Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Resource You Should Know: Journeying Through Grief Book Ministry

On Thursdays I mention resources for widows, and today I'm pleased to share Stephen Ministries with you. This group provides churches and individuals with a series of 4 short books called "Journeying Through Grief." I'm reviewing these books for my church to use, and I've got to tell you, I wish someone had sent them to me! Intended to be sent to grieving people at four different times during the first year, here's how it works.

Deliver each book by mail or in person at the following times:

3 weeks after the loss-- right about the time the reality begins to set in, give them A Time To Grieve. This book helps the reader understand what's normal, how to deal with other people's expectations, myths about grief, how they can best help themself, and more.

3 months-- this book is timed to arrive when others wonder why you're still sad. After all, grief only lasts a month or two, right? (NOT!) Experiencing Grief. Talks about the year of firsts, uncovering secondary losses, holidays, and more!

6 months-- around the time the grieving person might begin to wonder if something is wrong with them because they haven't "moved on." When they receive Finding Hope And Healing they'll be encouraged to find out about how long does grief might last, coping and healing ideas, dealing with anger, guilt and loneliness, sudden surges of grief, etc.

11 months-- arrival of this book will help alleve the anxiety most people begin to anticipate about the first anniversary. Rebuilding And Remembering talks about the first anniversary and heading into the second year, the challenges of change, rebuilding your life, healing through helping, and much more.

What I find very special is that this is a resource not only for churches, but also for individuals. You or I can use it too! The entire set of 4 books is $9.95. A very helpful guide is available for $2.95 and contains some excellent sample letters to send along with each book and a system for remembering when to send the books. If it's after the first year, the ministry suggests to give the entire set all at once. As many of us know, help and comfort in the second year is greatly appreciated too!

Click here for the Journeying Through Grief  page. Be sure to click the tabs for helpful drop-down menus to learn more and get your questions answered, and check out the home page to learn more about Stephen Ministries in St. Louis, Missouri.

Could someone order these books for herself? Of course! As God comforts you, you'll be better equipped to pass along that comfort to others, so of course it's good to help your own self too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What Would You Tell A New Widow?

I posed this question two weeks ago, and when I read what a widow friend in North Carolina wrote .... well, I think you'll love it too:
Ferree asks: What is one thing you would tell a new widow?

Beth says: Just one thing? That’s too hard. First, I would ask questions about everything and let her talk as much as she wanted and needed.
Then I would be totally honest, no sugar-coating . . . this journey is tough!
I would tell her that her grief is as individual as her personality and not to compare it with anyone else’s. Cry as MUCH as she needs and wants to – it is perfectly acceptable, and laugh – that is o.k. too! What was once “normal” will not be, but one day she will get accustomed to the new “normal”.
Don’t feel pressure to find someone new and remarry unless the Lord is leading her in that direction.
Find support either through a widows group on FB that is secure, but better yet, someone “real,” someone around the same journey time and also, someone farther along – balance.
Then I would share these two things.

First a quote I absolutely love:
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. ~ Washington Irving ~

Secondly, one of my favorite verses:
The LORD watches over the alien, and sustains (gives support or relief to, nourishes, carries, bears up under) the fatherless and the widow... ~ Psalm 146:9a ~
Then I would just hold her hand or put my arm around her and be quiet.
I wish all widows could have a friend like Beth, don't you?

(Copyright 2014 by Beth Kopti)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Have You Ever Had A "Grief Attack?"

Yesterday we talked about tears and crying jags. "Grief Attacks" they're sometimes called. Here's what I hope will be a light-handed little questionnaire about these darn things.

We'd all love to read your answers, so please copy and paste the questions you want into the comment box that opens up when you click the comment line below. (Email subscribers---we'd love to hear from you too! Please click the title line to get to the blog and comment). Once you've got the questions pasted in, just type in your answers. Use the Anonymous identity (it's the easiest if you don't have your own URL, etc) and sign off with your name or initials if you'd like.
1) Do you prefer Puffs Plus with moisture creme, regular Kleenex, or your sleeve?

2) When you cry are you all dainty and lady-like, politely dabbing at your eyes and nose? Or are you like me, sobbing and snarking and making a real mess?
3) Where is the worst place, or when was worst time you had a crying jag or grief attack?
  • Movie theatre
  • Wedding
  • Dropping kids off at school
  • Hallmark store
  • Coming home to an empty house
  • All of the above
  • Other
4) Share a brief experience or a piece of advice about emotional meltdowns in public.
5) Share a Bible verse that has spoken to you about your grief.
6) Name a movie that needs a "WARNING: May Cause Crying" label on it.
I suppose I should do this too, so you'll see my answers in the comments below.

Monday, September 15, 2014

For Crying Out Loud

Crying jags... we've all had them. And they can come at the worst times, so let's talk about this "new normal" today and help each other navigate and find our way through. Tears are unpredictable. We don't cry when we think we should; other times a crying spell can hit right out of the blue. I can think of many examples.

I'll never forget an older black man who got in an elevator with me years ago in a parking garge near downtown Cleveland. I'm all about keeping myself safe and I really didn't want a man in there with me, but sometimes, what can you do? It was a glass elevator, so I felt a bit safer, and in spite of my nervousness it turned into one of those moments when you see God's fingerprints.

