Chapter 05 – Breaking Links and Letting Go
../ Return to Part 4
When it comes to remarrying, that involves a whole new range of counseling. When you come to bringing a couple together, particularly if they have been married before, there are a whole lot of complexities in premarital counsel that you need to take into account.
Let the Old Go
If a person is to enter into a new marriage, they must not bring with them all the baggage from their previous marriage. If they do that the new marriage will be doomed to failure before it even starts.
That is why you have to help this grieving person to put the past behind them. This means you have to help them to break links with the dead person.
In a marriage, when your spouse dies the marriage bond is over. I know the standard marriage vow says till death do us part. But I personally would not use that in a marriage vow because it is negative and we are confessing death.
It is however a reality. The Scripture says that if a woman is married to a man and he dies, she is freed from the marriage. The marriage bond is over and it is dissolved.
The Mormon’s teach that you get married for time and eternity. So in their temple when they marry you, they marry you permanently for time and eternity. This is so that you can continue being married after you die.
Their logic is that you will continue to produce spiritual children. Then it is up to your descendants to make bodies for those children.
That is why Mormon’s believe in having lots of kids. They can get married as many times as they like, just so they can produce kids. But that is just an excuse for having lots of sex. It also means that you encourage your kids to get demonized from birth.
Isn’t that frightening? Well there are some Christians who seem to think that we can live without ever dying. Some of them are starting to talk this way too and say that we are married for eternity. But that is rubbish and is not according to the Word of God!
Your marriage ended when the one person died. It is over so stop trying to hold onto it. Take off your wedding rings because they are a sign that you are married. You are not married anymore. That person is in heaven now, so let it go.
You might say to me,
“I just can’t see me being married to anybody else. I am just thinking of them.”
You are trying to hold on, but it is over so let it go. If you want to be single from now on, that is good and well. If you don’t want to be single then be open to get married. Also ignore all those foolish friends of yours who say,
“He is barely dead for two months and you are already looking for somebody new. He’s hardly cold in his grave.”
Reject them! They are fine. They have their partners and everything is good, but they don’t know the loneliness you are going through.
You see as a pastor you can be there to encourage this. You can say,
“Just ignore those people. God has somebody new for you and He wants you to move on. That means we put the old behind.”
Talking About Exes
You might face this situation here now. You may be marrying someone who has been widowed, or you may have been widowed yourself. But let’s take it from the one side only.
Do you want them talking all the time about their previous spouse? The same thing applies when you are marrying someone who has been divorced. Their mind is still filled with the memories of the previous person that they were married to.
We need a balance here, because perhaps they never had a chance to talk about it. Perhaps with the death and the bereavement everybody kind of ignored them.
Everyone came to the funeral. But now it is all over, and you have never had a chance to actually sit down and tell anybody what you felt and what really happened.
For you as a pastor, this is one of the first things you must do. Say to the person,
“Share what is on your heart. Tell me the whole story of what happened. Tell me what you are feeling and what you are going through right now.”
Let them spew if they want to spew. Let them pour out all that garbage that is turning inside of them. Get it out of their system once and for all, then they can put it to sleep.
I had to learn about this when I got married to Daphne. Everybody was there for the death and the funeral. Then they all disappeared and she was left alone all by herself and not knowing what to do.
She never really had a chance to talk about what happened. So one of the first times we were together after we met, I said to her,
“Tell me the story.”
She looked at me and said,
“Are you for real? Do you really want to hear my story.”
I said, “Yes, tell me your story. Tell me the whole lot and let it all out.”
It was one of the most healing experiences that I could have given her. She could share all her feelings, all her conflicts and everything that had happened, and she could finally let it go and put it to sleep.
That is why you have to follow it up after the funeral. You have to put those things to sleep, and bring them to the place where they can put those things behind them now and start moving forward again.
Get Rid of Sentimental Things
There are other complexities that take place. You might carry something around with you. You show it to someone and say,
“You see this? My hubby carried it with him all the time, and every time I look at it I think of him. I keep it there right next to my bed, so every time I look at it I can think about him.”
That is called communicating with the dead, and it is in fact idolatry. You know people who worship idols are not worshiping the object. They are worshiping the spirit behind the object and there is always a demon associated with an idol.
We have an idol and His name is Jesus. The Scripture says,
There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.
The man Christ Jesus is our idol; our way of communicating with God. He is a physical being who was God and man. But when you use an idol you are using a physical thing that communicates with the spiritual world.
Every time you look at that sentimental object you say things like,
“That is the necklace that he gave me. I’m going to wear it for the rest of my life.”
That is stupid because he is dead and it is over. Yes we can cherish the memories. There is nothing wrong with that. But don’t try and recreate them through that object.
Objects can be contaminated and can carry demon powers. That object doesn’t necessarily have a spiritual power unless your spouse was demonized, in which case it may even have a demon power in it. So be careful about that.
So one of the first things you will have to advise them to do is to get rid of those sentimental objects. Give them away somewhere.
Idols that are idols because they have demons on them should be destroyed. But these are only idols because of your relationship with them, so they can be given away.
When I first met Daphne she still had the cupboard full of all her husband’s clothes. She even had his wooden leg, because it had been amputated. It was all lying there in the cupboard. I came in there and said,
“What is all this? There is another person here. I’m not welcome.”
