Annie's "How to Cope with Grief and the Holidays" Page
~~Text Version~~

"Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted"
Matthew 5:4

Thoughts from Annie:

I know what it is like to lose a loved one. My younger brother Billy was killed Feb 28th, 1996. If you asked me that first year if I would ever enjoy the holidays again, I would probably just have cried. Even though I probably would have preferred yelling at you.

But TIME and the GRACE of GOD have done there healing work. I am looking forward to the Holidays this year.

God does answer prayer. Even if it seems like He is silent and not listening. Sometimes the answer is YES and sometimes it is NO but often it is WAIT. He can see the whole picture and we see only our introspective view.

Remember that sometimes we may not understand but the Word of God has the answers.
"For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:7-8

Here is another scripture that comes to mind :
"God comforts us in all our afflictions so we in turn maybe able to comfort
those with the comfort where with we are comforted by God."
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Remember tears do a healing work and cleanse our body of poisons. You may have swollen eyes the next morning but it is good for you to cry. Kind of like vitamins and cleaning your room. They don't seem to help right away but when we look back we can sometimes see the intricate and detailed pieces of our life fall into place. We of course may never understand why we go through what we do.

But GOD is bigger then our fears. He is bigger then our pain and our problems. The Lord asks us to TRUST Him. Do you TRUST the Lord? Or do you have to control and manipulate your circumstances. Can you let go and let God take control of your life?

As Christians we can confidently say, we have the assurance that we will see our loved ones again one day in Heaven. What a glorious day that will be. We have that Hope.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen."
Hebrews 11:1

Not seeing and understanding is the hard part of life. We know that we miss our loved ones. We know that they are in heaven. BUT we miss them. It would be so much easier for us if we could just see them and hold them and talk to them one last time. But be encouraged my friend. One day soon we will see our loved ones. And what a wonderful day that will be. It is then that we will know the answers to all of our questions. We will see clearly. We will understand fully.

But for now hold on to that assurance of a blessed and joyful reunion in Heaven. Remember that we serve a LOVING God.

"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18


William A. Spencer
Nov 1, 1963 - Feb 28, 1996
"To Live in the Hearts of Those You Leave Behind is not to Die."
~Robert Orr~

This will be the fifth Christmas since my younger brother Billy was killed tragically in a car accident. (You can read more about this on my Testimony page.)

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [that which is] planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;"
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Did you know that it is normal to miss a loved one more at Christmas then any other time of year?

It doesn't even have to be a recent loss. Some times we miss loved ones more at holidays than any other time of year.

The first year really is the hardest.

Here are some practical ideas for you to consider this Christmas:

1: Don't expect too much from yourself this year.
2: Don't apologize for your feelings or for your tears.
3: Don't be alone. Invite someone over. Try arranging a SHORT visit the first time. You will probably tire a little easier this year.
4: When you and the family are together remember it is OK to talk about the happy memories you have about Christmas's past and your loved one.
5: Don't feel guilty if you are having a good time.
6: During the first year of mourning you will cry for absolutely no particular reason at all.
7: Visit the grave and take a poinsettia plant or flowers
8: If you feel up to it volunteer to help with a charity or church activity.
9: Attend a candle light service or Christmas Carol Sing Along.
10: The movies are open on Christmas day so take a box of Kleenex and cry.
11: You may not want to decorate the house for Christmas this year and that is really ok. Of course if you have young children in the home you may need to put their needs before your own. And then again you may not be able to the first Christmas.
12: Don't do Christmas cards this year.
13: Journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings.
14: If you are able to sit and read again then open the Bible to the story of Jesus Christ our Savior's birth. Read it out loud.
15: Work on a special Scrap book or a Photo Album. It can all be about your loved one whom you have lost. Put the names and dates of the pictures in a caption below each picture. Write our your memories and different thoughts about your family member who has just passed away. You can make another copy for a gift for another family member to enjoy.
16: Put some Christmas music on and SING.
17: Visit
Annie's Bless Your Heart Page to learn how to take good care of YOU!
18: Get out your address book and call an old friend on the phone to wish them a Merry Christmas.
19: Try not to over do it this year.
20: If you normally write a Christmas Letter to put in your Christmas cards why not choose not to this year. Instead you may want to send one for Valentines Day or later in the year.
21: Borrow a child and take them shopping for their parents gifts
22: Don't forget to eat. Some people get headaches when they don't eat. Have you eaten anything today? Sometimes that can make you feel just a little off if you don't eat.
23: If you live where there is snow..........Make a Snow Angel.
24: Consider adopting a pet from your local Humane Society. Here is an article to read:
Animal magnetism: Pets add touch of home for sick or bedridden people

