Thoughts from ‘The Shack’

I can’t recall when I first heard about ‘The Shack’, but it was definitely on #socialmedia. Someone must have recommended the book and I decided to read a sample first on kindle before ordering my paper copy. I got hooked on the short sample and bought my paper copy in less than 24hrs. Within a few days, I had finished reading the book 🙂 

 

The Shack by WM Paul Young is a deep read.  The novel (yes it’s fictional) covers several themes related to the world we live in and our relationship with God…. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

However, this blogpost will be focusing on some of the themes around ‘Grief’ highlighted in the book.

I hope you find this post helpful as you journey through your loss 🙂

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  • Grief and Guilt – Irrespective of the circumstances surrounding the death of our loved one, we often have feelings of guilt. I have experienced this myself and heard of similar feelings from both adults and children. We feel guilty of laughing and enjoying ourselves or moving on… for many reasons. Perhaps because we blame ourselves for the death of our loved ones, even when there’s absolutely nothing we could have done to prevent their death. Sometimes we think others expect us to mourn for a prolonged period of time. Often times, we put ourselves under this unnecessary pressure that will only result in more pain. Then we get lost and confused with all these emotions, not knowing where to turn. If you’re going through this right now, Be Encouraged! Know that you’re not alone, you’re not strange, but realize that your feeling of guilt will not bring your loved one back and it’s time to lean on God and open up to Him. Allow God to set you free from the bondage of guilt.

 

*Weep Weep Weep as often as you’d like. Jesus himself wept when his friend died! Let your tears flow freely,weep without embarrassment…weep and let the tension within you drain away. Don’t ever discount the wonder of your tears, they can be healing waters and a stream of joy. Sometimes they are the best words the heart can speak*. 

 

  • Loss and God’s plan. God doesn’t need evil to accomplish His good purposes.  However He can indeed work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies.  He can bring life out of death, freedom out of brokenness and He alone can turn darkness into light.  So when we struggle to understand what is happening around us, rather than blaming God or pushing him away, we should learn to embrace His love. 

In the midst of our pain, God is with us, even when we are living in fear. He never leaves us even for a second. That initial feeling of shock when we lose a loved one, either expected or unexpectedly, God is with us – through it all. It’s strange that when we least ‘feel’ the presence of God, is when He is actually close by, ready and willing to shower us with His love. My prayer for anyone going through this right now, is that the Holy Spirit will wrap himself around you and comfort you through this difficult time and that you feel and experience His presence 

 

  • Grief and Personal Identity. Some people find their identity and worry in their brokenness. They are defined by the tragedies they have encountered and they guard it with every ounce of strength. There comes a stage in your journey when you are no longer defined by your past. Yes, it’s a part of who you are, but you no longer carry the burden of grief on your shoulder. This time will differ for each individual. But yes – there will come a day when you can walk into each day without the despair that may have sucked the colours of life out of everything. Personally, I find it strange to refer to myself as an orphan – yes it’s a fact that both my parents are deceased but using that label attracts a certain kind of sympathy, maybe even pity which I am uncomfortable with. Your identity should be in your maker, your creator…do not let your circumstances define you as they are only temporary. Perhaps it’s time to ask the question…’Who am I?’ or maybe ‘Why am I here?’ (I recommend reading – The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren).

 

  • The heart of our healing is relationship! Relationship with God (the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) & relationship with each other.  Life with/without challenges works better with God at the Center of it. We can’t do life alone, especially when coping with the loss of a loved one. Some folks try with all kinds of coping mechanisms  and mental games but the monsters are still there, just waiting for the chance to come out.

Life and living is in Him and in no other!  And then God works His awesome wonder through angels in the form of human beings, hence why it is important we stay connected and not isolate ourselves when grieving.

 

If you’d like to chat to someone about your loss, please email hello@lettersofhope and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

 

Stay strong x

 

(Image courtesy of Timothy Eberley on Unsplash)

Dance With My Father Again

I can go an entire week, maybe even weeks and not think of my Dad, as I was quite young when he passed away, and prior to that, he travelled a lot due to the nature of his work. So my memories of him are limited yet vivid and significant.

One of my favourite memories of my Dad was dancing with him at the celebration of life (funeral) party for my Grandad. My papa was the eldest of 9 children and had come home to give his Dad, my grandad, a befitting send-off.

I remember that after the party was over, a couple of my dad’s friends and his brothers stayed back. I don’t recall any of my siblings being around but I was with my Dad, listening in on his banter with his friends, watching as he played a local game (Ayo) with them whilst drinking. Then the village drummers came by to serenade him with some music. He got up and so did I, naturally, as I was sitting on his lap.

We began dancing together, moving to the rhythm of the beats…we were being cheered on by his friends and I danced with so much energy like I didn’t care that people were watching; I had absolutely no inhibitions. The louder they cheered, the more erratic my moves. It was the best feeling in the whole wide world. I don’t think I’ve danced like that since then. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say I was drunk and intoxicated with the local wine, but of course not, I hadn’t even had a drop of the wine, I was only 6 years old. I was drunk in love, in love with my Daddy. The one who named me ‘Eyimatofopeoluwa’ (this is enough to thank God for); he was so thankful to God for my safe arrival after a difficult birth, I was his last child – the child of his middle age.

My siblings jest that I wasn’t planned but I know God had it all planned out. Anyway back to this party, I was happy to have all of my Daddy’s attention on me. As I mentioned earlier, he often travelled, so I cherished every moment I could spend with him. So you can imagine my grief, the brokenness of my fragile heart, when I was called to the headmaster’s office barely weeks after I had been summoned to the same office to be told of my grandad’s death, except this time it was Daddy. I thought noooo, noo way. This has got to be a joke, but it wasn’t.

I haven’t danced like that since my grandad’s party. I’d love to dance with my Daddy again, to run into his arms and give him a big hug. To sit with him and tell him all I have achieved, the struggles I have overcome, the challenges I still face. How I’d love him to meet my nephews, nieces and my own son.

It has been 28 years, my grief hasn’t completely gone away, BUT my pain eases with time or so I think, until a major event happens in my life and then the tears stream down my face usually unexpectedly…because I long for my daddy, to be kissed on the forehead, patted on the back, maybe even scolded for my mischievousness.

I am sharing this part of my story, my pain, to let you know – I’m willing to be your friend and share my bereavement journey with you. I’m willing to walk with you as you face your own challenges. Yes, grief is unique to each individual but they say talking helps, so why don’t you drop me an email when you’re ready to talk – hello@lettersofhope.org.uk and if you’re not ready just yet, you can get a copy of my book ‘Letters of Hope’ from www.lettersofhope.org.uk
I share some practical tips on dealing with grief in my book. I hope you find it helpful.

“Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on”
– Bill Withers, Lean On Me

#BeEncouraged

Happy Anniversary Daddy – I miss you!