Home/Laura

About Laura

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Laura has created 33 blog entries.

Grief Is Still In The Room

By |2024-05-03T17:48:13+00:00May 3rd, 2024|Categories: Laura's Blog, Uncategorized|

Sixteen years ago today, our lives were forever changed by the death of our youngest son Jamie.  As our minds tried to grasp the shock and horror of what had happened – grief instantly flooded the room.  On that day, and for many days and years later – grief filled the room.  Over the years there have been times when the grief was so strong that it acted like a bully – intimidating me with its’ power and control that it wielded over me. Doing its utmost to convince that this was all there was and that our lives were over.

It filled the room in such a way that it caused isolation from others, which led to anxiety and depression.  For me, grief has taken on many forms over the years. Some of which included – staying in bed all day, crying uncontrollably, unrelenting brain fog, sleepless nights, struggling to eat, irritability, numbness, shutting down and no desire to live.

Earlier this week our family got together to enjoy a meal and some fun fellowship together.  I couldn’t help but think of how different my grief now looks.  Grief was still in the room, but grief no longer had the power to isolate me from others in the room.  Grief no longer made the conversations awkward.  Grief was still in the room, but the tears were no longer uncontrollable.  Grief was still in the room but the space it occupied was much smaller.  It was no longer able to control me.  Because while grief was in the room, so was love and joy and laughter (without guilt).  I remember the first time I truly laughed after Jamie died and grief did its’ best to convince me that I should never laugh again.

The love that I had felt for other family members had never really left the room, but it was diminished at times simply because grief doesn’t respect boundaries – it overshadows everything.

Since relationships are the only thing we carry with us to Heaven, I believe grief never really ends on this earth, but it can and should change over time.  Paul encouraged the church in Thessalonica to “not grieve without hope.”

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope” 1 Thessalonians 4:13, KJV

I chose to grieve Jamie with Hope – the Hope that I had put in Christ since a young girl.  Grief mocked my hope.  To hold on to that hope meant working through my grief over the years to find a state of peace and acceptance over the loss our family suffered.  It has required a lot of mental, physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual work.  Because grief is hard work.

Grief is still in the room with me today, but it looks so very different.  There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t shed a tear over the life I once had.  But grief no longer keeps me from living the life God has called me to. My Hope in Christ keeps me from spending the day in bed to now having a calendar that stays quite full.  Some days my grief takes on the form of hiking, bike riding or journaling.  Grief is still in the room, but I control it – it no longer controls me.

If you’re grieving the loss of someone today, let me encourage you to do the hard work that grief requires.  So that one day you will be able to tell grief just how much space it can take up in the room.

 

My Hope Endures,

Laura Holmes, LPC

Founder/Ephraim Ministries

 

 

Pressing On

By |2024-01-29T13:21:18+00:00January 29th, 2024|Categories: Laura's Blog|

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13 (NIV)

Earlier this month we celebrated the start of a new year.  One thing I always loved about a new year was getting organized.  I developed a habit many years ago of using the down time from Christmas to New Year’s to sit down with my calendar and plan out my year.  I would put in the birthday/anniversary dates of family and friends.  Church activities and major things coming up in that year with our family.  Particularly in the lives of our children.  Anxiously awaiting all the wonderful things that year would bring.

When our youngest son Jamie died, almost sixteen years ago, I felt like the calendar became an enemy of mine.  What at one time documented so much hope, now only held sorrow. A canvas I would have filled with their activities. Yet now the silence overwhelmed me and paralyzed me with fear.  It was a painful reminder of 365 days of emptiness ahead of me.

Paul writes in Philippians 3:13-14 “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

When we lose a loved one, moving forward in life seems an unsurmountable task. Fear tells us that if we move forward, we are letting them go. That we will forget them.  There’s this feeling of guilt that we have let them down by continuing to live. Fear says there’s no way you can live without them.

But fear is a liar.

There were many days of overwhelming sadness and years of sleepless nights.  There were numerous occasions where I felt the pain would certainly kill me. But by the grace of God it didn’t.

I made a conscious decision to continue to press on towards Christ.  In pressing on I had to let go of the fear that kept me paralyzed.  In the beginning it was a moment -by-moment process. I had to surrender the trauma and put it under the powerful blood of Jesus Christ.  Those things were behind me now.

I also had to let go of my plans that once filled the calendar and surrender my future days to His plans.  Pressing on means that we are picking up our cross daily.  We take that thing that breaks our heart the most and instead of giving in to our feelings, we choose to continue serving wherever He leads.

During this most recent holiday season, I purchased my new calendar for 2024.  I sat down and started doing what I did so many years ago.  Writing in dates of birthdays and events coming up in the new year.  Church and work commitments.  In doing that, I found myself once again amazed at how God hears our prayers and restores.  My calendar is quite full of life these days. Down time happens when I intentionally put some on the calendar.  All because of the wonderful opportunities God has blessed me with.

If you are facing a season of loss, I want to encourage you to press on toward Jesus.  Allow him to bring life into those empty days.  Letting go of the fear and pressing on toward Christ is not letting go of your loved one.

