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In 1986 my sister, a mother of four, died instantly in a car accident. It was my first experience of colossal grief. I was 27 and my first baby was 8 weeks old. Pain, fear and sobbing were my new roommates. Like a shark in deep black water or a never ending falling, it was a panicky, wide-eye’d, where can I run to experience. The longing - the unbelievable reality that it. is. over., never to hear, smell, touch, taste or see that person again. Utter despair. If you’ve ever lost someone before “their time” you know that for quite sometime the world looses color, nothing smells as sweet or looks as bright. Things become insignificant, completely falling off the radar. A clean house, mowed lawn, entertainment, even eating can take a back seat. The mind pulls the pain into our bodies and we retreat, into a jungle of grief. A retreat is necessary for us to lick our wounds and to begin healing. But because I was new to grief, there was an underlying fear. Will I ever get out of this jungle? Will life be worth living again? My first experience, in this jungle, was of thick vines that entangled my heart, swinging me from, laughter of sweet memories with her, to body-shaking sobs. I stumbled along week after week looking for a path, praying for a clearing. What I found was an extra measure of God’s enduring love! After about a year I staggered out the other side. I now know that sooner or later loss comes to everyone. It is a part of life and a great mystery. I learned to have empathy toward others and learned that those who have suffered make the most effective comforters.
Five years later, my sweet mother died from cancer, I was 33 but no longer a stranger to grief. With labored breath and falling tears I again stumbled into the jungle this time knowing that through faith and hope, I would come out the other side. God was waiting there for me and we started down the path. I learned that suffering produces intimacy with God. In Job 42:5 Job says, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” This deeper intimacy with God works together for our good.
In Job 42:5 Job says, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” This deeper intimacy with God works together for our good.
In 2005 my most beloved brother died from cancer, he was just 48 and it was awful. As I watched him slip away from me, the familiar jungle of grief was tapping on my shoulder. I dreaded the pain and separation with everything in me. But by now I had learned that I must get about the business of going through it. Pushing the elephant off my chest, I grabbed God’s hand with both of mine and walked intentionally into the jungle clinging to faith, hope and love. Suffering produces growth and maturity. I’ve learned that the people who are the most interesting and whom I like the most have always experienced some kind of deep pain or loss. I have learned that we can trust God to see to it that our suffering is not wasted.
Here’s what I know.
II Corinthians 1:3 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
It’s one of my earliest memories. I was three, my brother, Rob, five and it was nap time, the most dreaded part of the day. Rob and I, being the youngest of the brood of nine, were the only ones left that had to interrupt our glorious play to stop and take a nap. Ugh, I didn’t want to miss a thing!! So how does a mother of nine get her tiny house quiet enough for the two youngest to go to sleep while the other seven are running around? - - Her secret? A very dark room and the magic FAN! On HIGH. A blanket wrapped around each tiny head pretending to be Batman and Little Red Riding Hood. Desperate times call for desperate measures. My seasoned mother knew her children needed to sleep or they would pay the price, in fact the whole family suffers the consequences from a family member who hasn’t had enough sleep. To this day, nothing can lull me to sleep quite like the sound of an old, metal box fan. They sound much better than the flimsy, plastic ones. (I always have my eye out for one when I go to auctions and thrift stores.) When my husband and I were dating in college and I learned that he always went to sleep with a fan running, I knew we were kindred spirits.
So… who in your family, does not get enough sleep? Your kids? You? Starting today, how about you make seven to eight hours of sleep, a priority in your life? Wow! Think how good that would feel. Getting enough sleep will extend your lifespan, prevent weight gain, increase your immune system, ward of stress, help you to be more patient and make you a pleasant member of your family. To make it happen, you’ll need a plan and discipline to be successful. I encourage you to do ALL you can to sleep well, before going down the road of using sleep aids. Here are some ideas that have been helpful to me.
Set the scene. Keep your bedroom for sleeping only. No computers or TV. Make your room as dark as possible. Install pulldown blackout shades if needed. Keep your bedroom cool while sleeping. Invest in an awesome pillow. I like the Tony Little HoMedics Micropedic Sleep Pillow which runs about $40.00. Worth every penny! Get a decent set of bedsheets and different weighted blankets for the seasons. Buy a beautiful smelling candle and create a space that’s yours and is for sleeping! All this can be done for under a $100.00, the extra sleep will make everything better and it will improve your over all health, saving you thousands in avoided Dr visits.
Eat to Sleep: What we eat plays huge roll in either aiding our sleep or disrupting our sleep. Here is a good article from the blog “Pick The Brain” giving you a list of the best food suggestions to get a good night’s rest! Check it out and make the needed changes to your diet. Set good examples for your children and teach them how to eat right, to sleep better and live their best life.
Be Brave: If you are suffering from true insomnia it is possible that your nervous system has become upset because of underlying, unresolved issues - most often involving relationships. Through prayer ask God for help. Gather up your courage to seek professional advice from a counselor who can help you work through these difficulties. There is no shame in that and a noble thing to do. It is scary! But has the potential for great rewards, not just to your sleep but for bringing calm and peace to whole your life.
Making sleep a priority in our busy, bright, fast paced world is smart and good preventive living.
Making sleep a priority in our busy, bright, fast paced world is smart and good preventive living. Be brave and make the changes that you need to, to get a full night’s rest. And remember, you could always try . . . wrapping a blanket around your head and asking Grandma if you may have her old metal box fan. Ha!