Grief In The Night

A week ago, I had a really rough night.  I had been sick with an upper respiratory infection, been sad, and been dealing with a lot.  So, my grief seemed to get the better of me for a little while.  This blog is about that experience.

I shared it with some loved ones prior to posting it.  One of them said that guilt is not of God.  That is true and so very important to remember.  However, when the guilt comes to you in the middle of the night, you tend to believe it, at least for a little while.

When I am sick, I often feel sad or bad.  I suppose I get the blues at those times.  So on this recent Sunday night, I was up until about 12:30 a.m. with a coughing fit that just wouldn’t stop.  I made some hot tea, got a mouthful of cough drops and then started thinking of my late husband and everything that happened the day that he died.

Parts of that entire morning are still there in vivid clarity. I remember him falling out of the bed face down, I remember trying to turn him over and figure out how to help him. I remember calling 911.  While I was still talking, two police officers came in to the house, turned him over and started CPR.

Soon after they arrived, several firefighters arrived to help, then the paramedics from the ambulance service.  They all worked on my love while I talked with the officers about what happened.  As they worked, our son was still asleep upstairs – having no idea what was going on.

I then called my parents to see if they could come over and help.  I was not sure that I could drive us to the hospital.  Before they got there, Kirk was taken by ambulance to the hospital.  I had no idea at that time that I would not see him alive again.

I prayed for him to be okay, grabbed his wallet, and my purse, etc.  Then woke up Ian and said we all had to go to the hospital since his dad was taken there.  We then went to the emergency department where I told his name to the person at the desk and presented his insurance card.

We were then led into a side room, not a room where they were working on him.  I should have known something was very wrong with that but I was still in shock at this point and hopeful.  Then a doctor and nurse came in and told us what you hear in movies or TV that changes lives forever.  “We did all we could but we couldn’t revive him.  He has passed away.”

We were all crushed and stunned to hear this news.  I then went to see him and touched his cold hand.  I looked at the man who was my love and had been so full of life.  I cried, I inwardly screamed, and I was in total and complete shock.  It was so hard to see him like that, but part of me knew that he was no longer in pain and was in a better place.  Still, I wanted him to come back to us.

I came back and forth twice to continue to check on Ian since I was worried about how he was doing.  I asked for Kirk’s wedding ring and the nurse took it off his hand and gave it to me.  I feel guilty that I didn’t stay with Kirk longer.  I felt like I deserted him since I didn’t sit vigil with him until the funeral home and donor services came to get him.

I still have some guilt since I put our son before him, although he was my spouse and first love.  But, now I realize that he would have wanted me to comfort our son and be with him.  He would have understood why I had to do what I did.  After all, he loved our child as much as I do.

Thinking back on it, I think he might have been gone as soon as he hit the floor at home.  An autopsy was done that said he had an enlarged heart along with a few other issues.  So, he apparently had a heart attack when he fell.  I have no concept of the length of time that he was on the floor before I called and reacted.  I just hope and pray that if I took too long, that wasn’t part of why he didn’t make it.

So there is guilt about that as well.  And, during that recent middle of the night when I was already not feeling well, it reared its ugly head.  I still feel I should have done more, reacted sooner, called earlier, whatever.  But would that have actually made a difference?

I don’t know, but it is something that I continue to think about.  And, I continue to ask my love to forgive me for failing him since that is what it feels like I did.  I hope that I can one day forgive myself and realize that I truly did all that I could.  That it was, in fact, his time to go, despite what I wanted.

I do know that 10 or more people worked on him between who came to our house, in the ambulance and the staff at the hospital.  They all tried to revive him but had no luck that would actually stick.  And that is heartbreaking.

We had plans; we had just talked about some changes in our life the day before he passed away.  He was excited about them and looking forward to what came next.  I am not sure he had any idea of what was coming.  He didn’t feel well but we thought it was a cold and allergy issues that we all were dealing with.  We thought there was time the next day to take him to the doctor.

So this year on that Sunday night, after crying and thinking about everything from that awful day, I was finally able to settle down and rest.  The next day continued as a normal school day.  It was still hard and full of emotions, but I made it though.  I was able to see the good in our lives and move forward.

