Helping a Friend through a time of Grief

    Our world today is so much different than just a few generations ago. The world is now a global neighborhood, because of that families don’t always live in the same community as much as they once did in the past. Our world today is also  in a hurry, busy with activity. It is no wonder we now have difficulty in understanding grief when someone passes away today. Previous generations knew how because of the support system of families and close knit communities where they experienced grief together. We now have a culture that is really clueless on how to handle such experiences by themselves, much less how to help others with grief. Let me offer a few suggestions:    1. Being there is more important than what you say to those who have lost a family member or close friend. Don’t let the feelings of awkwardness and not knowing  what to say keep you from reaching out to them. It is supposed to be awkward and we often times don’t know what to say, that is just part of it, go ahead and do some thing to express your love and concern for them. Go by and see them at the funeral visitation or take their family some food, or think of doing something for them that they don’t have time to do during this difficult time. If you are not able to visit them you can make a phone call, card, e-mail or text. Communicate your love and concern for them.

    2. Avoid trite words such as “I know how you feel”, actually you don’t know how “they feel”, even if you have have had a similar experience that doesn’t mean that they feel exactly they way you did because they do not have exactly the same personality, family background, emotional make up as you.. 

    3. Realize everyone grieves differently, respect that. Even in the same family, people will express it differently. Some grieve more in public some others more in private.

     4. Keep in mind , grief is a process. It takes time. If the death was unexpected, the feelings of shock and disbelief will be there. If the death follows a long illness, the grieving process may have already begun during that time. If your friend was a primary caregiver during that time, there may be a sense of loss of identity because for months or maybe years their daily routine and priorities was spent taking care of their loved one and now that they are gone there can be a feeling of loneliness and “not knowing what to do” afterwards. That is why is important to stay in touch after the funeral. It is good to keep in mind that the first year afterwards can be difficult especially around birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.

Other helpful ideas can be found at the website:

Don’t let Looking Back, Keep You from Looking Ahead…

Don’t let looking back, keep you from looking ahead. One of the favorite sayings of our ancestors here in the mountains of Tennessee, is “Make the Least of What Goes… Make the Most of What Comes”…That was an important attitude to survive in the pioneer days that were very difficult for them. They dealt with extreme weather, sickness, and overall difficulty just to live off the land. I so admire their toughness, love for God, Family, and Friends regardless of the hardships they encountered. They lived life simply and made the most of each day and adapted and adjusted to the things they could not control.That is good advice for us today.  Rewinding our hurts in our minds over and over again does not allows us to fully focus on the present and have hope for the future. I am convinced one of the devll’s chief strategies against Christians today is to keep us preoccuppied with our past hurts instead of focusing on God. We would think it dangerous to drive a car and just look in the rearview mirror all the time. Likewise, focusing on the pain in our past is dangerous and can lead to bitterness which always has a negeative effect upon our own attitude and our relationships with others.

Several suggestions would include taking time to pray specifically about those hurts asking God fo His peace, love, and forgiveness. Also, talk with a trusted friend or counselor for additional help. The Bible has incredible encouragement too. Scripture such as:

– “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12 HCSB)

– ” You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and character] is stayed on You, because he committs himself to You, lean on You and hopes confidently in You.” – Isaih 26:3 (AMP)

– “The Lord says “Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Do you see it? I will make a road in the desert and rivers in dry land.” – Isaiah 43:18,19 (NCV).

– “This one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” ( Philippians 2:13, 14 HCSB)

May we not allow… our hurts from the past keep us from experiencing the joy of the present and hope in the future…

Lost in the Wilderness and Trailblazing through Linville Gorge

When I was around 12 years old, I went on a camping trip with a bunch of guys from our church. We went to the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area (which actually became a designated wilderness area after we were there). It has been called “The Grand Canyon” of North Carolina. The Cherokee Indians called it “EE-SEE-OH”, which means “River of Many Cliffs”.We camped out of the top of the gorge at a place called Wiseman’s View. The cliffs there,  tower over 1,OOO feet above the river and gorge below.It was a wild camping trip in the wilderness…seeing the famous “Brown Mountain Lights” at night which are weird, wavering lights that rise above and then dwindle and fade away across the other side of the gorge. There was some military training, not far from our campsite, going on that weekend. We took the soldiers some hot dogs, chips and colas, they were so appreciative and gave us some of the their rations and stuff.That was a big deal for me and our group of guys. 

The next morning, we took our long hike down into the gorge and when we got to the bottom, somewhere along the river… the trail ended. We were hungry, but fortunately my mom had packed a bag of Fruit Chewy Candy (Similar to Starburst Candy). I shared them with my friends as we hiked. I was in the lead group and we could see the rim of the gorge high above us where we thought our campsite was located. We went on ahead of the others and just picked our way, up the very steep mountain… slowly going so far, going to the left or right, stopping in front of a big rock or cliff, then  going back down a little ways and then finding another little path that would a little further up the side of the steep gorge. When we finally weaved our way up to the top of the rim of the gorge, where we were exhausted and paused on the top of one of the cliffs to thank the Lord for helping us. After we prayed, we just sat there for awhile until…we saw some baby snakes slithering towards us on the rock. All of sudden, our strength was renewed and we hiked on back to the campsite. 

Later, when everyone else got back to the campsite, our adult leader thanked me for getting the rest of the group back up the mountain. I asked him why…he said him and the rest of the group just followed our little candy wrappers and followed our path out of the gorge. 

You know, I have often thought about that experience. I wasn’t really prepared to what all we encountered in that hike..but we made it by God’s Grace and One step at a Time. I still find myself in situations as an adult, where I feel unprepared and really don’t know what to do next when facing the tall Mountains of Fear, Worry, Doubt, Confusion, and Anxiety…but by trusting in God’s Grace and taking One Step at a time…some how I make it. What mountain are you facing right now?…where you feel there is just “no way” you are going to make it and get over this situation. You and I will, if we will Trust in God and His Guidance and take One Step at a Time…His Grace, Guidance, and Strength is bigger than any Mountain we may face in life. The God who has been with you and helped you with difficult situations in the past, He is the same One who will help you now.

“He is the God who makes me strong, who makes my pathway safe.” – Psalm 18:32

“The Lord God is my Strength. He has made my feet like a deer, and makes me walk on the High Places.” – Habakkuk 3:19