Death of a Child and Parental Heart Failure from Stressful Grief

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The intense grief for a mother who has had to endure the passing of her child or children is one of the hardest roads to walk in human existence. I have been told over and over again; the extent to which we grieve correlates to the extent we have loved. If this is true, my love has been deep, wide, and right to the soul. As mothers, we work on protecting our children every day of our lives, and when they leave our world it feels like the biggest betrayal of life ever. I was told once by an army lieutenant whose mother lost her older child that there is nothing more sad and daunting than the cry of a grieving mother. I have to agree. I feel sad for those who have had to hear me grieve the loss of my two children. It is not for the weak, that’s for sure.

Unfortunately, the grieving process we read about in books does not often talk about physical issues the grief of a child can bring, such as heart failure. It makes sense to me because it is the greatest heartache I think I have ever felt in my life. According to the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, MD, a grieving parent has at least a 35% higher risk of developing heart failure than non-grieving parents due to the stress of the event. This statistic in and of itself shows the care that must be given to a grieving mother, especially during the first year or so after the passing of her child. The grief will never fully go away but will settle into a part of everyday existence.

Good medical care, a lot of loving support, and caring counselors are what truly help during grief cycles. Also, meditative methods, time alone to process the loss and those who understand are also helpful. One of the hardest parts of grief is feeling so misunderstood only second to the loss itself. Life goes on without us as mothers while our hearts truly break. I have always believed our emotional and spiritual state will eventually be spoken to us through our physical bodies as they reflect our state of being. It only goes to show the breaking of our emotional hearts, the feeling of life betrayal, and the hardship of not having our loved one can eventually break our physical hearts to the point of heart failure. Our hearts speak out, “Life has failed me so now I am failing.”

It’s a difficult cross to bear as life seems to dish out events that feel very unfair. Can we, as grieving mothers, ever overcome the trauma? Of course, we can. Hopefully, we can overcome trauma before irreversible heart failure happens from the intensity of loss and grief of the loved one we have carried all of our lives. We will never stop carrying them, that is for sure.

Loving you from here,

Dr. Rev. Jenine Marie Howry

**Wei D, Li J, Janszky I, Chen H, Fang F, Ljung R, László KD. Death of a child and the risk of heart failure: a population-based cohort study from Denmark and Sweden. Eur J Heart Fail. 2022 Jan;24(1):181-189. doi: 10.1002/ejhf.2372. Epub 2021 Nov 16. PMID: 34693593.

Every Child Born is in Divine Timing

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I was told, as the story goes, I was not expected to be here. I guess better words are my parents never thought they could have another child after my sister. I was supposed to be here though. Maybe I taught my parents about miracles? I’m not sure, it was their lesson. My lesson has been about divine timing. Do you ever get the feeling God puts us together in circles of others like puzzle pieces to make a bigger picture?

I’m not sure creating a huge puzzle is God’s intention regarding creation but I do know we are no good without each other. Without one of us a piece is missing. When I was 21 years old I gave birth to a son. I was stretched in my ability to be a new mother and yet blessed to have him for 20 years. It’s hard to imagine someone coming into our lives and then having to leave after just 20 years. It’s a long time, two decades, but a small amount of time to have a son on the earth.

I often wondered if he was born at the wrong time, but that would disrupt my belief we all have divine timing and a purpose. I’m not sure my son found his purpose, and I’m still not even sure I have found the lesson I learned as his mother. Patience is always a lesson but maybe strength is a better one to speak of here. I raised him mostly on my own. I saw things in myself I did not like and things that I never thought possible in myself.

His timing was never a mistake. God does not make those kind of mistakes. Having him and each of my children was a glimmer of hope that this world could be a better place just by bringing in someone new. I suppose I never thought I was giving birth to my future but my children aligned my future for sure.

Birth itself is a miraculous thing. It’s not easy but God always blessed me with joy after the sorrow. Isn’t God just like that? We go through sorrows but joy always comes as a result. Maybe sometimes that joy is simply relief. Maybe sometimes it is hope being revealed. Every child is a divine reason to have joy. I believe each one of us was born at just the right time, the right place, for the right reasons. Our earthly minds can’t always perceive those things but the higher part of ourselves can come to understand God’s wisdom within it all. It’s great to be a creator with God, isn’t it?

One night, over 2000 years ago, a little baby was born and His life seemed to be far before the world’s time. Yet His purpose was right on time. His death was on time as well. God knows the number of our days before we even come here. I think if we knew them we would never learn or teach the lessons we are here for.

Every single child, person, individual, is born at the right time, the right place, and for the right reason. It does not matter how the child gets here. Remember Jesus was born out of wedlock, was raised by a step father, His conception not planned by human timing, but His coming was divine and right on time.

Loving you from here,

Dr Jenine Marie Howry, PhD

Jenine Marie Coaching and Ministries LLC


Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Prayer to Begin Healing

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I know, childhood sexual abuse is not an easy subject to talk about, especially when so many people go to such great lengths to hide it and stuff it away. It’s never hidden as much as anyone thinks it is though. Of course God knows. God knows everything. Children eventually grow up to be adults and they become aware what happened to them was not right. Until then, the issue is usually stuffed somewhere continually adding to soul scarring. Life moves on and people get caught up with whatever it is that is being attended to at the time. There is always something, but deep inside the issue is still brewing.

It’s easy to pass it off because it only happened once, or maybe it will heal with enough love from someone else. Maybe God will heal it? Yet, unless it is discussed and dealt with it never gets healed. This is the truth. God can know but there are others who know. There is the victim and the one who did the person wrong. They know. Usually other family members do as well but don’t want to admit it. It gets shamefully stuffed under some seemingly magic carpet and no one talks about it.

