Monday, May 6, 2019

What?'s the Difference Between Grieving and Self-Pity

I've been getting newsletters from Georgia Shaffer since I met her at A Widow's Journey Retreat in March. This article was recent and seemed so helpful I asked her if I could reprint it and she graciously agreed. If you'd like to get her newsletters too, plus many other helps she offers, please visit her website. Sign up for the "40 Questions to Clarify - What's Most Important to You" and that will put you on the email list.  
What’s the Difference Between Grieving and Self-Pity? 
by Georgia Shaffer

Someone recently asked me, “How do I know if I’m stuck in self-pity or grieving?”

It may appear as if you’re having a pity party after a devastating loss, but it’s normal to withdraw and lick your wounds. You want to curl up in a corner somewhere or go to bed and pull the covers over your head. You wrestle with God asking honest questions: “Why did this happen?” “Why now?” and “When will this end?” You might have moments of believing you’re the only one suffering.

Self-pity and grief can overlap, especially after the shock and numbness of loss wears off.

Grieving is about protesting the pain, feeling all the emotions, and slowly working through your anger, sadness, guilt, shame or frustration. It takes time to recognize, name and own your feelings. It takes time to talk and journal about what you’re experiencing. 

In contrast to grief, with self-pity you excessively dwell on yourself and your sorrows. There comes a point when you need to refocus on something or someone other than your own pain. A time when you realize other people have accidents, have lost a loved one or faced the loss of their home after a tornado or fire.   

In unhealthy self-pity you keep seeing yourself as a victim and the only person genuinely suffering. As Rich Exley wrote, “We can hug our hurts and make a shrine out of our sorrows or we can offer them to God as a sacrifice of praise. The choice is ours.”  

Self-pity is when you refuse to see the little things you can be grateful for, even in the midst of the pain. Self-pity is rejecting the idea that others face challenges and hurt deeply. Self-pity is resisting the thought that one day God can bring something good of what is terrible. 

On the other hand, self-pity is not whitewashing your misfortune with comments like “It’s all good.” Or comparing your pain to someone else’s and deciding you should not grieve. 

Your pain is your pain.  Recognize it rather than pretend it does not exist. For example, Annie was waiting at a red light when someone behind her failed to stop and pushed her car into the car in front of her.  Her car was totaled, and she ached all over. When I saw her five days later, she told me about the accident, but she also wanted me to know the blessings she’d received. She told me her husband was in town close by, which was unusual during the workweek, and he immediately came to the accident. “My friends have pampered me with their time and attention,” she said. “It’s a huge disappointment because I really liked my car. It’s also a real inconvenience, but I’m dealing with it as best I can.” Annie is honestly dealing with her feelings of loss.

In contrast, Whitney is not. Three years after Whitney’s husband walked out on her and their two children, she continues to be bitter and self-focused. When one friend mentioned that a mutual friend’s husband was dying of cancer, Whitney barely acknowledged the news. Immediately she shared all that she and the children have faced and their latest challenges. Referring to their mutual friend, Whitney finally said, “Well, at least she wasn’t rejected by her husband and left financially destitute.”

Recently I lamented to a friend about how upset I was about a difficult situation in my family. I did what I normally do. I beat myself up for feeling sad and said, “I realize I have so much to be grateful for. Besides things could be much worse.” 

"Yes, it could be worse, but remember what you told me after my husband died? I was afraid I was complaining about my circumstances too much and stuck in self-pity. You reminded me that my pain was my pain. It was okay to feel bad. Acknowledging the hurt was the only way I could get to the place of accepting what had happened." 

Don’t you love it when someone throws your words back at you? But she was right. My pain was my pain, and it was real. I wasn't to wallow in it and dwell on it. Instead, I needed to acknowledge it, grieve what happened and come to terms with it. I’m still working through the sadness and anger, but one day I will reach a place of acceptance. Some people might think I’m focused only on my sorrows, but I know I’m grieving. 

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 ESV).

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Dancing On My Ashes I The Story

My friend Donna in Missouri got to meet Heather Gilion at a
LIVE FREE event last night.
I wish I'd been there!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Carrying the cross

Good morning, anniversaries can be really hard,  can't they? My friend Carrie wrote the following last year on this anniversary of her husband's home-going day... and she carries her cross with joy, still today...

April 29, 2018
Eight years has passed by with many tears and much grief, yet, God has sustained me with even more joy. When I think about how my life changed 8 years ago today...waking up on a beautiful spring morning having my day planned to go on a field trip with my daughter Quinci. 

I got the devastating phone call soon after, realizing I was a widow and would be raising my three little girls alone. My husband, their daddy was gone; in a blink of an eye, he was in heaven. 

