Coping with death . . .

Father to the Fatherless . . .

Psalm 68:5

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

Waking up to the thought that my dad passed away used to be a hard reality. I went through years of walking up and even going to sleep crying because I was fatherless and my first thought was that of any young girl or woman who loses their dad… ‘Who will walk me down the aisle?’

I remember the first time I told someone in my church that my dad had passed away when I was thirteen and their initial reaction was to tell me that God is a Father to the Fatherless, a Father to all. No, no, no. You see I had finally then come to face the fact that I was fatherless and had come to the harsh reality that there was no man in the world that could fill that gap. Little did I know then that my thoughts were wrong and that God had already from the start claimed me as his daughter, and filled that Fatherly position in my life.

Accepting the reality that God is my Father was hard for me. I allowed him to be my Savior, my God, Lord, Healer and all these other things, but no one but my dad could be my father, and also my picture of father at the time was one of someone who caused pain, so trying to see God as a Father to me didn’t work all too well. I struggled for a couple of years and last year I had the opportunity to write a paper about how women who go through abuse tend to struggle with their faith in the sense that how can God be a Father when they imagine men as abusers, making it that because the word father is masculine, God too would be easily grouped into that category of men as abusers.

Now don’t get me wrong I don’t think God is an abuser, but I grouped him with all other men that I had at the time labeled in my mind as unsafe because of the abuse I endured as a child. I didn’t and don’t think all men are unsafe or abusers, but I held a high guard when around men because of the pain I had been caused by my father, a man that was supposed to love me.

Now after walking through some amount of healing and after learning more and more about God I can see him as a Father. God’s love for me is unfathomable and nothing compares to it. There wasn’t ever a moment where it hit me that God is my Father, but over time as I let go of the labels I had put on all men because of the simple pain one man caused me, I began to draw closer to God’s presence and eventually I felt closer to him than I had ever felt with my father and that is when I realized that God has always been my Father even when my own father was still around.

God has always looked for my attention, my love, my everything and has always given me his love and grace, but until I broke the labels I had placed on men I would not be able to see him as a Father. Today I encourage all women, even men that are hindered from knowing God as a Father because of their own relationships with earthly fathers, that God isn’t like that. No matter what negative image it may be, whether abusive, rude, silent, not around, etc. God is the opposite of that. God’s love is so big that he has taken you and called you child before you came to know him. God took such time in creating you and making you perfect that he would never imagine hurting you. God holds you, us, in his hands as though we are precious jewels and walks with us swiftly making sure not to stumble or fall, because he cares that much about us. He never intended for me to walk through abuse, or for you to endure the pain you have, but again that is all from Satan and the fall of man. GOD LOVES YOU! HE LONGS FOR YOU TO LOVE HIM AND SEEK HIM, TO CALL ON HIM AS FATHER.

It’s a struggle, I won’t lie, but to come to know God as a Father has been a healing step in my life. Now knowing what I want in a man that is healthy, knowing what I went through was not fatherly at all, and knowing that God had me in his hands through the pain I endured is more than comforting, it simply takes away the pain. I hurt for those who think they are fatherless, but let me assure you and maybe be the first to tell you that earthly fathers don’t have to be your only father… God is your Father above all else.


When you are hurting . . .

Hunger For More of His Presence 

There is absolutely nothing that compares with it! To what I am referring is the presence of the Lord. Everywhere I travel, and even in our own ministry in the Hurst, Texas, area, people are crying out to not only experience God's presence but to also see Him face-to face. Because seeking more of His presence has become all-consuming for me, I can say with all honesty that I believe this has come with a great price. Precious Believer, I believe that as Christians we are all in this place – seeking His presence more! Why? Because there is so much uncertainty that we are facing today – that is one reason. It is difficult to have faith each day as we face the difficulties in the world.

Jesus told His disciples that they would be offended at Him and fall away (see Matthew 24:10). The word offend is the Greek word skandalizo (pronounced skan-dl-id'zo). Some of its meanings are to "entrap" and to "trip up." Thus, causing one to fall away or to sin. The main word we associate with this is the word "stumbling block." In Biblical times, those with cruel intent would deliberately place a block of wood in front of someone blind and as he/she walked, they would stumble over it and the perpetrators would then laugh. I know you feel as I do and are imagining how cruel that was. But Jesus told His disciples that He Himself would be a stumbling block. And to those who are blinded to truth, or to those who are blinded with mindsets, every one of us might stumble over present truth and Kingdom manifestation – as we are also "blinded" to the new wine He is pouring out.

Jesus was warning His disciples that He would become a stumbling block to many – this is because He had come with the purpose to die on the Cross. His kingship was not of this world, yet many believed He would become the present king in the natural to govern. In other words, Jesus was not fulfilling their expectations and mindsets of what should be happening!

Again, aren't many of us the same way? It is difficult to maintain faith in a world of problems. If we do not guard our hearts, we will look at our circumstances with natural eyesight and, therefore, stumble over situations rather than putting complete trust in God. This is why we need more of His presence – we will be strengthened as we see Him as He is!

His Strength Through Hard Times

For me, the realization for the need for more of His presence was fully realized after my mother died from liver cancer. My sister, Pam, and I had brought mother home during her time with hospice care and she and I were her main caregivers. Never before had I cried out to God in the way that I was as I watched her waste away day after day. Yet, through it all, Mother never gave up hope of being healed. I, on the other hand, was amazed at her great faith.

