Finish Strong: How to Deal with Grief During the Holidays
TRANSCRIPT FROM PODCAST:
Hello, friend, and welcome to this episode of Get Real. As the holidays are quickly approaching, I wanted to address a topic that often casts a dark shadow over a time when family and friends are gathering in celebration, harmony, and peace.
That topic is grief. Special occasions, such as holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and events are often the hardest time for those who have suffered recent loss of a loved one. We all know that grief is the most horrendous, painful experience any human will suffer in this lifetime. In fact, did you know it wasn’t in God’s plan for us to feel the sting of death or the heartache of grief?
God never intended for us to experience death or loss. God never wanted us to feel the wide range of emotions that come with the death of a loved one. Once sin was introduced to the world, and mankind freely chose to eat of its fruit back in the garden of Eden, the by-product of sin is death, and mankind has been cursed ever since.
Some of you may be thinking, “Wow! This certainly gets me in the mood for the holidays!” But stay with me, because, today, I am going to share with you a powerful message to help you see death and grief in a different perspective, while offering you hope not just for the holidays but for the rest of your days. You can live in peace despite your pain, and I’m going to tell you how.
For those of us who have experienced grief and sorrow, our perspective is centered around the void and pain we feel with the absence of those who have passed. Our hearts and minds were never meant to deal with such pain, so we struggle to make sense of it. Especially when the death is tragic, unexpected, or unjust.
We question God, “Why did You allow this to happen?” “What did I do to deserve this?” “What could I have done to stop this?”
We also think that the pain we feel will never go away, and the struggle to make sense of it will be ongoing.
But, I’m here to tell you there is hope. You don’t have to struggle now, during the holidays, or ever, again, once you understand God’s perspective.
You are not being punished. First of all, let’s GET REAL. How unfair it would be to the person who died if his or her death was because you sinned or you ticked God off? We would all be paranoid that at any time God will snuff us out because one of our loved ones was not in good standing.
Death is a byproduct of sin in general. Because we live in a sinful world, inherited a sinful nature, and make sinful choices, the Bible says in Hebrews 9, “it is appointed once for man to die.” This is a physical death where the body will cease to operate, but the soul will live in eternity. Death is the ultimate consequence of breaking the laws of the Kingdom.
And in our imperfect, flawed state of being, death is inevitable.
You cannot stop death. And God’s plan is far greater than our understanding. He didn’t allow someone you love to die for any other reason than free-will and the breaking of the law.
This is the answer to our question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
This on-going question implies bad things don’t happen to bad people, even though we know that isn’t true. We often perceive injustice when someone who is kind, loving, generous and positive dies tragically or suddenly, while others who are unkind, loveless, or downright evil or careless seem to come out smelling like a rose.
How often have we heard stories about a young mother dying in a tragic car accident caused by a drunk driver. It seems the drive often walks away, unscathed, while an innocent, beloved person loses her life unjustly.
These unanswered questions plague us and keep us in a state of suffering, especially during the holidays or those special occasions that remind us of the void we feel.
We often miss the moments we had with our loved ones – the laughter, the fun events, the fellowship, the partnership, the friendship, the love. We miss the way they smelled, talked, walked, smiled, and all their good qualities.
But, we fail to recognize our loss as their gain. Oh, sure, people tell us stupid things like, “Well, at least they’re in a better place,” as if those words offer some form of solace to our aching hearts. We want to scream out in response, “Great! I don’t care where they are, they’re not here with me, which is where I want them.”
In my own grief, after having lost my mother and grandmother, who both tragically died in my arms nearly 30 years ago, I struggled for years with the void in my heart. Knowing my mother missed out on my wedding, the births of my children, and all the celebrations, made it difficult. Not being able to call her when times were tough, knowing she would be a strong rock of support and have just the right words to help me navigate the storms of life, offered no comfort.
In my office, I have the last photograph ever taken of my mother, a candid shot I took during our final Christmas together. For years it has brought me comfort in remembering her, and yet, pain in remembering her. At times, I have looked up to the photo and smiled. Other times I’ve cried tears of great sorry, missing her presence.
Praying through the pain, God brought me great comfort. I felt God speaking to my spirit about my grief. Why was I grieving the loss of my mother? Did I not realize that our time together on earth was going to be a vapor? Did I not realize eternity is forever?
