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Broken Crayons Still Color

Wednesday May 3, 2017

I think there is a lesson about grief to be learned from crayons bent by heat and broken by pressure. Broken crayons still color and broken people are still useful.


Broken Together

Wednesday May 3, 2017

On April 1, 2015, my grandmother passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure. I was awakened by a telephone call early in the morning, with a message that everyone dreads.


Grief Is Like a Cross Stitch

Friday March 31, 2017

As I think about loss and loneliness, I am reminded of the cross stitch that I enjoy working on from time to time. I like to compare loss and loneliness to the darker colors of the fabric that encircle the masterpiece I am trying so desperately to create.


When the Music Stops

Friday March 31, 2017

My mother's Hammond special anniversary-edition organ and its company of worn hymnals have faithfully occupied the corner of my small living room for almost five years. The greatest shame is not the dust it collects. The greatest shame is that it never makes a sound.


Looking for a City, Life in the Light

Thursday March 2, 2017

What will life in the light be like? It will be heaven on earth.


Why Wasn’t Loved One Healed?

Thursday March 2, 2017

Did God bring healing? Yes, He chose to heal in a different manner than perhaps expected, but He did heal!


Looking for a City, Land of Our Dreams

Friday January 27, 2017

Scripture teaches that our wildest imaginations can't compare to what's waiting for us.


Handling Grief on Valentine’s Day

Friday January 27, 2017

You carry your loved one's heart with you wherever you go, within your own heart. Celebrate that love, for it was truly better to have had their loving presence for a short while than to have never had it at all.


A Different Kind of Valentine’s Day

Friday January 27, 2017

Valentine's Day is often overlooked as a difficult holiday to get through after the loss of a spouse or significant other. For a new widow or widower, the day that seems reserved for couples-only can be especially hard. While it's true that you won't celebrate the same way you always have, Valentine's Day doesn't have to be about romantic love, and it doesn't have to be a holiday exclusively for couples. It provides an opportunity to express love and appreciation to those around you.


Looking for a City, Longing for Home

Monday January 2, 2017

The sun splashed an abstract portrait of orange and purple onto the skyline as night prepared to close the curtain on another day. My long-awaited vacation had arrived, yet a faint voice still whispered I had not.My heart knew what my mind refused to concede. Paradise was at my fingertips but home was still out of reach.


Grandma's Gifts

Monday January 2, 2017

New York City's Times Square—Confetti is falling, horns are blaring, and people are cheering as the countdown to the start of another year begins: "Five. Four. Three. Two. One. HAPPY NEW YEAR!"  The big glittering ball drops 2016 to its resting place in history as strains of "Auld Lang Syne" (translated to mean "Days of Long Ago") are heard throughout the crowd. But in your heart, there are no cheers, no confetti, and no singing. Your loved one died, and you feel as if the "ball" landed on your chest, taking away your breath. What can you do to find courage for a new year, to face each day with assurance?


Celebrating Old Memories in the New Year

Monday January 2, 2017

As we move into the New Year, we always think about resolutions that we promise to accomplish. However, many people forget their resolutions after January. Resolutions, as they say, are "a dime a dozen," but when we look back over the past year, we recognize that people are not.


How to Know When a Child Is Grieving

Monday January 2, 2017

Quite often, adults are afraid to discuss death and dying with children due to fear that it will make them sad or upset. I have found that sharing information with a soft language and at a level that children can understand actually alleviates their fears and enables them to adapt to the situation more readily.     


Welcome Home

Tuesday December 13, 2016

True to my story of arriving home safely from the dark night of travel in the main streets of my Florida hometown, we are also promised to arrive safely on the other side of our dark night of the soul.


The Empty Chair

Tuesday December 13, 2016

It's Christmas Day and there’s an empty chair at the table.


Rejoice!

Tuesday December 13, 2016

At Christmas time, especially, I think it is challenging to rejoice when we are experiencing the heaviness of grief. 


