Never will I forget the placement of my desk on the back row in a fifth-grade classroom on November 22, 1963. Right after lunch, Mrs. Walkingstick interrupted the class, and tears flowing down her face announced that President Kennedy had been shot and killed. As the year 1963 came to an end, I remember hearing the song “Auld Lang Syne.”There was a deep sadness that came over me during the days before the New Year. I realize now it was the first time I pinpointed the loss of innocence as part of my life experience.

I grieved the assassination of a president, someone I didn’t even know personally. Grief is an integral part of life that none of us escape. There are some losses so overwhelming we wonder whether we can go on living. I want to run from my pain, but I also know I must learn to accept and embrace it. How we handle our pain and grief is a key factor in how we manage life.

I now listen to the pain and suffering of my heart. Heartache shows us where we need to make changes. I understand hopelessness begins the moment I stop and focus only on my pain and suffering. Like flowing water that is dammed up and becomes stagnant, my heart can do the same thing. When suffering and pain consume the heart, and there is no release for those feelings, I die a slow death.

When we try to keep the pain and suffering out of our hearts so we won’t hurt so much, it hinders our life right now. We can try and stop the ebb and flow of life and the tragedies that come our way, but holding on to or attempting to avoid the pain and the hurt only makes it worse. (There is no Closure with Grief and Loss)

When the love of Christ fills my broken heart, hope springs to life inside of me. I let love water my heart and let death and hopelessness be released so love and new possibilities can flow in and out. Let death and life flow out of you by releasing all your cares to God. Look at the sunset and be reminded God is in the midst of all the pain and hurt and suffering. Look beyond today to see the beauty of creation and that God takes dead things and brings them alive again and makes them new. (Break Open and Blossom in Life)

Let the pain touch you and say your goodbyes but also say hello to new hope and God’s love. Don’t let your thoughts and feelings dictate who you are in your grief. Life is more than your sorrow or pain. The contemplative life is learning to release our thoughts and feelings back to God. Do you need to be reminded God has said your loved ones are not dead? In His plan, there are no mistakes, and everything will be all right. Let go of your grief and let the love of God flow in and out of your heart. Be like Job, who lost everything, but confidently proclaimed, “I know that my Redeemer Lives!”

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