Reliving It: Helping Your Adolescent

Dear sisters who share the same kind of heartache of losing the father of your children.  There are times when I feel my heart breaking for all children who lose a parent, and the night I wrote this, four years after Tom’s passing, was one of them.

Last night I had to set aside everything to simply sit and cry with one of my boys.

You see,  Tom died…  Again.

I expected this, was warned about it. But it nevertheless knocked me off my feet.  Again.

I say “again”, because when a child of six or seven years old loses his father, in a way, he doesn’t really lose him….yet.   The mind of a six or seven-year-old simply can’t fathom the permanence of death.  It takes the adolescent mind of a ten or eleven-year-old to start grasping, at a heart level, what really happened to his father.

And that’s what happened tonight.  In my eleven-year-old’s heart, Dad really died tonight.

And after two straight hours of sobs, he sat up and said, “Mom, it really feels like it just happened—like tonight.”

It started for him with the new aquarium he got for Christmas.  It’s gorgeous—with a cool background and tons of colorful plants, glow-in-the-dark gravel, and a volcano that blows bubbles.  He was marveling at it as he climbed into his bed, and I tucked him in, thinking he is his happy-go-lucky self–until later when he padded into my room. “I miss Dad.”  He had done this many times before, so as I typically do, I followed him to his room and sat with him on his bed.

He told me that all those other times he said he missed Dad, he only wanted me to spend extra time with him.  “This time, Mom, I really, really miss him.”

He cried about not being able to remember as much as he wanted about Dad.  He cried about the teacher at school who would embarrass him by having the class pray for him over not having a Dad.  He cried about missing out on camping and hiking with Dad.  He cried about the kid in school who asked him who signs his papers since his Dad is dead.  He cried about missing Dad’s laugh.

Then he admitted that when Dad died four years ago, he just went through the motions, even though he saw his father die right before his eyes.  “I was too little. I didn’t understand what a heart attack was.  I didn’t know why he was just floating in the water. But even though it was scary, I wasn’t sad.” That night, he told me, after we told him Dad died, he even asked his older brother why he was crying.  When his older brother looked surprised that he didn’t know, he pretended the tears because everyone else was expecting tears.  “Now I know why everyone was crying, and now I can’t stop.”

I spent hours with him, helping him process. You may have to do this with your child when they reach eleven. I hope I did the right things.

“Mom, it’s not fair,” he said. “You always tell me all the great things he did with me, but I was only seven, and I hardly get to remember all the stuff he did.”

“True, it isn’t fair, and I wish you could remember,” I said. “But truth is, all the memories of all the things you and Dad did together are there, locked deep in your brain and heart.  It hurts that you don’t have them at the top of your brain where you can pull them out, but your body remembers, and that’s why you’re the great kid you are today, because deep inside you know you were deeply loved.  Deep down there is a knowledge in your heart that you were held, fed, played with, wrestled with, taken around on Dad’s shoulders, and constantly loved by Dad.  No one can take that away. There are lots of people growing up feeling unloved because nobody did that for them. But you’re special.  Dad really loved you and loved hanging out with you, and deep down you know you’re special because of it.”

That night I was reliving Tom’s death through my eleven-year-old’s tears.  And next to him in the bed across the room was his little brother, who would have to go through the same loss a year later.

These are all seasons, and I’m honored to be able to love this little guy through his loss.

Blessings.

Kit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about children grieving the loss of their father?  Here are some articles you might try:

Remembering with love, tears, and stones…by Nancy Howell

Grandpa’s Hand by guest blogger Gail Sanseverino

 

kit hinkle anew season a widows might

Is this it, Lord? No, it’s Not!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

Psalm 150:6

“Is this it?”

That was Irene who spoke those words over the phone to me. Irene was seventy-seven years old, widowed, and in a care facility.

“Is this how I spend my final chapter?” she asked.  “He died.  I’m alone. End of story?”

No, of course it wasn’t.  But she was feeling what many of us feel when we’ve lost our love.  It’s more acute when someone is seventy-seven than someone much younger. And it’s all that more pronounced when someone is uncertain about what will happen to them beyond this life.

