Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday's Woe - Grief's Insurrection

Wednesday's Woe

Grief's Insurrection:

Grief's Relief Map


Heart-Welfare's Insurrection

It seems Grief provides a certain "relief,"

A relief that provides a sure reprieve.

People you once treated kind, would bring Grief...

Grief's Clarity of Mind would bring reprieve.

Grief's Clarity of Mind would seem to show

Flaws in Character you once would ignore.

Fragility of Heart demands to Know,

Not allowing Denial anymore....

For just as one learns on his Sickness Bed,

Allowing sickness germs would leave one...Dead,

So Character Germs...once tolerated,

Intensive Care Decimated.

For Emotional Health to be resurrected,

Demands Character-Germs be detected,

Else one becomes further Germ-Infected...

Grief's Clarity provides Germ Detection

To deter Heart-wrenching Germ-Infection...

Germ-Warfare yields Heart-Welfare's Insurrection!

Picture: Thank you to Hoang Nguyen

Poem - Grief's Insurrection - Angie Bennett Prince - 3/31/10

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday's Trust - Heaven...Remains Closer Than We Know

Tuesday's Trust

Heaven...Remains Closer Than We Know...

Out beyond the silence of eternal night,

within the void of voiceless echoes,

between the folds of dark and light.

In somber streams of starlight.

In the waves of ebb and flow.

Heaven exceeds eternal planes.

Though, it remains closer then we know.

~John French

In John's words:

...Brandon passed away in August of 2009 from an undiagnosed heart condition. The devastation of that one single moment has crushed our view of reality and cast us down into a state of perpetual winter. I’ve been writing all my life, though not publically. Brandon’s death has so overwhelmed me that I can no longer contain my thoughts.

Although my stance is undermined by despair, and frosted by the bitterness that follows the loss of my son, I will labor to plant some seeds of promise in the barren future that I'm so unexpectedly tilling.

Perhaps something beneficial will stem from my mourning. If you can gather even a grain of hope from my reaping, it may help to sustain you through your own emotional storm.

~John French

Thank you to John French for another of his inspired poems.

Readers feel free to click "Comment" below and make a comment or share something about your own grief. I love my readers and would love to get to know you better. (If however, you prefer to just read and glean what you can quietly in your grief, that is perfectly fine too. We care about you in your quiet grief as well! Trust me, I am there quite often.)

John French:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday's Mourning Ministry - Do You Celebrate Birthdays in Heaven?

In Loving Memory

Merry Katherine Prince

3/29/1987 ~ 8/2/2006

Monday's Mourning Ministry

Do You Celebrate Birthdays in Heaven?

Happy Birthday, sweet Merry Katherine!

~Do you celebrate birthdays in Heaven?~

Are you 23, or always...19?

Or, could it be Heaven is like my dreams...

At times—a toddler, at times—a baby,

A young girl, then a child, then in your teens...

God knows all aspects of you, so maybe...

In Heaven, you're all those ages it seems!

{Wouldn't that be just like Abba Daddy

To restore ALL days that make us happy?}

One age cannot capture your spirit self~

You're alive in my heart, not stuck on some shelf!

Happy Birthday today, whatever age!

Each day with God must turn a brand new page!

We love you and miss you with all our heart,

And long for the day we'll never more part!

Sadly you’ve been gone from us 1,334 days,

But we trust with the psalmist, you sing this praise,

“Better is one day in Your courts than a 1000 elsewhere!”

All our love to you precious birthday girl!

Mommy, Daddy, Nathan, Rollin, and Stephanie

Better is One Day in Your Courts

Matt Redman

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday's Faith - Questions of Grief and Faith

Friday's Faith

Questions of Grief and Faith

Somehow we may have gotten the notion that real Christians are beyond grieving, that faith takes away the pain.

It surely helps.

There is no aspect of grieving and healing more important than faith, none that gives us more hope, more ability to cope, to rebuild.
But, at the same time, our flesh aches for the flesh of our child, for that which we beheld with our eyes and touched with our hands.

