Today is July 1, 2018. As ten-year-old Henry and I worked on his 4-H project this evening he began asking questions about his biological dad. I did what I always try to do, give honest, age-appropriate answers. I want to help heal a broken heart.
Tough Conversations About the Death of A Parent?
Henry asked, “Wasn’t I only like 2 months old when he died?”
I replied, “Yes, you were really young, four months old.”
Henry continued, “Didn’t he live for Jesus?”
I responded, “Yes he did. He lived a life of faith, he read the Bible and prayed and he had a personal relationship with Jesus while here on earth.”
Henry kept going, he obviously had a lot on his mind about the topic, “Don’t you wish he was still here?”
I patiently explained, “It’s too difficult for any of us to understand why he isn’t here, but I know that he isn’t. I think we have to accept that. We have a choice in every situation, get better or get bitter. Make excuses or do better. Write a victim story and hang on to it, or we can move forward.”
It’s bedtime so we move to his bed to pray, but he has more questions. “What do you think our life would be like if my dad Joe didn’t marry you and Caitlyn wasn’t born?”
I’m grateful that this thought occurs to him, so I reply, “Do you remember life feeling really good and full before the baby was born?” He answered, “Yes.” So I continued, “Well every person we’ve gotten to add to our lives makes our lives more full, even with the baby, when we didn’t know anything was missing. The people and good relationships in our lives are gifts from God.”
We discuss how:
-Our words can make others feel
-We shouldn’t be offended by words others use so easily
-All people have flaws, no human is perfect
-Relationships are about give and take, we can’t just take and expect life to go well
-Our life has changed since my job has changed
-Life is much easier life with two parents
How to Pray with a Kid
Then Henry lists several ways that Joe makes our life better. He opens our prayer by thanking God for Joe and Caitlyn and the rest of our family. He thanks God for his dad Mark. He prays for all of us.
I pray for our family and thank God for the blessings He’s showered us with. I pray for Henry to continually grow closer in his relationship with God.
We shed tears together in God’s presence. I believe the Holy Spirit was there collecting them, saving them to grow something beautiful later – thought developed from The Shack.
How to Heal a Broken Heart
These are tough conversations. Opening up is difficult, but we’ve found strength in God to do the tough stuff. The tough stuff has softened our hearts and led us to people and places and created some of the most beautiful relationships and experiences that someone could have here on earth.
I believe the energy used in pain can be worked through and turned into something good, or it can paralyze us. I believe God didn’t cause Mark’s accident, the devil did because we live in a fallen world that began falling when sin entered the world in the garden of Eden.
I believe that it’s very difficult to work through the stages of grief, but if we try to push the feelings aside or skip any stages we won’t become healthy and whole. Healing is a process. I believe we will not be able to function at full capacity with discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder in our hearts. I love getting things done (and growing closer to God), so I want to operate at full capacity with the fruits of the spirit in my heart: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.
I hate the saying “Time heals.” I don’t believe time heals. I believe God heals.
I believe people hurt us both inadvertently and purposefully, especially broken people. But I firmly believe God can use any of it for good. I try to extend grace when people say crazy stuff to me, but dang is it hard! Of course, I mess up and then I try to give myself grace and keep moving forward.
My heart has been softened to be much more empathetic of other people and their challenges. Through this vulnerability, I’ve opened up to and built relationships with people I wouldn’t even have liked ten years ago.
How to Get Through Life As a Widow
What I put in my schedule, ears and mind have a HUGE impact on what is in my heart and what comes out of my mouth. What is in my heart and on my tongue has had a huge impact on my children. So I put reading the Bible, prayer, church and time with Godly friends on my schedule and Christian music and positive things in my ears.
The Bible has sustained me. Reading the Bible and taking the time to grow in prayer is critical. When I was in survival mode maybe I could only read one verse of scripture and pray one sentence per day, but God blesses that time and energy and gives you more. As I got more energy, I spent more of it studying scripture and praying.
Do I struggle, do I mess up all of the time? Absolutely, because I’m human! Everyone falls down, but what defines us is how quickly we get back up and how we handle ourselves in the process.
I have surrounded myself by people who love and serve God and tried to regularly study the Bible. I continually mess up, but I continually try to circle back to what has sustained me, God, His word, and His people. I’ve learned to identify impure thoughts and I’m blessed to continue to have a support system that I can call and ask for help to work through thoughts and situations. I call people that I know will make me better and guide me towards God. Even when I know their recommendations won’t be easy. Healing isn’t easy, but it’s worth the time and work to experience a much fuller life than I ever knew was possible.
Here are other articles that I wrote related to this topic that I hope you find encouraging:
How to Help Grieving People Become Healthy & Whole
Here are referral links to resources that I’ve read and gained from in the healing process:
Book: The Shack
Book: God Meant it For Good
Book We’re Reading Aloud to Our Family Right Now: Prince Warriors
I’ve done several Bible Studies authored by Beth Moore . I love her heart and her encouragement!
This is such an inspiration and encouraging post. Your faith is shining like a ray of sunshine and is touching everyone and everything. I will be praying for you and your beautiful family that he may bless you and continue to give you the courage and strength.
Thank you for writing this down and sharing, Jennifer. You’re such a light for the Lord and your faith, obedience & spirit-filled parenting is such a huge inspiration!