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Outlawed Grief, a Curse Disguised?

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#1
GoldenEagle

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My father shared this with me. Thought I'd pass it on for anyone who may be going through something similar.

God bless,

GE
 


Outlawed Grief, a Curse Disguised
by JONATHAN TROTTER on DECEMBER 22, 2013
 

Living abroad is an amazing adventure, but it comes with some baggage. And sometimes, the baggage fees are hidden, catching you by surprise, costing more than you planned.  You thought you had it all weighed out, you could handle this, squeeze right under the limit.
 

But then it got heavy.  Your new friends moved away, or your child’s new friend moved away.  Far away.  Like other continents away.   And your kid’s broken heart breaks yours.
 

Someone died and you didn’t get to say that last, fully present, goodbye.  Family members celebrate a birthday, or the whole family celebrates a holiday, and you’re not there because the Pacific’s really big, and you’re on the wrong side of it.
 

Or your child can’t remember her cousin’s name, and she doesn’t even know that’s sad.
 

And you realize there are just some things Skype cannot fix.

And you grieve, and your kids grieve.  Maybe.  But what if all these things happen again? And again.  You have another round of airport goodbyes, another holiday season with sand. Another Christmas with crying.

What if grieving gets old and annoying and time-consuming and exhausting?  What if it becomes easier to just not grieve?  To not let others grieve?
 

I’ll tell you what happens: Grief itself gets outlawed and a curse descends.  And everyone learns that some emotions are spiritual and some are forbidden.
 

Has your grief ever been outlawed?  Have you ever felt that your sadness or grief was “wrong and not very spiritual” and you should “be over this by now”?  If so, I am very sorry.  The prohibition of grief is a terrible, terrible curse.
 

Sometimes it’s outright, “Don’t cry, it’ll all be ok.”  But oftentimes, it’s more subtle (and spiritual) than that.  It’s the good-hearted person who says, “It’s not really goodbye, it’s see you later” or  “You know, all things work together for good.”
 

What if your kids miss grandma and McDonald’s and green grass, and someone tells them, “It’s for God,” or “It’ll be ok someday; you’ll look back on this as one of the best things that ever happened to you.” What if you tell them that?
 

Grief gets banned, and what was meant as a balm becomes a bomb, ticking.  The intended salve starts searing.
 

When loss happens, why must we minimize it?  Why are we so uncomfortable with letting the sadness sit? 

 

Are we afraid of grief?
 

We sometimes act as if you can’t have grief and faith at the same time.  Sometimes, shutting down grief seems spiritual.  We tell ourselves and others, “Forget the past and press on.  God’s got a plan.  God is sovereign.”  We use Bible verses.

 

But banning grief is not biblical, and it’s not spiritual.

 

Maybe we feel that grieving a loss of something or someone shows that we don’t have all our treasures in heaven.  Perhaps we delude ourselves with the twisted notion that if we had all of our treasures in heaven, our treasures would be safe, and we’d never experience loss.  And although this is crazy talk, we speak it to ourselves and others.

 

Does grieving really signal a lack of faith?  Would the truly faithful person simply know the goodness of God and cast themselves on that goodness?  No one would say it, but we sometimes treat the sovereignty of God as an excuse to outlaw grief.  I mean, how could we question the plan of God by crying?
 

We may feel that grieving a loss that was caused by someone else (through neglect or abuse) shows a lack of forgiveness.  And although we know it’s not true, we act as if once a person’s truly forgiven an offender, the painful effects and memories disappear forever.
 

What if the loss was caused by parents or a spouse who decided to become an overseas missionary?  Does the goodness and holiness of their decision negate the grief?  Of course not, but sometimes we feel that the truly spiritual would recognize the godly sacrifice and be grateful.  As if gratefulness and grief are mutually exclusive.  As if a decision has to have 100% positive or 100% negative results.  Gray exists, after all.

Maybe you made the decision to move overseas, and it was a God-thing and your call was sure, but now it’s just really, really hard.  How will you deal with your own grief?  Will it threaten you, or will you courageously allow yourself to feel it?
 

Remember, grieving isn’t equal to sinning.

 

Sometimes, outlawed grief goes underground.  It becomes a tectonic plate, storing energy, swaying, resisting movement, and then exploding in unanticipated and unpredictable ways.  A tectonic plate can store a heck of a lot of energy.  Sort of like grief, once outlawed.  It descends below the surface. And sometimes heaving tectonic plates cause destruction far, far away.  Really smart people with even smarter machines have to do smart things to pinpoint the actual location of the destructive shift.
 