The Cleveland skyline
with Terminal Tower in the center.
For small talk we were commenting on the Cleveland skyline. It was just a few weeks after 9/11 so we talked about what be like if our city landmark--Terminal Tower-- was missing like New York's Twin Towers? We imagined a gaping hole where it should be. We grew silent, the elevator came to a stop, and then the man started weeping. We exited and he walked over to a concrete ledge of the walkway from the parking garage. Leaning on it, wiping his eyes and trying to collect himself, he said, "I was in the Korean platoon... we lost so many..."

I'll never forget another scene: Uncle Bill at Christmas time after Aunt Barbie passed from battling cancer. The aunts, uncles, cousins and Great Grandma Bowman all sat visiting in the living room while our little kids ducked in and out, jazzed on sugar and chasing each other. You know how sometimes it's loneliest when you're in a crowd? Bill sat there with tears streaming down his face. All alone in the midst of family. We were all awkward and didn't know what to do. My 4 year-old Lisa was the smartest one in the room that day. She climbed into his lap and let him cry.

And then when a friend of mine lost her father--- She'd been working so hard to get through the grief and thought she'd gotten most of the tears out of her system. But then 4th of July struck her with unexpected tears and she spent most of the holiday afraid to go out without breaking down. She didn't know where it all came from until she remembered that her grandma had died twelve years previously on 4th of July weekend.

A few times since we've been married Tom will hear a song on the radio or tv, and I'll catch him with tears in his eyes. He finds me in the same way, too, every now and then. We appreciate that we can put an arm around the other and let the tears pass. We don't make them stop. We know they'll stop when they've served their purpose.

Why do I share these sad stories with you?

Because they're beautiful. You see, God made us in His image, and the fact that we grieve is evidence of His image. We grieve because we love, and God is love. We remember because God remembers. We relive and revisit those most profound memories like the Korean War veteran and my friend whose Grandma had died, because God has set eternity in our hearts.

Eternity in our hearts means this to me: Our compassion has no timeframe. God created us in His image as eternal beings. Sure, we move on, grief becomes bearable, memories become more a matter of honoring. Yet every once in a while, out of the blue, the grief will come like a suprise rain shower, as if the sorrow was yesterday instead of months or years ago. And everytime that happens I learn something about myself and stand in greater awe of my God.

How about you? I think we can talk about this without getting stuck and wallowing in sorrow. Do you remember a time when tears caught you by surprise? What happened? What triggered them?Comment today, and come back tomorrow for a light-hearted questionairre. ferree

Friday, September 12, 2014

I Hope You'll Join Me at a Widows Conference in November!

With their permission, I've copied this from aNew Season Ministry. I'll be speaking at this widows retreat and I hope you'll be able to be there too!
Click the link below to register, and please email me at if you have any questions.                                               

Register Today!!

by Liz Anne Wright

aNew Season Widows Conference

November 7-9, 2014

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Register here

The post Register Today!! appeared first on aNew Season.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Discussion Guide, Week #5

Dear Reader,

I hope you'll join me in praying for our 9/11 families who suffered loss and who courageously carry on and continue to serve in their communities and our country. Please pray for our public servants and our military, and that the Lord would see fit to continue his mercies and kindness to all.

This concludes the discussion guide, and you now have all 5 weeks worth. Blogs are a good resource for widows, but it’s so good to talk face to face with other widows, and I hope my book Postcards from the Widows' Path has provided you the perfect opportunity.
Remember, you can gather two, three or more widows or others for a time of friendship, support and meaningful conversation any time, and with just about any book or blog. It can be your own casual group of friends, or an organized church event. Meet around your kitchen table, or a casual coffee shop, or your church library---any place that's comfortable and distraction free. You’ll cherish the sacred reflections and find renewed hope. ferree

Week 5: Blessing—chapters 21-25 of Postcards...; Ruth 4 

Icebreaker: Which postcard did you like most? Which chapter was your favorite? Which journaling exercise was most helpful for you? Find out if anyone did the research on Matthew 1. Ask if they were surprised by the number of widows in the geneology of Christ and if they found it significant.

Discussion Questions

· Which of the struggling women's stories in chapter 21 did you find the most tragic or unsettling? How can knowing about their struggles help us with our own?

· Who are the women in your family line who have overcome obstacles and hardships?

· Which Hebrew name for God on page 201 means the most to you?

· Sketch a timeline of your life as described on page 208. Use it to briefly tell a bit about your life.

· What difference would it make in the world today if we began to treat the people in our sphere of influence as if they will someday be royalty?

· What might intrigue you about Isaiah 54:5?

· Do you "run your race" any differently now as compared to when you first started this journey? Compare your answers on pages 227 in section five, and page 11 in section one.

· Name three different things you look forward to in heaven.

Conclusion: Thank everyone for coming and decide if you'd like to get together in a month or so for a social time. You've probably begun to develop some good friendships so give everyone a chance to exchange phone numbers or email addresses if they haven't done so by now. If the Lord leads, close your time together by forming a circle, hold hands, or each place a hand on another's shoulder and read the blessing on page 201 as a prayer over all of you. Or follow your previous closing prayer routine.
P.S. The best place to order Postcards From The Widows' Path is right here on this blog. Click on the Bookstore tab at the top of the page and you'll find a safe and secure PayPal button. You don't need a PayPal account either. If you prefer to pay by check, please email me with the # of books you want to order and your shipping address. I ship by media mail only and your order will arrive in 2 - 9 days.
For International orders, you must email me first with your country and mailing code so I can send you an invoice which you can securely pay with a credit card.
And finally, if you'd like a free printed copy of the discussion guide, please email me at