lamenting to God is a good and holy way to grieve.

Listen to a Lament in Psalm 102:1-2

“GOD, listen! Listen to my prayer, listen to the pain in my cries. Don’t turn your back on me just when I need you so desperately. Pay attention! This is a cry for help! And hurry—this can’t wait!”

 When you write or talk about your grief your showing up to it.

Life is lived when you move forward with your story not by separating yourself from it.  

We become integrated and whole able to move forward in healthy ways.

This week and indeed the months ahead will bring with it sadness for some and grief for others.  

If we are global christians we will not just see the blessing of living in Australia at this time but also feel the pain of what many others in our world are going through especially in 3rd world countries where the news seems to have no concern.

The way we move forward with these real emotions will determine the depth of love, joy and wonder that life is.  

Without grief we would never really fathom the profoundness of love.  

Grief is only possible because we have loved and love is ultimately measured by the depth of our grief.

Grief journeyed rightly, honestly and truthfully will bring new purpose, new direction, new perspective to life.

This new life wont come by ignoring the grief but facing it truthfully and fully until we are change for the better because of it.

So:

 Write it down

Lament and pray to God.

Talk to a friend

Confide in a councillor. 

Remember grief is a stretching, a straining but its a forward movement not a backward one. 

You will be transformed by the experience as you face your grief with grace and truth.

You will find new perspective, new purpose, new love for life and living.

Thanks for listening.  

If your on YouTube why not subscribe to my channel or

 go to my blog at fridayswithphil.com

God bless you all.

The stupid things I’ve said

When I was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), I noticed that people didn’t know what to say and even close friends struggled to communicate with me.

I know how they feel, as I have been there myself, wanting to offer words of comfort to others but not knowing what to say.

So here are a few things my experience has taught me that may help you communicate with those who are struggling. It may be a terminal illness like me, or it may be a dream not yet realised, a broken relationship, or a dead-end.

A classic comfort we offer others is to compare their situation to those who are seemingly worse-off. For example, some have said to me, “well you could have been hit by a car and already be dead”. I get the premise, but in reality, this has offered no comfort.

I have heard of others who have lost a child or spouse and were told they should at least be thankful for the short time they had together. This is something only they have the right to say. When you feel like your world has just ended, there are better things that could be said.

Comparing to a “worse” event brings little comfort.

Another classic: “there must be a reason for this because everything happens for a reason”.

The problem with this is often it is impossible to figure out a reason why someone is experiencing a tragedy that has derailed their hopes and dreams and impacted their family and finances.

Whatever you do, don’t suggest that the reason is that it could be God testing them. This is hard for me to fathom. The God I love and know would not and does not reward those He loves with life’s harshest conditions, like poverty or a terminal illness.

Yes, maybe in the midst of the challenge we can give what is happening to us some meaning but that’s a very personal thing that no one else can assume on the sufferer.

My hope is that anyone who is suffering would ultimately be able to give what they are going through a sense of cause and purpose, as I have experienced, even while going through the valley.

In the same vein, to those searching for something to ground tragedy in, I have heard it said or inferred, “maybe its because of something you have done.”

This old chestnut suggests that bad things happen to those who have done something to deserve it.

I’m sure we can all recall areas of our life that are far from perfect so when tragedy does come, it’s not hard to blame yourself or think that maybe somehow you deserve it.  I’ve been there, and I recommend getting out quick because it’s a dead-end.

Christ came to bring grace, He stood in the gap, and where we deserved death for our sin, He offers life.

Sure, there are consequences for all our actions: we’ve all heard it said, the smoker increases their risk of getting cancer, and the overeater increases their chances of getting heart disease.  However, we should never think that an undeserved or tragic circumstance in life is some sort of divine punishment.

The good news of the Gospel is that God is a God of grace not of karma.

They are a few things I won’t be saying, now, these are some great things I have experienced:

  • I’m washing my car this weekend and I’m coming to wash yours as well!” – Be specific when offering to help.
  • Boy you look so tired today, are you ok?” – Be real, don’t lie.
  • I’m coming over to mow your lawn, no need to come out, just wanted you not to worry when you hear the mower?” – Show kindness, expect nothing in return.
  • Hey, I know this is serious and you could die but I’m in this battle with you.” – Acknowledge how bad it is but give your support.
  • I’m so sorry” – Acknowledging loss can be as simple as that.
  • “I love you”, “Thank you”, “I appreciate you”, “I am praying for you” – Waste no time saying the things that matter.

So when we don’t know what to say, let’s err on the side of just being there, and putting ourselves in the shoes of the sufferer before we speak. This is love.

Phil

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