When I realized that she, a dying person, had more faith than I was demonstrating, I realized I needed a heavenly invasion. I desperately needed Heaven to touch my earth and I needed to see God in this situation, somehow. As a result, I began to write a book, Heaven's Voice Touching Earth; Hearing the Sounds of Heaven. I learned that if I could witness His presence that I would be strengthened to face my daily challenges. One of the ways I know that I am in His presence is when I hear God's voice – so I focused on that manifestation at the time. I had a whole list of questions to talk to God about – number one was, "Why aren't You healing my mother?" Yet, each day Mom would say, "Sandie, grab your computer and write some more about hearing Heaven's voice." She was an active part as she released her faith for me to write, and each day we prayed that both of us would experience more of God's presence.

Again, being completely honest, I thought Mom was on the same page as I was because I felt that the Lord was preparing my heart for her to actually go to Heaven and see Him face to face – in Heaven! This was because I did not see positive changes in her physically, and I was doing the best I could to hold on to what little faith I seemed to have left. On the other hand, she had no intention of waiting to be in His presence by that avenue – no way! She wanted His presence there with her that minute – right where she was in the house – and not physically dying to see Him. Oh my, what faith and courage Mother had.

I would peck away on my computer, writing the book for hours on end it seemed. I would then take breaks to talk to Mom about her childhood. I wanted memories tanked up so that I could easily recall our time together at a later time. We would always end up discussing the goodness of God and how wonderful His presence was. Being on many drugs for pain, she would often slip in and out of consciousnesses. She often slept with a smile on her face, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Holy Spirit was ministering somehow to her. Then, I would seek further revelation as to how to hear God's voice – even in the midst of great trials. God was faithful as He poured out revelation as to how to touch Heaven and bring it to earth. Hearing His voice and witnessing His divine presence became more and more important to me.

Maybe you have been a caregiver to someone diagnosed with cancer – or maybe you have been a caregiver to an elderly parent. Maybe you have a sick child and you have been standing for a physical healing. It's important not to ever give up! Do not allow your natural circumstances to rob you of pressing into His divine presence. It is possible to hear the voice of the Lord, which will encourage you through difficult times. Your natural understanding could cause you to become offended and you will stumble and be tempted to fall away.

This is not a time to cower down to what we see in the natural but rather to access the unseen with greater faith. My heart is to encourage you right now and to empower you with great faith in a God that does what appears to be impossible. Please allow me to be very clear as I continue to discuss my hunger for the presence of God. Hungering for more is a deep desire within myself – not a requirement from God so that He will draw near. Jesus paid the price at the Cross, which gave me complete access to the Father. The hunger I have felt has nothing to do with personal performance for Him, but rather a desire within myself to know Him more!

The Divine Visitation

Mom went to Heaven in September, 2007. She is forever in His presence. Though we did not see her healed here on this earth, she is walking the streets of gold with Jesus and having a glorious time. Although I grieved, I did not allow her death to cause me to stumble, but that experience caused me to hunger and thirst for more, more God! I am determined to be like Mom and witness more of His presence now, and I am realizing that there are many Believers who feel the same way. You can press into asking Him for more – right now. He will be faithful to speak and manifest His presence. Ask God to invade your atmosphere as you spend more time ministering to Him. Ministering to God is different than to ministering to His people – I'm realizing this truth at this time. I need to sing songs to Him in intimate worship – this will cause His presence to manifest. As you sing in worship, remember this point: I believe it will change your life!

It was in February of 2009 when I had a divine visitation that radically changed my life. First, let me just tell you what I was personally going through. I was having brain seizures that were puzzling even the neurologist. I would lose hours of time, even days, without remembering anything. Yet, after the doctor ruled out a stroke, I grabbed my computer and was hungering to continue to write another book. In fact, I was right in the middle of the book Crushing the Spirits of Greed and Poverty: Discerning and Defeating the Ancient Powers of Mammon and Babylon when I came under a tremendous demonic assignment.

For over a month I had been prey to demonic visitations during the night and I was certain this was because I was exposing a territorial stronghold that was robbing God's children of their inheritance – spiritually and physically! I have been amazed at how many Christians are yoked with a spirit of Mammon. Many are not aware that Mammon is the actual name of a false Syrian god! If you have a fear concerning money, please be aware that the enemy may be contending for your worship. Remember, what you fear you give power to – even worship – if a lot of attention is given to that fear.

Again, as I stated, writing a book like this caused much contention with the enemy. After all, he wants to enslave us. Then one night, after being completely exhausted from the warfare, I cried out for God's presence. I was at the point of actually believing that I was the problem in this equation and that I had maybe committed an unforgivable sin and this is why I was under such a demonic assault! Even though I knew that all of my sins were forgiven at the Cross, I was so tired and exasperated that I couldn't think straight! Have you ever felt that way? Read on.

As I cried out for His presence, suddenly a lightning bolt shot through the room. A surge of uncontrollable power hit my head and brain and for over an hour my head was jerking and bobbing uncontrollably! I knew that it was God, but I also thought What if this is somehow changing the shape of my head – or is this affecting my face? Will my eyebrows end up pointed like Dr. Spock on Star Trek? (I know, it's a woman thing, I suppose).

Then I heard the voice of Jesus. He spoke with electrifying power. His words to me will always remain at the forefront of my life's quest to seek Him more. Jesus said to me, "Sandie, don't you know I would never leave you or forsake you? There is absolutely nothing you could ever do that would cause Me to stop loving you. And, when your mind is renewed, you will understand how much I love you." I have realized that He is always near, I just hadn't realized that He was always so easily accessible. Hard times come; He is always there.

God's Grace and Love

Within minutes the electrical charge left and I got out of bed to write down the visitation. It has been several years since the visitation, and I must admit that ever since that night I have been on a quest for more of His presence, though I do not believe I have to pray more or continually cry out for His presence. In other words, there is no requirement or price to pay for Him to love us or draw near to us. Yet, each day in my prayer time, I keep asking Him for more, and quite often I have reminded the Lord that Moses asked to see His glory and that God honored Moses' request:

"Then Moses said, 'Now show me Your glory.' And the LORD said, 'I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim My name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,' he said, 'you cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live.'

