Finding Hope in Grief, April 18

My husband David introduced me to Cecil Murphey’s book “90 Minutes in Heaven.” The very last book David held in his hands was the same author’s “Getting to Heaven.” On the day my husband died, a check from Cecil Murphey for an essay I wrote arrived in my mailbox. On the night of my husband’s wake, I received word I’d won a Cecil Murphey scholarship to a writer’s conference that would take place on what would have been mine and David’s 34th wedding anniversary. Six months after Cecil and I finally met at another writer’s conference, Cec lost his wife of nearly sixty years, and I began writing him letters, sharing pieces of the book he would later write a foreword for. Now, four years after my husband’s death, I will be speaking with the mentor who became my friend.

Cec and Me grief poster


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Why Speak of Grief?

I’ve been speaking on grief since March 2013, when I stood in front of three different church congregations to explain why I was beginning a Bible Study. Since then, I’ve spoken to as few as five and as many as 150 grieving people in a single room. The numbers don’t matter, because sometimes I am well aware that I might be called there for a single suffering soul.

Why did I begin speaking on grief and loss on that March weekend that heralded the one-year anniversary of the loss that cut me to the bone, my husband David’s death? At the time, the impetus was a certainty that if I was looking for something my church didn’t offer, there surely would be others looking for the same thing, and I was right. Fifty people signed up for that initial Bible study.

I began speaking because it helped me. I continued because it helped others.

2 Corinthians 1:4 “Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (NIV)

In the last three years, I discovered something truly amazing, considering I’d spent much of my adult life raising babies and hiding from the outside world. God can use me. Not only that, he would give me the tools to reach the hearts of his people; my writing and speaking. I don’t kid myself; when someone compliments an article I’ve been inspired to write, or approaches me after a speech I was led to change just ten minutes before hitting the podium, to tell me I’d said exactly what they needed to hear, I know, without a doubt~ it isn’t me.

Which is why I believe ten of my devotions were accepted for a 2013 Zondervan Hope in the Mourning Grief Bible, when I’d never written a devotion before in my life.

Hope in the Mourning

Or why my present job as a newspaper reporter might mean I uncover stories behind the stories; an elderly gentleman whose voice catches and tears spring to his eyes when I ask about his family, because he lost his wife six years ago. Or the hesitation and pained look I instantly recognize with the simple question “How many children do you have?” There are hurting people everywhere. Grief is universal, and it doesn’t end at ten months, or one year, or in the case of elderly women who hugged my daughter tightly to them at her son’s wake, with a haunted look I would come to recognize~ not even 40 years after a loss of a child.

I cannot tell you how often one speaker, one inspiring passage from a book, a single Bible verse or devotion, or a friend who remained when others moved on, made a difference in my own journey of grief. It is up to each of us to do whatever we can to lift each other; to help each other HOME. I will continue to speak on grief for as long as I can make a difference.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (NIV)

Finding Hope and Healing in Grief Presentation

Thursday, January 28, 6:00-8:00 p.m. at United Methodist Church, 413 East Butler St., Manchester

A new year brings the promise of possibility, but when we are grieving a loved one, it can feel like just another year “without.” Without that face across the dining room table, or that hand to hold. Mary Potter Kenyon intimately understands grief; in the space of three years she lost a mother, husband, and grandson. Mary will be speaking on finding hope and healing in the midst of loss. Through journaling, Bible study, prayer, studying the science of grief, and reaching out to others through a “random act of kindness” project, Mary forged a path of healing that can encourage and inspire those who are grieving. Mary is the author of the award-winning “Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace” and has done grief presentations at Shalom, Dubuque and Monticello Hospice, Compassionate Friends National conference, and churches throughout Iowa. She is a reporter with the Manchester Press. City of Manchester “random acts of kindness” cards will be available at the presentation for those who wish to carry out their own project of reaching out to others.

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