Have you ever experienced an earthquake like this, caused by buried grief?  It might not be obvious at first, but after a little bit of digging, you realize that the pressure and tension had been building for a long, long time.

So please, allow grief in your own heart and in the hearts of your family members.  If you’re uncomfortable with other peoples’ grief (or your own), you might want to look deep, deep down in your own soul and see if there’s some long-outlawed, long-buried grief.  If you find some, begin gently to see it, vent it, feel it.  Begin talking about it, slowly, with a good listener.
 

And if you come across someone who’s grieving a loss, please remember that they probably don’t need a lecture, or a Bible verse, or a pithy saying.  But they could maybe use a hug {or a little sympathy mixed with some encouraging, heart-felt words}.



#2
desi2007

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good topic.... :thumbsup: ...and yes some have bigger battles, or scars in showing their pain. I have a 30 yr old nephew his biological father gave him up to his mothers husband when he was 5, which ended up being the greatest thing, brother-n-law adopted him and loved him like his own, but the nephews pain is still buried deep deep inside of being rejected. He has anger issues from his biological father rejecting him. And my nephew is a  pagan, he is totally against Jesus. I'm not sure why other then him making that choice because my sister was raised a christian and her husband was raised as a jew but he chose not to practice his religion. So, the nephew was raised without any religion. My sister and brother n law didnt see the need. And nephew is expecting his first child with his girlfriend. Couple years back, he unloaded on me with all his anger one day, his father made him apologize to me and I understood where all this anger was coming from, and since then I forgave him but I have trouble connecting with him. I know he cares for me in his own way as his Aunt. All I do is show him love, and encouraged him when he went thru bootcamp in the Army Reserves earlier this year and he is home now. Sometimes, less words is best around him, just hugs is all i can do.



#3
PrairWarur

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Good and timely topic, Golden Eagle!  I'm so very glad you addressed grief and I think it will help many who grieve and have emotions like the guilt described here, among other feelings they might not understand.  

 

I know folks try to comfort using platitudes like this article describes, but sometimes no words are suitable and hugs will do.  My good friend lost her very young son to a sudden illness and I searched for words to say.  I really struggled with what I was going to say to her when we were first together after his death, but words were not needed at all.  At first sight, we just held each other and sobbed.  It was the best thing I could have done for her.  She knew I was sharing her pain and that I cared.

 

I also think it is important that those who grieve realize there is no time limit, no one can say how long it will take, or when it will be over, if ever.  I do think the grieving lessens with time, but how does one completely get over something like losing a child or spouse?

 

It is important that we understand the stages of grief.  There are many, not meaning that everyone experiences them in the same way, but usually there is disbelief at first, denial, then anger, resentment, bitterness, and on.  Not everyone experiences these same feelings, but if they do it is a natural process of grief.  The more we understand these things the better it is for all involved.  If a loved one who is grieving seems very angry, it helps to know it is a natural process and nothing is wrong with them that will not ease with time.

 

Another point I would like to add is that when someone is injured in a debilitating way, loses a limb, or some physical ability, they will also grieve.  When I first learned this it sounded strange to me, but after I was assaulted many years ago I had the same symptoms as one who would grieve over the loss, or separation of a loved one.

 

I was terribly injured and disabled.  I learned that it was healthy to grieve the loss of my abilities.  No longer could I run and play with my children, or play basketball, and other physical sports which I enjoyed so much.  No more horse back riding, skiing, and many other physical activities, and I felt like an outsider as I sat and watched others having fun.  I never thought about grieving over this type of loss, but it does make sense to me now.  It is totally natural to be saddened by something of this nature and when we learn to help others through the process is aides in the healing.

 

Some people shamed me for being angry and I too was given the same, old, worn out phrases as one who loses a loved one is often told.  I tried to hide my disappointment and grief.  I felt guilty and so very unspiritual if I could not control my feelings.  With time I understood that I was grieving my body.  I stopped allowing people to tell me how I should feel, or what I should do, and I stopped listening to those who could not understand my situation.  Then I began to heal, because the longer I denied what had happened to me and what I was going through, the longer the process of recovery took.  The more I tried to please other people and act in a way that they thought I should, the more it hampered my healing.

 

These things are also true for those who are divorced.  Often we do not realize it is so very similar to death for them, but rarely are they given the same empathy and comfort as one who grieves over death.  I think this is a very sad thing!  We should not think that they are divorced by choice, therefore no grief involved.  It is quite the opposite.  They will grieve for many reasons, even if they wanted, or agreed to the divorce, and there are very complicated emotions involved.  There will likely be grief over the failed marriage, but there may also be grief over the loss of the loved one, especially if one partner does not want the divorce.  There usually is shame involved as well.  Shame because of failure, infidelity, or other issues that cause marriages to break down.

