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Pilgrim's Guides

  A Pilgrim's Guide to the Grief Journey.  
  Vale of Tears is both an overview of grief and loss from the perspective of the person who has suffered, and wisdom for those who are seeking to come alongside them. It also explores many aspects of the heart of God Himself in relation to loss and mourning, and provides numerous devotional opportunities for drawing close to God. This book cannot fail to be of relevance to everyone at some stage in their life!

Ø Insights for those who have suffered loss
Ø Wisdom for those who are seeking to come alongside those who are experiencing loss
Ø Strategies to set the soul free from trauma
Ø Devotional prayers and reflections for every step of the journey
Ø Themes that extend far beyond from literal bereavement to embrace many aspects of grief
Ø An exploration of the heart of God in relation to loss and mourning.

  Click here to see the book cover; and here to order copies.  

Having experienced the inexplicable nocturnal death of our eleven year old son, we can personally attest to the accuracy of Robert’s explanations, the Holy Spirit’s anointing on his prayers, and the authority of his life-giving council. This important book will help you in and through grief and, beyond any other resource we are aware of, will prepare you to minister to others. Thanks, Robert, for an exceptionally hard job extremely well done.

Paul and Gretel Haglin,
(Resurrection Christian Ministries)

Robert shines warm light on the difficult and dark experience of loss – which can affect any one of us at any time. Liberally peppering his compassionate writing with vivid illustrations, quotes and moving stories – many from his own journey – he provides us with deep understanding of what is happening, as well as pointing us towards strategies for finding “treasures” in the darkness.

As he says, “this book is all about preparing our hearts for times when it feels as though the bottom has fallen out of the world.” Robert helps us equally to come sensitively alongside others in their loss, to help them cast their burden on the Lord.

Rather than ploughing on relentlessly, Robert invites the reader to pause frequently and reflect. To this end he has provided a series of succinct yet striking prayers. Apart from the Bible, which Robert frequently quotes and illuminates, I can think of no better book to help turn loss and grief into the growth experience God intends.

Mike Field,
(Jersey Evangelical Alliance)

Grief is like a rocky valley with sharp dark sides. This comprehensive introduction to the grief journey offers the grieving – and those who travel with them – wise and compassionate insight into widely differing kinds of loss. Robert examines the threats that loss poses in the Valley of the Shadow, and shows us how we can find healing and wholeness, eventually emerging into green refreshing pastures.

Revd. David Woodhouse,
(Editor, “Trauma and Abuse”)

When do we learn to drive? Is it before we own a car, in anticipation of owning one soon? Or is it after we have bought a car that we decide it might be a good idea to learn how to drive it? We might ask the same question about grief. Do we learn about grief and the process of grieving before or after encountering it – either in our own life, or in the life of a friend or relative?

Robert’s book makes the sensible assumption that it is better to prepare ourselves beforehand for what will inevitably come our way in the course of life. Unlike many books on grief, he does not just deal with bereavement, but considers grief that is caused by all sorts of other events: loss of friends or job, loss of vision, or ambition, divorce or retirement and so on.

In the practical and Biblically-based way that has typified his earlier books, Robert writes about the emotional and spiritual forces involved in the grief process. Whether you are suffering yourself, or anticipate consoling others, his wisdom, experience and examples offer insight, foresight and perspectives that cannot fail to prepare you.
Even in the midst of grief it is not too late to read this book. The many themes that Robert explores will enable you to home in on just what you are experiencing to provide the help you need most. There are no quick fixes to grief, let alone any easy triumphalism, but Robert shows us that it is possible to advance along the grief journey courageously, and to avoid many of the pitfalls on it. I commend it.

David Barratt,
(Author of “C. S. Lewis and his World”)

May I say how impressed I am by your ability to pull together so many thoughts, quotes and stories, as well as research? Your heart, combined with your wisdom and long ministry experience is a stunning combination. This book is going to actively minister to many!

Laurie Klein,
(Author, and composer of the song “I love you Lord”)

Contents of the Book:
Articles and exerpts will gradually be made available. Scroll through the contents below to access
Part One: The Valley of the Shadow

Patterns of Grief
Embarking on the Journey
The Disorientation Loss Brings
The Divine Anaesthetic
Searching and Pining
Sadness and Sorrow
Breaking Grief’s Isolation
Living under the Shadow of His Wings
Beyond the Sequence of Losses
Part Two: Facing the Reality of Grief
Knowing God
Faith or Presumption?
The Shock of Severed Hopes
Broken Relationships
When the Grief is all Our Own Fault
Shrinking Horizons
Changing Roles
Shock and Guilt in the Aftermath of Loss (i and ii)
No Pit so Deep
Eleventh Hour Miracle?
Removing Trauma
Never too late to Grieve
Yielded Hearts and altered Perspectives
The Power of Letting Go
A Pilgrim Restored
Angelic Assistance
The Treasures of Darkness
Part Three: Approaching the Final Transition
Eternal Homecomings
Anticipatory Grief, i) The Gift of Tears
Anticipatory Grief ii) Saying Goodbye Ahead of Time
Making a Good Death
Part Four: Minimizing Grief’s Desolation

Expressing Grief and Loss
When Impatience sets in
The Power of Resilience
Bringing Rest to Troubled Souls
Too Many Choices
When the Grass Appears Greener
Wounds in the Household of Faith
Moving Beyond the Reef of Rejection
Handling dark Times: Tunnel Experiences
The Dark Night of the Soul
Part Five: Strategies For Resolving Grief
The Sacrament of the Present Moment
Harnessing Grief
Grief that inspires Creativity
The Power of Writing to Heal
The Power of Music to heal
The Blessing of Friendship
Ceremonies that facilitate Grief
Gratitude that Sustains
Part Six: Fallout from Grief
In the Immediate Aftermath
Who Suffers Most in the Aftermath of Loss?
Fallout from the Death of Children
Fallout for Children
Fallout from Divorce
Fallout from Relocation
Praying for Prodigals
The Hedge of Thorns
Coping with Redundancy
Coping with Retirement
Fallout from Controlling Church
Part Seven: Lending Our Strength

Coming alongside the Grief-stricken
Sharing Condolence
What if I put my Foot in It?
Is this Grief contagious?
Weeping with those who weep
Caring for the Carers
God Honours those who honour Him
Returning to Society and moving on again
Part Eight: If Grief takes Convoluted Paths

Resisting Anxiety
Resisting Pain-prone Reactions
Resisting Grief going Underground
Resisting the Stoic Approach
Resisting the Impulse to flee
Resisting making Contact with the Dead
Resisting the Temptation to Suicide
Resisting the Desire to take Revenge
Resisting the “But-what-ifs”
Resisting excessive Self-consciousness
Resisting Aftershocks
Part Nine: The Wider Picture
Escaping Grief’s Gravitational Pull
Never underestimate the Power of Prayer
Burden bearing in the Spirit
Sharing more of the Father’s Grief
When Grief and Deception Engulf Nations
Lest we forget
Prophetic Lament
The Courage to keep going
Cultivating an eternal Perspective
Appendix One: Exequy (A Funeral Celebration )

Appendix Two: Praise Carts and Protective Mechanisms
P Perfectionism
R Repression
A Addictions
I Identification and Idolatry
S Shame and Suppression
E Extremes

C Compensation
A Avoidance
R Rationalisation
T Tensions (The Neurosis of Grief )
S Substitution and Sublimination

Appendix Three: Important Considerations
Living Wills
Living Compliments

Appendix Four: Antidotes to Grief

Appendix Five: Final Poems and Prayers

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