Yet, God sustained me. Along side the Interstate crying and screaming, God sustained me. 
In my loneliness and darkest hour, God sustained me. He has never left my side one single time. 

God is still sustaining me. I woke up this morning in a much different way, next to my second husband. He's a loving and supportive man that has shared and loved me through the grief of my past. 

I am a different person than eight years ago. Life is so different now, full of much joy; yet grief is still there at times. I am loved well and because of Jesus and His healing power. I am healed and can face each day with joy. 

Joy is not simply a smile on the lips; it is peace in the heart as a result of our mind being continually kept on Christ.
April 2019
My friend Carrie had the unique privilege of being one of the people who carried this cross through the streets of her hometown. It reminds me to take up my cross too. And it reminds me of all my widow friends who each carry their own particular crosses.

Monday, April 22, 2019

SAVE THE DATE: Fall 2019 events//Spring 2020 events

Of course you can't go to all of these, but I love that we're getting some various locations! Midwest, South, and Northeast! These are all I know of so far, but please email me at if you know of others I should mention. Thanks!

Oct. 18- 20  A Life After Breath Experience - A Widow's Calling
Maranatha Conference Grounds, Oct. 18 - 20. More info will follow in May.

Nov. 4 - 9 Widows Link Cruise:

Dec. 6-7, 2019 Florence, SC Weekend With the Author. (Tentative, more info will follow. Click here for more info) 

March 6-8, 2020 Sandy Cove Ministry Center, North East, Maryland Click here for the website.

March April 3 - 5, 2020  Widows Link retreat in Springville, Alabama.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

This Easter...

How My Husband’s Death Changed
the Way I See Easter

My first spring after instant widowhood altered 
my perspective on resurrection.
"How many times in my Christian life have I heard that Jesus rose from the grave?"
Click here for the full story at Family It might change the way you see Easter too.
As for me, I don't remember any details about the first Easter after my husband died except that I bought a bag of peanut M&M's. They were his favorite candy. All other memories are frozen behind a locked door in my mind. It was only 2 months or less after he died. It was agony--I could relate to this writer's experience. I had no warm fuzzy feelings about heaven, only cold sharp doubts. A hard lesson of faith is accepting what God has said and not judging it's reality by whether or not it agrees with my emotions. 
Yet, speaking of emotion, faith is also knowing that Jesus weeps with you at the graveside like he did at Lazarus' tomb. Hebrews tell us "...we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses… he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him..."
I want to get to know this side of my Savior this Easter. The ordinary and earthy side, the one who's heart could break. Triumphant?--ultimately yes. But for now I want to think about how he wept at his friend's grave. I wouldn't doubt that he still weeps at the grave of each of his friends (like your husband's and mine), and then --- because he understands and is able to sympathize with us --- and because he holds the power of life and death--- he patiently waits for each of us to look up and see him through our tears. He's alive!---and that's our personal Easter morning. 
Blessings on you during these holy days, watch for him! 
❤  ferree

Monday, April 15, 2019

How Often Do I Post Here at Widows Christian Place?

Here's a question that came in my email. Others of you might wonder the same thing so I thought, "Why not? Let's turn it into a post because there are some good things to say about it."

Q. Often do you post on your blog?
A. I try to post every Monday but I don't always make it.

Q. Why don't you always make it?
A. The main thing that prevents me is when I travel. Don't envy me, I don't mean travelling on luxury vacations. I can't get my kids to come to me so I have to go see them and they are scattered from coast to coast--literally. The closest are only 500 miles away in Delaware and Ohio, two other adult children are in Seattle, WA. My dad is in Wisconsin, and in-laws are in New York. And when I travel I get the cheap tickets with like only a carry-on so I pack real light and simply can't/won't take a laptop. My phone is really old so I don't use it for blogging or Facebook. So if I'm on the road or in the air I'm off the Internet. I also work as a school librarian for 30 hours a week. So I love blogging, but other stuff interferes.

Q. How can your readers find answers to their questions if you're not always posting?
A. There's a nifty device here on the main site (not on your email view). It's a search box. Enter any word you have a question about and it'll pull up everything I've got on it.
Here's a large print of what it looks like over on the sidebar:

1. Search for Keywords on This Blog

Play with it, it's kind of fun. Wonder about taking off your wedding ring, dating, or sleep problems? Enter any of those words! You may also search the labels and the archives but the search box is my personal favorite.

Q. How do I know when you've posted something new? I don't have time to be checking your blog every week to see if you have a new post.
A. That's a wonder of technology too! I wouldn't want to have to keep checking either. So just subscribe and whenever something new comes up it goes straight to your email.
Use this box that's over in the sidebar of the main site (not your email view) and click the submit button.

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