 

When the church begins to see divorced women as widows and how they are in just as much need, healing will come for them.  When we see the children of divorce to be similar to the orphan, our helping hands will comfort and help heal.  As it is, I think they are often ostracized from the church community and the hurting and shame go deep.  Men too share in this grief, but often are far less apt to share their feelings and experience.  They might not even know how to share what they are feeling and going through, so they remain quiet and suffer in silence, alone. 

 

You've opened a door to a terrific teaching moment here.  Thank you so much for shining a light on a problem we face, but not all know how to seek help, nor do we know how to give the help needed.  I pray dialogue begins and learning follows, which will make for a healthier, more loving atmosphere.

 

You are a blessing to me, Golden Eagle!  Thank you for allowing God to use you in such a beautiful way!

 

Yours in Christ Jesus,

PrairWarur



#4
PrairWarur

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In another thread discussing grief I responded to one post by pointing out the Scriptures in the Bible that talk about mourning.  I found about 125 verses on the subject.  Seems to me this indicates God's intent to help us through our grief by including so many examples of those who mourned and how they mourned.

 

Of all the verses I found, this one below is my favorite.  It is helpful for me to remember these words and how they go against the thought that we are never to grieve or mourn. (Outlawed Grief)  

 

Those who do mourn are blessed!  What a blessed assurance that is to me!

 

Peace to you,

PrairWarur

 

Matthew 5:4

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

 



#5
GoldenEagle

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good topic.... :thumbsup: ...and yes some have bigger battles, or scars in showing their pain. I have a 30 yr old nephew his biological father gave him up...

<snip>

 

Sometimes, less words is best around him, just hugs is all i can do.

Sometimes people need a good hug. Love him like Jesus would. Show him love even as he doesn't deserve it. I will pray with you that all of them will come to know the Lord. :thumbsup:



#6
GoldenEagle

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Good and timely topic, Golden Eagle!  I'm so very glad you addressed grief and I think it will help many who grieve and have emotions like the guilt described here, among other feelings they might not understand.  

Wow a lot to respond to PrairWarur :thumbsup:

I will try to respond in multiple posts as time permits...

From the article: "But banning grief is not biblical, and it’s not spiritual."

I'm reminded of the following passages sister.

Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

 

Seems to me that if anything we SHOULD bring our grief before the Lord. After all the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saved the one who's spirit is crushed. He not only saves but heals the brokenhearted. And finally, he comforts us in all our afflictions that we may comfort others reflecting the love of God. :thumbsup:

God bless,

GE



#7
GoldenEagle

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I know folks try to comfort using platitudes like this article describes, but sometimes no words are suitable and hugs will do. My good friend lost her very young son to a sudden illness and I searched for words to say.  I really struggled with what I was going to say to her when we were first together after his death, but words were not needed at all.  At first sight, we just held each other and sobbed.  It was the best thing I could have done for her.  She knew I was sharing her pain and that I cared.

 

I also think it is important that those who grieve realize there is no time limit, no one can say how long it will take, or when it will be over, if ever.  I do think the grieving lessens with time, but how does one completely get over something like losing a child or spouse?

Yes, in situations like that there's really no words. I can't imagine loosing our little guy.

I agree with you grief shouldn't have a time table. There is no easy fix. It's not like there's a manual or process for handling grief that is full-proof. And I would agree there is no set time to heal. Yet there is truly only One Healer. And the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter - the One who provides consolation.

I know two people who lost children very young (one was about 2 years old and the other 3). One lady has responded by becoming very angry, bitter, and hateful towards others. She lashes out at her family and those around her. The other lady has responded by allowing God to heal her heart. She by no means has forgotten her child, the pain with loosing him, or the loss that simply is impossible to replace. Yet she has become very compassionate towards those who have lost loved ones - this is now how she reaches out to others.

Tragedy strikes all of us. How we respond and allow God to use us is the difference.

God bless,

GE



#8
GoldenEagle

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It is important that we understand the stages of grief.  There are many, not meaning that everyone experiences them in the same way, but usually there is disbelief at first, denial, then anger, resentment, bitterness, and on.  Not everyone experiences these same feelings, but if they do it is a natural process of grief.  The more we understand these things the better it is for all involved.  If a loved one who is grieving seems very angry, it helps to know it is a natural process and nothing is wrong with them that will not ease with time.


I'm not an expert on grief but from what I've learned/experienced the stages of grief are (and depending on the individual the order may change)...
 

