About Me

South Africa
My husband, Brett and I live in beautiful South Africa and have been blessed with the most precious family. We have 2 very beautiful and brave daughters, Tianna and Angelee and a very precious little boy called Zac who touched our hearts forever in his 1 day here on earth. We never would have imagined that we would have to live this side of Heaven without our sweet boy who was born with half a heart, but every day Jesus carries us through and is teaching us more than ever how to live, laugh and love fully. A year and a half later, our faithful Great Restorer graciously blessed us once again with another son ... our beloved Gabriel ... a ray of sunshine in all our lives! This blog has been a place where I have been able to journal my journey through loss, hope and choosing to live a life rich in love.

Blog Archive

11 December 2011

Dealing with Grief as a Christian

This week took me by surprise. It was intense and emotional in so many ways. It took me by surprise because I could not pin point why it should be such a difficult week. It just was. It's 10 weeks down the road and while I know the amazing comfort of the Lord each day leading me through ... it is none the less a journey of negotiating grief. Today I want to share openly about some of the tough aspects that I am facing as a Christian dealing with grief.
Something that pops up often lately are conversations or statements that lead me to wonder if it is wrong that I am still hurting. Someone stopped me in the shopping mall and said "So are you ok now?" with the rest of the conversation implying if we have "moved on" as a family. This is a conversation that has taken place as soon as 2 weeks from Zac's 'graduation". People are so desperate for you to "be ok". It comes from a place of their love for you to be whole, but it is awkward none the less. I do not know how to respond to a conversation like that, because honestly, no. I'm still very much hurting that I only got to love on my son for 1 day. I'm still missing him so much and having to face the rest of our family memories without him being with us. It hurts and it's hard. The premature death of a child, no matter how long you carried or knew them for is not something that you face, deal with and then move on from. The memory of that precious life is part of your heart forever. I do not ever want to move on passed my love for Zac. Although it is a very painful journey that we have walked, there are still magnificent memories that bring us great joy. Feeling sad that he left us so soon does not take away from the revelation that I have that my precious little boy is well and whole and living in fullness in Heaven, which is a great joy and comfort to me. My hurt and pain does not take away the love and trust that I have in my faithful Saviour who walked us through every moment of this hardship. It does not diminish the faith that I have in a God who is always good even when I do not understand. It simply means that I am a mommy who misses one of her children deeply and that's ok.
Some days I feel sad, because I miss my boy. That does not mean that I am depressed. I am just sad. I am simply just missing my boy. Also taking some time to pull back from what I usually used to do is part of the healing for me. It does not mean that I am never going to be as involved in things that I used to be. It's just being real with my Lord and giving Him the opportunity to restore wholeness to me before I am ready to pour out into others again. For me, it takes courage not to wear a mask or to pretend that everything is ok when I am hurting. I want to be authentic and honest in my journey. I know that my Saviour finds this pleasing - me being vulnerable with Him and allowing Him sole reign to mend the broken places. In allowing Him to work in me, I know that it is just another avenue that He can use in my life to speak hope and life to others. I want every part of my life to be a testimony to His Presence. Even the pain and the mending. I want others to see and know how close Jesus stands to the broken hearted. That nothing that we experience is in vain. 
I want to speak out about the harder aspects of grieving as a Christsian, because many have been hurt as they have grieved. I think that often times people don't know what to do with people who grieve. They don't know what to say or how to respond. This is understandable because death is so foreign to us. Many times people say hurtful things without meaning it, because they just want the grieving person to be "back to normal" because to see their pain hurts. There is also a very big fear in Christian circles that if someone experiences loss, they may loose their faith. Brett and I have found this a lot. People want to know where we stand theologically in the face of our loss. It is my experience that our journey has brought us even closer to the Lord even as we ask Him the tough questions. I experience His presence not only when in worship or reading the Word, but in this season of sitting and crying as  I expose the depths of my heart to Him. He meets me here and is perfecting my faith (Hebrews 12:2)
We are encouraged with the precious words in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 that we do not grieve without hope, because there is a beautiful picture of Eternal life together in Christ. The passage ends off with the words ... "Therefore, comfort one another with these words". Our precious Jesus empathizes with all that we go through. Even though there is the beautiful bigger picture, He still understands that we hurt and long for those we have loved and had to let go of.  That is why He sends to us the Comforter to comfort us and walk us through to a place of healing and peace. "However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you (into close fellowship with you); but if I go away, I will send Him to you (to be in close fellowship with you)". (John 16:7 in the Amplified Bible). That kind of healing takes time and a precious walk with the Comforter. He is quite ok with that. It does not have to be a whirlwind. With each of us He takes the time we need and the time we offer Him to use. In the passage from 1 Thessalonians notice that Paul never said "do not grieve". He said "Do not grieve as those who have no hope". It's when our lives are taken over with a grief that refuses to be consoled and we cease to live that we loose perspective and become consumed in sorrow. This is different from being sad and missing our loved ones.
Even though it has been a tough week, it has been made so much more bearable with the love of my Comforter bringing me perspective and love in the midst of the hurt. Feeling the love of so many people around us has also helped us through this journey and will continue to.  There is beautiful hope in the journey, even though there is also sadness and pain. Acknowledging it is also acknowledging that Jesus walks us through the good and the hard times. This is what our beautiful Saviour has always promised, and He always keeps His promises.
If you are hurting today, please know that you can always write and that I would love to be praying for you too. I can testify to how prayer has carried us through each day.
Much love as always xxx