"Then the LORD said, 'There is a place near Me where you may stand on a rock. When My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen'" (Exodus 33:18-34:1 NIV).

Though He hid Moses in the cleft of the rock and passed by to where Moses only saw His back, I am convinced that even then this was a shadow of Christ, the Rock, the New Testament example of the Lord revealing His glory through Christ. In fact, as Believers in Christ, we each represent God's glory on this earth, but I believe it is because of who Christ is in each of us, as Colossians 1:27 (ASV) states: "to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (my emphasis).

I am excited each time I remind myself that I am "hidden in Christ," and that, because of Him, I am seated in heavenly places (see Colossians 3:3 and Ephesians 2:6)! Believer, God is hiding you right now in the cleft of the rock. The Rock is Jesus Christ, and no matter what you are experiencing, you are hidden completely in Christ. Be assured, you are protected, loved and provided for. His glory is in you and you are seated in heavenly places with Him. It's time for you to see yourself as victorious over every situation. His grace will be there for anything you need as you move forward, leaving the past behind and possessing every promise!

I am totally bent on learning more and more about the grace of God and His divine love for me and for those who are willing to co-labor with Him to build His Kingdom. I had witnessed His presence in a very tangible way and this has made me desire even more of Him in my life. I have realized that many people are content to discuss the presence of God, but are many willing to pay the price to seek Him daily and truly experience and encounter His presence? You can have this same experience as you are also called to co-labor with Him.

His presence means everything to me now. Without His presence, I don't want to even attempt to minister. I have realized that I can desire more of Him, and He will always show up. It is His desire to fill me completely with His presence. I take time to worship to Him, and some people feel as if there is no time to even do that. Again, it's not about what we do for Him but how to minister to Him. Whatever time I sow into studying His Word and maturing in God while housing His presence is pale in comparison for what Christ did for me on the Cross. I believe the visitation I experienced was because I kept crying out to know Him more. As you also cry out for more, He will visit you and He will speak to you. Do not do this because you believe you have to do this to please God – it is not a legalistic desire but rather a freeing one. I believe it is a season of favor for each of us and that He will answer us when we pray (see 2 Corinthians 6:2 and Isaiah 49:8).

By the way, did you notice that when Moses requested to see God's glory that God referred to His "goodness" passing before him? I love that – because I now understand that God is always one hundred percent good! I am hidden in Christ, hidden from the enemy and hidden from harm. I completely trust His goodness, don't you? If you don't trust His goodness, it is possible that you have stumbled due to a past disappointment.

Dear one, don't allow any disappointment to cause you to miss your appointments in God! If not careful, any of us could develop a hard heart due to a past disappointment. Repentance is what will begin to cultivate your trust in God. Repent means to change the way you think – so, change how you feel concerning God's goodness. The Word of God declares that God is good. After repenting for your lack of trust, then find Scriptures that prove that He is full of grace and that He is always good!

Deeper Encounters

It is my heart's cry for even deeper encounters. I desire for everyone to know God in a more intimate way. As I have deep encounters, it empowers me with more faith and empowerment to demonstrate His Kingdom on earth. As I minister, I have felt the Lord prompt me to pray for people in pain, and amazingly the pain leaves their bodies! Why should I be surprised? God declares that it is He Who heals, right? Many times I never lay hands on anyone – others pray for those needing healing and, yes, God still heals. So, precious Believer, it is not Sandie Freed doing the healing. Yet, it is His presence that shows up and then He just takes over! I have been witnessing frozen shoulders completely healed, arthritis leave bodies, necks and backs healed, and barrenness completely healed. I have also ministered alongside my husband and we have both seen God completely heal cancerous tumors – they just disappear!

I truly believe, with all of my heart, that God is answering my prayers and times of crying out for more! You can ask the same of Him – maybe you can start right now!

Allow me to pray for you: Father God, I know that it is Your desire to reveal Your divine glory through us who believe. I pray for each reader today that You would draw them unto Yourself and that You would begin to reveal Your glory in them and through them. Lord, I join each reader in crying out for more of Your presence! Without You and Your presence we will never be completely fulfilled. You are all that we need in life to be content. Empower each of us as we pursue destiny and the demonstration of Your Kingdom on earth. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Sandie Freed
Zion Ministries
It's never worth it . . . God is always there!
He speaks to us in a small still voice, so be still an know that He is God!

Seek the Lord behalf of your loved one first . . .

Helping a Friend in Grief

As much as we would like to avoid unpleasantness in our lives, sometimes it is inescapable. Instead, we must learn how to grieve in healthy ways and work through our difficulties. If you are wondering what you can do to help a friend who is in intense mourning, here are some suggestions:

Recognize that everyone grieves at their own pace:

Some progress rather quickly, some move very slowly. We never move at the speed that others think we should. Help us take one day at a time.

Keep us company and be there for us:

You don't need to say anything profound or do anything earthshaking. Often, your greatest help is your quiet presence and simplest deeds.

Make suggestions and initiate contact and activities:

It is important for you to respect our privacy and give us some time alone, but we also may not have the energy to structure our lives right after a traumatic loss. We may have to rely on others to think of things that we don't know to ask for. Provide a safe environment for us to show strong emotions:

It may be very painful, but it can be of enormous help.

Help us remember good things:

Tell us your memories of our loved one as you listen to us tell you ours. If we begin to show our emotions outwardly, you have not upset us, you have simply enabled us to be a bit more open in your presence.

Be there after the first wave is over:

Make the effort to call, to come by, to help us out six months and even a year down the road. Crowds may be difficult for us. Shopping and holidays will be overwhelming. Offer your help.
If we're not up to a visit we'll let you know, but let us know you remember and are there for us.

