Hope and Healing~

Are there books you have purchased multiple copies of, just to give away to others?  Two immediately come to mind for me; I’ve purchased extra copies of Angela Miller’s You are the Mother of All Mothers for mothers who are grieving the loss of a child, and also the Zondervan Hope in the Mourning Bible.  

hope-in-the-mourning

Yesterday’s mail brought what was probably the tenth copy I’ve purchased of this book. It seems like I’m always giving my copy away to someone I think needs it. Not only is it is my favorite version of the Bible (NIV), but the devotionals interspersed throughout are uplifting and inspiring. The only thing that would make it better is if it was softcover, because I prefer softcover Bibles.

The morning my husband died, I knew I needed two things; heart-felt praying, and God’s word. And yet, I wasn’t sure how to find either. I prayed for guidance, and God did not fail me. He brought the right people into my life; those who consistently and fervently prayed for me, and a young woman (who’s since become my daughter-in-law), who sent me notebook pages full of Bible verses. Also, just a few weeks after I lost my husband, I was asked to write some devotionals for a grief Bible. In order to write those eleven devotionals, I had to learn how to study the Bible for answers.

Bible devotional.jpg

In the meantime, I was writing and blogging about the dark path of loss that resulted in an incredible  journey of faith. Hope in the Mourning was released in 2013, the same year my book, Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace was released.

Writing, whether it was journaling, blogging, or working on articles and books, was very healing for me. I have since studied the science behind expressive writing for healing, and find it fascinating. A writer by trade, it seemed only natural that I’d chosen writing as my choice of therapy. Sometimes, I flip through the pages of the journal I began writing in the day after my husband’s death, and though it hurts to revisit that extraordinary pain I was experiencing then, I can see how the act of writing my way through grief may have saved me.

journals
James Pennebaker, a professor at the University of TX, has spent the last 40 years studying the link between writing and emotional processing. He’s studied those suffering from cancer, illness, and loss, dividing study participants into two groups: one that would write about emotionally charged topics, and the other about common, everyday things, for just 20 minutes a day for 3-4 days. In each study, he found that the people writing about emotionally-charged episodes experienced marked improvement in their physical and mental well-being. They were happier, less depressed, less anxious. In the months following the writing sessions, they had lower blood pressure, improved immune function, and fewer visits to the doctor. They also reported better relationships, improved memory and more success at work.

This is the research behind my two newest projects; I’ve signed a book contract for a journal for those mourning the loss of a loved one, and I’ve devised a workshop to help guide those who are just getting started in journaling, or who want to utilize expressive writing to help work their way through painful experiences. I presented the “Expressive Writing for Healing” workshop at the Heal Your Grief retreat in October, and hope to present it at other conferences. Besides these two projects, next month I’m registered to attend a workshop for those who work with the bereaved.

Because I’ve discovered something else, besides writing, promotes emotional healing~ helping others.

 

Book Review: When Your Soulmate Dies

“As I’ve said, the stronger the attachment in life, the stronger the resulting grief when the attachment is broken. The grand language soulmates use to describe their relationships tells me that soulmate love is larger than life. The consequence is that soulmate grief is also larger than life. Which brings me to the real question of this book. How do you heal such legendary grief? And the answer is: You mourn as you loved-grandly and deeply. You mourn heroically.”

I found myself nodding in agreement at these words from page 46 of Alan D. Wolfelt‘s “When Your Soulmate Dies: A Guide to Healing Through Heroic Mourning.” And then there was this:

“To be truly helpful, the people in your support system must appreciate the impact this death has had on you. They must understand that in order to heal, you must be allowed-even encouraged- to mourn long after the death. And they must encourage you to see mourning not as an enemy to be vanquished but as a necessity to be experienced as a result of having loved.” (page 126)

Soulmate cover

Yes, I’m immersing myself in the study of grief again, or maybe I never really left it. Look at my recent reads on my Goodreads profile, and you’ll see an awful lot of non-fiction books related to grief, illness, and loss. What might seem an unhealthy obsession to some, could be explained as research for the book proposal I’ve been working on, or as part of my training in bereavement to help others. I’ll be teaching an expressive writing through healing seminar at the Heal Your Grief event I’m coordinating for October. So reading about journaling and other ways of healing just makes sense.

I would have loved to have read this book shortly after David died. I think it would have been a tremendous help. Of course, if I was reading it then, my comments wouldn’t be included in it, would they?
Soulmate page

But honestly, all of this reading and studying serves a purpose for me; as a validation of sorts.

Sometimes I need the reminder that it is not unhealthy or abnormal to still be sideswiped by grief, even four years out from the loss. In fact, it is understandable. To be told otherwise by someone feigning compassion is reprehensible.

“I’ve notice that about one-third of the people in our lives are capable of showing up with a loving heart and a ministry of presence. Another third can’t really help in this way but don’t hurt us either. And the final third are often toxic and harmful to our healing. They may tell us to quit mourning or declare that we’re doing it wrong.”  (page 84)

Wolfelt’s wonderful book gives concrete ideas for mourning our soul mate. Highly recommended for anyone struggling to make sense of their loss, or looking for inspiration and encouragement as they navigate this difficult path.