This is how Irene felt when she complained to me.

Irene is my mother. At seventy-seven, she was only just accepting Christ.  She had spent seventy-six long years trying to tackle life on her own, and through her cries of loneliness one night, she had finally bent her knees and invited Christ into her heart.

She had accepted His death on the cross as the ultimate payment for her sins, and now she was free to live with the knowledge that she will live an everlasting life with Him!

And still, she cried out.  She knew she must remain here until He calls her home, and she wondered, how would she do this alone, without her husband?

Don’t we all feel that way at moments?  Whether you have twenty or seventy years left on this planet, when you are accustomed to living this time out in fellowship with your husband, walking alone can be extraordinarily painful.

But as long as we live–as long as we have breath in our lungs, God can use us for His glory.  We may feel pain, but even in our pain, there is joy in knowing how effective our part of His story is.

Irene was older when my father died.  She had little or no interest in dating. One date, and she knew it was not for her.  She came to her faith very late in life and struggled with finding hope in her circumstance.  She lived among other older women, some under nursing care.  Accustomed to an active independent life, she found her new surroundings uncomfortable.  “I don’t know why I’m here,” she lamented. “What good can I do? I see a woman fifteen years older lying in a bed unable to speak, and I think Is that all I have for my future?

No, of course it was not. She lived many years longer and enjoyed many events with her children and grandchildren.  She also wrote stories and connected relatives together.  But in that moment, she wasn’t seeing possibilities.  She was looking back at what she lost and forward with fear over where she was headed.

We all do that. I remember soon after losing my husband finding it hard to imagine how I could be joyful without him. And then I would pray, and remember what the psalmist said, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”  I still have being, and with that being I will praise Him and reach out to others.

And this is what Irene did as well.  For a moment, she ceased to look backwards and turned her attention to allowing God to use her now.  Rather than be afraid of becoming that woman confined to a bed, she decided to go to her, comfort her and hold her hand. She then prayed with her and share the Jesus that just months ago she didn’t know.

Hours later she called me in tears. Tears of joy.  The woman in the bed squeezed her hand and smiled when my mother told her about Jesus.

Dear Lord, please place a calling in each reader’s heart for what You have in store for her.  Encourage her to listen to Your calling and stay in Your protection in her forward charge.  Amen.

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 

If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 

Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about purpose?  Here are some articles you might try:

Turn Back and Strengthen by Elizabeth Dyer

Wriggling towards the Stirring Waters by Kit Hinkle

kit hinkle a widows might memorializing their dad

Daddyisms

Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.

Exodus 4:12 (ESV)

It was the first day of school in 2007, and we homeschooled.  Four sweet faces looked up at me from the kitchen table.

Just ten days before that morning, I sat with my laptop open at a café around the corner, preparing lesson plans for this day. Fire trucks screamed by, and within minutes I discovered they were headed to my neighborhood where my husband had just collapsed from a massive coronary.

No school plan, no desire to teach…not even little ears wanting to learn at this point.  The stale scent of funeral flowers still lingered in the air.

But God planned the lesson for that day, and for every day after.  Even when it seems a situation can’t get worse, He interjects your panicked sense of “what do I do next?” and inserts His brilliance. Why should that surprise me?  He used Moses, a man with a speech impediment, to speak up to Pharaoh, and taught Moses what to speak.

That morning I had no choice but to leave the unfinished lesson plan to God and just let Him take over.  Grabbing the easel and some markers, I wrote at the top of the flip chart…DADDYISMS and turned to face the children.  “Quick! Tell me your favorite Daddy sayings and habits!”

They looked at each other with questions on their faces.

“Daddyisms!”  I said.  “You know—the stuff Dad always said and did. How he made you laugh!

Recognition flashed in their faces as the oldest said, “At least he didn’t charge you!”

I wrote that on the flip chart as they laughed and explained how that was Tom’s answer when one of them would complain that his brother hit him for nothing!  I turned and asked for another.

“The belly button of the butter!” another said. “That’s what he called the swirly part of the margarine that you see when you open the container!”