Father, remind us that until you call us home we are here to reach others for the Kingdom.  The only way we can do that is my pressing on heavenward into Christ.  Help us not be paralyzed by our fear. But to be open to go where you call us.

My Hope Endures,

Laura Holmes

Director, Ephraim Ministries

Triggers Can Change

By |2022-10-10T17:34:15+00:00October 10th, 2022|Categories: Laura's Blog|

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

 

Triggers are a sensory reminder that can cause painful memories to resurface. They can be extremely debilitating and be a contributing factor to isolation when dealing with stressful life events.  While they can have a powerful impact on us, they don’t have to control our lives forever. Their intensity can change.

In the days and years following Jamie’s death it felt like everything was a trigger for me.  The end of summer was particularly hard to survive.  August and September contain a lot of birthdays for our family. After his death they were only painful events to endure.  The joy of being with family was overshadowed by the emptiness of his absence. I was thankful for the ones that were still in my life. But being thankful didn’t diminish the devastation I felt.  My emotions were all over the place and people felt that I should be “over it” and be completely in the moment. Staying home and isolating from people was safer – I lacked the mental strength to manage other’s emotions as mine were too overwhelming.

Walking into a store at the end of summer brought on full fledged panic attacks.  Just seeing a pack of pencils, or paper or glue sticks – a reminder of back to school would cause my heart to start racing with such intensity I just knew I was having a hard attack.

“I wouldn’t get anymore back to school shopping days with my boys.  It was all over for me.”

Other times walking into a store and seeing book bags or school supplies would reduce me to a puddle of tears that would cause me to run out of the store.  At 16, Jamie was driving with his learners’ permit.  He would drive me to the grocery store and shop with me.  He was tall enough to get things off the higher shelves for me.  And strong enough to bring in all the groceries when we got home.  I not only saw him everywhere in the store – but all his favorite things.  Every single part of grocery shopping was extremely triggering for me.  I struggled with being able to go into a store and shop at all for years.

But somewhere over the years, those triggers have diminished.  Yet, I don’t miss him any less.

In August of this year, we had a house full of family celebrating several birthdays and anniversaries.  I would have loved for him to have been there. But I was fully in the moment with the family.  I wasn’t triggered by everything that was said. Nor overwhelmed by his absence.

In August, I also found myself walking into a store to help purchase school supplies for a young girl whose living with us.  And without even thinking about it we went through her entire list successfully. Both smiling, and happy as we left.  No panic attacks, no triggering reminders to derail my plans.

We grieve over the person we lost in death.  But the triggers manifested from that grief can cause us to lose even more of our lives.  If we don’t make a conscious effort at some point to deal with those triggers.

Just as the intensity of grief can change over time – so can triggers.

You may need to avoid certain situations in the early days of grief.  But long-term avoidance will not help you rebuild your life after death.

Wherever you are at in your journey, let me encourage you to learn some healthy coping strategies for lessening the impact of triggers.

Some of my favorites include:

  • Spending time in the Bible/meditating on God’s promises and His truth
  • Exercising (I love being out in nature)
  • Journaling
  • Deep breathing
  • Staying connected to family/friends
  • Allowing myself to have downtime (disconnect from others/social media, etc.) to process my emotions in private so they don’t spill out in public
  • I give myself permission to say no to things

Healing is possible my friend with Jesus by our side.

 

My Hope Endures,
Laura Holmes

Director Ephraim Ministries

The Invisible Father

By |2022-06-02T15:22:54+00:00June 2nd, 2022|Categories: Laura's Blog|

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6, ESV)

I remember the day that Jamie died there were dozens of people at the hospital.  Within a few hours of the news getting out, there was easily a hundred people there.  So many that the ER staff set up a room just for Laura. Then, later at the hotel people came by in a constant flow to see Laura and give her comfort. All her friends were there, her “sisters”, ladies that she has known since childhood, cousins, aunts, her mother. People from our church (and previous church), LCA (Jamie’s school) and Liberty University were there offering comfort, help, hope. People were hovering around Laura in a constant flow of love.

I sat off to the side, quietly in a corner or outside the door. Close enough that if Laura needed me, I could be there in an instant but far enough for her support team to be there for her. Eventually my chair moved further away as more people came. I was slowly becoming invisible. Unless someone needed me to get something or to give up my chair. I slowly started to migrate outside. I spent my time walking around the hotel we were staying in because we couldn’t bear to go home. Walking around LU’s campus. Becoming even more invisible.

Society in general tends to give the mothers the most attention when it comes to the death of a child. I understand it. The mother carried that child for 9 months inside them. Nurtured and loved them from conception. They become one with the child. When that child dies, so does a part of them. A real part, their blood, flesh. It doesn’t matter if the child is lost in the womb, at birth or at 50 years old. They are still part of her. It’s understandable that, at a time of loss people tend to flock to the mother of the deceased.

As for the father, well we are supposed to be the strong one. The rock for our wife to lean on. The one to stand guard against all things evil. Yet we are not to show grief, we are not to cry, we must be strong for our wife, always be in control. We must be a MAN.

