Worldwide Candle Lighting Day

Nine months after my son was killed I had to face his first Birthday. He would have been turning twenty-one, a milestone event in the lives of most. I awoke that day literally unable to move. It’s not that I didn’t want to get out of bed, it was that I couldn’t; I simply could not move. Then, the phone next to my bed rang.

It was my ex-husband calling. Those that have followed my story know that this is the man who tried to kill me. Our oldest son saved my life that night when a knife was put to my throat. Normally, this is not a person who I would want to be speaking with or have any contact with under any circumstances. This day, however, was uniquely different.

The first thing he said to me was: “You can’t get out of bed, can you.” It was a statement, not a question. Somehow, he knew. I was a bit taken back by this and also quite hesitant to engage in any conversation with him. However, I did respond with a simple: “Yes”.

He then went on to talk about something that only he and I shared… the day our son was born. It was a perfect Sunday in December. Though a bit brisk with snow on the ground, the sun was shining. Though I had many complications giving birth to my other children, this one was better than textbook perfect. I had only three hours of labor and we were laughing between contractions. My ex had been very attentive at this birth, coaching me and placing cold damp rags on the soles of my feet that felt like kisses from Heaven. Once my son was born, he was immediately placed into a warm tub of water making his transition into this world a pleasant one.

Though my ex was a very mean-spirited man, he did have good moments and this was one of his best. As he reminded me of our son’s entrance into this world and the joy his life brought into it, slowly I was able to sit up and eventually get up out of bed. However, my son’s birthdays have always been the most difficult and most painful.

My son’s birthday will be this coming Sunday, 12/10. It has been looming over me like a dark cloud for a few weeks now, and I have found it difficult to even eat one meal a day. I have not been able to write and am barely functioning. I have known for some time now that 12/10 this year is also the day in which Bereaved Parents will be lighting candles at 7PM across the entire planet. Until tonight, knowing this has only been adding to the dread I have been feeling. Then, tonight, I realized something. As my son sits up in Heaven looking down upon earth, he will be seeing the lights of all of those candles being lit on his birthday… like one huge birthday cake with a zillion candles atop. I do realize that this day is set aside in remembrance of all of our Beloved Children. Please pardon my self-indulgence as I choose to also see it as one big Birthday Celebration for my son.

This Birthday, his 39th, I will choose to celebrate his life.

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(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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Sojourners in Grief

Have you felt it yet? Has that fog descended upon your heart and mind? Have you felt as if you are in a land unrecognizable?

Me, too.

I am looking through a looking glass into a world I once traveled, yet now I reside in a foreign land. Unwillingly, beyond my control, I was transferred from one world into another. It is a world in which I feel a Pilgrim, yet fully know many have traveled before me.

I cannot return to the world I once knew, the gorge is too vast. Not only do I grieve the absence of my son in that world in which I once resided, I grieve all that once was and shall never be again. It is now a land beyond the sea. There exists no carrier upon which I may return. I have been forever separated and removed; I now must learn to abide in this foreign country.

As I peer thru this glass, I see so many doing what I once did. They are scrambling in the hustle-bustle of this Holiday Season, making preparations, hanging decorations, occupied with gifts and tinsel, and shopping, shopping, shopping. For what, they often do not know. Yet, they seek that perfect gift and the greatest deal. Invitations are sent and invitations are responded to as all prepare for gatherings. Meals are planned for that perfect dinner which shall be consumed rapidly by some, slowly by others.

I was once you, too.

Psalms 39:12 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.

Though I feel alone, I know I am not alone. Many travel this journey alongside me. My God has not forsaken me. Though I find myself unsteady, at times, my balance is sustained. Though I may stumble, at times, I shall not fall, for my Lord shall uphold me (PS. 37:24). I am only passing through. One day, I shall enter another land and all will have come full circle. All that was lost I shall count as gain for it is there my son awaits me. All my sorrow and all my tears shall be forever forgotten in that land to which I travel.