Then as the victim grows up there are signs that come to the surface that everyone wants to point fingers at. Maybe the victim carries too much protective weight, or sometimes their life suddenly seems to be in disarray and no one understands, not even the one abused. Fear keeps it all under a boiling pot and a lid is put on the surface. For the victim it’s always fear of being shamed, people getting angry at them, leaving them, or even worse harming them. For the abuser the fear is always shame as well but with that comes fear of exposure for what they are and the hurt they caused.

I know this sounds hard but the best thing that could ever happen is for the lid to be taken off the boiling pot. Unfortunately it has to be the victim who has to become strong enough to make that move. Yet, it is the best thing that could ever happen. Only the truth sets people free and only the truth can allow things to be healed. Keeping things held tightly will only keep the soul sick for both victim and the abuser. Only soul sickness can cause soul sickness upon someone else.

I want to start the process of healing for you if you are a victim of childhood sexual abuse and offer this prayer. I hope it will give you an opportunity and strength to confront the truth with the one who caused the most damage, the abuser.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Your love and grace endure forever. For all of those reading who have endured sexual abuse as a child, I ask for the courage to be honest with what they have endured. Lead them to still waters with someone who will listen and will have compassion upon them. Father, You have witnessed it all. It will be exposed now or later but it will always be exposed. I also ask for those abused to have courage to safely confront the abuser if this is possible. Victory in all areas of abuse brings the biggest healing that could happen. Forgive the abuser Father. Give that person the ability to face what they have done and to be sorrowful for the harm they have caused. Sexual abuse might happen for a small period of time but the effects can last a lifetime. Father, heal your sons and daughters all the way to the soul level and beyond. Bring peace where there has been no peace. Bring humility where there has been no repentance. Please bring wholeness where healing begins. Surround Your children with love and compassion but I ask that You also bring discipline to the one who has caused more pain then they want to admit to themselves.

We thank you, Father, that you are a caring and miraculous God. Let the healing and the hope begin right now, at this moment. May tears fall and may they water the gardens of those who need Your help and healing touch. We love you, dear God.

Amen and amen

As always, I love you from here,

Dr Jenine Marie Howry, PhD

You Can’t Heal from Love: Surviving the Loss of a Child

th0UQQ2EAJI wish I could come at this one as a professional but I can’t. I have to write it as a survivor and a mother. You see, I lost my son. Don’t ask me how long its been because time is irrelevant. Some of the sting does go away with time but the memories, the feeling of missing him, the love I have; these things remain. The Bible says that three things always remain and those are faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love. The truth of the matter is, the greater we love the harder it is when we lose someone we love deeply. Loss of any loved one is very hard, but losing a child seems to be the very worst.

My son was 20 when he died. I will spare you the details because after a bit of time they don’t really matter any more. All I know is that tonight its hard. There are times that are harder than others. I think it is because once again it is Christmas and once again I will not hear my son’s laughter. I want to hear it so much. I know some day I will, but the waiting is hard, the missing him is hard, the loving him is hard as well. I remember the good times we had, the hard issues we dealt with , and the time that went way faster than I wished it did.

I’ve been asked over the years how I deal with the loss. My only answer is that I just do. I go with the flow. When it hurts, I let it hurt. When I am thinking of fond memories and I feel better, then I am blessed to feel better. My life has gone on from the original sting but the hard moments still come and I have discovered that they always will. Tonight, while I write this, I miss him deeply. My heart goes into this aching thing, and I want to tell him I love him one more time. I think of the last time I hugged him good bye as he was getting on a plane to leave. I think of our last words on the phone and that they were, “I love you”. I know he still lives because my heart hurts. He lives in there where love resides.

I don’t want to know how to get over it and I don’t want to be a professional about grieving. That is one area I just leave as it is. I survive. I live each day as they come and usually they are just regular every day days. Every now and then my heart skips a beat because I will see someone who looks like him or sounds like him. I will stop and stare where ever I am.

Someone told me once that grief is like waves of the ocean. It washes over us and then moves back only to wash up again. I understand this concept and it does feel just like that. I’m thankful that I don’t feel as I did in the beginning. It was horrible. Now it is manageable. Sometimes I have dreams with him in them. They are always so vivid and sometimes even seem to have a message attached. Do I think he lives beyond the grave? I sure like to think so. I do know I will see him again and it will be a great reunion. I have no idea how that really works. We only know in part and when that day comes we will know things how they truly are.

In the mean time, I see him in the arms of Jesus. That’s how I like to see him. All I can do is hope he is happy wherever he might be at this moment and understand that some day I will know that answer. Those who know me have said I am strong but I sure don’t feel like that when it comes to this. It is the only thing on this earth that has dropped me to my knees faster than anything ever could. A parent will always see her offspring as a child, no matter how old they get or if they live on earth or not. When I let my love for him expand in my heart it is almost like he is here with me so I try to do that as much as I can when I miss him.

If you are reading this and you have lost a child. My heart beats with yours. I know it is hard. Sometimes I ask Jesus to take the pain away, but He has lead me to understand that I will not heal from love and missing someone who has left this earth. He is a part of me. Just like we are one body of Christ. Our children are a deep part of us and when they are gone there is a part of us that is missing as well. Our soulful body will ache for that part, always. It’s a great thing to have loved that much. Its a wonderful thing to have witnessed the breath of a child we brought into this world. God gives us such joy at the moment we first look into their eyes. Its like that little soul shines brightly right at that moment. I like to think that Jesus witnessed my son’s smile when they met once again. Maybe He got to see the light shine in his eyes and it made Him joyful. One can only imagine….

Just being Jenine

“To love is the greatest thing on earth. It will last forever, eternal. It is what we are here for; to love, to heal, to grow.”