We would do less than honor to the creation of God if we did not mourn the loss of the riches God had given us in that child.

If we need assurance that it is all right to cry, we can remember that at the grave of his friend Lazarus,

Jesus wept.

To be a Christian is to know something of the risks God has taken for love’s sake. To be a parent is to know the risks we have taken for love’s sake.

We are not alone.

And we have promises:

Let not your hearts be troubled….

In my Father’s house are many rooms….

I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.

Or , in the words of the hymn “How Firm a Foundation”:

For I will be with thee thy troubles to bless,

And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

But this will not happen unless
  • we are willing, with the help of faith, to
  • meet our child’s death on its own anguishing terms,
  • grieve over it,
  • ask questions and,
  • in time, allow it to become a part of our life’s complex pattern.

~Excerpts from Martha Whitmore Hickman, I Will Not Leave You Desolate

John 11:35, John 14:1,2,18

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday's Therapy - Your Brain and Stress

Thursday's Therapy

Your Brain and Stress

This article explains so much of what I see going on in my body amidst my traumatic and complicated grief! Let me know what you think in regard to what your own physiological responses to grief have been...

Those aggravating things that go wrong in the day and those irritating things that go bump in the night – disrupting routines and interrupting sleep – all have a cumulative effect on your brain, especially its ability to remember and learn.

As science gains greater insight into the consequences of stress on the brain, the picture that emerges is not a pretty one. A chronic overreaction to stress overloads the brain with powerful hormones that are intended only for short-term duty in emergency situations. Their cumulative effect damages and kills brain cells.

How Your Brain Responds to Stress

Did you know that the emotional and physical responses you have to stress are set in motion by a series of chemical releases and reactions? Find out what is really going on inside your body and why not all stress is bad.

"Attack of the Adrenals" – A Metabolic Story

The ambulance siren screams its warning to get out of the way. You can't move your car because you're stuck in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam that reaches as far as the eye can see. There must be an accident up ahead. Meanwhile the road construction crew a few feet from your car is jack-hammering the pavement. You are about to enter the stress zone.

Inside your body the alert goes out.

"Attention all parasympathetic forces. Urgent. Adrenal gland missile silos mounted atop kidneys have just released chemical cortisol weapons of brain destruction. Mobilize all internal defenses. Launch immediate counter-calm hormones before hippocampus is hammered by cortisol."

Hormones rush to your adrenal glands to suppress the streaming cortisol on its way to your brain. Other hormones rush to your brain to round up all the remnants of cortisol missiles that made it to your hippocampus. These hormones escort the cortisol remnants back to Kidneyland for a one-way ride on the Bladderhorn. You have now reached metabolic equilibrium, also known as homeostasis.

Inside Homeostasis

When a danger finally passes or the perceived threat is over, your brain initiates a reverse course of action that releases a different bevy of biochemicals throughout your body.

Attempting to bring you back into balance, your brain seeks the holy grail of "homeostasis," that elusive state of metabolic equilibrium between the stimulating and the tranquilizing chemical forces in your body.

If either one of the stimulating or tranquilizing chemical forces dominates the other without relief, then you will experience an on-going state of internal imbalance. This condition is known as stress.

And it can have serious consequences for your brain cells.

Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Nervous System

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) turns on the fight or flight response. In contrast, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) promotes the relaxation response.

Like two tug-of-war teams skillfully supporting their rope with a minimum of tensions, the SNS and PNS carefully maintain metabolic equilibrium by making adjustments whenever something disturbs this balance.

The strongmen on these teams are hormones, the chemical messengers produced by endocrine glands. Named after a Greek word meaning "to set in motion," hormones travel through the bloodstream to accelerate or suppress metabolic functions.

The trouble is that some stress hormones don't know when to quit pulling.