I find that I sometimes long for that world which once was; yet I desire the world which shall be far greater. Others see me beyond that glass and beckon for my return, not knowing that I am unable to do so. At such times, I must choose knowing what I now know. Shall I pretend to join them in their lovely festivities? Shall I attempt to bridge that gorge? They do not know such attempts are fruitless. Painstakingly I, too, must say my good-byes to all I leave behind on my journey.

There is simply no going back.

So as I mourn all that once was, I turn my face forward to all that shall be. For many, they enter a New Year; for me, I enter a new Life.

Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

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(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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Holidays vs. Hollow-days

Holiday is defined as:

  •  A day free from work that one may spend at leisure, especially a day on which custom or the law dictates a halting of general business activity to commemorate or celebrate a particular event.
  • A religious feast day; a holy day.

Hollow is defined as:

  • Having a cavity, gap, or space within: a hollow wall.
  • Deeply indented or concave; sunken
  • Without substance or character

Since my son’s passing, my Holidays have been transformed into Hallow-days… days without substance. They are truly a deep cavity into which I sink because of the gap that now exists between him and myself. They are no longer a time of leisure. Rather, they are a time of heavy labour for my soul. I struggle as I make the climb toward them. Their height seems insurmountable. No matter how I attempt to prepare myself for this journey, I am never fully prepared to embrace the altitude. I need to repeatedly remind myself to simply breathe; there is always an unexpected cavity into which I stumble. All the preparations become meaningless as I peer at that empty chair. As my gaze becomes fixed upon that gaping hole, all else vanishes and becomes nonexistent. All I see is the emptiness of what was and shall never be again in this time and space. Even surrounding sounds and the chatter of others drift into an empty vacuum void.

All that remains is me.

All that remains is you.

God, in Your Mercy, please grant me those hinds’ feet on such high places. Though suffering and sorrow be my constant companions, may they also be my helpers and my strength. May Your Grace and Glory consume me in my brokenness; may Your Love sustain me against all odds. As I once again pass through this Valley of Death, may I rise up on the wings of an eagle. May I run and not grow weary. Amen.

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(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134



Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Sadly, there are times when we have invited folks to Thanksgiving Dinner and our invitation has been declined. Folks usually simply want to feel ‘happy’ at the Holidays. Going to dinner at the home of someone who is grieving is not where some want to be; it’s not their idea of a ‘fun’ time. They may attempt to graciously bow out with a variety of excuses and reasons for turning down your invitation. It hurts when this occurs. We are very aware of the fact that we are not the same upbeat jovial person we once were. Our energy is running on empty and our eyes have lost their shine. Salty tears will do that to a person. It doesn’t matter that you have always prepared the greatest dinners in the past. Folks simply do not want to be reminded by that empty chair at the table, though it is impossible for us to ignore it and forget…nor do we want to forget.

In Luke 15, Jesus spoke a Parable which He so often did. He describes a great feast prepared for folks and how invitations were sent out:

The Parable of the Great Supper

15 Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

16 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’”

Now it is not explained to us the reason why all of these folks declined the invitation and seemingly had more important things to do than to attend this Feast, but what we do know is that the Host became angry because of their refusal to attend. I find it interesting that He did not succumb to feeling hurt or rejected when His invitation was not accepted. Rather, He decided to extend His invitation to others. He took action and had others, described as those suffering in some manner, brought to His Home. When there was still room for more, he sent out His servants to ‘compel’ others, seemingly complete strangers, to come to His House.

Compel is defined as: “To exert a strong, irresistible force on; sway” (search). The word in the original Greek is: anagkazó; anagkazó: to necessitate, compel; anagkázō – to compel (constrain), doing so with urgency (as a pressing necessity). In other words, the Master of this House sent out an invitation folks simply could not refuse as in ‘too good to be true’. Nevertheless, it was true. It was: AN INVITATION YOU JUST CAN’T REFUSE.

This “death notice” was published in the Southwest Virginia Enterprise, Wytheville many years ago, the exact date is unknown:

“Mrs. Prayer Meeting died recently at the First Neglected Church on Worldly Avenue. Born many years ago in the midst of a great revival, she was one of the most influential members of the church family.