Listen to us:

We need to tell our story over and over in order to process our grief. We may even say outrageous things. Don't judge us by what we say or how we feel. We have a lot to work through, and in time we will come to the answers that are right for us.

Be careful of cliches, religious platitudes, or easy answers:

You may not be able to help us with certain issues right now, so don't be too quick to share your opinions if we say something you don't agree with. We need time to work things out on our own.

Be sensitive to our needs:

Be patient, have confidence and believe in us. We will get better, we will experience healing; but it will take some time, and it can be rough going for much of the way.

Be on the lookout for destructive behaviors:

Traumatic loss can lead some people into depression, alcohol or drug abuse. We may need you to keep an eye on us while things are especially tough.

Be willing to do difficult things with us:

We may need someone to sit with us in court; we may need a safe place to rage; we may need help with the funeral or afterwards. There may be some hard times ahead and facing them alone can be terrifying.

Help us find ways to bring good things out of the bad:

It is important that our loved one be remembered and memorialized.

Read some of the books that are available. The more you know, the better able you will be to help us.

Often, a poem or song will speak to us in ways that no one else can. Also, talking to someone who has survived a similar loss can help us to realize that we are not alone in our grief.

We have to go through this valley in order to get to the other side:

Dealing with grief cannot be avoided or postponed. Grief can make relationships difficult and you may get frustrated with us or feel uneasy around us. But please remember that now, more than ever, we need the caring and patient support of our friends and family. Help us get through this as well as we are able. Your true friendship and companionship, your kindness and patience can help us get our lives back together.

We will experience some level of grief over our loved one's loss for the rest of our lives. Some days will simply be better than others. One day, we hope to reach a point where our good days outnumber the bad. That will be a major milestone for us.

Thank you for being here for us.
Allow the cleansing tears to fall like a river and grieve . . . it's healing for you!
Rest in Peace . . . for our loved ones

Life and death . . .

A New Mourning

Death is like an arrow that is already in flight, and your life lasts only until it reaches you. ~ George Hermes

Is every grieving the death of a loved one different? Or are we different each time a loss visits us?

When my brothers, Jim and Dan died 4 years ago, I felt like part of my heart had been ripped out. The grief I experienced recently when my fathe died was felt mostly in my gut, as though I had been punched in the stomach and left with a sick sinking hole. Several of my siblings expressed at the funeral that they felt like they had a stomach flu.

Some of my recent symptoms of grief feel familiar, but some are different. With both, I felt identity confusion. After losing Jim and Dan, I wondered why I lived in Virginia, when they were buried in the Massachusetts town we all grew up in, in the very cemetery we played in as kids. I mourned the loss of my childhood as much as I missed my brothers.

The identity crisis I'm experiencing with the loss of my dad is less about where I live and more about who I am. Who am I without a father? Who is my mother without my father? Who am I to my mother now? Can I let go of the burden my dad carried that all his kids shared the weight of, the burden of seeing the Holocaust first hand, WWII combat trauma, and his battle with alcoholism?

There is a sense of calmness (or is it numbness) along with my sadness that I wasn’t able to feel when Jim and Dan died. Is it because my dad lived for 81 years and had been drifting away from us before the accident that led to his death? Since the deaths of his sons, and especially during this last year, he sometimes seemed to be going through the motions of life more than living them. “He did everything he wanted to,” my mother recently said to me on the phone.

The loss of a parent can shake our sense of security, identity, and foundation. But unlike losing a sibling, child, spouse, or a parent prematurely; losing an older parent is something we’re conditioned to expect. We know life ends, just as we know the day will end when the sun goes down. As hard as losing a parent is, we don’t have to feel alone in it. It’s something we all have in common or will someday.

I’ve only begun to absorb the impact of not having my dad in this world, but I’m grateful that I feel more in control of my grief this time around. At least today, I do.

God . . . just make the pain go away!
This too will pass beloved . . . . . . . . . . .
Let go . . .
She/he can see you from heaven . . . watching over you and me!
If you get there before I do . . . .
Daddy . . .
To our daddy . . . we love you!

The Seasons of Grief

As I see it, the seasons of grief are divided into the following general categories:

Summer: The pre-grief time of life
Fall/Winter: The season of Grieving
Spring: A post-grieving time of life o

My friend, Ruth, has taught me more about these seasons of grief than any other single person. Ruth was a colleague of mine for 8 years. She has experienced more serious, sad, traumatic circumstances in her life than most people. She lost her father at a very early age; and her mother worked as a cook to support she and her brothers and sisters. Ruth had a two aneurysms before the age of 40. She also suffered a massive heart attach almost one year after her aneurysm surgeries. Both of her medical crises necessitated that she be evacuated from her rural home by helicopter. In fact, the helicopter team told her that they thought she was really just a thrill junkie since she was the only person they knew of who had ridden in BOTH of their 911 choppers! If those circumstances were not enough, about one year after suffering her massive heart attack, Ruth awoke one Saturday morning to the sound of her husband’s pager going off. Ruth’s husband is a volunteer firefighter and he was being called out to respond to an accident. When he arrived at the scene, he could see that the vehicle was his son’s. Apparently, some time in the wee hours of Saturday morning, Ruth’s son fell asleep at the wheel of his car and crashed into a tree – dying instantly.

Ruth experienced grief upon grief, loss upon loss in her life. How does a person make sense of all this? How does a person "go on" after blow after blow after blow?

If you think I am going to tell you that Ruth found perfect peace and joy and worked through her grief, you are mistaken. Ruth might very well be on her grief journey for the rest of her life. However, Ruth’s seasons of grief have taught me much about how grief works.