They remain active in the brain for too long - injuring and even killing cells in the hippocampus, the area of your brain needed for memory and learning.

Because of this hierarchical dominance of the SNS over the PNS, it often requires conscious effort to initiate your relaxation response and reestablish metabolic equilibrium.

The Emotional Brain – Limbic System

The primary area of the brain that deals with stress is its limbic system. Because of its enormous influence on emotions and memory, the limbic system is often referred to as the emotional brain....

Whenever you perceive a threat, imminent or imagined, your limbic system immediately responds via your autonomic nervous system the complex network of endocrine glands that automatically regulates metabolism.

The term "stress" is short for distress, a word evolved from Latin that means "to draw or pull apart." The Romans even used the term districtia to describe "a being torn asunder." When stressed-out, most of us can probably relate to this description.

Distress Signals from Your Brain

Your sympathetic nervous system does an excellent job of rapidly preparing you to deal with what is perceived as a threat to your safety. Its hormones initiate several metabolic processes that best allow you to cope with sudden danger.

Your adrenal glands release adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) and other hormones that increase breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. This moves more oxygen-rich blood faster to the brain and to the muscles needed for fighting or fleeing. And, you have plenty of energy to do either, because adrenaline causes a rapid release of glucose and fatty acids into your bloodstream. Also, your senses become keener, your memory sharper, and you are less sensitive to pain.

Other hormones shut down functions unnecessary during the emergency. Growth, reproduction, and the immune system all go on hold. Blood flow to the skin is reduced. That's why chronic stress leads to sexual dysfunction, increases your chances of getting sick, and often manifests as skin ailments. With your mind and body in this temporary state of metabolic overdrive, you are now prepared to respond to a life-threatening situation.

Getting Back to Normal

After a perceived danger has passed, your body then tries to return to normal. But this may not be so easy, and becomes even more difficult with age.

Although the hyperactivating sympathetic nervous system jumps into action immediately, it is very slow to shut down and allow the tranquilizing parasympathetic nervous system to calm things down.

Once your stress response has been activated, the system wisely keeps you in a state of readiness.

Stress is Not All Bad

Bear in mind that an appropriate stress response is a healthy and necessary part of life. One of the things it does is to release norepinephrine, one of the principal excitatory neurotransmitters. Norepinephrine is needed to create new memories. It improves mood. Problems feel more like challenges, which encourages creative thinking that stimulates your brain to grow new connections within itself.

Stress management is the key, not stress elimination. The challenge in this day and age is to not let the sympathetic nervous system stay chronically aroused.

This may require knowledge of techniques that work to activate your relaxation response.

Next week, we will see how this out-of-control, run-amuck cortisol affects our memory amidst our grief.

Meanwhile, I hope you have a relatively stress-free week!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday's Woe - My Love Eclipses the Sun ~ A Father Writes About a Child-Loss Parent's Grief, by John French

Wednesday's Woe

My Love Eclipses the Sun


A Father Writes About a Child-Loss Parent's Grief

by John French

Child-loss: I can only describe it as black hole of sorrow in which every emotion is compressed and compounded in the vacuum of grief. It is an inescapable vortex that drags me down and wears me thin.

I don’t think anyone would dispute that our children are the center of our emotional cosmos. My world certainly revolved around my son. When that hope is extinguished, you live in perpetual oblivion where nothing sparks your interest or distracts you from your pain.

In some strange way, it’s disheartening to see that the world is persevering, and that the heavens are unchanged. It’s so contrary to what we are going through.

Even if the stellar array were suddenly extinguished, it would not compare to what we have already experienced. In fact, it might give us some comfort. Because, only something of that magnitude could begin to convey to others the horror and isolation that we are enduring on a daily basis.

But, despite the fact that I am overwhelmed by the bleakness of my own encroaching future, I am compelled to make an attempt to turn the darkness into something we can all reflect on.

The lack of physical interaction does not detract from the effect that our children have on our lives. In fact, it enhances them greatly.