I have talked with other people who have also lost loved ones.  A few of them also feel some guilt about wishing more could have been done or an opportunity was missed, or that it was bad timing.  That seems to be part of the grief process of the denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and eventual acceptance.

Friends and family regularly ask me how I am doing.  Some days, I am able to say pretty well.  But other days, I am broken and sad and not sure what to do with myself.  So, I cry, I pray, and I think about a lovely memory with Kirk.  I try to remember that he is not in pain, that he wouldn’t have liked living as any less than the man that he was.  It is comforting to know that he is in Heaven waiting to see us again.  That is my comfort in this journey that continues to ebb and flow.

I am still a work in progress and probably will be for a long time to come.  It helps me to write about my feelings and to share them.  And, crying also helps.  It also helps to talk about Kirk, to see his picture, to laugh at a memory or a story that he told us, to laugh at jokes he told, and to tell Ian what a wonderful man his dad was.

Ian is growing into someone who Kirk would be very proud of.  He has so much of his dad in him.  That is a blessing and something I treasure. Still I wish his dad was actually here to see it.  I continue to be reminded of all of the things that he is missing and that is a challenge.

If you too are grieving, may you find support, may you have healing, and may you find your way.  May you know that some days will hurt like hell.   May you know that some days will be full of regret and guilt but that some will have hope and joy.

May we live in honor or those who are no longer with us.  May we make the most of the time we have with our loved ones.  May we be thankful for another day.  May we have healing on our path of grief.  And may God continue to bless us.

The Grief Goes On…

Four months ago this week, we lost the man who I was privileged to call my husband.  In some ways, it seems like it has been longer than that. In others, it has moved ahead quickly with a big hole in our lives. And most of all, our lives will never be the same.

Yesterday, I read a blog about grief. The author shared that his father died on a Saturday morning, so that day of the week would never again be the same for him. That is how it has been for me each Monday since Kirk’s passing. This author also mentioned that after such a loss, you see things in terms of before and after the event. I have found that to be true.

I can hold it together for much of the week, but each Monday morning, I tend to relive what happened, often in bits and pieces. The health crisis that he was in, calling 911, watching the police officers do CPR prior to the firemen and paramedics getting to our house and then taking over, and working on him until they took him in an ambulance to the hospital.

My parents then arrived at our house and Ian woke up.  We all then went to the hospital hoping and praying that he would be okay.  When we arrived, they put us in a side room which would have had me concerned if I wasn’t in such shock.  A nurse, a doctor, and a family liaison then came in and told us that although his heart had restarted a few times, it didn’t stay pumping and that he had died.

We screamed and cried and were in deep shock. I couldn’t process this. How is it possible? How could this happen?  He should have woken up and been okay.  We just had laughed and talked the night before going to bed.  We had just had a great and Happy Thanksgiving weekend with our family and friends.  We had just been enjoying our life.

After receiving this shock, I went to see him.  It looked like my love but didn’t feel like him.  He was cold to the touch. That was such a bizarre feeling that I will never forget.   He was always warm when I held his hand or received a hug. I knew physically that he was gone but my brain couldn’t begin to process it.

I then went back to check on our son to see how he was doing.  Our pastor was there as well and that was a great comfort.  The pastor went with me the second time I went to see Kirk and prayed for him and for us.  I looked at him and willed him to wake up, I begged God to bring him back, but sadly, that was not to be.  For some reason that I don’t yet understand, it was his time to go.

I asked the nurse for his wedding band and she took it off his hand. I have been wearing it every day since. This brings me some comfort to have a part of something that was precious to him — us and our marriage and our life together.  That is so deeply precious to me as well.

After receiving the ring, I said goodbye and then went back to check on our son who was still in shock. My parents had started reaching out to our family and friends to give them the news. I was also still in shock. They suggested going to have breakfast so we left and I tried to eat. I couldn’t process answers to questions from my mom. I was numb and lost and so deeply sad. .

Now, I wish I had stayed longer with Kirk at the hospital, but all I could think of was to be with Ian and try to be strong for him and share in his grief and loss. I have asked Kirk to forgive me for leaving him when I did. I am finding comfort in knowing that he was already in Heaven and his body was simply a shell that I could say goodbye to.

