I clenched Barry’s hand as the doctor approached us. I anxiously examined his face for signs of good news, but his face was grim. We had suspected cancer; we just hadn’t thought about it being the incurable kind. As the doctor spoke the words, our hearts started beating faster and our palms became sweaty. Letting go of each other’s hand, we wrapped our arms around each other. We hugged yet we were too numb to cry. We had no idea how much time he had left, except that it could be, at the least, six months.
The events leading up to this moment had been like riding a rollercoaster of emotions. First the news of a mass, then a second opinion found nothing that would indicate cancer, and finally the fatal diagnosis of stage 4 esophageal cancer. My grieving started immediately, followed by many days of praying.
“Take me instead, Lord!”
“Please heal him, I’ll do anything you want.”
God answered those prayers but not in the way I wanted. By the time he died, my heart felt like it had been torn in half. I had never before encountered such a strong sense of absence. It was like there were pieces of me that had died with him.
At the first anniversary of Barry’s death, I was still feeling the occasional waves of grief. They hit me when I least expected. My eyes would fill with tears and then like a waterfall…they were everywhere. My grief journey and how I found my way through it, is written in the Amazon best seller, Emerge: Real Stories of Courage and Truth.
I questioned God in prayer, “Why did I have to go through this? What is the purpose of my grief? How can I help others who are in grief, to have comfort and peace?” For those were the things I longed for.
The idea of creating special gift bags came to me one evening. I spent time praying over which items to include, and then shared the concept with my best friend. She and her husband spent time with the benevolence ministry and she agreed it would be a good gift to give to a widow. She asked what they were called. I said, “Comfort Bags, in Lieu of Flowers.”
When I reached out to my facebook friends to see what they thought, I was overwhelmed with positive remarks. Here are two responses I received:
“This is beautiful. My mom would have loved something like this when my dad passed away. Thank you for doing this. What a blessing.” – Tori H.
“I didn’t send flowers…this is SO much better.” – Luann W.
The comfort bag is a durable, reusable canvas bag with the scripture Isaiah 40:31 imprinted on it. Inside is a beautiful remembrance book in a deep cranberry tone with the names of God embossed in the cover and a bible verse written at the bottom of each page. A devotion book titled, Prayers and Promises for Times of Loss provides warmth and compassion to each woman. The music has several soothing hymns to relax you, while the floral-embroidered handkerchief will help keep the tears from rolling down your face.
Why Flowers Alone Will Never Last Longer Than The Grief?
I received many bouquets of flowers given in sympathy and love, by family, church friends, and Barry’s co-workers. The arrangements were full of bright and cheery colors’ and were a wonderful display of love and appreciation to Barry’s life. But within a week, the flowers began to wilt, the colors faded and eventually they turned brown. Although the flowers were given with love, the cheer they would give only lasted a short while.
As I struggled to make it through an entire day without accidently calling Barry on the phone, I found peace by writing letters to him. I shared how my day went and what he missed by not being there. It was a way to hold him close to my heart, even though I knew I wouldn’t ever see him again on this earth.
Here is part of a letter written to him on Aug 19, 2013 (one month after he died)
When I was walking on the beach and I thought of you. I miss holding your hand and giving you a kiss. I know you are in a better place, but this living without you, is harder than living with you with cancer. At least – I could see you and talk to you. I miss all those things and more about being with you.
I am thankful to have this journal to share my heart and life with the one I loved, and it has already lasted longer than a bouquet of flowers.
Will A Comfort Bag Really Console My Loved One?
My friend Linda summed up grief when she said,
“It’s difficult to get people to understand unless they have been through it themselves.”
Unfortunately, death is inevitable, and grief will continue to touch our lives.
Our experiences may be different, but the items in my comfort bag will continue to encourage you in each day. The contents have been tested and approved by those who have experienced the death of a spouse or loved one.
I met Rhonda after a local business meeting. She was thankful to discover she wasn’t the only widow in the room; that someone else would understand her “runaway” tears. Seeing the need, I blessed her with a bag and she wrote this note back to me:
“I want to thank you for my comfort bag. I love the journal and use it to write letters to Tim to tell him what’s going on in my life and our families. That is one of the many things I miss – being able to talk and share everything with him in person.”
Peggy’s daughter died by suicide. When I saw her weeping at church, I sensed that her grief was heavy and so I gave her a bag.
“I was touched by this gift, Sue. Thank you for thinking of me. I listened to the music in the car and it helped me relax and remind me to trust God. And I started using the journal immediately by writing to my daughter and telling her how much we love and miss her.”
Each item in the comfort bag was hand-selected for a special purpose in mind, to comfort those in grief and loss. In addition, you will receive some exclusive items, “made with my love.” These include writing prompts to get started in your journal, along with a personal prayer card that will easily fit in your wallet, or clip it to your visor so it will always be with you when those waves of grief come, and a personal note from me, someone who knows grief firsthand.
We Are To Comfort Others In Their Affliction
The bible tells us that God will always comfort us and He wants us to do the same for others.
Blessed be [… ] God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 New International Version
Grief will come upon you when you experience the loss of someone close to you, a friend, an animal, or when your house burns down. Grieving is normal part of life and affects everyone differently.
I’ve had the privilege of gifting these comfort bags to nearly 50 women, and I’d like to be a part of comforting your loved one too.
God is close to the brokenhearted and rescued those whose spirits have been crushed – Psalm 34:18, New Living Translation
My bags are an inspirational gift available to any woman who is grieving, no matter what the circumstance that brought her to it. It is a gift that lasts long after the flowers fade.
Consider ordering this unique sympathy gift for those you know in grief, whether they’ve said goodbye to a loved one, or have been given a fatal diagnosis. They will be comforted.
Purchase your gift today on Paypal