First, almost all of us have a "summertime" of life. Grief has not touched our lives. We have visited those dark, dreary and sad days of loss. For many, this summer season lasts into adulthood. I know many young adults who have not yet lost a parent, grandparent, or other significant person to death or departure. For some, the summer lasts only a few brief years before the cold, hard whistling winds of Fall arrive at the door. During the summer of our lives, before we have experienced grief firsthand, we usually have very little empathy and understanding about how powerful these experiences can be. We may have seen some friend go through a loss, and we just simply didn’t know how to respond to them.

Then, grief comes to our door. My friend Ruth taught me that when grief comes, it is like a roller coaster of emotions. You have all sorts of fleeting feelings of sadness, despair, remorse, hopelessness, helplessness, fear, anger, darkness, depression, impatience, grumpiness and fatigue. Make no mistake about it: grieving is WORK. It is exhausting, time consuming, sorrowful WORK. Ruth had to try to carry on her "normal" routines after all these sad events in her life. The loss of her son was by far the most traumatic of all of her lossess. There was so much to remind her of his absence – his accident occurred on the road to her home. She is a dairy farmer’s wife living on the "home" farm and is unlikely to have the option of moving away; so every day she drives past the tree where her son lost his life. The cemetary where he is buried is in the other direction on the road on which she lives. Even when Ruth does not wish to be reminded of her son’s death, it is there – in her face – every day.

We counselors are taught that grief has stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and resolution. We are taught that folks go through these stages at different rates. We are admonished that sometimes folks skip a stage or do them in different order. However, Ruth taught me that sometimes people get "stuck" in a stage for a very, very long time. Ruth has passed through such dark times in coping with her son’s death. She has blamed herself, she has been furious that he died less than a mile from home. She has been depressed for many years. This is partially due to the fact that she has had loss upon loss. Grieving is complicated by multiple incidents. Some folks can handle one loss; but when they start piling up, it can be overwhelming.

When we have a friend or relative that is in that dark fall/winter season of grieving, the natural tendency of most of us is to want them to "get well" or "get back to normal". Ruth taught me that there is no"normal" to which to get back to. Ruth’s life is absolutely, finally and forever changed. The only hope we have is that she might be able to create her own "normal" life after grief. When I asked Ruth what any of us could do to help her, her first response was "nothing". She felt she had to take this journey completely alone, even without her husband’s help. However, over time, Ruth did tell me that two of the things that helped her the most were folks who: 1) did not try to "gloss over" her grief; but rather acknowledged and were open to letting her "vent", even if it was painful to listen. and 2) had been through the same experience she had and could really, truly understand what she was going through. Ruth and her husband found a loving support group of people who had lost children; and this group alone helped them the most.

Generally, people who are grieving have little tolerance for folks who do not genuinely understand what they are going through. So, if you have not had a significant grief experience in your life, or not had the one your loved one has had, be very careful to not try to tell the grieving person you "understand". Also, spouting Bible verses sometimes anger grieving people rather than comforts them. We need to be sensitive to where a person is in their faith and in the grieving process. They may be a very dedicated religious person; but also a very angry one. I tell folks that God is big enough to understand and care for us even when we are really angry with Him. Grieving people know for a fact that you do not understand what they are going through. And, even if you have had a similar experience, Ruth taught me that you need to be sensitive to the fact that everyone grieves differently; so don’t expect your friend or loved one to grieve or heal exactly the say you did. Ruth once told me that she knew she could "be real" around me and that I would not judge her. Anger is a very large part of grieving for some folks and as friends of the grieving, we need to be able to suspend judgement of our loved one and give them permission to do the grief work that they need to do.

So, for those who are grieving, let us:

- for as long as they need to
- with as many tears as they need to
- with whatever process they need to

- visiting the gravesite or not. Going to the old haunts or not;
- keeping the same routines or not;
- journaling, drawing, painting, tape recording.

This is where that special memory comes in. Some folks find that part of the road to healing involves taking the time to record those special times and to reflect on them.

We can help by perhaps giving the gift of a special journal to our grieving loved one. We can help by understanding that grieving is sometimes a very introspective time so the person may not be as open to communicating, going out or being involved in family or community events.

Those of us who have not had a heavy grief to bear often do not understand how important it is for those who are grieving to talk about their sadness. We are embarrassed or uncomfortable. Sometimes we even think we are making them worse to talk about their sadness. The old "sweep it under the rug, put on a happy face" syndrome.

In fact, I am always most concerned about folks who appear to "get on" with their lives immediately after a loss. While it is true that some folks work through their grief quicker and with less hassle than others, some grieving people do sweep it under the rug -- but I will tell you this. If they do sweep it under the rug -- it will have to be dealt with eventually. Denial of the grief will eventually lead to all sorts of other issues. Sometimes, we just simply have to wait until the person can move into the next stage of grief and that can take a very long time for some.

Rather than being so concerned about our loved ones getting back on their feet, back to normal, back to their old self -- we need to walk with them through the darkness, the sadness, the doubt and the questioning until we both come out into the light of a new day. Not "back to normal" -- just a new day with a new hope.

So, Ruth has taught me that we can help grieving people the most when we:

1. Pray for them;
2. Encourage them;
3. Listen to them;
4. Find time to spend with them;
5. Cry, mourn with them;
6. Be open about discussing their loss -- and after a suitable time:
7. Invite them to a new social activity. Perhaps the foursome that played cards every Thursday evening can no longer meet since one has died. But as friends of grieving people, we can try to help them begin to discover new ways of maintaining social contact.

So, for many people who are grieving, the Spring time of renewal –life after grief – does come. In that spring season, a person who has wrestled with grief can often be the helper, supporter, friend and encourager of others who are just starting their journey into the dark winter of grief. People who have "been there" are often very helpful to the person who is just beginning to learn about the powerful season of grief.