When Grief Hits the Holidays

Tuesday December 13, 2016

Ah, the holidays. When someone mentions "the holidays," I bet your mind immediately goes to the time between November and January. For most people, this is a period of time devoted to family, people we love, and celebrations. What if this upcoming holiday season won't bring those things? What if this upcoming holiday season means a series of firsts without your wife, son, sister, or any other person whom you loved deeply?


A Thanksgiving Dilemma

Tuesday November 1, 2016

The way each family celebrates a holiday after the death of a loved one is up to them. What works for one family may not work for another family. The best thing to do is to talk with your relatives, let them know what you can and cannot do this year.


Giving Thanks in All Circumstances

Tuesday November 1, 2016

On days when life runs smoothly, I find it easy to praise God for all the glorious things that He does. On days when things don't go according to my plan, I'm learning how far I still have to go. I have found this to be especially true when grieving the loss of a loved one.


Alone Together

Tuesday November 1, 2016

Grief can feel like a sentence to solitary confinement. But do not fall for that misconception. You are not alone.


My Mother's Eyes

Monday October 10, 2016

My mother's birthday was last week. As has become the norm for me, I spent the weeks leading up to the day remembering her death. She has been gone for five years now. Five years seems like a lifetime and only yesterday all at the same time.


What Now?

Monday October 10, 2016

As I have experienced during my own losses and have seen with friends' and patients' families, I think the most difficult time comes after the memorials are finished.


Beautiful in Its Time

Tuesday September 13, 2016

God has created our world in such a way that we have seasonal changes. We begin to feel a coolness in the air, and the leaves begin to change their colors and eventually fall to the ground, leading into the chill of winter. Grief is much like this in our lives.


The Spiritual Dimension of Health Care

Tuesday September 13, 2016

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn." From this we can see that Jesus congratulated those whose sensitivity to loss and pain makes it possible for them to mourn. The emotions of grief and loss are authentic and appropriate responses to death and tragedy.


Helping a Spouse through the Grieving Process

Tuesday September 13, 2016

When our spouse is sick or injured, we try to help them and provide assistance in their journey to getting well. Some things come naturally for us as wives and husbands, like preparing soup or helping with daily activities. However, there are some situations where the ways to support our spouse are not as black-and-white.


I Want a Paved Road!

Tuesday August 9, 2016

I think of my daughter every single day. I miss her every single day. It is different now than in the beginning. In the beginning, I felt as if I were walking barefoot on an old country gravel road. I never knew when a sharp rock of grief was going to pop up and tear open a new wound.


Digging Deep

Tuesday August 9, 2016

It can be quite frightening to explore the recesses of your mind and talk about what you find. However, if you intend to make any real progress in your grief work, it is a necessary task. Only then can you can learn the truth that is buried underneath the surface of your thoughts.


What Being a Chaplain Taught Me about Grief

Tuesday August 9, 2016

As a chaplain who has worked in hospitals, hospice, rehabilitation/skilled facilities, and retirement facilities, I have come in contact with many individuals experiencing loss and grief. Along the way, I have learned a few things that I would like to share about how individuals experience grief.


Perchance to Dream

Thursday July 14, 2016

I have a recurring dream. Each time, its setting is different, but the ending is always the same.


Putting the Pieces Back Together

Wednesday July 13, 2016

When I see the plate, it reminds me of my grandmother and the special relationship I had with her. But the plate has additional significance for me as well...


Shut the Door Behind You When You Go

Friday June 10, 2016

Box up everything you want to keep and then say goodbye — not goodbye to him, but goodbye to that small cell that has held your life for ransom for so long, and then shut the door behind you when you go.


Telling Your Story

Friday June 10, 2016

Do you ever feel like people are tired of hearing you talk about your loved one and telling your story?


My Nana's Anger

Friday June 10, 2016

My grandmother was the sweetest woman I had ever known until after Papa died. A couple of weeks after his death, Nana changed. She became an ill-tempered woman who was very angry at Papa — angry that he died.


Ask the Staff: Length of the Grieving Process?