No sooner did I write it down, when another idea got blurted out…and another, and another, until the entire chart was filled.  We taped it to the wall and started on the next, and then the next, and then the next.  Until nine glorious flip charts of daddyisms decorated every available wall surface of the first floor of our home!

The boys exhausted every daddyism they could think of, and we sat quietly for a moment.

“This,” I said, pointing to the nine flip charts on the wall, “is our lesson plan for the first semester.”

The boys were puzzled until I explained how each daddyism would become one of our school writing assignments.

And from these writings, the Daddyism book was born.
Eighty pages of glorious photographs of their father and the funny things he would say and do.  What a wonderful therapy the book became for them.  Each time one of the kids missed his father, we had that book to sit down and leaf through together and bring his memory fresh into view where we could peel apart our feelings and have a healthy laugh or cry over him—whatever served to help heal at the moment.

And those charts?  Interestingly, they comforted us for the months that they remained on our wall—serving to remind us of the wonderful memories of Dad and how blessed we were with the time we had with him.

A family friend came to visit and found himself feeling awkward at the sight of them.  “I get it,” I told him.  “You aren’t around enough to have to deal with the loss of Tom and his presence around us.  So I get why you’re uncomfortable.  But think about it,” I added. “You only visit here, and so it’s easier to be sad when you think of Tom.  We are better off facing our sadness and learning to remember him with joy.  In time, the flip charts will come down, and what will remain is the joy of his memory in our hearts.”

Lord, You provided inspiration at a moment when I had none. And out of that inspiration came a family legacy that will continue to help our family for years to come. Thank you.  Please help the dear widow who is reading this and needs inspiration in her journey Perhaps give her an idea for a legacy project, memorializing her husband.  Sometimes, working hands can make the sharing of emotions a more welcome experience for everyone.  Amen.

 

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 

If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 

Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about creating legacy items?  Here are some articles you might try:

Memorials by guest blogger Darlene Crowl

The Last Gift by Liz Anne Wright

Conquering Fear Part 2: The Shield

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,

my glory, and the lifter of my head.

Psalm 3:3 (ESV)

Last week I started by describing fear in a crisis–the kind that has you acting quickly, like when I lept to catch a crystal vase making its way towards a tile floor.

I then described a different kind of fear–a more insidious, slowly destructive fear–the fear of a loss of identity.  You can read about it here in Part One of Conquering Fear.

Fear of your loss of identity has you lying awake at night, thinking about all the worst scenarios that can happen to you. Have you done that?  It seems as though all women do at some point, and going forward without a man in your life doesn’t help you feel more secure.

David had a “woe-is-me” moment which he wrote about it in Psalm 3.

But watch what David says next and learn how you can begin to deal with your fear.

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.  (Psalm 3:3 ESV)

The Design of a Shield

David says God is his shield. Centuries ago shields were designed with forward movement in mind. They had rounded edges to protect a soldier’s front and sides as he pushed forward. If he retreated, the shield couldn’t protect him.

As widows, we should not retreat. We push forward. In our forward momentum, Christ becomes our shield.

When you are caught up by fear, it’s tempting to retreat. But retreating only exposes our least protected side to the enemy.

In other words, God’s protection works best when we move forward in obedience.

Are you listening to Him?  What does being in obedience to Him mean in your life?  Your fears might be founded in the knowledge that none of us know for sure what God will allow in our futures.  But we can know through prayer His direction, and we can began to obey Him. Here are some questions that might help you in your prayer time.  Ask Him what He wants for your life.

  • Are your children needing your care?  Are you obediently raising them the way He wants you to?
  • Are you a younger widow who might eventually be called to date an remarry? When writing to Titus, Paul gave godly instructions on the role of a widow.  Younger ones are to remarry.
  • Are you called to remain single and minister to others? Paul also instructs older widows to teach and mentor younger women, remaining in prayer.  Do you see the hope and purpose in mentorship?
  • Is He calling you to be a light in other areas of life. A workplace or ministry that’s in front of you, or friends or neighbors who are needing you? Perhaps you have a gift He wants you to use for His glory. Wow! Think of what He can do through you if you let go of fear and blow past it–touching others.