In those first few days after Jamie died, I can only remember 3 people that came to see me specifically. My boss from work, a friend from out of town, and one of my cousins that had lost a daughter a few years before. At first, I thought that my grief wasn’t important, that they didn’t care about my feelings. But when I looked around, I started to realize why no one was praying with me, crying with me, giving me words of comfort. There just weren’t many other men around, and the ones that were there just stood with their wife or girlfriend or outside talking or for lack of a better word, hiding.

I was one of those guys. I understood. I had done the same thing when a friend or family member had lost a child. I was like a shy child standing off to the side with my head hanging down and kicking dirt with the toe of my shoe, hoping no one could see me.

Men, we need to be more like our wives in that we need to be available to be a shoulder to cry on, we need to be the one that gives the fathers the support they need. We need to pray for our “Invisible Fathers”. Help them become a person again. Give them the love and support they need to be the man that his family really needs. A “Visible Father” that relies on God’s love and wisdom to guide his family through the most difficult thing they will ever face. So, the next time you are in the presence of a family grieving the loss of a child, go to the father and say to him, “I see you and I’m here to help”.

Keep Up the Fire

Chuck Holmes

Co-Founder & VP, Ephraim Ministries

14 Years Ago

By |2022-05-03T21:27:17+00:00May 3rd, 2022|Categories: Laura's Blog|

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”

Proverbs 11:14 KJV

 

14 years ago, that’s how long it has been since my life was “normal”.

14 years ago on April 25, 2008, I died but God allowed me to return. Little did I know that I would be cursing Him a week later.

Because 14 years ago, on the morning of May 3, 2008, I died again when my baby boy was taken from me, Again God saved me but kept my son Jamie. I was angry with God for doing that, Why Jamie today and not me last week? (For those who don’t know the story, I had a massive heart attack on April 25th).

Why was I being punished? What had I done to deserve this?

14 years ago, I thought my life was done. At least that was MY thinking, MY anger, MY unfaithfulness…

I had been in the hospital the last week of Jamie’s life.  When I got home, I was tired and quite irritable.  Anyone who met Jamie, knows he is an easy going and extremely laid-back person.  As a father it was my job to prepare him for the world. Someday he would be a husband and father (or so I thought).

What I knew of the world was that it was harsh.  I’m thankful to God for the ability to work for everything that He’s blessed with me.  But I didn’t want my sons to have to work as hard as I did.  I stayed on Jamie about school, organizing/cleaning his room, and being on his cell phone way too much.  One of my last conversations with him was an argument about the cell phone.  My harsh words with him over the phone ate at me for years.

Until I learned to focus on the truth of the situation.  Jamie’s in heaven now, he’s not replaying that conversation.  He understands that Dad was trying to prepare him for life as a grown man on this earth.  He knows I love him, and he understands and appreciates the sacrifices his Mom and I made for him.  He was extremely confident in his walk with Christ because of the love and guidance Laura and I modeled in our home.  Yet the enemy of my soul wanted me to focus on that one conversation.

It has taken me 14 years to fully understand why I was allowed to suffer through that and so many other trials. I have regained my faith in God, but it was a long road to travel. Sometimes I felt totally alone carrying the guilt and hatred in my heart, but eventually realized that it was Satan not God that was inflicting my soul. I had allowed Satan a stronghold in my life in the early years and didn’t even realize it. I had allowed depression, guilt, fear, hate and grief to take control of my life. Oh, I kept it hidden pretty- well.

As men we tend to do that. Men have this uncanny ability to take the bad and compartmentalize it and bury it deep in their subconscious. As an Army Veteran, I had suffered with PTSD before and knew what the monster looked like and knew how to keep it at bay. I courted the lair of my new monster daily, not quite letting it win me over. But in time I knew I had to destroy the monster, in order to get back to some semblance of a normal life. I was lucky to have strong men around me that counseled me back to reality. They fed me life sustaining advice from their own personal walks within the world and with God. Advice that was critical for me to survive one minute to the next. Men that even if they didn’t know the exact pain I was feeling could relate through other trails. I now know that God kept me around for a reason. A reason that is known only to him and is being revealed a little at a time. God has put people in my life that I have been able to help through this walk of grief and pain that we mutually suffer. God has kept my marriage intact, and it is stronger now than ever. God has given me purpose though sometimes I fail see it. But that is my own fault.

In time, with prayer and purposeful living, you can get through the feelings of depression, guilt, self-hatred and fear. Align yourself with a person that you can discuss your feelings with. A close friend, family member, pastor or counselor. Fill your mind with good thoughts of your loved one, don’t dwell on the bad days. What was said or done while they were living cannot be changed once they have passed, do not let those things steal your healing.

You will always grieve your loved ones, but it if you keep pressing into Jesus, it will get easier to live your life.

I am still in the same body as I was 14 years ago, but my mind is stronger.  My faith is restored.

If you’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death, don’t walk it alone.  As much as you may want to isolate from others – don’t do it.

“There’s safety in the multitude of counsel of others” – – you need Jesus! And you will need others to be speak Jesus into you when your feelings are completely overwhelmed.  When you can’t see a way out – don’t retreat men – reach out to others!

 

Keep Up the Fire,

Chuck Holmes

Co-Founder/Ephraim Ministries

 

Go to Top