Bible verses for people who are grieving:"Listen to me whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs. I am HE, I am HE who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you." Isaiah 46:3,4

"Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint. O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O lord, how long? I am worn out from groaning all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow....." Psalm 6, selections"The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord, "Oh, Lord, save me! .....For you, Oh Lord, have delivered my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling that I may walk before the Lord in the land of living." Psalm 116, selectionsIn my index, there were about 4 references to sorrow; but 50 which referred to comfort. "My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life." Psalm 119:50"May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. Let your compassion come to me that I may live..." Psalm 119:76,77"For your Maker is your husband -- the Lord Almighty is His Name-- the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit...." Isaiah 54:5,6"I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." Isaiah 43:2

Don't give up . . .
Momma . . .
He reaches out to you to mend your broken heart . . .
Praise to God in our Storms . . .
Walk beside me . . . help me God!
Promises over our loved ones . . .

Helping grieving family members . . .

Helping Grieving Family Members

  My uncle and his family had an auto accident. As a result of the accident, my uncle passed away. His daughter was the one driving on the day of the accident. I am going to attend my favorite uncle's funeral. How do I comfort my cousin and let her guilt’s lessen?

 The best support you can offer your cousin is your presence. DO NOT try to take her quilt away. She needs to experience her pain first without having people minimize what she is feeling. Too many times, we try to take the pain away which makes the person who is grieving feel like they are not being heard or that they can not "grieve" in front of others. Let your cousin feel whatever it is she is feeling. But let her know that you will be there for her. After the funeral and for weeks and months to come, your cousin will need to know that family does not blame her. She will need to understand that accidents happen. Offer a listening ear and heart. Assure her that she can open up to you and call you whenever she needs to talk. Make sure you follow-up with her for weeks and months. She will need on-going support and love.

 I know that our initial reaction is to try and comfort a loved one and to "take the pain and guilt away." She will be numb for the funeral and for the days following. Your support will be needed for a long time after the funeral. Allow her to talk about the accident, reassure her that accidents do happen and we don't know why certain things happen when they do. Most grieving persons that I see for counseling tell me how angry they get when others don't allow them to express their feelings. The greatest gift you can give her is your support. Allow her to express herself. Allow her cry, to be angry, to be sad, etc. And reassure her.


If she needs help after the funeral, encourage her to attend a support group or to seek individual counseling. But mostly, stay in touch with her.  C Jan Borgman


In The Upper Room

Author: D Anthony, D-Rose Impressions, 07/01

* Excerpt from the motivational and inspirational book,
The Nurse in the Delivery Room Slapped Me... Once *


A close friend has an aunt who, after months of proving a worthy adversary, appears to be succumbing to an increasingly debilitating bout with Cancer. Unfortunately, many of the familiar signs are there - the inhumanity of late night Emergency Room visits… extended periods without the consumption of food… blurred lines of reality… and occasional exclamations of 'being so tired'. And for loved ones, the overwhelming feelings of helplessness, frustration, sorrow, anger and fear continue to grow. My friend's teary eyes boar witness to a grueling, yet unsatisfied search for answers.

This is the article I didn't think I would ever write -

Do you love anyone? I mean… do you really love anyone? I'm talking about the kind of love that has already stood the test of time. I'm talking about the kind of… there's nothing more important in your life than your love for that person kind of love. I'm talking about the… I would literally give my life for that person kind of love.

Well, that's the way I loved my Mom. Why? I don't know that I can really say. All I know is that above and beyond giving me life, she was honestly the nicest, most giving, most humble, most down-to-earth, most loving person I've have ever known. She had a smile that would warm any heart and a heart that made everyone she touched just a little better. I never knew of a time that she wasn't giving or planning to give again. There wasn't anything she wouldn't sacrifice for me, and my siblings… for family… for friends… for her faith. She was the epitome of the most magnificent complement that can be awarded to any being. She was a loving Mother.

And there wasn't anything I wouldn't do for my Mom… if I could -

I walked in her room, took one glance in her eyes and knew… One look told me everything I needed to know. Just a couple seconds and the unimaginable burden of life's most unacceptable truth would alter my destiny forever. My Mom was passing on.

Nothing else mattered… not a month of prayers… not the power of positive thought… not the tears or spiritual encouragement of the best of friends… not the visitation of her children, and theirs… not one passing medical expert or any of their ineffective diagnosis. Nothing else mattered - except my Mom was going to die.

Up to the second I looked in her eyes I was convinced she would beat her illness. There was no doubt that the plans we made for the shopping spree and the grand meal once she returned home was just a matter of time. The nurse had called me at work indicating, "I should hurry to the hospital… my Mother's system was shutting down". I abruptly interrupted, "what do you mean… do something… where is her doctor". But upon arriving at the hospital I saw her eyes and knew… nothing else mattered. My Mom was going home.

I whispered, "Mom it's okay… I understand… thank you for everything… I love you" -

Somehow, I ignored every acceptable notion that I had ever had… every considerable possible outcome of my Mother's month and a half hospital stay, which I had permitted to enter my guarded realm of consciousness. Although she had stopped speaking the previous week, her eyes told me what had to be done. One look told me I had to let her go. It wasn't easy, but somehow I knew it was what had to be done. Since that day, I have come to believe this was the most valuable gift I could have given her. In the most selfless act I have ever even conceived - I told her it was okay to go. As a result, I know she knew that I understood... she was tired… she had accepted her fate, which her faith ensured was to better place. She knew I understood that this was bigger than us, and beyond our control… that death was an inevitable result of every life.

I told my Mother to go ahead home… to say hello to her mother, father and so many other family members and friends who had previously departed. I thanked her for fighting so hard, and for so long… for everything she stood for… for making me the person I am. I then phoned my sisters, my brother and my father. I informed each that she was passing - holding the phone to her ear as each uttered their tearful good-byes. It wasn't easy… but it was what had to be done.

