Archives For grief

Cremating family members?

Lisa Cherry —  April 28, 2016

Quite frankly this is a discussion I would like to avoid. Cremation vs. burial of the dead.

It seems that most discussions of the issue happen when emotions are raw. No one wants to ever imply that someone did a "wrong" or "bad" thing in how they chose to care for a deceased relative. So when I stumbled upon John Piper's sensitive discussion of the issue, I was intrigued.

Perhaps this is a "sticky topic" it would be good to cover here before it catches any off us off guard in a moment of grief.

I did not know that the statistics toward cremation had shifted so dramatically.

"There has been a skyrocketing preference for cremation over the past decades in the United States (1960 — 3.5%; 1999 — 24.8%; 2014 — 46.7%; in some states over 75%)."

I think Rev. Piper's sensitivity is clear when he accurately states there are no "mandates" in scripture on this issue. However, his points of concern I believe are well taken.

"...the afterlife has never been viewed as the 'immortality of the soul' finally liberated from its physical prison. Rather Christianity has always viewed the body as essential to full humanity so that the life to come has primarily been seen as the resurrection of the body in glorious eternal life."

I would add another to his concerns. It relates to the grief process to those who are left behind. I have noticed the trends when their is no body awaiting burial. Saying good by sometimes seems confused.

Since their is no body awaiting burial, memorial services are frequently delayed to a "more convenient time" which can, for some loved ones, delay the grief recovery.

What is right for your family? Armed with this article you will be ready to wade into the conversations.

Image: Bryan "Headstones fore and aft"  via Flickr Creative Commons
License: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)



  Brenda and Todd

What does a mother do when her prayers to save her son appear to go unanswered?

 How can we continue to serve our God in faith?

This summer around a vacation spot pool, I met a precious mom who is learning those tough lessons...and finding peace in the arms of her Father.

Parents, this side of heaven we will not totally be able to explain why some live....and some die. But we do know that God is a good God and His love in times of loss is unshakeable.

 I hear from many of our Frontline Moms and Dads. We are up against tough experiences in raising our kids. I asked my new friend, Brenda Lurtey, to share her thoughts with us.

I believe her raw candor will strengthen your heart. Maybe you know someone else who needs this also. 

Pass it on.....

Her facebook page is: Remembering Todd Lurtey


 “Mom, I might die when I’m young.”

 “Todd, don’t say that! I don’t want you to die when you’re young!”

 “Well, if God wants me, He wants me and there is nothing you can do about it.” With those words, my six-year son Todd turned and walked out of the room.

To this day, I have no idea what prompted Todd to come to me that day, but his words came true just ten years later.

Todd was the second born of my four children. He had always been a happy, active, and healthy child, but in September 2012 his side began to hurt and just a month later he was diagnosed with a malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor.

At first, the doctors seemed hopeful that chemotherapy would be successful, but in just one month and in spite of chemotherapy treatments, the tumor had actually doubled in size. The tumor was invading his right kidney and was wrapped around his vena cava. The situation looked bleak.

Thankfully, after much discussion, our doctors set plans in motion and the day after Thanksgiving, Todd was transported to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC, where the entire football-sized tumor was successfully removed by a transplant team. The surgeon told my husband and me he believed Todd would go on to live a full and healthy life.

I had great hopes that Todd would be able to start the second semester of his ninth grade year and we would be able to put the cancer journey behind us. By January he began to have more pain and scans revealed another tumor had formed in his vena cava. Medically speaking, there was nothing more that could be done for him.

Todd lost his battle with cancer on May 10, 2013 just two months after his sixteenth birthday.

Todd’s cancer journey may seem sad and it may appear that nature just took its course, but I have come to see things from a different point of view. The Lord had a lot to teach me regarding His plans versus my man-made agenda, and it’s been a long and difficult battle.

When Todd died, I was emotionally devastated, but even more so I was spiritually devastated.

I was very disappointed in God. He wasn’t who I thought He was.

Literally thousands of people had prayed for Todd’s healing. I claimed verses that, to me, meant God would heal Todd no matter how bleak the situation seemed. Matthew 8:2 says, “And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him saying, ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.’

I had tried so desperately to do everything in my power to save my son’s life. I wondered how God would receive any glory if Todd just died as, I assumed, everyone thought he would. I thought the only way God would receive any glory would be if He healed Todd. Although I tried to trust that God’s ways were best, I battled dark and sad emotions.

Several months after Todd died, a lifelong friend reminded me that a drowning person couldn’t be saved until they stop flailing. I wondered if that was how God viewed me.

He waited to send me a lifeline until I was ready to stop fighting Him and be still before Him. When I quietly asked Him for answers, He met my needs in a powerful way.

One beautiful morning I plopped down by Todd’s grave and began to cry. “Lord, why did you heal Todd in Charleston if You were just going to take him away?” I felt as though Todd’s brief health recovery had just been a tease.

Although His answer was inaudible, He spoke His answer straight to my heart…“To give you time.”

From that moment on, I began to look back and appreciate the time God had given us and to realize with tremendous gratitude, His love for Todd and for me and for our whole family in all of the circumstances leading up to Todd’s illness and death.

We made precious family memories after Todd’s surgery and up until the day he died. The Lord could have taken him before any of those events took place.

In reading God’s Word, I realized that Todd’s days were numbered before the beginning of time. Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me when as yet there were none of them.” That verse showed me Todd was always going to be born on March 4, 1997 and he was always going to die on May 10, 2013. Cancer did not cut Todd’s life short.