I hope that these were helpful ideas and that they were able to bring you cheer and lift your spirits just a wee bit.

Don't despair! Eventually you will have a Merry Christmas. It just might not be this year.


It is perfectly NORMAL to cry for no reason.

After the loss of a loved one it seems that the crying just will NEVER stop. BUT rest assured that one day it will. Some people cry and other people hide their feels inside. It really is important to learn to express our feelings and thoughts. To learn to deal with anger and disappointment. There are some people who can't cry right away and they may wait about 6 months but then it seems like they will never be able to stop the tears.

Of course you will have really puffy eyes and a horrible headache from the crying. BUT the Lord created our bodies with such intricacy. When we cry it is like the toxins and sadness leave in through the tears.

Did you know that the Lord counts every one of our tears and keeps them in a jar?

"Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears
into thy bottle: [are they] not in thy book?"
Psalms 56:8

There will be things or sounds that may remind you about your loved one. My brother Billy was a Mechanic. The first time I had to have someone at a gas station look under my hood to see what a strange noise was, I started to cry and had a hard time between sobs trying to explain to the mechanic why I was crying.

It is perfectly normal to:
Feel down or blue on their birthday and the
anniversary of their death.

You may not even know what day it is on the calendar but your heart and subconscious mind know. It seems like your body and your tears know when the special days are close at hand. Each year they will get easier. I never really understood why so many people remembered the exact date of the anniversary of a death. I never understood until Billy died. That day seems to be marked on my memory. It will take a while but you can remember the good times and the birthdays eventually.

It is perfectly normal:
For the holidays to be difficult for a while.

That first Christmas will never be the same as Christmas's past. It will be probably the second Christmas when you start to make new traditions for you and your family.

It is perfectly normal for:
Your concentration not to be very clear & for reading to be difficult.

Our body has a wonderful protective mechanism. The shock that happens right after a death seems to be able to protect our bodies and minds. Shock can turn into a time of denial. It is a time when you just want "this" to all be a bad dream. You hope that when you wake up tomorrow that everything will be back to NORMAL. But it will never be NORMAL again. It will be DIFFERENT.

Some General Suggestions:
If you are able to sit and read again then open the Bible to the Psalms and read them out loud. Even if they don't seem to make sense right now they will minister to your soul and heart.

Put on your favorite radio station (the oldies might help) or an album or CD and turn up the music and SING. Put some music in the bathroom have a shower and sing and cry and even scream. No one will hear you and you don't have to worry about what people will think.


Make a Memory Book:

Use a photo album or a scrap book. Include Dates, Names and Memories beside the Pictures to remember the HAPPY times. You can include other things that you have saved over the years. Newspaper clippings, Birthday or Christmas cards and any other items you might have in a "treasure box". As you gather items for the "Memory Book" ask family and friends to write a note or letter about their fondest memory and the funniest too for that matter. Then you can include a picture at the top of the page of that person with your loved one if you have one. If you don't then ask them to check so their pictures so you can get a duplicate of theirs.

So next time you are missing your loved one you can grab the book and enjoy a visit with them.

Be Creative! You are only limited by your own imagination.


