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Grieving and Coping

FMSF News Alert - July 18, 2013

Dear Friends,

What follows are two letters recently received by the Foundation. The first is from a mother seeking advice on how to deal with the continuing pain over her broken family. The second is an essay describing what has worked for another family during their darkest times.

For some people, the answer provided in the second letter may have too many religious references. Perhaps changing some of the emphasis could also help those who have a severe sadness but do not seek solace in organized religion.

Please let us know if you have found a plan that works so that we might share it with other families.

Still Grieving

My daughter made her accusations and cut off all contact with us a little more than twenty years ago. As we live only three miles apart in a very small community you can imagine what our life has been like as she told everyone who would listen. At first her husband tried to be helpful, leading us to believe that we would always have a relationship with our grandchildren. This did not happen. They are now grown and one is married but there is no communication with them at the present time. To make matters even worse my son, who appeared to be ‘neutral’, I believe has gone over to the ‘dark side’ as have two long-time friends.

Years ago we made the decision to remain in our home, so sure were we that she would eventually reclaim her mind and once again become our loving daughter. By all accounts she and her husband are very successful people and very well off. However, one friend of mine who knows my daughter feels that she is ‘unstable’. This was not something I wanted to hear. I have thought about moving but because of my husband’s medical issues, this does not appear to be an option.

My husband and I are now in our late seventies and my husband has myriad of health problems including the beginnings of dementia. I had hoped that he would go quickly and forget he ever had a daughter. A very dear friend who is a psychiatrist has told us that this is not our problem, this is her problem. He also stated that we simply must ‘accept’ what has happened. Can you imagine just ‘accepting’?

If anyone in the FMS group can advise us how to stop this grieving please let me know so that we can, once again, try to have a happier life with the small window of time we have left.

Thank you for listening and if there is anything you feel I can do to make sure this never happens to anyone again just let me know. In the past I have written many letters, have gone to our state legislator and have written to the insurance companies. I tried to sue my daughter’s therapist but, unfortunately, [our state] does not accept third-party law suits.

--Just Another Grieving Mother

Learning to Cope:

Tom and Joyce Rutherford (Springfield, MO) - lost all 3 of their daughters to ‘recovered memory’ therapy. Over several years, the daughters began to return home one at a time. When the family was fully reunited, the Rutherford’s began to travel to speak to legislative groups and to devastated families. They kept track of their accumulative air miles for one year and the total equaled travelling around the earth at the equator 4 times.

When asked, "What helped you the most during your time of great fear and sadness?" This was Tom Rutherford’s reply:

1. Reading books or watching movies of injustice, rejection, pain and triumph

  • Joni Earkeson-Tada Story
  • Gandhi
  • Rudy
  • The Titans
  • The Hiding Place (Corrie TenBoom)
  • Soul Surfer
  • Dave Roever Story
  • The Great Debate
  • Fire Proof

Christian biographies (George Muller, Hudson Taylor, William Carry, Charles Wesley, etc.)---books/movies about ‘under dogs’, people’s whose lives were blown apart - (knowing of other people who have suffered made us feel not so alone and hopeless)...Note: some of these movies were not produced yet when we were in the middle of the fire, but are examples of things we tried to get our hands on. We often would watch a video several times or several times a year to help keep our perspective, and our sanity.

2. Journaling - sometimes I would write (like David in the Psalms of the Bible) the horrible blackness I felt - putting it into words. I’d then read my Bible till I got a word, a phrase, idea, story - inspiration - or glimmer of hope. Then tying a knot around it for that moment. I’d cling to it - review it - and comfort myself with it.

3. Prayer with friends or family - with people that were standing and believing ‘with’ us and ‘for’ us. There were those times that their strength would pour into our hearts and it would provide enough support for us to go another 24 hours.

4. Singing hymns out of the hymn book at bedtime - in the dark or with a flashlight - many times ‘off key’ (it suited my mood) - sometimes broken - sometimes squeaky voiced - it was soothing to sing songs like...‘A Mighty Fortress Is our God’ - (...a bulwark never failing...our helper He against the flood of mortal ills prevailing...). Just sing - - cry - - and find comfort enough to go to sleep.

5. Weeping - wailing - pouring out my heart to God in the house by myself. Coming to the end of myself by pouring out my grief to the ONLY one who knew it all...was relief valve.

6. Putting together puzzles - piles of disjointed puzzle pieces and mess. We’d put on Christian music or CD’s of Scripture being read with music in between. The picture of the puzzle would start to come together better than real life did. We bought puzzles with pictures of peaceful settings (cabin in the woods, a bungalow by the ocean). It was a comforting escape - - to daydream about relief...a place of peace!! It was soothing in its own way.

7. Nature times - a walk at night and seeing the heavens - knowing God was there, He sustains it all. Visit the ocean - watching and listening to the sights and sounds - it was a perspective adjuster.

8. Music was mentioned above but was the only thing that kept our sanity at times. How? Play it so loud that you couldn’t hear yourself think any more. There were times when I could not trust myself to be left alone with myself. So I played the Christian music so loud it wouldn’t allow my mind to think. It was a safe haven for me at the time.

9. Vacation. We didn’t have the money but decided that we just needed distraction. We booked flights to Florida and spent a lot of time walking along the ocean...reading good books, etc. When we came home nothing had changed but felt a little stronger inside.

10. Fasting - there were times when I was fasting and I would have totally blown everything if it wasn’t for the Lord reigning me in...stirring my heart to hold steady...I believe it was fasting that held me.

11. I should mention that there were some things that I couldn’t do or didn’t have: Laughter - I actually thought that I would never laugh again - the brokenness was overwhelming. And this was huge - I am a person that loves to laugh. Teach a Sunday School class - it was during this time that it was out of the question - it was difficult to believe and even more difficult to teach others to believe. My heart and life were so crushed. I felt I didn’t have any faith. However a definition of faith is: "A conviction that God can and a hope that God will." And today when I look back on our devastation, I realize I had more faith than I felt I had at the time.

12. Put something on the table for God to use. When our family was reunited our eldest daughter shared with us how much God used everything to turn her heart homeward.