ep.08 on grief

ep. 08 | Grief with René Bleakley

Today I’m interviewing René Bleakley, a college mentor from my time at the University of Arkansas. René is originally from South Carolina. She married her high school sweetheart, Gage, almost 44 years ago. They live near their son and his family in the Ft Bragg, North Carolina area. René says the best part of her life is the fact that she’s Mimi to three grandsons. She loves gardening, cooking, going to the beach and good coffee. I invited René to be on the show to discuss the topic of grief, as she lost her daughter in a car accident 21 years ago. We talked about her own process of grieving and she answered a lot of questions I had about how to come alongside someone who has experienced a trauma or crisis. I think you’ll find our conversation impactful and helpful. 

I’m so grateful for this conversation. One of my favorite things that René shared is to feel all the feels until they aren’t there anymore. That really encouraged me to press into grief with my friends who are experiencing hardship. Thanks so much for listening to the show. All of your feedback has been so encouraging! The most helpful thing you can do is to share the Journeywomen podcast with a friend. Send them over to Instagram to find me @hunterbeless or @journeywomenpodcast. I’m also on Twitter, Facebook, and of course, the show notes can be found at www.hunterbeless.com. I cannot wait to be with you all again next Monday! 

  1. Can you share with us a little about your own experience with grief?

  2. I’ve heard there are stages to grief. What did that process look like for you?

  3. Is grief something you still experience today? If so, how?

  4. What do you look back on and feel like you did well in the grieving process? What do you wish you would have done differently?

  5. What was the most helpful thing you experienced from other believers in your time of grief?

  6. How can we, as the body of Christ, practically come alongside our brothers and sisters who are in a crisis?

  7. What are things you wanted to hear from friends? While I’m sure they weren’t intentional, were there things that people said that came across as hurtful?

  8. How would you encourage someone who is walking through trauma right now? How about someone that underwent a crisis long ago? What's a tender way to communicate care?

  9. What did your relationship with Jesus look like while you were walking through the stages of grief?

  10. How did walking through crisis and allowing yourself to grieve change you?


Three questions I ask every guest

  1. What 3 resources would you recommend to someone who is grieving themselves OR walking alongside someone who is in that process?

  2. What are your 3 simple joys?

  3. As a journeywoman, who is the most impactful person in your own journey with Jesus?


Note Worthy Quotes

“It doesn’t help to not feel. Feel what you’re feeling until you don’t feel it anymore.” 

“From the very beginning I knew that He was good, that we could trust Him, and that He loved us. Those three principles stayed in my heart to help me navigate the really hard times when I felt like I was in the valley of the shadow of death. I know beyond my circumstances that God is good, that He is trustworthy, and that He loves me.”

“One of my favorite passages of Scripture is from Lamentations 3. It says, ‘Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed. His mercies are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness.’ I would remind myself that He wouldn’t abandon me because He would be true to His Word. I leaned into that regardless of how I was feeling or thinking at the time. I leaned into the truth of who He is and trusted He would uphold me and take care of me.” 

“It’s okay to say, ‘Hey, I’m struggling to know what to do or say to you in the midst of this. If I can do anything for you right now, can I bring you a meal? Can I take you to lunch? Can I just sit on the sofa with you? Maybe we can go for a walk?’ My neighbor would come over once in awhile and we just sat on the sofa and talked. She didn’t try to fix me. I could see tears well up in her eyes, but she didn’t try to offer a solution. She really made my grief journey a lot easier the first year or two just by her presence and willingness to sit and listen to my pain.” 

“It helped that people didn’t forget with Anna’s birthday rolled around, or at Christmas, or Thanksgiving. The first Christmas we had, we asked for help. We asked people to send us memories of Anna. That was the most precious thing we did.” 

“Remembering their birthdays and other special events is very honoring. Even being able to talk about it feels healthy and normal instead of feeling like you’re hiding some part of you.”


René’s Resources on Grief

Grief Share

Experiencing Grief by Dr. H. Norman Wright

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis



René’s Simple Joys

Her three grandsons

Talking with others who are grieving 

Anything that reminds her that God has given us creation to enjoy and delight in and how it speaks of His majesty and goodness.

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