For the past several years, Mrs. Prayer Meeting has been failing in health. At the last, she was but a shadow of her former self. Her last whispered words were inquiries concerning the absence of her loved one, now busy in the markets of trade and places of worldly amusements.

Experts, including Dr. Works, Dr. Reform, and Dr. Joiner, all disagreed as to the cause of her fatal illness. They had administered large doses of organizations and socials, but to no avail. A postmortem autopsy showed that a deficiency of spiritual food, coupled with a lack of faith and general support, were contributing causes. Only a few were present at her death.

In honor of her going, the church doors will be closed on Wednesday nights!”

If you are alone this Holiday and are feeling the additional grief of your invitations being declined, know that God ‘gets it’. He has also had His invitations refused. Please know that a better banquet awaits you. Please RSVP.

Isaiah 25:6

And in this mountain
The Lord of hosts will make for all people
A feast of choice pieces,
A feast of wines on the lees,
Of fat things full of marrow,
Of well-refined wines on the lees.

Revelation 19:9

Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”

The Invitation by Danny Richard Hahlbohm

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134

Truth be Told

Being a Survivor of many facets of Abuse, I am having a difficult time personally with the abundant revelations of sexual abuse and harassment that have been flooding the media these past couple of weeks. It feels as if I am being ‘punched in the gut’ every time another allegation is made, and another predator is exposed.

We often speak of ‘triggers’ in the Grief Community. There are so many. A song, a child that resembles our own, a smell, Birthdays, Death Anniversaries, Holidays, etc., etc., all trigger things. They open up the lid of Pandora’s Box, flooding our mind with memories both good and not so good. We drift into that ‘Grief Fog’, often withdrawing back into our cave with uncontrollable tears and groans indescribable to those who have never traveled this journey.

Well, similar triggers exist for those of us who have been molested, raped, abused, etc.. I commented to another recently that it’s as if a soap opera is being played out on the nightly news. I don’t want to hear it; I don’t want to be reminded. Simultaneously, if ‘Truth be Told’, I am so extremely grateful that such violence is being exposed. Yes, I said: ‘VIOLENCE”. Sexual harassment is not about sex! It’s about CONTROL! It’s the subjugation of another human being; it’s the belittling and violation of another’s soul. We who have been victimized in such a manner often experience what is termed a ‘psychological phenomenon’.  Just as Battered Women succumb to the Stockholm Syndrome, which I correlated to the Battered Women’s Syndrome in my Thesis for a Grad class I took back in the 80’s, Victims of sexual abuse internalize the shame of the perpetrator. Their shame somehow gets transferred and internalized by us, the victim.

We must give it back to its proper owner. Personally, I found great success in doing so through Gestalt Therapy. Victims of sexual abuse often do not speak up because of this shame they carry. They, of course, have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of in such circumstances. They did nothing wrong. But because they have internalized the shame of the perpetrator within themselves, they ‘feel’ as if they should be ashamed and often find reasons to blame themselves. They, too, struggle with the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if only’s’ similar to a Bereaved Parent. Perhaps, this is the tearing down of the ongoing ‘Blame the Victim’ philosophy that has permeated our society for decades.

When I wrote my book a year ago, it was an extremely painful endeavor. I was driven to tell the Truth and have my story be told before my own demise. Yet, even though I had entered into a contract with a Publisher and was committed to an expense beyond my means, I almost backed out. Could I really go public with the Truth? Could I finally break the silence? I truly did not know if I could. I began to uncover leftover fragments of the perpetrators’, and yes that is meant to be plural, shame that had lingered in corners of my soul. I had thought when I began to write, that the house had been swept clean; yet, cobwebs remained hidden in corners and behind things. However, through much prayer and the conviction that this must be done, I took a deep breath and pushed the button sending all my worst nightmares into cyberspace to be published for the world to see.

I don’t regret any of it.

Though difficult and painful as it can be to finally break that silence, the Truth does set us free (John 8:32).