Denial/Numbness/Isolation/Shock - Denial: This all occurs usually as a defense mechanism to protect people against the intensity of the loss. Numbness: Often the result of having to deal with hard decisions (such as funeral arrangements, etc.) but not the same as not caring. Isolation can result as the person seeks to retreat from others to avoid thinking about the loss and pain. Shock is a reaction to a very unexpected loss. As denial and disbelief diminishes the person is able to acknowledge the loss.
 

Anger - When feeling helpless and/or powerless. This can be directed towards God, family, others, or life in general.
 

Bargaining - Thinking or praying to God about what could've been done to prevent the loss. If not dealt with can result in remorse and guilt.

Depression - At the realization of the true extent and significance of the loss. Typically a person will have reduced desire for sleep/food, energy levels, and crying bouts. Often there is a sense of loneliness, emptiness, desire for isolation, and even self-pity.

Acceptance - With time, the ministering of the Holy Spirit, and often counseling (professional or simply talking things out with friends/family) a person can accept the loss and come to terms with their feelings. Healing occurs by allowing God to mend the broken heart.

God bless,

GE



#9
Willamina

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I also thank you for posting this subject.
One trite but wise phrase actually did help me. "This, too, shall pass." When in seemed like there was no light at the end of a very dark tunnel of depression, it did give me hope.

My mom died unexpectedly when I was 25. Our hyper 3 year old never sat down or played quietly. Our second son would be due in a month. Dad was handicapped and they lived an hour's drive from us. Hubby was not saved, could not cope with death himself, and demanded to know why I was crying a month later with post partum blues added to the list. So I had to be the strong one and keep two houses running. I didn't have time to grieve. When my dad also passed away 8 years later I did double time and grieved for both. By that time hubby was saved and supportive. Two years prior I also had training in Christian grief counseling, which turned out to help me. But I still dreaded the depression and resisted grieving. The end of that grief was a decision that life does go on without them. It will never be the same, but it does go on. So I started making plans to go back to school.
When my mom died the Lord did reassure me that He had forseen all of this. All of her clothes fit me for the first time since high school. Even her shoe size became smaller so I was able to wear her shoes. This was somehow comforting. So I was able to trust Him throughout the time. But there was still a lot of lonliness without the support of my husband and I missed her terribly.

Earlier, in 1964 we had suffered the loss of all our posessions in a house fire. We were in an upstairs apartment and the fire started downstairs. I awoke to barely hearing someone yelling fire. I grabbed a robe and walked into a pair of shoes, hubby pulled on a pair of jeans, and we escaped down a smoke filled, dark staircase and through a burning doorframe, turned around and watched the stairway we had just escaped by go up in flames. We had no more than the clothing I mentioned. The next morning the thing I missed most was a toothbrush. Hubby had no shoes shirt or coat in the November chill. We did have family who took us in.
But somehow my pastor's words "you should be glad you're alive!" did not meet the practical needs we faced. We had no insurance. Even our wedding gifts were gone. We scrounged through the ashes for pots, pans and silverware. For years we had nightmares of flames at night. Today I have a lot of empathy for others who suffer loss by natural disasters and fires. The shock and not knowing where to start can be paralyzing.

So far those early losses were harder to deal with than the later losses of function or even the pain. Perhaps we have learned to rely on God more or He has given us more grace. Whittier said in the Eternal Goodness, "I know not what the future has of marvel or surprise; I only know that life and death God's mercy underlies. And if my heart and flesh are weak to bear an untried pain, the bruised reed He will not break but strengthen and sustain."

#10
PrairWarur

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((( Willamina )))  I think that saying is helpful, too.  It is something my mother use to tell me when we faced hard times;  "This too shall pass."  You are in my thoughts and prayers.  Having lost both of my parents now, I can empathize with you.  I too, put my grief on hold when my mother fist passed away because I took care of my father and wanted to be strong for him, and as with you, when my daddy died, it hit me double force.  I can so relate.
 
I appreciate your responses, Golden Eagle, but you need not feel obligated to respond.  This topic hits close to home with me and I hope I am reaching the point of acceptance.  I am a little surprised it has been so helpful, like a soothing balm, even though my case is different than death, it's separation, which leaves one hanging, so to speak.  It is hard to know the right thing to do and how to react to the situation.  I go from hope to despair in a moment, but I do hope I reach the point I will just accept what is going on and learn to live a somewhat normal life without my grandsons.  This thread has been very therapeutic.  I think it does help very much to discuss these things and not suppress them. 
 
I've done well, so far, handling my feelings.  I have not had hatred, nor bitterness towards those involved with taking them away, and I continually pray for all.  My son's ex ( the boy's mother,) prayed with me some months before she left and asked Jesus into her heart.  I can only hope and pray it was sincere and through that the Lord can speak to her and lead her in the right way.  
 