Stages of Grief

Coping with Death is never easy.

"I will turn their mourning into gladness. I will give them
comfort and joy instead of sorrow."
~Jeremiah 31:13~

".... that we may be able to comfort them which are in trouble,
by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
~2 Corinthians 1:3-4~

There are stages of Grief. You will have to go through them to be healed and able to deal with your loss. You may not necessarily go through them in order. Some people go through some stages at the same time. But you will go through them never the less.

1: denial and isolation
2: anger
3: bargaining
4: depression
5: acceptance

A good Christian book called "Good Grief" by G.E. Westberg lists 10 stages of Grief:

1: We Are In a State of Shock
2: We Express Emotion
3: We Feel Depressed and Very Lonely
4: We May Experience Physical Symptoms
5: We May Become Panicky
6: We Feel a Sense of Guilt About The Loss
7: We are Filled with Anger and Resentment
8: We Resist Returning
9: Gradually Hope Comes Through
10: We Struggle to Affirm Reality

The Four Tasks of Mourning - By William Worden

1 - To accept the reality of the loss
2 - To experience the pain of grief
3 - to adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing
4 - to withdraw emotional energy and reinvest it in another relationship

The five stages for the dying and the bereaved -by E. Kubler-Ross

1 - Denial and isolation
2 - Anger
3 - Bargaining
4 - Depression
5 - Acceptance


If you are feeling sad, lonely, down, depressed, and don't have an appetite or you can't are not alone.

It is nothing to be ashamed of.
Everyone must go through GRIEF at their own pace and their own way.

But PLEASE don't suffer alone. You need to call your family doctor if these symptoms persist longer then a few weeks.

Your family doctor may need to give you some medication to help you sleep for a short period of time. Lack of sleep can cause you to become physically sick.

If you are on regular medications PLEASE continue to take them.

You also may need to contact your pastor for counseling or a local Church may be able to suggest a good qualified Christian Counselor for you in your area. Some towns have "Grief Support" classes or groups for you to take part in. Give the local Hospital a call or the local Hospice Organization for some suggestions. Remember you are not the only one who has lost a loved one. It does help to talk to someone who has gone through what you are going through.


How to help others who are grieving

1: DON'T just say "Call me if you need anything". When you are grieving you can't think to pick up the phone and call someone to help you. INSTEAD call them to just check in and let them know if you are going to the grocery store and offer to pick up something for them. Drop by just to make sure that they really are OK

2: Make a point to call them once a week or every other week for a while. People tend to overdo it the week of the funeral but then seem to forget all about you on the third week and later. BUT they still need your love and prayers and help.

3: Share a special memory of the deceased person either in person or in a Sympathy Card. It is OK to share a story or talk about the person that died. They need to talk about it. Unfortunately some families just never talk about the person who died again. Happy memories help to bring us through the grief process.

4: Volunteer to drive them to the grave site. Some people may not want to go alone and others don't feel comfortable driving after all they have gone through. Family members may have left to go back home and then don't have anyone locally to take them there.

5: Offer to help with the "Thank you notes". It is often hard for people to send the "Thank you notes" because they feel that they need to write a personal note back to everyone and feel totally over whelmed. Some people purchase ready made sympathy thank you notes or have sympathy cards personalize through a printer or the funeral home. They are sent for the flowers, food and cards. You could at least do the addressing and stamping and then that would give them a good start.

6: Make sure they have food and are eating. This is the time that "easy and simple" are the best words to remember. Drop off food that just has to be reheated. When you make a meal why not make a plate for them and just drop it by. So many people bring food in the first few days after a death and then 3 weeks later the person is not eating at all or well for that matter. If you sent food make sure that your name is on the bottom of the dish or plate. If you have the time you might ask them if there is something specific that they fancy to eat. Even if they have no appetite comfort foods do help.

There are of course many more ideas. But these should get you started.


You can be alone without being lonely!

