Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Grief and Mourning for Those We've Lost

Are You Mourning a Loss This Thanksgiving?

Review This! lost our friend and fellow contributor Susan Deppner in 2017. It affected me deeply, even though I never got to meet her in person. I felt I knew her better than many of the people I have actually met. When you work together online for years, read each others heartfelt posts, share each other's joys and sorrows, and pray for each other, you form a deep connection. So all of us here at Review This! still miss Susan tremendously since cancer stole her from us.

Encouragement for Those Who Mourn
Photo © B. Radisavljevic

Cancer is a Thief

Cancer has stolen many I have loved from my life. It took both my parents. Dad was gone within days of his diagnosis. Mom had more notice -- a whole eight weeks. I had the privilege of caring for Mom in those weeks with help from Hospice. Here's my story of that time with a tribute to Mom. Being with Mom when she passed into the next life was precious. I wanted to see her off and I did. 

The same kind of cancer that took Susan from us also took one of my very best friends in 2010. A year earlier, the last time I'd seen her, was the previous Christmas. She lived five hours away from us, but we were in the area to see my brother on Christmas Day. 

making mochi together
Sandy and Her Mother Making Mochi Together for the Last Time
Photo © B. Radisavljevic

Sandy invited us to spend the morning and early afternoon before we were due at my brother's sharing a special annual event in the life of her extended family. Sandy's family is Japanese and traditionally met on Christmas each year to make mochi -- something I'd never heard of. I happened to have my camera so I documented the activities for a Squidoo lens that still lives on HubPages: How to Make Mochi. This is not a recipe, but a look into the home of a family that has been making this traditional Japanese food every Christmas to get ready for their New Year's Celebration. It was especially meaningful for us to be included because it was the last time we saw Sandy alive. Ironically, the next year, we attended Sandy's memorial service the day after Christmas. 

Both Susan and Sandy had friends and family who loved them. Both fought hard with faith and hope in their hearts. Both wanted to see their grandchildren grow up. Neither had the opportunity. Both were examples of living out the verse shown on the mugs below.

When God Calls a Loved One Home

We are never really ready for someone we love to leave our lives here on earth. Some leave us suddenly with no warning. Some linger for years fighting an illness like cancer. Maybe we have prayed they would be healed. We wonder why God did not answer that prayer in the way we hoped. Instead we've watched someone we love suffer. Was God not listening?

Many with strong faith, like Susan and Sandy, did not win their battles with cancer. Surely they did not die because they and their praying friends did not have enough faith. Yet some try to lay blame on those very people and tell them they just didn't pray with enough faith.

Edith and Francis Schaeffer founded L'Abri Fellowship, based in Switzerland, to help young people or any others who came to stay in their community find answers to their questions about faith. They were very strong Christians who served God with all they had. Though people all over the world were praying for him, Francis died of cancer.

 During the time Francis was ill, Edith wrote a book about the reasons we have suffering and affliction in our lives as she watched her husband slowly leave her. She helps us grapple with the "Why?" of the pain in our lives. She explains why those prayers for healing may not be answered the way we like.

 I highly recommend this book to all who are trying to understand why they or their loved ones are suffering. I have owned the book for about thirty years now, and I've passed it to many friends who've had cancer and wanted answers. They fought, but they did not all win.

Knowing Why Doesn't Do Much to Make Grief Go Away

memorial wreath
Jason's Grave: A friend made the wreath. © B. Radisavljevic

I've had my share of grief and bereavement. Both my children preceded me in death. I lost both parents. Our best friend took his own life when he believed cancer would steal his mind. Another very close friend died of cancer in 2013. I should have earned a doctorate in the school of hard knocks for dealing with grief by now. One can and does get through it, but it always leaves an empty place and a scar in the heart. Here's what I've learned through my grieving experiences: How to Grieve and Go on with Life.

Our country music contributor, Barbara Tremblay Cipak, shares part of her grief journey after losing her dad in The Incredible Power of Love. The video she shares there is a fitting end for this post.

Grief and Mourning for Those We've Lost: Encouraging words and help for working through grief
© B. Radisavljevic

Have you lost a loved one recently? What helps you deal with your grief? Feel free to comment or ask questions below. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. I lost my favorite aunt recently, just about 2 weeks before Susan and have been in a Blue funk over it. I also lost 2 sisters, my best friend, both my parents, and my favorite sister in law, among others so I too feel I have way too much grief to handle sometimes. Not to mention my 2 favorite dogs ever. Life does go on though, doesn't it? I hope God has some time for me when I get there, because we need to have a long talk!