Sometimes I will lash out at those closest to me; those who are innocent and had nothing to do with what has happened.  We do not discuss our grandsons much, or how we are each dealing with the situation.  I feel that if I talk about them, and say how much I miss the boys, it will only bring everyone else down. Sometimes it is as if I have to suffer silently because I must be strong for everyone else in the family.   It also seems that no one realizes how painful this is for all of my family.  Our friends do not mention it, but I understand.  Still, it would be nice to know they have concern, or that they are praying.  Some do, though, and they will let me know, from time to time, that they are still praying, but for the most part, it goes unmentioned.
 
I caught myself thinking once that my son made a bad choice in women and felt some resentment towards him, but confessed that sin, repented and have moved on.  I've been praying every since that God helps me to keep a good and proper attitude.  Even though I do get angry at the situation, I know anger directed at anyone specifically will do no good and will not help me, neither will bitterness or rensentment.
 
I have been told that people do react this way at times and will let their feelings go when they are with someone they can trust.  I think it is because when they "get real" with their loved ones they still have the assurance they will be loved even after showing those raw emotions.  
 
I have empathy for this woman you spoke of and I think I understand her, although I know she is venting the wrong way.
 
"One lady has responded by becoming very angry, bitter, and hateful towards others. She lashes out at her family and those around her."
 
I think this is the saddest example by far.  Her pain runs so deep that she does not know what to do with the emotions.  I think she must feel even worse when she does lash out at those who love her.  I will pray for her; that soon she comes to terms with her grief, realizes the displaced anger does no one any good, and learns to channel her emotions in a more positive way.  She is a classic example of someone who needs grief counseling.  I've known people like her, and it is a tragic thing that often causes far more pain.  Still, who am I to judge?  Because I have not been through that type of grief and have no way of knowing how I would respond to such a terrific loss.
 
I am grateful for the coping skills I have developed through life.  Of coarse, prayer is always number one, but even sharing with you here is helpful.  It is a release, a "safe way" to unload without dragging my family and friends down.  The hardest thing is for grieving people to help one another.  What is needed is a counselor, or an objective person who will just listen.  Sometimes, though, people who do grieve are afraid they will wear out their friends by sharing too much about how they are feeling.
 
As I stated in my first post, divorce is another situation much like death.  I feel it must be close to what I am experiencing with the separation of my grandsons.  People do not think I would be grieving as one who has lost a child through death, but at times, that it how it feels.  Society reacts to separation differently than someone who grieves a death.  They do not seem to rally around the family affected by that sort of loss, and there is loneliness, isolation, and quiet pain.
 
Perhaps this dialogue will help others who are grieving from any of these things mentioned, and they will feel welcomed to share, or express their grief here, knowing this is a safe place and we are people who do really care.  It's not always an easy thing to do to share these very personal and private issues, but for me it has been a blessing that you began this thread and I thank you.  Thank you also for the beautiful Scriptures.  They were beneficial.
 
I am so glad to be a part of the family of God!
 
Always in His care,
PrairWarur
 
 


#11
SitaraForJesus

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I still grieve over being forced to endure multiple mentaL DISABLIities and being abused. Forgiving God Has proven to be impossible.



#12
PrairWarur

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Sitara, I will continue to pray for you.  It is not God who has brought on our problems and struggles.  Jesus knew we would have struggles in life, this is why He said;

John 16:33

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

 

Although it is common to hear people blame God for their troubles, we know it is not God who brings about our hardship and pain.  It is the devil who does this.  The bible tells us the truth of the matter here;

 

John 10:9-11

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

 

It is important we understand who our enemy is and also know that God is on our side.  As you read your bible more you will learn these things.  God's promises are true and He loves us.  God is love!

 

The Lord has this to say about His plans for us.  This is only one Scripture of many about His plans for us, His promises.

 

 

Jeremiah 29:11-13

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

 

Keep seeking God with all of your heart.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  You will be in my prayers.

 

Peace to you and God bless you much,

PrairWarur

 

 



#13
GoldenEagle

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I still grieve over being forced to endure multiple mentaL DISABLIities and being abused. Forgiving God Has proven to be impossible.

 

Praying for you Sitara. Know God loves you ver much and nothing you do will ever make Him love you less or more. We are here if you'd like to talk send a Private Message (PM). Was listening to this song today and prayed it for you. :thumbsup:

 

 

 

Cry Out to Jesus

 

 

 

 

God bless,

GE



#14
PrairWarur

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I love that song!!!  






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