Friday May 13, 2016

How long does the grieving process last?


Stuff

Friday May 13, 2016

One of the most common themes in conversations with grieving people is the question, "What do I do with my loved one's stuff?" It seems that most of us are left with not only our loved ones' personal objects, but also emotional items as well.


A Primer on Grief

Friday May 13, 2016

Dealing effectively and positively with grief caused by such a loss is important to your recovery process as well as your ability to continue with and fulfill your own life for the better.


Grief Support for Mother’s Day

Saturday May 7, 2016

Mother's Day can be a difficult day for some, from a child who has lost their mother to a mother who has lost her child. Here are five recent articles that we hope will provide comfort.


Finding Motivation While Grieving

Monday April 11, 2016

The loss of motivation is one of the most common aspects of grief. It is challenging to continue our normal routines and daily activities when our hearts and minds just don’t feel up to it.


Discovering the Mystery of God in Pain & Suffering

Sunday April 10, 2016

There is one concern that surfaces quite often, regardless of whether it is voiced out loud: "Where is God in all of this?" Some try to offer answers quickly, but those answers may not be sufficient for us. It is hard to live in the mystery of God because we have to deal with questions like: Is God only what our theologies say God can be? Can God only work like we think God should act?


Ask the Staff: Loved Ones Look Down from Heaven?

Sunday April 10, 2016

Do our loved ones look down on us from Heaven?


The Butterfly in Spring

Thursday March 31, 2016

As spring approaches, I think about the pretty butterflies I often see flying around. Butterflies have long been known as a symbol of rebirth, renewal, and happiness. They remind us of how beautiful, delicate, and fragile life is. They also teach us to appreciate our loved ones and to be grateful for every moment we have with them.


Understanding Your Grief

Tuesday March 1, 2016

Grieving is one of the most unique experiences we endure throughout our lives. We not only grieve our loved ones, we grieve during our own dying experience. Bereavement brings along confusing and conflicting emotions such as helplessness, worry, fear, guilt, failure, relief, happiness, and sadness. We feel overwhelmed, as if the world has crumbled at our feet. The relationship that we had has ended and we are displaced from a role that is important to us. There is a hole in our being that yearns for our loved one.


Will We Know Our Loved Ones in Heaven?

Tuesday March 1, 2016

Will we know our loved ones in Heaven?


When Grief Is Complicated by Mental Illness

Tuesday March 1, 2016

Rarely does anything in life happen in isolation. Most of us are juggling multiple things at any given time. This is also true of the grief process. We are not afforded the luxury of having the world around us come to a stop while we mourn our loss. This includes our inner world as well.


The Importance of Self-Care

Friday February 19, 2016

Self-care is often an overlooked aspect of your needs when you are involved in caregiving and grieving your loss. You may have been so busy that you didn’t even give self-care a thought. But now as your life is changing and the pace is slowing down, you may be experiencing some clues from your body, mind and spirit that it is time to pay attention to yourself.


Ask the Staff: Scripture for Grief

Friday February 19, 2016

What are your favorite Bible verses for providing comfort to those who are grieving?


Ali Benjamin on "The Thing About Jellyfish"

Tuesday February 16, 2016

Author Ali Benjamin speaks about her New York Times bestseller The Thing About Jellyfish, in which a grief-stricken 12-year-old sets out to find the cause of her best friend's death.


Happy Is the One Who Grieves Aloud

Monday January 18, 2016

While delivering His Sermon on the Mount in a section known as the Beatitudes, Jesus said, "Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted." This statement seemingly contains both a paradox and a promise.


Ask the Staff: Winter Grief

Monday January 18, 2016

How do I survive through the winter months with my grief?


How to Know When a Child Is Grieving

Monday January 18, 2016

When working with children, I will quite often use a workbook that illustrates the four seasons, discussing how each season relates to the different phases of life. The children always catch on very quickly and are eager to point out the similarities. I enjoy working with them for this reason.