    1. I think God will always have time for you. He has lots of time for you already. The big question is whether we give him enough time in our busy lives to get through the noise around us.

  2. I'm sure we've all experienced the loss of loved ones too soon (even after 45 years together, losing hubby Bob to cancer was still way too soon), plus parents and two siblings and a favorite sister-in-law. Grief is no stranger to almost everyone, or will be eventually. Knowing that simple fact never makes it easier when it comes.

    1. No, grief never is easier just because it has come to you before. Every fresh grief requires a new grieving process to get through it and back to one's almost normal life. Cancer stole your husband from you, and I can't even imagine how painful that was. I don't even want to think about the hole in my life losing my husband of 53 years would leave.

  3. I remember that Mochi article Barb! It was wonderful that you have that enjoyable memory of a great time spent with your friend. I am sure it is only one of many. You are of course right. We all experience grieving the death of someone we love. Those of us who live on this earth for decades, will go through it many times. Susan's death has hit all of us really hard. I pray for peace and understand for all of her friends, and certainly for her family. I love that quote at the beginning of this post. We are all swimming together!

    1. That's the hard part, isn't it? To keep swimming when we'd just like to stop and rest and do the grief work. I suppose that's why so many of us are writing in response to losing Susan. It's part of the grief work to write about it. Losing Susan brings to mind the other losses of loved ones we miss. I hope it will also remind us to hold close the ones we love that are still with us and let them know every day how much they mean to us.

  4. Thank you Barbara for this most fitting review. Grief is an emotion that many people struggle with. There is no right and no wrong way to go about life when grief strikes. Part of the problem with growing older, is that you will indeed lose friends and family along the way. My father, aunt and brother all have died and sometimes even now, that wave of emotion can strike out of the blue. Having faith certainly helps, but the holes in the heart never really heal completely. Thank you for this insight.

    1. Certainly everyone does grieve differently. Sometimes, after the death of a child, couples have divorced because of their different grieving styles because one thinks the other doesn't care. One of the hardest things when one has suffered a fresh loss is seeing the rest of the world go on as usual, as though nothing is wrong when in one's own heart, everything is wrong and it seems the earth itself should stay still for a bit as one adjusts. Of course, the earth and life around us never stands still. It's we who need to take time to be still and care for ourselves and rest as our mind and bodies adjust to this new reality in our lives. Faith can bring peace, but even Jesus wept at the grave of his friend before bringing him back to life.

  5. Barbara, I am so sorry for all the loss you've suffered through in life. You've had a lot to cope with, especially having not only lost your parents, but to also be pre-deceased by your children - I can't even imagine how hard that is. And of course, now Susan. When we suffer this much loss, we begin to view the meaning of life differently. I pray that you have found your peace with all this pain and that you will continue to move forward our human journey. One of my favorite sayings is the one that goes like this "we aren't human beings having a spiritual experience, we're spiritual beings having a human experience". As the years go by, this becomes more and more real. Hugs.

    1. I like that saying. I hadn't heard it before. I still have quite a few human experiences to go, I fear, before this journey is over.

  6. Barbara, I, too, am extremely sorry to learn that you have lost so many of the people you hold dear. Your strength and resilience are remarkable. Like you and many others who knew loved Susan, her death has affected me deeply and I continue to grieve her loss and, like Cynthia, pray for peace and understand for her many friends and family. Thank you for having the courage and heart to share your own experiences with loss and grief and what you have learned from them.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. It takes time, but although we do continue to grieve, most of us do eventually reach that peace. I"m trusting Susan's family will also reach that peace in time.

  7. Barbara, I do believe that writing about someone dear who passed is a form of therapy. I wrote about both my mother and my sister after they died. I also remember thinking on the day I walked out of the hospital where my mother drew her last breath, "How can everything just seem like nothing has happened? How can everyone just go on?" As you said, the world "never stands still." The act of grieving is different for each of us and we find our way of coping with it. I know for me, my grief over Susan was similar to when I lost my only sister. I still keenly miss Susan's sweet presence. I think of her every day, and yes I wrote about her too. I still feel the emptiness inside. My writing of Susan hurt, but in some way seems to have relieved me of some of my grief. Writing about her also allows me to realize how real she was in this world of farce. She meant so much to so many of us. Thank you for writing this, and for being the strong woman you are. God Bless.

    1. I'm sorry I'm so late in replying to your comment. After I wrote this, life took off again and I didn't remember to come back and check my comments until now. I know we will all miss Susan for a long time, and writing does help us along with the grieving process. Thank you for your kind words.


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Review This Reviews is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner

We may be apart, but
You Are Not Forgotten

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