Honest Grief – Guest Post

grief, guest blog, emotions, #inspirationEvery person faces grief in their life. Some are thrust into the deepest, darkest parts of the valley of the shadow of death as they deal with life-altering losses. Serenity McLean is one of those people. With a background in adult education, she wrote Honest Grief to support others in their own unique journey through the valley. She’s my guest blogger today.

Without going into a lot of detail, I’ve lived through three years of loss. No aspect of my life was left untouched by the devastation. I hardly caught my breath from one major loss when the next hit. After three or four, I found it more difficult to get back up and carry on. After eight or nine, my life was a shambles and I was ready to just stay crumpled in a fetal position.

I’ve heard a lot of advice from well-meaning people about what grief should look like. From my perspective of walking in the deepest parts of the valley of the shadow of death, loss and grief, I wonder if many have become caught up in the happy-at-all-costs craze. In today’s instant gratification society, people expect instant happiness. Just look at the popularity of the song Happy – you know the one, “clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.” Having dealt with a lot of grief, I can honestly say happiness is not the truth. Don’t be fooled into believing a person is failing at life because of an absence of happy while grieving.

The truth is, life is not sunshine and unicorns every day. Most of us will deal with a loss of some significance, and it takes time to come to terms with the pain, anguish, sorrow, regret, remorse, anger, hopelessness, helplessness, and a myriad of very honest and real emotions. In fact, there are more than three dozen challenging emotions common to someone grieving. None of these can be dealt with in three bereavement days. When they all come at once it’s going to take a lot of time and work to address what I call grief stew. There is a road through grief to peace. It just takes time to forge a path through the chaos and turmoil. It simply takes time to seal up the wounds of a broken heart.

So next time your friend experiences the death of their loved one, don’t expect them to find their way out of that valley of the shadow of death quickly. Be gentle with them in their sorrow, because they are being refined. Sorrow is one of the most difficult things we humans can deal with. Be patient with your friend. It takes a long time to complete the journey through that dark and lonely valley. Grief can require months, even years to work through. When your friend emerges from the valley, they will carry deep scars, but they will be exquisitely beautiful. They will be a person of fortitude. They will be someone worth knowing.

One of the best things (and hardest things) you can do for your grieving friend is to stay close. Now more than ever they need a steady true friend. When many disappear because they fear the unhappiness, you can accept this is their journey and remain their friend.

Serenity McLean, the author of five Christian fiction novels, just released Honest Grief, a not-so-ordinary guidebook to surviving the abyss.

The Win in the Loss

#God, #inspiration,loveThe decision was out of my control and the pressure I felt was entirely self-imposed.

When I first learned my book was a finalist for an award I was overwhelmed. Gratitude to God was present in the tears that flowed. He had blessed me for heeding his call on my life.

I’ve just returned from the Word Awards in Toronto. As the time grew closer for the winner to be announced my thoughts changed. They became more about me than the opportunity to serve God by sharing the words he’s given me to write.

If I wasn’t the winner, would that make me a loser? Would I be a disappointment to those that have cheered me on?

It wasn’t until someone else’s name was called that I realized it doesn’t take an award to make me a winner. The outpouring of love, support and positive comments I received from family and friends washed over me like a healing balm. To them and to God, I was still a winner.

You see, I let it become about me when it was never supposed to be. In the Bible it says:”If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.” I firmly believe it is the same for those who write.
The words God has given me to write are not for my benefit alone. The goal is to inspire others and point them to him. This is for his glory, not mine. To know I am doing what God wants me to is greater than any other reward.

My heart was not ready to receive an outside award. When I am completely surrendered to him and his calling on my life and not concerned about outside validation I will be ready. I don’t know when that day will come, but for now I thank him for loving me enough to keep me humble.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV)

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:5-6 NIV)