We spent the rest of the day at our house.  My brother and sister also arrived from out-of-town. It was so good to see them and share our memories. Later someone went to get food from a favorite restaurant. As we were together, I was able to eat. We talked, we cried, and we shared good times we had just had with Kirk. We grieved together and all tried to support Ian.

One of Kirk’s brothers and wife came over later to see us. Many of his family lives out-of-town and they were all there for the memorial service. Seeing them that Monday meant the world to me. We were all shocked and saddened to lose this man who meant so much to us. We didn’t really know what to say but it was helpful to just be together.

That evening, Ian’s best friend and his mother came to see us, had made us a meal, and loaned us some DVDs. It was great to see them and especially nice for Ian. Since then, we regularly see them, go to the park, have meals and watch movies together. And, the boys play together, talk and laugh, which means the world to me.

That week we were also visited by other friends, neighbors, church members, and the pastor who performed our wedding and gave us such a special message as we started our life together. We also received text messages, notes on Facebook, emails, and phone calls. These loved ones prayed with us and shared stories with us.

We are so very fortunate to have such a great support system to help us through this. People cooked us food or delivered it from our favorite restaurants. Others gave us gift cards, sympathy cards, and Christmas cards. Our friends and family have gone above and beyond for us and we are so very thankful for that.

I was married to Kirk for 20 years. Last week, we visited clients that he had worked with long before he met me.  It was nice to share stories with them about him, to hear what he meant to them, and to cry together. It has rocked them as well as my family.

That week, I slept well at our hotel and that was great. It felt good to be busy and have some purpose. I have been floundering for a while. Still, there was time to share the grief and acknowledge that it is a part of our lives. We also prayed together and also were able to laugh. So life was going on as well as the grief.

All of us will be touched one day by the loss of a loved one. Sharing that with others makes that burden more bearable. When you have loved and lost, the grief does go on.  But so does life, so we try to have good times and find the positive things that we can enjoy. At times, I feel guilty that we are moving forward, but I have to realize that is what Kirk would want for us.  He always wanted the best for us and I cherish that.

One of the things Kirk would say with some laughter is that Heaven wasn’t ready for him and hell wouldn’t take him. That Monday in late November, Heaven was ready for him. Just we who loved him were not ready. As I said earlier in this piece, I still don’t know the reason but am trying to live with the new normal.

Our son has his entire life ahead of him so I want to share that with him and celebrate it. We remember and talk about his dad. I tell him stories of times with his dad throughout his young life. And we try to carry out the plans and ideas that he’d had for our family with some adjustments.

If you are grieving, I hope and pray that you have a support system, a faith, and the knowledge that you will be reunited with your loved one in the future. That is what I believe and it helps in the hardest of times. Blessings to you and yours.

Darkness and Light

This week in my grief journey, I have experienced both darkness and light.  At times, I have been very down and depressed and negative but I have also been happy, upbeat, and encouraged.

It is very strange to have such extremes nearly every day but that is how it is going for me.  I cannot speak for anyone else, only my journey and that with my son. We are doing the best we can and still have a long journey ahead of us.

At times I am overwhelmed with loss and sadness. I strongly feel the weight of the loss and it is hard to get past it. So, at those times, I wallow, cry, scream, or pray.  Or a combination. I then try to focus on the good in our lives and all the support we have.  Also, I am thankful that my love didn’t suffer when he left us.

Other times, I laugh at a memory, a favorite song, or a photo. My memory of him is long and wonderful. We were by no means a perfect couple but we had a good relationship that was ours. I am thankful every day for that and all of those wonderful years that I had with him. I am also so thankful we had a child.

I still must be in the denial phase since I cannot believe that he is gone. Now that some of the shock is wearing off, I am remembering problems and issues that we’d had and feeling some guilt. I wish I had done a few things differently. I wish I could do a few things over again. I have asked him for forgiveness and have said how much I loved him and still do.

Now, it is time realize that I need to forgive myself. I know that I loved him deeply and with all that I had as he did with me. We also loved our son and were good partners in raising him and teaching him what we wanted to. When I feel bad, I try to focus on that and it helps.

Our son and I often talk about his dad. I try not to overwhelm him with it but do mention funny things his dad did, or a favorite story about the two of them, or how much his dad loved him. We talk that his dad is still with us but in a different place. I know he misses him like I do. He is staying busy with school, homework, his reading and writing, and time with friends and family. And all of that is helping.