Anonymous said...

I just want to say "thank you". I too, love the Lord with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul. But, when I lost two babies last yr through miscarriages, my love for Jesus did not stop the hurt I felt or still feel for the two children we loss and are now with Him. My love for Jesus did and does give me hope in the midst of my pain, but again it doesn't stop me from wanting my babies here with me. I know that He is still good and that His plans are not mine and I trust Him, but it still hurts. I too, have heard comments like you have and sadly no one after about a month after my last miscarriage even asks about our children. Like they never existed. I know like you that they don't know how or what to say, but it is sad. It is only in being honest with our hearts that true healing does take place, but when a woman (or man) can't talk about what they are going through without comments like that, how can one continue down the path of healing. I treasure your blog and am so thankful I found you. I am so sorry for your loss, but please know that your honesty and faith in Jesus in the midst of so much pain is helping so many others. Please don't stop. I just forwared your blog to another Mommy who lost two children last yr (one she too got to hold for only a brief moment like you). She, like us, are in alot of pain and there is so much power in being open and honest of where our hearts are. In doing so, we are allowing God to work in and through us. THank you so much again. I have been and am continuing to pray for you and your family. I pray God's peace over you everytime you come into mind. God bless you for being exactly who you are!!!

Carol F said...

Beautiful, Heartfelt blog, my precious Janni - our loss of Zac is deep - He will always be an indelible part of our lives as we remember & honour him X

Francesca said...

The 6th of December 2011 was supposed to be my 25th wedding anniversary but instead it was the first anniversary of my divorce. Was it my fault? Could I have done more to save my marriage? God only knows. And the last week has been very bad for me. I am so sad for all that I have lost- my dreams and hopes of growing old with the love of my life and the father of my 3 kids. The guilt of having to fill in divorced on any form that asks my marital status. I am a Christian and this was not supposed to happen.
But I am also a doctor and I know that healing of physical wounds is not linear. If you think of how a cut heals, first it bleeds, then forms a scab, goes red (medical term is neovascularisation) and then finally started to become of who you are. But I have scars that even years after the injury, they are still tender. And when I bump them, they hurt like the day they happened.
I do not know what the future holds for me and my children but what I do know is that there is a God in heaven and He is good.

Janine said...

Kari - Thank you for sharing your story with me. My heart aches knowing your longing for your 2 precious darlings in Heaven. I so understand what you have shared. No matter how hard it is, I always love talking about my son, especially because he is in Heaven so I understand your pain when you feel like you can't speak about your two darlings. That's why I want to write this blog ... so others can understand how important it is to us for our Heavenly children to be acknowledged. Please know that I am praying for your heart today. Thank you so much for writing to encourage me and also for the way you have prayed for us as a family. Know that I am sending you a HUGE big hug today. I am also praying for your precious friend. Our gracious Saviour has led us across each others paths to comfort and encourage each other. I am so very grateful for that.

Janine said...

Mommy Darling - thank you for the pillar of strength you have always been to me and especially for walking through this year with me. Thank you for always asking me how my heart is doing and for speaking so lovingly about our boy. I love you.

Janine said...

Francesca, my heart ached reading your message. Firstly, please know that I am most certainly praying for your heart today. I watched my precious mom walk down the road of immense loss and pain through divorce so I understand so much of what you expressed. How I wish I could give you a great big hug today and sit and have tea together while you share your heart. I am praying that you will know the love and comfort that only God brings which consoles us when we rage and hurt. I am praying that you will sense how closely He stands tending to your broken heart and standing in the midst of all 3 of your children's lives. I can say with all certainty that Father God tenderly walked me through each process of coming to terms with my parents divorce. He is no respecter of persons. He too is reaching out to you and your children at this time. Sending you so much love today and prayers for comfort and love.

