Thursday, May 26, 2022

When Grief Turns Toxic

                  

   Grief is a God-given process of acknowledging loss, commemorating love in a respectful way, and then a cycle of learning to carry it, and rebuilding life. I say a "cycle" of learning because it takes a lot of practice and many attempts. You don't wake up one morning and say "I can do this," and then never cry over it again. You do that over and over, and eventually the emotions become manageable and even predictable. But you do not  have to "Grieve forever." 

However, grief can become toxic when the same thoughts circulate through your brain over and over again. It's like the old-time needle on a record player getting stuck in the same groove on the record and cutting it a bit deeper and deeper each time until that one line of music is all we hear. Or like driving repeatedly in the rut of a dirt road, making it deeper and deeper until the car gets stuck. Or like spring rainwater run-off flowing to the lowest path down the precipice and around the hills every year.

Simplistically speaking, the same thing happens to the brain. At first, neuropathways of grief are created when we suffer loss. Then, they heal and grow, creating new and healthy pathways. UNLESS, the thoughts continually travel back over the traumatic grief pathways. When that happens, people get "stuck" in grief, and often in various degrees of PTSD, and definitely need assistance. 

There's a beautiful thing God has created within the human brain, though, and it's called "neuro-plasticity." That means that thought patterns can be trained to heal and grow and recover. There's hope! There's a fascinating webinar on this (although they credit evolution, not God, with this process, but my perspective is that we were created by God and this new scientific research simply reveals the wonderful ability to heal that God created within us). Click here for the link to the page from the American Brain Foundation:  and then scroll to the bottom of that page for the webinar "Healing the Brain After Loss."

Did you know that godly people in the Bible did not always deal with their grief in a good way either? Check out this section of Scripture below. I've highlighted a few parts that show some of the dangers of toxic grief. Please feel free to comment (if you're reading this by email, then click title at the top of this blog post in order to get to the website to comment, please), or email me at wcplace@gmail.com if you have questions or are interested in my coaching help for rebuilding life after loss. 

💗 Ferree 

2 Samuel 19:1-7 (NIV)  

David Mourns in a way that demeans his people and might destroy himself

Joab was told, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said, “The king is grieving for his son.” The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle. The king covered his face and cried aloud, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!”

Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.”


Monday, May 23, 2022

3 Blogs I Think You'll Love + They have free stuff! 👀

 Here are three other widow's blogs that are just fantastic! Although I'm sorry they've joined this club, I'm so grateful they're using this time to heal, rebuild, and help others along the way. That's what we're here for, don't you agree? We bear each other's burdens, and in doing so we don't waste our sorrows. God still has so much good in store, a unique purpose for us each (for you!) to fulfill, and our own personal message to share.

I mentioned Clarissa Moll a few weeks ago. Have you signed up for her emails yet? Today she has a couple of free gifts, so get right over there! I know how much you love freebies and these look really special so sign up today!  https://mailchi.mp/afa17e466f49/safe-in-his-handsseptember-15459057?e=86e5af117a

The Pastor's Widow is also great. Her blog is here: 

https://thepastorswidow.wordpress.com/home/

And I think you will appreciate her Facebook page too, maybe even more: https://www.facebook.com/thepastorswidow/

A widow friend in California sent me to blogger Pam Luschei, and she's always on target with her writing. My friend, Sue, told me "a gifted writer for sure. I love the depth of her thoughts and what they teach me." I couldn't agree more!

Visit https://www.gratefulyetgrieving.org/blog and you can download her free E-book!

Mostly though, I think you'll benefit from subscribing to each of these. God's help comes from many people. I'm grateful I have found these to share with you.  💗 ferree

PS. If you think you need more personal help, and are ready to look at rebuilding your life, look into some private Life Coaching with me. Email me to set up a free consultation. wcplace@gmail.com 

For more info, click here: Rebuilding After Loss





Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Catching Up: My first Non-Widows group to study my book!

 

Left side, from back to front: Marie, Brenda, Diane
Right side, from front to back: Sandy, Carol, Angela and Dawn 

For months I've been wanting to tell you about this fantastic group of women in South Carolina! I really miss them now that I'm in New York. I took this picture when they treated me to a dinner out since they knew I'd be moving away. This picture was way back in October. Goodness, it's not like I've moved 1000 miles away, unpacked hundreds of boxes, had Covid twice (very mild, no worries), started coaching, spoke at A Widows Journey Retreat...I'm tired just thinking about these whirlwind months!

Once I got moved, these dear friends decided to stay connected on weekly Zoom meetings,; they asked me to lead them in a study through my book, "Postcards from the Widows' Path." The book has 5 sections, and we covered a section each week for 5 weeks in January and February. 

The most intriguing part for me was that none of them were widows, and they were actually quite reluctant to read a book on widowhood. But, they were such good friends that they swallowed their fear, joined in, and found out that they really loved it! They loved our time together, and grew in their love for the Lord and his amazing work in widows' lives.

Want to see what they told me about it when I asked for an evaluation? Here's a collection of comments they sent me:

For a couple of us, our favorite part of the book was the Introduction.  Loved how honest you were about your feelings of anger and how you worked through it.  I (Carol) also loved the chapter where God worked out His plan for Ruth and Boaz.  I love a good romance but I loved how God used Naomi to help Ruth…  I love this story and I love the way you tell it in the book.

“Even though I am not and never want to be a widow, I appreciated your emphasis on being prepared for that possibility.  Knowing where things are as far as the things he does in the home, also records and financial things that he handles, such as taxes.  Working together to make sure I'm not caught without important information, such as passwords, insurance, bank accounts, etc.  It’s not easy to think about but it’s so important to be prepared.”