A halt was called to scheduled shots and procedures. After seven weeks of medical attention from an assortment of doctors, nurses, specialists, therapists and such… obviously my Mom's condition was beyond their control. My Mom's life was in the Lord's hands. And all I could really do was align my faith accordingly. A short while later they moved Mom to a private room. Once everyone had left the room I started her tape player. Sitting next to her, trying to fight back the tears, I tried to savor every contour in her face… the feel of her hand… her scent… her warmth. I felt the need to try to somehow create a memory imprint - a permanent recording to have for all time. I told her over and over how much I loved her.

Then it happened. As the room began to fill with Mahalia Jackson's spiritually moving rendition of "In The Upper Room With Jesus"- I realized Mom had just taken her last breath…

There would be no recovery. The horrible spirit of death had come and robbed the very life from my Mother's body… and my life would never be the same.

I laid my head on my Mother and, with tears now freely flowing, I sang "In The Upper Room With Jesus" to her one final time. When the song ended, I rewound the tape to the beginning of the song and walked out to inform the nurse. The nurses rushed into the room to check her vital signs. I followed, heading straight to the window. Looking up in the clouds through my tears, I continued singing… "In The Upper Room With Jesus".

And it was then, in my most devastated… most humbled state of my life - it happened. I can't explain what it is. To this day I still do not completely understand. All I know is that then and there, a feeling came over me. It was there… and it wasn't. I felt the amazing presence of something bigger… something more incredible than I couldn't even begin to fully comprehend. Then, as quickly as it came, it was gone - and so were any lingering doubts. With unmistakable clarity I understood that my Mom was in a better place… my Mother was going to be just fine. There, for the first time in my life, I knew inner peace. It was there I realized that only faith would see me through.

Looking back on that day now, I'm amazed at some of my actions. I'm amazed that her eyes could tell me so much… amazed that I could maintain some semblance of sanity… of calmness throughout it all. What I am most proud of however, is the fact that I could overcome all my personal desires, fears, anger, frustration, sorrow and everything else - and tell her it was okay. There was no guilt and no pressure… only acceptance… dignity… peace… and faith in the Lord. She went peacefully, knowing that I understood... She went, faithfully believing we would see each other again… It was the only fitting way to end such a beautiful life.

Because of its sensitivity, this is the article I didn't think I would write. Because of my friend and so many others searching for answers - I knew I had to.

A Tribute to My Father . . .

When my father walked me down the aisle on my wedding day, he kept whispering to me out of the side of his mouth in the way that he did, "Keep your powder dry, Kathy, keep your powder dry." Dad, I'm going to try to do that now, but I hope you'll understand if I can't.

I want to start off by thanking my mother for having such great taste in men. She chose William E. O'Brien, a man who would love, honor and respect her for over 62 years and whose love she likewise returned. Two peas in a loving pod for a lifetime. The last words he spoke were to her, "I love you".

Joan, Bob and I want to thank you, Mom, for selecting for us the most wonderful and loving father. One we could respect, treasure and adore, one who was such a loving and caring Grandpa to Brian and Charlotte, Greg and Amy, Madeline, Bridget and Dylan. How deeply and tenderly he loved us, and we him.

My mother would always say, "When they made your father they broke the mold." As kids, Joan and I would roll our eyes. As adults, we want to say, "Mom, you were right." My cousin Claire told me she always considered my father the most perfect man she has ever known. My Uncle Fred told his daughter Mary Ann that my dad was the finest man he ever knew. Our dear friend Joan Stecher recently told me that she thought my dad was the most saintly man she ever knew. (This is especially wonderful, since Joan is the most saintly woman we've ever known.) It was quite a mold that broke!

The story of my father is one of a life well lived. He was one of seven children born of a Newark, New Jersey fireman. His mother died at Christmas when he was just two years old. He once told me that he thought that the good choices he made in life were a result of his mother's guidance from heaven. She was quite a guide.

No matter what the role he played he did it well. He was a good son and son-in-law, a good brother and brother-in-law. He loved and cared for them to the end of their lives and beyond.

"Uncle Bill" to so many, both Otts and O'Briens, he loved you all and was able to tell us how special each one of you is. I think of all the parties he hosted, showers, anniversaries, birthdays and Christmases. I especially loved the Christmas parties with all the cousins. "Santa" had gifts for all. What you did not know is how much he planned behind the scenes, setting up tables and chairs, adjusting and moving, so that everyone would be comfortable. It was important to have "enough elbow room".

My dad did have his limits. He couldn't carry a tune, a trait he passed on to his daughters. Our pew at Mass was something to hear — or perhaps not! But nonetheless a party was not a party until my very Irish dad sang the Schnitzlebanc, complete with pointer in hand. What he lacked in voice he compensated for by making the perfect Manhattan, Martini or Sour!

My dad was an accountant par excellence! He was respected for his ability and integrity. Joan and I worked with him at Mallon's in the summer and it was so apparent how deeply he was regarded. Everyone there loved his wry, quick wit.

He used his talent for numbers at both St. Leo's and St. Rose's with collections, bingo and fund raising. I can still see my father walking in his top hat with St. Leo's in the Holy Name parade with Fathers McCarthy, Price, Curtin and Collins. He looked so handsome, and we were so proud.

My dad had just the right touch of vanity. He was a sharp, meticulous dresser. I'd always love it when he came home from Bert Green's Men's Shop in New York City with a new suit. My mother played a big part: his handkerchief, shirt and even his underwear were ironed to perfection.

Dad was a loyal alumnus of St. Benedict's Prep. He was proud to be a Benedict man. What a credit to his school! He attended functions there to the end.

