Tag Archive | divorce

Discovering Jesus in the Faces of Grief

You may have heard the word “grief” all your life, but you never had anyone tell you exactly what it means. You could be in the midst of it now and still not understand. Grief, this confusing, devastating, volatile mixture of emotions, is a natural response to any loss: death, divorce, loss of health, familiar surroundings, or treasured possessions. Grief affects the mind, body, and spirit. It seems impossible to concentrate or think clearly enough to make even the simplest decision. The body reacts in unexpected ways: pain, sickness, sleeplessness, difficulty breathing, over-whelming fatigue for some, and for others, amazing bursts of energy. For some, grief brings a deeper, more satisfying walk with their Lord. Others build a massive wall between them and their Savior.

Surely, all who take the journey through grief find that it transforms their relationship with God. For example, Susan, a college student, had a sharp drop in her grades after her divorce. She tried to deny the pain, but it showed. The stress caused the skin on her face to turn a bright red and she quickly gained twenty pounds. Despite this, she learned to depend on God to help her though the sleepless nights. On the other hand, Stephen has not been to church since he lost his son more than ten years ago. He, like many, is mad at God. Even now, he continues grieving for his son.

Normal grief is an essential part of healing. Abnormal grief occurs when a person withdraws too long, pushes others away, or becomes bitter and depressed. Unresolved grief may bring on the symptoms of the illness of the loved one who died, or cause involvement in detrimental activities such as drugs, alcohol, or other addictions. It can even affect the immune system and increase the risk of cancer. Grief seems like a silent enemy, but if you face the enemy head-on, it can become your friend.

The Bible says that Jesus was “A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:6 [NKJ] We know that He has not asked us to experience anything He has not experienced, so we know He understands. One of the hardest parts of the grief process is the loneliness. Jesus must have felt lonely in the Garden of Gethsemane and even more so on the cross. He endured that for His children, so we can have a relationship with Him and so He could send us the Comforter to help us. Take your grief to Him. Tell Him about the pain. Let Him comfort you in your time of sorrow. He will get you through the lonely nights and it will get better.

What’s a Single Parent to Do?

Here you are in one of the most, if not the most, trying times of your life. You may have to move, get a job, find reliable childcare, change churches, find out who your real friends are and more. If that were not enough, you have a child or children who are as devastated as you, but they don’t understand why this happened. You are worn out physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually and you can’t concentrate. On top of that, you are lonely. You love your children unconditionally, but they are also reacting to the changes in their lives. They may be withdrawing or acting out in anger. Their grades may be falling and their tempers rising. Yours is, too, because there isn’t much left of you to give them by the end of the day.

The pain your children are feeling may be the thing that hurts you the most. There are some little things you can do that will help a lot.The most important thing you can do for your children is listen to their feelings. Children don’t always have the words for their emotions, so they may need you to help put them into words. Even if you have tried to talk to them about their feelings and they yelled at you or retreated to their emotional safety zone, you can still help them talk about their emotions if you know how.

First, you must understand that feelings come in layers. Usually with uncomfortable emotions, anger is on top. Anger has a way of spewing all over everyone, which can lead a parent to respond the same way. Instead, stop and remember your child is grieving. Anger is an essential part of the grief process – part of breaking the bond with the one who is gone. You probably feel it, too. Have you noticed, when someone validates your anger, it seems to take the air out of it? That also works for children.

Even if you don’t agree with the things your children are saying, you can validate that they believe it and it hurts. One way to do that is to respond with, “It sounds like you feel __________. You can even add because_________. For example, “It sound like you feel angry, because Daddy didn’t pick you up at school today like he promised.” Or, “It sounds like you feel scared at Mommy’s house, because I am not there at night.” Don’t worry if you use the wrong feeling word, because then the child will have to think about it and correct you. This should disarm the child and open the door for you to go deeper. Listen again to your child’s next comment. It will probably have a strong feeling attached. Validate again, even using the same template if you wish. See if that doesn’t take your child to the next feeling level. It may take some practice, but if you love your children, and I know you do, it will be worth it. By continuing this process, you can often discover and correct the misconceptions your child is feeling after the loss, such as, “It’s my fault.” Try this today and see if it doesn’t help, but remember, your children may need you to do it a few times before they trust that you are really going to listen.

Visit again soon for more ideas on how to help children through tough times.  

Helping Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses

Growing Seasons: Helping Children Heal from Divorce and Ohter Losses

Helping Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses

Children struggle when there is a change in the family. Whether there is a divorce, a parent dies, or the child suddenly realizes other children have a daddy in the home, there is a sense of loss and grief. Parents would help if they could, but often they are still trying to get their own lives together and they don’t have the emotional energy the children need. Growing Seasons support groups for children ages 4-12 can help children heal while they have fun doing activities that allow them to share their feelings. They learn that God is their Heavenly Father and He will never leave them. These groups can be done in churches and other Christian organizations. http://store.livingfree.org/Growing-Seasons-Coordinators-Guide_p_162.html

Help for Grieving Children

When there is a loss in the family, whether due to divorce or death of a family member, children tend to feel like it is their fault. Professionsals call this belief system magical thinking. In the movie, Home Alone, Kevin wished his parents would disappear. Then he woke up the next morning and found them gone. He believed his impulsive wish had come true. He thought his momentary desire caused the permanent loss of his entire family. Although he found resourceful ways to fight the bungling thieves, Kevin believed he was alone in the world and tried to make the best of it. When his family returned, he leaped into their arms with joy. That example shows how children process loss. They need to know it is not their fault that there was a change in their family. The adults in their lives must help them know the loss is not their fault, but in a way they can understand. On this blog we will spend some time examining ways to help grieving children. We will also discuss things parents and churches can do to help raise emotionally and spiritually healthy families. I invite you to share ideas of your own and to ask questions about family issues. We can work together with God to build a better family, whcih helps to build a better world.