“My greatest take-away from your study was that no matter what your age, married, widowed, or divorced, all of the principles discussed are very applicable.  It helps to be prepared and to have a good foundation of friends to help you through.”

“While I am not a widow, I am friends with ladies who have gone through the loss of their husbands.  I think this study helped raise my awareness of what their needs are and how to be a better friend to them.”

 "It really is an excellent study.  I think far too many women are not as prepared as they should be."

"An Unexpected Treasure for a Bible study! Although written for widows, the study is an excellent look into the life of Ruth, and more importantly (for me) the life of Naomi. The book is focused on the steps to help through the difficulties associated with the loss of a loved one. However, it's a great resource for anyone who has experienced loss--whether a child, a spouse or even a divorce. Learning to pray for Kindness and Rest for persons in the pain of loss was another significant point that will remain with me. This is a timeless story that Ferree lovingly researched.

 Thank you, dear friends! The Lord bless you and keep you while we are apart! 💗 Ferree




Saturday, May 14, 2022

Sunsets



My column for May in Plain Values magazine is getting a lot of positive responses! thanks everyone! Read it for free on the Plain Value blog link for "Sunsets" on the next line:

Sunsets: Sunsets are one of God’s most brilliant and generous ideas, don’t you agree? He didn’t have to make them at all, you know....

Monday, May 2, 2022

Is Suffering Optional?

Have you heard this quote? 

"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." 

I think this idea has wormed into Christianity. Our churches. Our hearts! 

It originated with an award-winning Japanese writer, Hakuri Murakami, in his book of essays, "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running." If you Google the quote you'll find it attributed to other people as well, including the Buddhist Dalai Lama. There's really nothing Christian about it, yet....

Why do many Christians not admit when they are suffering?

Why do we feel ashamed to cry?

Why did I hear a pastor once say, when taking an offering for a widow in Mexico--"It's not like here in the U.S. where widows get a big life insurance policy..."

Would you admit widowhood contains a time of suffering? 

Or do we adapt this "Suffering is optional" baloney?

Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble..." (John 16:33). This morning I read Romans 5:3, the words of Apostle Paul. I remembered that the apostles James, Peter and John also wrote of suffering. Yet when it comes, when we're in the muck of it, no one really steps forward to admit it or help us face it.

I would have liked for someone to tell me on the night my husband died, "You are entering a season of suffering and profound pain. It's also a time of infinite hope, sacred spaces, rich wisdom and undying love." 

But I didn't have any relationships that were capable of that at the time. I hope I do now. It seems there are far better words and resources available now. Yet, in the fury storms of grief, could I ever find them?

So here are a couple of articles I will share with you today, and squirrel away for myself someday because suffering, like pain, is inevitable. 

Are you familiar with Clarissa Moll? She's a widow and writer with four children. Sign up for her monthly newsletter---she gets it. Scroll down and click the JOIN MY EMAIL LIST on this page, or go to https://clarissamoll.com/about-clarissa/ 

"Healing the Hurting Heart" starts around the 16 minute mark on the following video. (If it doesn't show up on your device, click the title of this blog post to get to it). I could (and have!) listened to this over and over. 


Do you wish someone would have told you about suffering (and Hope!) early on? Please feel free to leave a comment today or email me at WCplace@gmail.com  💗 Ferree

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Starting a Group Can Be a Joyful Journey

Dear friend,

Several weeks ago a widow named Jenny updated me on the group she started in March of 2021. It's just over one-year old now!

She was widowed on Jan. 17, 2020, and she says that starting the group, "...has been such a healing for me."

 Since last March, they've met once a month for encouragement, scripture and prayer. Sometimes they have a speaker, a cooking class, or an outing. They also had a Thanksgiving dinner which 16 ladies attended. This year her group also started going through my book, Postcards from the Widows' Path, using the 5-session discussion guide.

She granted permission for me to share her email with you. It's full of good ideas for different activities each month, and you might even want to borrow the group name-- Joy for the Journey. 


Good morning - I thought I would give you an update on our “Joy for the Journey” group and the Bible study. 

The monthly meetings are going well - usually 8-10 ladies are attending.
January we talked about setting goals for ourselves.
February we talked about the love for our spouse, sharing wedding pictures and stories. (Not all felt like sharing, but that’s ok).
Then we talked about how much God loves us and gave his life for us. Some ladies do not attend church and may not know God personally, so I share that whenever I can.

This month we are going out for lunch. I have 15 signed up!
I guess not having to wear a mask has made them ready to go out again .

The Bible study of Postcards from the Widows Path has had 3 lessons with 7 ladies attending. All of them are loving it. One lady wasn’t sure she could come because the first section she read made her cry. I assured that it’s ok to cry- Jesus wept. Plus I feel that tears are a way of helping us heal.

It has been such a good thing for me to do. The ladies are enjoying our meetings and the study but I’m gaining so much from it too.

Last March was when it began and I have about 20 ladies that come from time to time.
I keep in touch with them by text, calls and cards. It has been such a healing for me.

I so much appreciate your column, book and emails.

click here 
for more info
Thank you,
Jenny 

Thank YOU, Jenny, and may God continue to bless your path and your journey! Please continue to keep us posted. 
***
Are you in a widows group? Whether you meet for socials and fun, or grief support, Bible study or all of the above, it always helps others to hear about how you do it. Please email me at WCplace@gmail.com to share. Send a photo too if it's ok with everyone! 💗 Ferree