Clearly, love is still the most powerful force in the universe. It transcends death and grows exponentially with each passing moment.

The tears of loss refract the full spectrum of bliss, through which we can envision all that should have been. One day, we will look beyond the darkness and see that only such an intense source of joy could have brought such pain to light.

My love eclipses the sun in both mass and intensity.

It is not diminished in the evening,

nor does it rise at dawn.

It is infinitely brilliant and all encompassing.

It is so boundless that it defies the limits of comprehension and exceeds all expectations.

It so great that it envelops my every thought,

and surpasses means of measure.

Somehow, it overwhelms the void that your absence produces, and diminishes the relevance of time.

It propels me through my bleakest moments,

and sets my mind adrift.

Even now, when my hope is exhausted

and my longing is unfathomable,

your effect on my life is undeniable and astounding,

awe inspiring and incredibly influential.

You are the light of my life, I will forever delight in calling you my son.

(A tribute to Brandon French 5/24/92-8/16/09)

Thank you to John French for his very poignant writing and for sharing it with us. For more of his writing, click the website address at the bottom of this post.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday's Trust - Can We Trust...Things Will Get Better?

A silent hug means a thousands words to the unhappy heart.

Tuesday's Trust

Can We Trust...Things Will Get Better?

The death of a child shakes our trust in the world at the most primal level.

We know the world is full of disorder and catastrophe but, for the most part, we count on things happening reliably in our daily lives. Then, that which is so integral to our lives that it seems almost our reason for being, is taken away, gone.

Our whole sense of ourselves is so disoriented and confused, the organizing patterns of our lives will not work anymore. Is it any wonder we “can’t believe it”?

~Matha Whitmore Hickman


Over the months and years we will learn to say it more calmly. Yet each time we say it—and we must, it is a part of our learning our own terrible truth—the heart will jump, the stomach contract, the tempo of the body will shift in acknowledgment: I had a child who died.

But there is little to help us. It is not expected in our culture that children will die. Children grow up and become adults and perhaps marry and have children of their own, and they come home for Christmas, and they call us on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We get together and watch their children and reminisce how it was when they were small and we were younger. We pass on to them not only our genes—our blue eyes and the shape of our fee—but our ancestral pictures, our family recipes, our holiday customs, and when we are old and frail they will come to see us and love us. And we will leave them. They won’t leave us.

And then it is over. It is not going to happen. We are in a shambles, wounded by the event of their death.

With an ache that is physical and encompassing, we miss their presence now. And that space which in our fantasy they were to have filled until the end of our life is empty, and will be, until the end of our life. There will be others we love—other children, other smiles and tilts of head, other voices, but not theirs.

And we wonder, how could so small a complex of blood and tissue, nerve and bone and love contain so much of our heart’s lode?

~Matha Whitmore Hickman


It is an affront. It is a reversal of nature. It is terror. It is panic. It will break our heart. And for a while we think maybe that will happen. We, too, will die and be spared. We will flee away. And it will be over.

But life does not treat us like that. Nor, except in our worst moments, is that what we want.

We do want life… But how?

~Matha Whitmore Hickman


With what a deep devotedness of woe

I wept thy absence - o'er and o'er again

Thinking of thee, still thee, till thought grew pain,

And memory, like a drop that, night and day,

Falls cold and ceaseless, wore my heart away!

~Thomas Moore

And yet...

Good-night! good-night! as we so oft have said

Beneath this roof at midnight, in the days

That are no more, and shall no more return.

Thou hast but taken up thy lamp and gone to bed;

I stay a little longer, as one stays

To cover up the embers that still burn.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man.

~Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Life is eternal, and love is immortal,

and death is only a horizon;


a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.

~Rossiter Worthington Raymond


Love is missing someone whenever you're apart, but somehow feeling warm inside because you're close in heart.

~Kay Knudsen

~Matha Whitmore Hickmanm, I Will Not Leave You Desolate