So, as I watch the victims of sexual harassment, abuse, etc., come forth, I find myself struggling. The triggers are unpleasant…and that’s an understatement. Yet, my heart rejoices for them and in knowing that all things hidden are being revealed (Luke 8:17; 12:2) I’m proud of them. I know what it takes to speak up and speak out. It tears at the fiber of our being to one degree or another. Those, like myself, who have either remained silent for decades or were not believed if they had come forward, are now being relieved of a burden they never should have had to carry. God bless each and every one of them for rejecting that shame. May God heal those gaping wounds that have festered beneath the surface. May God give them the strength and release to finally hold their heads up high as their ‘Truth be Told’.

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(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’:

Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134


Free BOOK Giveaway*****

TY!! Lord!!! The Free giveaway has begun of my Book: ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ Please let me know if you have any difficulty getting to it. (((HUGS)))
UPDATE: They are suppose to begin accepting entries at noon today******  (((HUGS)))


Another mentioned this ‘feeling’, or lack there of, in a comment on a previous article I had written. I had written about this topic in my Book: ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ and decided to post this excerpt for those who may be experiencing this stage in our Grief Journey. It seems to be a bit more common around the Holidays when we are all on overload and have a tendency to shutdown simply to survive. In my book, I referred to this stage as my ‘security blanket’…especially in the initial part of this journey.

Excerpt from my initial draft:


Ever feel it? Or perhaps the question should be: Ever not feel it?

Everyone grieves differently, this we have most likely heard numerous times. Confusion, misunderstandings, and even judging can sometimes creep in, especially if Bereaved Parents are grieving alongside one another.

The 5 stages of grief, Denial, Anger, Bargaining with God, Depression, and Acceptance (which I refer to as DABDA) are not necessarily a linear process. We tend to bounce around between them. Sometimes, we decide to visit one of them for a longer period of time. Don’t worry, you’re not ‘stuck’ as some might lead you to believe. Grief has a life of its own. The ‘stages’ are simply an outline. I have met some who after 20 yrs. are almost in an euphoric state. They have come a long way, for sure, along this journey with many twists and turns, ups and downs. They feel no pain. They have concluded they have ‘arrived’ and have somehow, often unbeknownst to them, reached a plateau where all the pain has subsided. Then, suddenly, ‘out of the blue’ they see someone who resembles their child, hear an old song, find something they thought was packed away, etc., and they are once again back ‘at that day’.

It’s scary.

The ‘awakening’ of grief feelings one thought was gone, resurfaces.

The numbness can also be frightening. One might wonder why they suddenly are not ‘feeling’ the pain they have become so familiar with…even ‘comfortable with’ in some fashion. They had grown use to carrying this pain, and suddenly it has vanished. They begin to question themselves as if there is something wrong with them because they are not feeling that pain. ‘Do they no longer love their child?’ is a common reaction similar to the early on ‘what ifs’ and ‘only ifs’, all of which are unfounded false guilt.

In the early stages, the numbness is often the Denial, the shock, the disbelief. Quite frankly, I miss that Denial. It was a ‘gift’. It helped cushion the blow of reality. Because we all do grieve differently, the wife may be in tears while the husband appears to not feel a thing…or visa-versa. Communication is key in such situations, along with the awareness that we may not all cross the same stages at the same time.

One comment about medication that can often bring some relief and numbing: be careful of the side effects. Medication may be appropriate over a brief period of time if one simply cannot sleep, etc. One has to weigh the pros and cons. However, understand that any meds are simply addressing the ‘symptoms’ of grief, and not ‘curing’ it nor removing it. At some point, the pain will need to be embraced and addressed. Medications prescribed by one who is incompetent and unfamiliar with grief and its process will only delay it. Sometimes, we need that ‘delay’ and it can be helpful. Please, just be careful.

Back to feeling ‘Numb’. Go with it. It’s really that simple. If you’re in pain, go ahead and cry, scream, let it out. If you’re numb, rest, embrace the low-tide. It’s all part of this journey. Hold onto our Lord with all you have when the floor has dropped out from under you. Cling to Him in the times of numbness and rest, and breathe the fresh air. It’s all part of the journey.


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(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
Articles on

Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’:

Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134