I also realized the Lord didn’t have to give him to me at all. I was blessed to be Todd’s mother for sixteen wonderful years. His life was God’s gift to me and one I will always cherish.  

Throughout Todd’s illness I observed an unbelievable peace in his life. It wasn’t a peace Todd mustered up in his own strength. The peace I observed was the peace God promised in Philippians 4:7, which says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

In the days leading up to the actual diagnosis I gave way to despair wondering if Todd had cancer, but when we had the confirmation that Todd actually had cancer, my heart only experienced peace. It was not that I felt no emotion at such a devastating diagnosis, but in the midst of it, God gave me His inexplicable peace and I knew He was in control. I saw His peace in Todd’s life.  

Todd was fifteen years old at the time of his diagnosis. While all of his friends were starting high school and playing soccer, he was lying in a hospital bed with chemo flowing through his veins, yet through it all, his bright smile remained. Only God could have given him that kind of peace.

I also came to realize that God has a Master Plan and whether or not I understand, it must not determine whether or not I trust it.

As we walked with Todd through his cancer journey, one of the main passages of scripture that troubled me was John 11. Why did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, yet He did not heal my son when so many people asked God to heal him? Jesus wanted to visibly show the people that He was/is the Resurrection and the Life. At that time, they only knew there was a resurrection to come. They did not yet believe that the Man standing before them truly was the Resurrection and the Life.

I have the written Word of God and everything I need to know and believe about life and death is found in that book. Because Jesus died and rose again, and because Todd accepted His free gift of salvation, Todd lives today.

Death had no victory over Todd. He simply passed from this life into the next. John 11:26 says, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God.” That statement is what the Lord has chosen to reveal to me about Todd’s death. It happened for His glory.

Even if the Lord has chosen to heal Todd of his cancer, he still would have died one day. Death is the curse of sin. I began to wonder if all the while I was trying to spare Todd from death by cancer, the Lord was sparing Todd from far worse things in this lifetime. I thank the Lord all the time that my precious son is now safe from all the evil in this world.

I miss Todd more than I can express, but I do not sorrow as others who have no hope.

I have more than a hope that I will see Todd again. I have a promise from the Creator of the Universe.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 says, “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”   I look forward to that day with all my heart.

Until then, my Savior holds my treasure!

 IMG_1178.JPG (2)

By Lisa Cherry Valentine’s Day is bittersweet for us this year.

We are celebrating the incredible gift of love in our home as we are also remembering where we were last year when our grandbaby, little pre-born Esther Kate, was born to live with Jesus.

So many of you have asked me over the months how Kalyn and Adam are doing. Your thoughtfulness and support are so appreciated. I believe our story is one of beauty for ashes. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Out of deep pain, my children have found their God in profound ways.  Kalyn is ministering her journey through grief on her blog that is healing hearts: Mommy’s Heavenly Dream.

Today, in honor of my grandbaby Esther, I want to share Kalyn's recent post that grabbed my heart. Esther... you will never be forgotten.

11 Things Esther Taught Me – A Reflection on the Last Eleven Months

by Kalyn from Mommy's Heavenly Dream

The last month has been very interesting in our family. I’ve had so many things on my mind, but haven’t gotten them all down in writing. Our first Christmas without Esther, entering a new year, and lots of other adjustments.

I can hardly believe that Esther’s first birthday in heaven is coming up in less than a month. It still seems like she was just here. But then, I realize just how long this year has been as we have walked through this grief.

The 15th marked eleven months since we met our tiny girl, and said goodbye until heaven. I’ve been reflecting a lot on these last months and how our family has changed – how I have changed. In light of the eleven months we have been on this journey, I wanted to share 11 things that I have learned from my second daughter’s life.

Through Esther, I have learned…

1. The absolute privilege it is to carry a child. To be pregnant, nurturing life within my own body. There is nothing like this incredible gift. It is so easy to take for granted. Esther taught me the reality of this miracle.  

2. How to be brave. Eleven months ago I walked through things I never thought I could live through. In so many ways, Esther made me brave. I had to rise up and be her mommy – even when it meant a silent birthing room and a funeral instead of a welcome home party. The strength I have gained walking through the last year sometimes surprises even me.

3. To hold both tightly and loosely to those I love. Tightly, because this life is temporary, and sometimes shorter than we think. And loosely, because our loved ones don’t really belong to us. We are not always in control. But God has an eternal plan that is far better than anything in this fragile life.

Click here to read more.


  Related Post What Esther Kate Taught Her Grammy

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By Lisa Cherry

When I read Kalyn's post I was dealing with some parenting irritations. I got my attitude adjusted in tall order!!!!

Perhaps you could use a little help dealing with annoying parenting situations???

pink-flower-300x219One of the Hardest Things to Hear After Losing a Baby…

by Kalyn from Mommy's Heavenly Dream

One of the hardest things for me to hear is a pregnant woman complaining. When I hear someone say they are so exhausted, or wish they were not gaining so much weight, or can't do all the things they love now, or won't be able to manage their home when this baby is born...I can literally feel a seething inside me. I want so bad to get right up in their face and tell them to just thank God their baby is ALIVE. I feel like they have no idea how many of us fellow moms would literally  Click here to read the rest of Kalyn’s post at Mommy’s Heavenly Dream

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