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I was frantically screaming for help but to no avail, the tape on my mouth was so tight it muffled the sound.  The ropes that bound my wrists and feet were tight and I couldn’t break free.  I couldn’t see who had kidnapped me but I was desperately trying to get loose.  I was crying and so frightened I could feel my heart racing.    I finally wiggled a hand free and ripped the tape off of my mouth and the words that had been desperately trying to come out, finally did – “Jeff!!!!  Jeff!!!!  Help me!

The sound of my own voice woke me up from a dead sleep that involved a very realistic and scary kidnapping – MY OWN!  To my relief, I realized it was just a nightmare.  As I started to calm down, I looked around trying to get my bearings.  My bedroom was dark.  From the soft glow of the outdoor light shining through the slats of the blinds, I could see that I was safe in my bed.  As I looked over to the other side of the bed to see if I had wakened Jeff with my screams, I could see the blankets neatly covering the bed and the decorative pillows filled the empty spot where I had tossed them the night before.  The empty spot where Jeff used to lay – until 2 years and 10 months ago when cancer claimed him.  I was awake now and reality once again came flooding in as if it was all brand new to relive yet again as I have done so many times before, and I succumbed to the tears.  Jeff wasn’t there to console me after my nightmare like he used to.

Grief is such a crazy thing.  You never know when something will trigger or set off a bump in the road of your new life – life with grief.   A random song. A funny joke. A certain smell.  The taste of a favorite food.  Being wakened from a deep sleep by a nightmare and needing consoled.  When birthdays, anniversaries and holidays roll around, you know it is going to be difficult and you brace yourself and try to get through it the best you can.  But it is the random “out of the blue” everyday ordinary life incidents that are the hardest from which to regain your composure.

So here are some things that have helped me with grief in these last almost three years:

  1.   GOD.  God has been my strength and comfort through every dark and also every happy hour.  I seriously don’t know how I could have made it through all of this grief without my faith and love for God. Make sure you are nurturing your relationship with Him!
  2.  Play good godly music that will minister to your soul.  I played music from the Rasquinha sisters and the Clark family a lot while Jeff was in the hospital and all these months and years after.  My son-in-law Mark, has since made a CD that can be heard often in this house and has been a blessing to those that have bought one.  (If you would like to get one of Mark’s CD’s, just email him at:  mcelreaths@me.com for info)
  3.  The audio Bible is another huge blessing.  A sweet friend brought us the Bible on CD in the hospital and I love to listen to that.  I have also found a free app called “Bible.is” that I use daily.  I turn it on when I am in bed and listen to it for hours.  I am an audio learner so it helps me focus! (It is also wonderful to listen to after waking up from your own kidnapping nightmare!!!)
  4.  Focus on others.  When you are down in the dumps and grief gets overwhelming, turn your attention to serving others.  Sometimes when we are ministering to others, it is the perfect way to minister to ourselves!
  5. Prayer – prayer changes things and sometimes that thing is YOU!  Often when I am dealing with the overwhelming grief or stress, I spend time praying for both myself and others.  It is very soothing and calming to spend time talking with God, telling Him how we are feeling.  He is our refuge and strength.

I often say that widowhood isn’t for the faint of heart.  Grieving is a process.  I choose to grieve with a purpose.  I don’t let myself wallow in grief and crying for hours on end, because I know it won’t make me feel better.  I have tried it.  It gives me a headache.  And my eyes hurt.  And I look absolutely dreadful with bloodshot and puffy eyes.  After a good cry, I use these aforementioned things to help me through the times where grief feels overwhelming.  May God give you grace and sweet peace as you walk this journey called grief.

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