5 Ways to Help a Grieving Heart

166258817 (3)Twenty six years ago when I graduated from college, my vision for my career was to teach music.  I graduated with a degree in vocal music education with piano and voice as my principle instruments.

I thought I’d be teaching music in a high school somewhere in the Midwest.  I thought I’d have a private studio of piano and voice students.  I thought I’d be directing school musicals and producing Madrigal theater productions during the Christmas season.

But God’s plans were different.

I spent many years being a stay-at-home mom.  Then God launched Hearts at Home eventually opened the door for speaking and writing.  People sometimes ask, “Did you always want to write a book?” The answer is no.  That was not the vision I had for my life.

Am I grateful for how God has led?  Yes.

Has it come without grief? No.

You see when you expect life to look one way, but it ends up looking another, you have to allow yourself to grieve.  I miss teaching music.  I miss investing in young lives. I miss being able to use my musical gifts on a regular basis.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a great life. An effective ministry encouraging moms.  I have incredible opportunities to meet wonderful people.  Yet, it wasn’t what I planned for or expected.

Learning to grieve is a part of maturing emotionally and spiritually. Emotions are God-given. In fact the shortest verse in the Bible is simply, “Jesus wept.” Most of us know its okay to grieve when someone dies, but we don’t realize it’s okay to feel sad, and even to cry, when life doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would.

Why is this important?  Because once we grieve “what-might-have-been,” we can more easily embrace “what is.”

How do you grieve? Well, everyone grieves differently. However, several years ago when I acknowledged the loss of my musical career, some of these tips were helpful:

1) Let yourself feel. Don’t minimize the loss, call it what it is.  Acknowledge the pain and the loss.

2) Journal your thoughts/feelings.  List the things you miss.

3) Talk to God. Cry to God. Write a letter to God.  The Bible says that God draws near to the brokenhearted.  (Psalm 34:18)

4) Sometimes grief comes in waves. Don’t be surprised if it resurfaces again.  Revisit acknowledging, journaling, crying out to God.

5) Once you acknowledge and grieve your loss(es), make a list of what you have to be grateful for.  Move your heart from grief to gratefulness.

What about you? Is there a loss you need to properly grieve?  Have you ever grieved “what might have been” and been able to embrace “what is?”

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6 Responses to 5 Ways to Help a Grieving Heart

  1. Heather F. says:

    Oh Jill, did I need to hear this! Yes, my life isn’t what I imagined it would be! It’s awesome, but not yet what I had imagined. I always envisioned having 3 or 4 kids. I have 2 wonderful little boys, but unless God has a different plan, they will be it. And I am getting to the point that we are past diapers and strollers (my baby turns 5 in April)-but my best friend just had a baby last week, and I found myself agitated, and even mad at her. At first I couldn’t figure it out, then I realized she had a baby, a girl, I have always wanted a daughter. And once I acknowledged that pain to God, He helped me deal with it. I know that it’s gonna be a while before this “goes away” or is “okay”….most days I don’t want to think about being pregnant or having a newborn….but somedays it sounds wonderful…..

    • JillSavage says:

      Heather, I’m so glad you shared this. Sometimes an emotion like anger will raise up inside of us and we won’t understand that it is a red flag to address disappointment or grief. The more we look inside our heart and ask God to help you, the more you’re able to get to the heart of these struggles.

  2. Audra Livergood says:

    Dear Jill,
    I heard you on Moody Radio today talking about your new book, and I thought, I HAVE to get that book. So, here I am for the first time on your website, and I can fully relate to your post. I am going through the grieving process right now. When I was younger, I thought I would be a journalist. I have always loved to write. Currently, I work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and I am so disenchanted with my job. Dec. marked my 10th year with NOAA, and I have known for some time that I am ready for a change. God recently led me to a new job opportunity (a promotion at that), and I applied, but now it is a waiting game. There are days, like yesterday, when I just cry on and off all day because I am so desperate to leave my job, but I can’t. I have a family to support. When I have days like this, I remember to “Be still” (as in “Be still, and know that I am God” -Psalm 46:10). I have faith that God is working in my life, but there are days when I feel distant from Him, and even days when I question my faith. But then I have days like today – full of hope. Since becoming a Christian in July, I keep a journal. I write it in daily and put all kinds of stuff in there – poetry, sketches, prayers, you name it. Keeping a journal has brought me closer to God, and it helps me articulate my thoughts and prayers in a way that is not possible for me to do orally. Interestingly, in a way, I have come full circle, back to my love of writing. My cousin even suggested that I start a blog to share some of my poetry, prayers, and other journal musings. As you suggest, I wrote a gratitude list recently in my journal, and on days when I feel down, I read my gratitude list and it helps change my mood. Keep up the good suggestions! Thank you and God Bless, Audra

    • JillSavage says:

      Audra, I’m so glad you found my blog! I’m glad the show was helpful and that today’s blog post was so timely! I love when God connects the dots like that!

  3. Jill are you the woman who said your mom was in hospice?

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