Being a Christian doesn't mean that you won't have trials and tribulation. Feelings shouldn't be what sustain us. We can't always FEEL good all of the time. Christ ALONE is our strength and He will sustain you through even this. There are many things that can cause us to FEEL this way. Have you eaten today? Are you taking vitamins? Are you dealing with the Loss of a Loved one?

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though the waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."
Psalms 46: 1-3

It is so wonderful that our refuge is in God. We have a place to hide and be comforted. In the everlasting arms of the Lord our God.

"Do not be Discouraged"

Discouraged: means depression of ones spirit

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged."
Deuteronomy 31:8

Are you discouraged?

Maybe a little down, feeling sad, depressed or worried.

You are not alone.

There are examples of people in the Bible that were depressed and discouraged. Lets look at what the Bible says:

This is the story of Elijah: 1 Kings 19: 3-21

"Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." So they went away by themselves in a
boat to a solitary place. "
~Mark 6:31-32~

What can you do if you are feeling discouraged?

  • Remember that you are not alone
  • Others have been through the same feeling
  • Start to take better care of you
  • Are you sleeping well?
  • Are you eating properly?
  • Drink water
  • Take vitamins and consider some herbs
  • Read the Psalms
  • What about your Walk with the Lord?

Are you praying?
Are you reading your Bible?

When we go through difficult times the only thing that sustains us is the Grace of God. For in those difficult times when peace and comfort seem unattainable, it is then that the Lord lifts us up and carries us. When you can't lift your Bible to read it and you just can't utter a word, that is the time the scriptures that you have memorized and hidden in your heart will feed you. If you can't remember any Bible verses then take an index card and write a few down. Then tape them on the fridge, on the mirror and on the telephone. Say the Scriptures out loud so that you can hear the words.

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and
hearing by the word of God."
~Romans 10:18~

"Thy Word have I hid in mine heart,
that I might not sin against thee."
~Psalm 119:11~



I am home in Heaven, dear ones;
All's so happy, all's so bright!
There's perfect joy and beauty
in this everlasting light.

All the pain and grief are over,
Every restless tossing passed;
I am now at peace forever,
Safely home in Heaven at last.

Did you wonder I so calmly
Trod the Valley of the Shade?
Oh! but Jesus' love illumined
Every dark and fearful glade.

And He came Himself to meet me
In that way so hard to tread;
And with Jesus' arm to lean on,
Could I have one doubt or dread?

Then you must not grieve so sorely,
For I love you dearly still;
Try to look beyond earth's shadows,
Pray to trust our Father's will.

There is work still waiting for you,
So you must not idle stand
Do your work while life remaineth--
You shall rest in Jesus' land.

When that work is all complete,
He will gently call you home;
Oh, the rapture of the meeting!
Oh, the joy to see you come!

~Author Unknown~


Main Entry: grief
Pronunciation: 'grEf
Etymology: Middle English
gref, from Middle French, heavy, grave, from (assumed) Vulgar Latin grevis, alteration of Latin gravis
Date: 15th century
obsolete : GRIEVANCE 3
2 a : deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement b : a cause of such suffering
3 a : an unfortunate outcome : DISASTER -- used chiefly in the phrase
come to grief b : MISHAP, MISADVENTURE c : TROUBLE, ANNOYANCE <enough grief for one day>
synonym see SORROW


When my brother Billy was killed I wish someone had given
me a book so that I could have read it and find out what was
NORMAL when you had just lost your baby brother to a tragic death.

Well I finally went to the Bookstore
myself and have found a few good ones:

Good Grief - by Granger E. Westberg
A Mourning Book - The most comprehensive resource offering practical and compassionate advice on coping with all aspects of death and dying by Helen Fitzgerald
Everyday Comfort - Readings for the First Month of Grief by Randy Becton
Understand Mourning - A Guide for those who Grieve by Glen W. Davidson
A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis
Living with Grief after Sudden Loss -a Hospice book that accompanies their course
Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love - Daily Meditations to Help You through the Grieving Process by Raymond R. Mitsch and Lynn Brookside
Happy Holidays - How to Beat the Holiday Blues by Minirth, Hawkins and Meier

Visit Annie's Book Store to order your books.