Are you touching someone today?  As long as there is breath in you, you can!

You are under His protection. He promises! And His shield of protection works best when you charge forward and obey His calling!

Dear Lord, please place a calling in each reader’s heart for what You have in store for her.  Encourage her to listen to Your calling and stay in Your protection in her forward charge.  Amen.

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 

If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 

Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about loss of identity?  Here are some articles you might try:

Samurai…and donut holes? by Danita Hiles

Your Future is Now Part 5: The Stretch by Kit Hinkle

kit hinkle a widows might grief and fear

Conquering Fear Part 1: A Deeper Fear

1 O Lord, how many are my foes!

Many are rising against me;

 many are saying of my soul,

there is no salvation for him in God

Psalm 3:1-2 (ESV)

The other day my teen boys were teaming up to clean the kitchen.  True to boy nature, one of them carelessly waved about a frying pan while telling a joke to the others. The pan banged against a cabinet, causing one of my favorite crystal pitchers to teeter and begin its way towards the tile flooring.

I was standing yards away. I don’t know how I did it, but within a split second, I effortlessly caught the pitcher in midair! The shouts of “Watch out!” changed to boy-whoops of “Way to Go, Mom!”

God gave us the ability to act when faced with certain types of fear. If we’re in a crisis, our senses are heightened, making fear something that motivates.

A Deeper Fear

But there’s another fear that has the opposite effect, bringing on a dull sense of doom and uncertainty.  It has us pacing the house,  indecisive, paralyzed like a deer in headlights. We spin our wheels and obsess over things said, offenses made and what they mean.

What is this fear? The fear of loss of identity.

It can be far more damaging in our lives.  Unless reigned in, it will steal our joy and take its toll on our bodies and souls.

Read about Someone Who Overcame that Deeper Fear

When I struggle with something, I dig in the Word to find answers. In Psalm 3, David describes exactly how we feel.  He airs his moments of self-doubt openly to God. O Lord, how many are my foes!,” he says.Many are rising against me.” (Psalm 3:1 ESV)

David was in fear for his life!  But, watch what he wrote next: “Many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.” (Psalm 3:2 ESV)

David was now expressing his deeper fear.  It wasn’t just that they could kill him, but that people were believing God has turn His back on him.  Led by David’s own son, the people were attacking his very soul!

This is the King of Israel.  The chosen son of Jesse, anointed by God to be king. The one who had slain Goliath.  The one who designed God’s temple.  Now he ran from thousands of men after him.

The fear of the thousands of men looking to physically hurt him were nothing compared to the fear of losing who he was–King, Father, Conqueror. 

He had always had God’s favor.  And now his own son is leading the charge against him, and the people are saying God will abandon him.  Perhaps because he had failed so much.  He stole another man’s wife. He killed.  No wonder he’s in fear of losing everything that makes him who he was!

And how about us?

One of the worst fears women have has happened–we lost our husbands.  That sets off alarm bells for so many other real fears in the physical world–finances, protection, and physical companionship.  All of that has been threatened.  But sometimes, those fears pale in comparison to the fear of losing our identity. We’re no longer wives.  We don’t get invited out as much.  Even women treat us a bit differently.  Our worldly status feels diminished somehow, and we didn’t do anything to ask for that!

What David did with this fear applies to our specific journey of loss. Next Sunday in Part Two of Conquering Fear, I’ll explain how Psalm 3 helps move through fear and into the future with hope. I’m pausing here for today with one message. That we as widows are not the only ones who struggle with this fear. One of the greatest men of God in the Old Testament, the man God labeled as a man after God’s own heart, felt just as you do.  You are not alone, sister.

Tune in next week when I help you see what David did with this fear.  Perhaps you would like to read ahead in Psalm 3 and comment here how you learned about David moving forward.

Heavenly Father, please remove our fears, once and for all. Help us look up to You and not down at the scary sense of loss around us.  Amen.

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about loss of identity?  Here are some articles you might try:

A New Signature by Kit Hinkle

The Importance of Our Identity by Sheryl Pepple