Denise Malafaia Cerqueira said...

Querida Janine!
Hoje não quero falar quero repassar as palavras que são espírito e vida:
"Eu te amarei, ó SENHOR, fortaleza minha.
O SENHOR é o meu rochedo, e o meu lugar forte, e o meu libertador; o meu Deus, a minha fortaleza, em quem confio; o meu escudo, a força da minha salvação, e o meu alto refúgio.
Invocarei o nome do SENHOR, que é digno de louvor, e ficarei livre dos meus inimigos.
Tristezas de morte me cercaram, e torrentes de impiedade me assombraram.
Tristezas do inferno me cingiram, laços de morte me surpreenderam.
Na angústia invoquei ao SENHOR, e clamei ao meu Deus; desde o seu templo ouviu a minha voz, aos seus ouvidos chegou o meu clamor perante a sua face.
Então a terra se abalou e tremeu; e os fundamentos dos montes também se moveram e se abalaram, porquanto se indignou.
Das suas narinas subiu fumaça, e da sua boca saiu fogo que consumia; carvões se acenderam dele.
Abaixou os céus, e desceu, e a escuridão estava debaixo de seus pés.
E montou num querubim, e voou; sim, voou sobre as asas do vento.
Fez das trevas o seu lugar oculto; o pavilhão que o cercava era a escuridão das águas e as nuvens dos céus.
Ao resplendor da sua presença as nuvens se espalharam, e a saraiva e as brasas de fogo.
E o SENHOR trovejou nos céus, o Altíssimo levantou a sua voz; e houve saraiva e brasas de fogo.
Mandou as suas setas, e as espalhou; multiplicou raios, e os desbaratou.
Então foram vistas as profundezas das águas, e foram descobertos os fundamentos do mundo, pela tua repreensão, SENHOR, ao sopro das tuas narinas.
Enviou desde o alto, e me tomou; tirou-me das muitas águas.
Livrou-me do meu inimigo forte e dos que me odiavam, pois eram mais poderosos do que eu.
Surpreenderam-me no dia da minha calamidade; mas o SENHOR foi o meu amparo.
Trouxe-me para um lugar espaçoso; livrou-me, porque tinha prazer em mim.
Recompensou-me o SENHOR conforme a minha justiça, retribuiu-me conforme a pureza das minhas mãos.
Porque guardei os caminhos do SENHOR, e não me apartei impiamente do meu Deus.
Porque todos os seus juízos estavam diante de mim, e não rejeitei os seus estatutos.
Também fui sincero perante ele, e me guardei da minha iniqüidade.
Assim que retribuiu-me o SENHOR conforme a minha justiça, conforme a pureza de minhas mãos perante os seus olhos.
Com o benigno te mostrarás benigno; e com o homem sincero te mostrarás sincero;
Com o puro te mostrarás puro; e com o perverso te mostrarás indomável.
Porque tu livrarás o povo aflito, e abaterás os olhos altivos.
Porque tu acenderás a minha candeia; o SENHOR meu Deus iluminará as minhas trevas.
Porque contigo entrei pelo meio duma tropa, com o meu Deus saltei uma muralha.
O caminho de Deus é perfeito; a palavra do SENHOR é provada; é um escudo para todos os que nele confiam.
Porque quem é Deus senão o SENHOR? E quem é rochedo senão o nosso Deus?
Deus é o que me cinge de força e aperfeiçoa o meu caminho.
Faz os meus pés como os das cervas, e põe-me nas minhas alturas.
Ensina as minhas mãos para a guerra, de sorte que os meus braços quebraram um arco de cobre.
Também me deste o escudo da tua salvação; a tua mão direita me susteve, e a tua mansidão me engrandeceu.
Alargaste os meus passos debaixo de mim, de maneira que os meus artelhos não vacilaram."
Salmos 18:1-36
Para vocês a paz que excede a todo entendimento, em Cristo!

Anonymous said...

Janine, your blogs inspire me! So much of what you have written i can identify with. I think people try to 'fix' our grief by telling us how to grieve or expecting us to 'get over things and feel better soon' but everyone is different and grieves in different ways! Grief is a journey and uunfortunately when a person is grieving there is no way to fast track or walk around it!
I thank God for the people around us helping us through our grief and I'm grateful for the people that I know God has put in our life to help walk the road with!

My heart aches this christmas time with no children to buy presents for - I so wish I had each one of my children with me. I always feel the loss in my heart even if its a good family day! I miss my babies immensly!
Sending yyou lots of love janine!!
Love sandi