Lessons Learned Through Grief

If you’ve been reading since last fall, then you may remember my struggles with the suicide of my cousin Penny last September. I have recently been writing a letter to her nieces whose mother also committed suicide. I have been writing to them memories that I have of their mother and aunt from our childhood. I am also sending them an excerpt from my journal which I also read at Penny’s memorial service in November. It was comforting to me to read these words again, so I thought I would share them in the hope that it might encourage someone else.

3:00am, October 19, 2007:

I have struggled some with Penny’s death. Questions like, “Where were you, God, all the times Penny cried out to you in her journals?” God is faithful. God is good. God is true. He is there in the middle of the questions.


My friend Angie says that the way to honor Penny is by going a little further with the next person in desperate need. Boldly speaking the words of love he or she needs to hear UNTIL they sink into her heart.


Then this morning as I was listening to David Crowder’s new cd, the following…

When clouds veil sun
And disaster comes
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul
When waters rise
And hope takes flight
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul

Ever faithful
Ever true
You I know
You never let go
You never let go
You never let go
You never let go

When clouds brought rain
And disaster came
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul
When waters rose
And hope had flown
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul

Oh, my soul
Oh, what love, oh, what love
Oh, my soul
Fills with hope
Perfect love that never lets go

Oh, what love, oh what love
Oh, what love, oh what love
In joy and pain
In sun and rain
You’re the same
Oh, You never let go


This is THE key in these times of deep despair. The times I’ve experienced deep depression. The times Penny experienced deep depression. To hold onto truth with everything we’ve got!


Satan comes with lies. You hear them in the last words Penny wrote “I cause hurt and trouble wherever I go.” He tells us “You’re too much trouble.” “You’re not worth the effort.” “You’re not good enough.” But those are lies from the father of lies. But the truth is that we are worth the effort, we are so worth the effort that God hung His Son on a cross for us. The truth is that we’re not good enough but in Christ the “not good enough” part is taken away.


Jesus said, “The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” He did steal Penny’s physical life. But that’s not the end of the story.


In Isaiah 61 is the passage that Jesus uses to announce in John the reason that He came.


The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace—a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—and to comfort all who mourn, to care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit, rename them ‘Oaks of Righteousness’ planted by God to display his glory.


I used to believe, like a lot of Christians do, that Jesus came to save us from the consequences of our sins, which is hell. So basically we just do what we can to get through this life so we can die and go to heaven. This is partly true but there is more—so much more! Jesus is giving us the abundant life He promised to us in this life as well by healing our broken hearts, setting us free from the things that hold us captive, giving us roses in the place of ashes(those things in our life that we mourn). In other words, He’s in the process of restoring us to the people He meant for us to be before all of the pain and hurts of this world “damaged” us.


For me this passage has come alive in mourning Penny’s death. Jesus has given me “bouquet’s of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.”


From our point of view, Penny seemingly did not get to experience much of the healing and freedom from captivity in this life. But the bouquet of roses, the message of joy that Jesus has given to me is that NOW Penny is restored to the beautiful, whole, complete person that God intended for her to be from the beginning. Even though God is in the process of restoring us to our former glory in this life, we don’t get to experience complete wholeness, complete restoration until heaven. So now all of the bad things of Penny’s life are completely stripped away. They are gone forever. And all of the good things, the best parts that we remember about Penny are even more shining and glorious. Now she is renamed an “Oak of Righteousness” planted to display the glory of God.

And just for Donna–a video! 🙂




Filed under Spiritual Musings

2 responses to “Lessons Learned Through Grief

  1. This is a wonderful, shining tribute to someone loved and never forgotten.

  2. Sorry, my blog time has been limited lately….but I do love that song…and just for you I watched the video!!!

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