Nave's Topical Bible tells us what the Bible teaches about Mourning. Remember that everyone mourns differently. There really is not a NORMAL way to do it.

Nave's Topical Bible has a lot of information more about "MOURNING" the death of a loved one.

Easton's Bible Dictionary shows what the Bible says about Mourning.

You could actually hire mourners for a funeral in the days that Jesus walked the earth!

Easton's says this: "In the later times we find a class of mourners who could be hired to give by their loud lamentation the external tokens of sorrow
(2 Chr. 35:25; Jer. 9:17; Matt. 9:23)."

Hired mourners
2 Chronicles 35:25
Ecclesiastes 12:5
Jeremiah 9:17
Matthew 9:23


Let's look at some of what the Bible says about Sorrow:

Nave's Topical Bible helps us to understand what the Bible says about SORROW.

Sorrow is mentioned 65 times in the Bible.


Main Entry: 1sor row
Pronunciation: 'sär-(")O, 'sor-
Etymology: Middle English
sorow, from Old English sorg; akin to Old High German sorga sorrow
Date: before 12th century
1 a : deep distress, sadness, or regret especially for the loss of someone or something loved b : resultant unhappy or unpleasant state <to his
sorrow he lost his temper>
2 : a cause of grief or sadness
3 : a display of grief or sadness
synonyms SORROW, GRIEF, ANGUISH, WOE, REGRET mean distress of mind. SORROW implies a sense of loss or a sense of guilt and remorse <a family united in
sorrow upon the patriarch's death>. GRIEF implies poignant sorrow for an immediate cause <the inexpressible grief of the bereaved parents>. ANGUISH suggests torturing grief or dread <the anguish felt by the parents of the kidnapped child>. WOE is deep or inconsolable grief or misery <cries of woe echoed throughout the bombed city>. REGRET implies pain caused by deep disappointment, fruitless longing, or unavailing remorse <nagging regret for missed opportunities>.


Here are some interesting facts about Mourning:

In many societies, clothing of certain colors has special meaning. For example, people in mourning may wear black clothes. But colors may have different meanings in various societies. A color worn for weddings in one country may be worn for funerals in another land. Most brides in the United States wear white gowns. But the people in India wear white clothes to mourn the dead.

Mourning is the expression of grief after a death. People in mourning may deny themselves amusement, avoid certain foods, or wear special clothing. Until the 1940's, Americans and Europeans wore black armbands and hung funeral wreaths on their doors while in mourning. Some societies regard a period of mourning as a time of being uncleanliness. They believe death contaminates the survivors and makes them taboo (set apart as cursed or sacred).

The funeral may include prayers, hymns and other music, and speeches called eulogies that recall and praise the dead person. In the United States, many funeral services take place at a funeral home with the embalmed body on display. After the service, a special vehicle called a hearse carries it in a procession to the cemetery or crematory. A final brief ceremony is held before the body is buried, or cremated in a special furnace. After many funerals, the mourners return with the bereaved family to their house and share food. Later, a tombstone or other monument is erected to record the dead person's life and mark the place of burial.

Funeral customs are special ceremonies performed after a person dies. Throughout history, humankind has developed such customs to express grief, comfort the living, and honor the dead.

Jews observe special rituals in connection with death. Burial takes place as soon as possible, in most cases within a day after a death. After the funeral, the family enters a seven-day period of deep mourning called Shiva. The mourners recite the Kaddish, a prayer that praises God but does not mention death. On each anniversary of the death, the relatives observe a memorial called a yahrzeit, reciting the Kaddish and lighting a candle in memory of the person.

Source for the above: The World Book Encyclopedia


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