When Grief Hits the Holidays

Wednesday December 23, 2015

When someone mentions "the holidays," I bet your mind immediately goes to the time between November and January. For most people, this is a period of time devoted to family, people we love, and celebrations. What if this upcoming holiday season won’t bring those things? What if this upcoming holiday season means a series of firsts without your wife, son, sister, or any other person whom you loved deeply?


Ask the Staff: Finding the Light at Christmas

Wednesday December 23, 2015

How can I celebrate and be festive during Christmas when I have lost a loved one this year?


Changes

Wednesday December 23, 2015

At this time of the year, we are ever aware of the changes that are occurring around us. How quickly the months pass us by. Then comes the cooler weather, rain, wind, falling leaves and, of course, snow. All of this makes us feel cold and raw, like our emotions when experiencing a loss.


The Nose Knows

Wednesday November 25, 2015

Sights, sounds, and smells that we associate with people are parts of everyday life. Many times, we don't pay much attention to them until a family member or friend is no longer with us. It is during our grieving that certain senses are heightened and come to the forefront, and we feel as though we are not normal. We are. We simply want to be close to our dads, moms, sons, daughters, spouses, or friends, and that is okay.


"Never"-Lists and Freedom from the Ultimate Fail

Wednesday November 25, 2015

Receive wisdom from the "Never"-lists, but don't let them paralyze you ever again!


Ask the Staff: Thankful for the Memories

Wednesday November 25, 2015

At this time of the year, when everyone is thinking about being thankful, what do I have to be thankful for since my loved one has died?


Tammy McDonald on "Conquering the Grief That Stole Christmas"

Monday November 23, 2015

Certified Life Coach Tammy McDonald shares why she wrote Conquering the Grief That Stole Christmas and the importance of rebuilding one's life after loss


Hospice Headlines: Nov. 15-21, 2015

Sunday November 22, 2015

Noteworthy articles on health care and grief support from this week.


Dwight Fletcher talks "Time on the Cross"

Wednesday November 18, 2015

Author and Spearfish, Inc. CEO Dwight Fletcher talks about his debut book, Time on the Cross: A Father's Tribute, detailing the all-too-brief life of his son Brian and the grief that followed.


Hospice Headlines: Nov. 8–14, 2015

Saturday November 14, 2015

Noteworthy articles on health care and grief support from this week.


Ask the Staff: The Angry Side of Grief

Monday November 9, 2015

Q. I’m angry all the timeangry at friends, angry at God, angry at myself, and even angry at my deceased loved one. I want to blame someone for my loved one’s death, but I don’t know who. What can I do to resolve this?


Hospice Headlines: Nov. 1 - 7, 2015

Saturday November 7, 2015

Noteworthy articles on health care and grief support from this week.


Sheila Hamilton on "All the Things We Never Knew"

Monday November 2, 2015

Journalist and radio personality Sheila Hamilton kindly participated in an email interview with Mountain Valley Hospice, to reflect on her new book, All the Things We Never Knew, as well as grief in general.


Hospice Headlines: Oct. 25 - 31, 2015

Friday October 30, 2015

Noteworthy articles on health care and grief support from this week.


It’s Not About Being a Perfect Griever

Tuesday October 27, 2015

After being in the bereavement field for more than two years, I don’t know how many times I have heard, “Am I doing this right?”, “Am I grieving the right way?” or “How do I compare to others?” There is no right or wrong answer to these questions, for we all grieve in our own way and in our own time. [Continued...]


Gifts of Healing

Tuesday September 1, 2015

My grandmother, Mary, was a beautiful woman who always had time — time for her children, friends, and grandchildren (all 26 of them). [Continued...]


Ask the Staff: Relief after Caregiving?

Tuesday September 1, 2015

Q: I cared for my spouse night and day for several years. It was a full-time job without pay or vacation time. My heart ached as I watched him suffer. I loved — and still love — him with all my heart. So, imagine my shock that when he passed away, my first feelings were those of relief. Was that a normal reaction? [Continued...]