If you do that you are holding onto something that is over. Let it go and put it behind you, because until you do your grief will carry on. You will continue to suffer and grieve for years and years to come. You have to put it to sleep.
Put it behind you and release that person to enjoy their time in the presence of the Lord. They have another life now somewhere else apart from you. You will meet them again one day, but until then you have a life to live and it must go on.
You may want to keep some things for the sake of the children to remember their mom or dad. But again, don’t let them see it as a way of communicating with a dead person. Be very careful about that.
Any object that has a sentimental value is always linked to a person and inevitably brings bondage in your life. I always teach that if you have sentimental objects, you should get rid of them because they are controlling you.
So if you still have that little object from your late husband or wife that you are continuing to hang onto, get rid of it. It is holding you back from moving into your future.
You may have letters from your spouse and you might say,
“These are the love letters that she wrote to me when I was away. They were so special.”
Do you know that spirit is contained in words? And do you know that when you read a person’s words you pick up their spirit?
Those words were written especially to you. But when you keep them, nurture them and re-read them, it keeps your grief going because you think,
“I wish they were here again.”
Do Not Look Back
I see many people in this situation. Because they can’t handle the current grief, they start looking backwards to the ‘good old days’.
You might say, “Do you remember the good old days when we were young and there were no problems in life?”
That is nonsense. You just don’t remember the bad times. Or you say,
“Do you remember what it was like when we used to wear those granny print shirts and bell bottoms when they were the in thing? We used to do all those things the people did at that time. Do you remember them?”
“Oh yes, I remember those days. I wish we could go back there again.”
You see that is a person who has not dealt with grief and rebuilt their life to move into the future. Because in the present all they can do is think about their grief, think about the person who has gone and think,
“I wish they were here again so that we could continue living the way we were.”
But they can’t do that. They don’t know how to move from there into the future, so they keep looking back.
You will see it, and you must move them out of that syndrome. You must move them to putting the past behind them and building a whole new, exciting life. Say to them,
“You must do this because God has something exciting for you. You are alive, and He has a plan for you while you are alive on this earth. And until you take your last breath and it is time for you to go, you must fulfill your purpose in the earth.”
Here is something else to take into account. When someone dies, people send all the sympathy cards and they say,
“Shame, our hearts are with you.”
You might think, “I will make a special memorial for my husband (or wife) and put all the cards up on a wall.”
Are you mad? Do you know how many mixed spirits you will have there? People might say,
“We are so sorry about your loss.”
No they are not sorry; they lied. It is just the right thing to do.
I never keep letters. I even delete emails out of my email box if they are there for too long. Do you know why? Because I start feeling an oppression every time I pick up my phone. I have lots of emails stored there and something is wrong.
I start feeling blocked every time I go online, because there are a whole lot of emails there from people whose spirits are contaminated, and those emails in turn are contaminating me. If you have things like that you need to get rid of them.
People are not going to take it lightly when you tell them to get rid of something that they think is valuable. But you must tell them, and make it very clear why it is important that they do that.
Triggers Will Come Up
There are going to be triggers that come up. There are places that you are going to go to that will remind you of that person. Perhaps a song plays on the radio and you think,
“Wow, that was our song! I remember when we were sitting there on the beach and they played that song over and over again.”
You can’t help those triggers. They will come back, but try and avoid them as much as you can.
And when you do remarry, don’t keep talking about the things you used to do before. Don’t say things like,
“When so-and-so and I were married, we used to go here and this is what we used to do.”
Your new spouse will not want to hear it. He is not interested in what you and him did. You must come to the place where the memories begin to overlap.
I sometimes find myself saying to Daphne,
“Do you remember when we did that?”
She says, “Nope.”
I say, “Oh okay, it wasn’t with you.”
But you see in my mind she is my wife, so I don’t even think of the old one. I think of the memory but I don’t see the old person in it. You see those pictures of the past have all been transformed now, because you have put the new person back into that picture.
If you don’t do that you will never be happy in your marriage. You will always be thinking back on the previous person and comparing the one with the other.
And every time they do the bad stuff that the other one did, that is what is going to affect you the most. There has to come that total replacement where you put the past behind you and it is over. Now you step forward and say,
“Okay, this is God’s plan for the future.”
Wrapping it Up
So in conclusion, death is one of those subjects we don’t like to think about. And when it comes, unfortunately as much as we try, we are seldom prepared for it.
You as a pastor or a counselor must know how to handle it. You must know how to guide the person through each of these stages and bring them to a place where the past is dealt with, the future is laid out and they are ready to step into it now.
You can be there along the way just to give them advice. Say to them,
“If you need me I am here. If you are ever feeling really down, give me a call.”
Perhaps every now and then just phone them and say,
“How would you like to have dinner with us tonight? How are things going there?”
They may say, “I was actually feeling so lonely and I’m so glad you called.”
If you have been through a death or a divorce, you know what that lonely feeling is like. If you haven’t, try and at least be a true shepherd and care enough to be there for those people and to help them.
You can do all of this, and dealing with grief now becomes a challenge, but yet a specialist area. If you can take people through this they will highly value you. They will highly respect you, love you and appreciate you. And you will have done something for eternity.
You have helped that person to move into God’s plan. And who knows if one day they may rise up and do amazing things.
In the end they may give the credit to you, because you were there for them in their darkest hour. You were there when they faced the most difficult time of their life, and you helped to take them through it.
That then is how you counsel someone who is in grief.