As He started to work in my aching heart, I could feel the scar of her void begin to heal. We are all running a race. If we know Him, then our destination is eternity in Heaven, where our loved ones who have passed before us will be waiting at the finish line of this race we are all running, called life’s journey.
They have already finished their race. Like all runners in a marathon, we each run (or walk) at a different pace. We all follow generally the same route, but occasionally, we venture off the path and take a different path toward our destination. You can’t run my race. I can’t run your race. Our loved ones ran their races, and some finished sooner than we have. Soon, many of us will finish our race and leave other loved ones to finish theirs.
The great vision in this illustration is who is waiting at the finish line to cheer us on, welcome us home, and congratulate us on our journey? Picture for yourself who will be at your finish line.
Instead of looking back at the days, weeks, months, and years you had with your loved ones, picture the future of eternity with them at your side. Envision the countless days, weeks, months, and years you will have with them forevermore!
Eternity is forever! Eternity will vastly eclipse the short amount of time we were honored to run by their sides.
When I look at my mother’s picture, now, I no longer grieve her loss. Occasionally, I sigh in disappointment that I can’t hug her, call her to hear her voice, or share those great moments I wish she were a part of. But, instead of being weighed down by what could have, should have, or would have been, I am motivated to make her proud.
I ambitiously want to finish my race – however long it takes – and cross over the finish line of this great marathon called life, seeing her on the other side with her crown of glory and championship medal.
More importantly, I can’t wait to finish strong so I can see Jesus standing next to her, waiting with my championship medal, and hearing His words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
As we think of our loved ones, today, remember that they are busy preparing for your arrival. Do them proud. Run your race, knowing they’ll be waiting at the finish line for you. Don’t look back on what was or that will stall you from running your race with ambition and determination.
If an Olympic track star spent his or her time watching the competition, looking back at where they were, and not focusing on what’s ahead, they would fall on their face, crash, and burn. That’s what many of us have done. We continue to struggle because we are looking back at what was, instead of focusing on the finish line with precision vision, and living the life God intended us to live so we can finish strong.
This holiday season, find ways you can make an impact on others in a positive way. Give, live, and love like never before. Thank God for your blessings and the celebrate the fact our loved ones have graduated from their life’s journey. Don’t focus on your pain. Focus on the joy that is soon to come. And finish strong!
My family isn’t forgotten. Instead, I look at my mother’s picture now, and my heart leaps with excitement not grief. I say outloud, “I miss you, Momma, but someday soon I’ll see you, again, and in the meantime I’m going to do what you taught me. I’m going to finish my race strong so you and Jesus will be proud.”
And I pray, “Lord, help me finish strong. Help me be a good and faithful servant, so I can share in the joy of seeing your and momma’s faces at the finish line.”
I want to help you finish strong. Grief is just a small roadblock in our journey to living the revolutionary life God designed for us to live. But, there’s so much more to this life than just living and dying.
This holiday season, I want you to throw away all those new year resolutions that never work or last, and declare a REVOLUTION!
Starting December 2, I am conducting a FREE, live training via FB Live that will help you discover the life God intended for you to live and learn how to live it with intent, passion, and purpose.
This free training is an introduction to my brand new program called Create a Revolutionary Life, which takes lessons from over 25 years of my own personal journey and faith walk to help you finish strong.
This five-day challenge will not only inspire and encourage you in your journey, but it will also teach you how to conquer life’s challenges by identifying four battlegrounds we all deal with in this war on life. Plus, I’m going to teach you 7-simple steps to creating your battle action plan and help you go from where you are to where God wants you to be so you can have victory of your finances, health, relationships, marriage, family issues, and work.
Please join me by registering for free at 22s.com/theleopacheco or clicking the link below or in the comments. Again, it’s free, and it starts December 2 on FB Live. I hope to see you there!
God bless you and thank you for tuning in. Be sure to share this with someone you know who may be grieiving and needs a new perspective this holiday season. It may be the best gift you give all year!
In the meantime, have a great holiday season! Be thankful, be kind, and love above all else.
Thank you for tuning into Get Real with Leo Pacheco. For more information on services, programs, and products, visit www.leopacheco.com. Tune in next time as we journey through life together and learn innovative strategies to create your revolutionary life.