My father was also a loyal and dedicated Yankee fan. He loved baseball. I really feel like the Yankees should wear black armbands in his honor. He took us to the Polo Grounds and Ebbetts Field. They felt like churches. But Yankee Stadium! It felt like a Cathedral! I loved hearing about when he took my cousin Phillip with him to the Stadium to hear Babe Ruth speak on his last day.

He played his role as a neighbor like all the others — with class. On Chapman Street we had the first television on the block, a small seven-inch screen with a magnifying glass bubble. He would invite all the neighbors to our back yard to watch the games. He supplied the peanuts and beer. He even put chairs behind our clothesline pole and told them they were sitting by the left field foul pole.

On Meadowbrook Road we had the good fortune of having Joan and John Stecher as our neighbors. At Christmas time our garage was their Santa's headquarters. Joan Stecher tells the story of asking my mother if she had a large box to wrap one of the children's new jackets. Next day there was a large box. My father went right out and bought a new raincoat so there would be a box.

I couldn't begin to count the number of friends and family whose income tax he prepared. My cousin Delores told me of all the ways he gave of himself to her family. He did it quietly, behind the scenes. No one knew. He did so much for so many.

We all loved my father's sense of humor. He loved, as he would say, to "kibitz". He had a couple of routines that he would perform that my Mother hated. Her expression of dislike was always "Oh, Bill!" We loved it. What was most special was his quick and gentle wit. He could say so much with one perfectly delivered line.|

He had some expressions that continue to ring in our ears:
Oh for pity's sake.
Pardon the iron grip.
Yes, I guess not.
Keep it down to a dull roar.
No use in both of us worrying about it.
Grass can't grow on a busy street (referring to his hairline).
If you don't have anything nice to say don't say it at all. He lived that.

Joan's favorite was when a man opened a door for him he would say, "Thank you — you're a gentleman. There are very few of us left!" Although he said it in jest, it couldn't be truer. He was a gentleman and a gentle man. He rarely, if ever, yelled. I remember him teaching me how to drive, a considerable challenge since I am dyslexic. He would very calmly say, "Kathy, you might want to look out for that bus". Only a few short days ago, when I was taking him to the bank I heard him say, " Kathy, you might want to get in the left lane".

I've been proud of my father for my whole life, but never so proud as in the last few months as he faced the loss of his sight and his other limitations. He did it all with such courage and dignity. The loss of his sight was the hardest for him. No more New York Times crossword puzzles or reading the paper from cover to cover.

I'll never forget the day he decided he could no longer drive. His major concern was how my mom would get to the hairdresser. What a man! It became our privilege to give back to him. Joan, Bob and I became his wheels. We took our parents to all their old familiar places and discovered how treasured he was there as well. His tailor, barber, cleaners, the bank, gas station, pharmacy and the Glenwood Sweet Shop. Each and everyone telling us what a wonderful man he was and commenting on what a special couple my parents were.

Yesterday Joan and I got gas at Dad's gas station. When we told Mike, the owner, that Dad had died, he sang his praises and excused himself as he started to cry. Last night he came to pay his respects.
How blessed we all are to have had him grace our lives for so long. In my mind's eye now, I have a picture of him. His sight is restored; he is driving a blue Pontiac (my mother's favorite color, the model with the head of Chief Pontiac on the hood). His jacket is hanging from the rear window hook, his tie is loosened, and shirtsleeves rolled up, his arm resting on the open window ledge. He always knew the way. He spent his whole life steering in the right direction. He is on his way home after a good hard life's work. He is enjoying the ride. His father and the mother whom he did not get to know are waiting to tell him how proud they are of him. All his friends and family are there to welcome him. His God who he worshiped so well embraces him. His Lord says, " Bill, you have lived a wonderful life — welcome home."

My father had an expression he used when describing a man he thought was a cut above. He would say, "He's a real prince". My father was the Prince of Princes.

And now it is time to say, "Good night, Sweet Prince. Let Angels take thee to thy rest."

We miss you already, and will love you forever.

Find Him on your knees!

He was there . . .

Beloved, don’t let anyone tell you that life is going to be easy here on this earth . . . for it is a lie and it is the great deception. I am now 59 years old with one half, two thirds, or three quarters of my life lived—I DO NOT KNOW. Only the One and only true God of the Universe have the knowledge to the answer of this dilemma. No, I don’t have authority to make that decision, as He made it very clear in my youth. With so much pain and suffering, that cup we must all drink as it cannot be out of reach but clings to your very soul in despair, in want, in dreams, in life. Oh that we would have all the answers of the universe, but the more we know, the more we really don’t know as it is only in His hands and . . . He knows.

Just know this, He was there when your loved one died and passed away. He feels your pain and He wants you to give it to Him . . . the only one that can truly handle your pain . . . Jesus. Come to Him because you are weary and heavy laden, and He will give you rest. Only He can help you. No one else . . . no drugs, no alcohol . . . Nothing! So, come and draw close to Him and He will draw close to you.

For those who are grieving . . .
Here comes goodby . . .
Dealing with Death . . .
It's hard to see you go . . .
Questions to God . . .
You are not alone . . .
Ask God to talk to your loved one . . .
I will rise . . .

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Latest comments

09.09 | 06:52

Thank you for this! You might enjoy my take on the whole 'Christmas' story, not born on Dec 25th etc,

17.03 | 07:11

Praise God! He is so good to all of us!

16.03 | 22:20

I needed to hear this today. Its been sooo very difficult for a long time honestly asked God if I was the toxic one and just didn't realize it so I could repent

12.01 | 04:32

this is so beautiful and such a testimony to the Lord's healing power and sanctification through our suffering. Much of my walk with Christ is similar to yours.