There are things to look forward to and I am thankful for those. But every once in a while, my fears creep in that something will happen to me. I keep praying and working to ensure our son and I are okay. Each day includes projects but also time to just be, to cry if needed, to laugh if I feel like it, and just to be present.

This week we went to the Ash Wednesday service at our church. Before that we had a dinner and there was time to visit some couples who I have known since I was a child. That part was great. But the hard part was the Bible verse that states we came from dust and will go back to dust. That hit me so hard since my love was cremated.

The thing I have to remember is that his body may be dust but his spirit and soul are not. I firmly believe that he is in Heaven and that makes me smile. I can imagine him there making friends, having chats, and making everyone laugh. If there are problems or things to repair, I can imagine him helping with that as well.

I can only imagine what his first time must have been like when he arrived. I wonder if he was surprised to be there since it was so sudden. I hope he was told that we are going to be okay and that he could visit some of his loved ones who passed before him. Last summer we watched the I Can Only Imagine movie. It touched all three of us. We cried and talking about it after watching it. I am so glad that we shared that time.

Another thing that hit me hard this week was the death of actor Luke Perry from a massive stroke. He was the same age as my love was when he died. It brought up all of the feelings of the suddenness and wishing I could have done more for him. So I cried a lot that day. I prayed a lot too. But I also spent extra time that day with our son on his homework, talking with him about his day, and being in the moment with him.

Finding the light in the darkness can be a challenge but it is there. I keep praying to continue to find it and move forward, but realize that it is a long process.  After all, when you have loved someone for so long, the feelings don’t just go away with them. There has to be time to heal and figure out a way to live with a different life than what we expected.

Throughout this experience, I have been thinking of my friends and family who have lost loved ones of their own — both before my loss and after. Before it happens, you have no idea how hard it is. You have no idea what someone is going through. Whether you know it is coming or unexpected, when that other person is gone, there is hurt and sorrow.

I think it has helped me have more empathy for others and their grief.  And more desire to want to reach out to those grieving. I try to reach out and pray for others and do my best to comfort them. It is not easy since I am still raw, but there is comfort in bearing one another’s burdens.

My prayer is that we may comfort one another in both the good times and the bad, pray for each other, laugh together, cry together, lift one another up, and be there to listen. I also hope and pray that we will always be loving to each other and treat one another with kindness. After all, we don’t always know how much someone is suffering.

Tears and Joy

lake.summer.7-27Today we say goodbye to that sweet soul I mentioned last week.  Ian’s dear friend Malachi passed away at 8 years old from brain cancer.  He was a joy to know and made us laugh so much.  Now as I remember him, it is with laughter through my tears.

His funeral is this afternoon and one of the hardest decisions I have ever made as a mother was deciding to have us not go.  You see it’s been hard enough for Ian to process the loss of his friend, much less attend a funeral mass in his honor.  So Kirk and I thought that school and his regular routine would be better for Ian.

Not sure if this was the best decision but Malachi’s dad totally understands.  And, that is a great comfort.  I don’t feel so guilty for not being there in person.  We are there in spirit and praying for the family and friends who have lost this amazing young man.  We are hurting too and clinging to our fond and funny memories.

When we met him, he came right up to Ian at preschool and said “Hi.  I am Malachi.  What is your name?”  Ian told him and they went to play together.  Then a few months later when Ian started full-time, Malachi made a point of saying, “I remember you.”

boys-9-6-2016Each time the boys played together, they had so much fun — whether it was Playmobile, Lego, or cars, they made up stories, made each other laugh, and shared.  Both were only children and got along really well.  They were a joy to watch and listen to.

Selfishly, I wanted to see the two of them grow up together, stay friends, and maybe room in college, go on vacations together, and so many other ideas.  But that was not to be.  The Lord had something else in mind.  So now, this amazing soul is in Heaven having a great time.  We miss getting to see him but are so thankful he is no longer in pain or suffering.

There are some people in our lives who come in and make an amazing impression and he did just that.  He lived an incredible and rich life for someone so very young, he had faith beyond measure, and a wonderful sense of humor.  He loved to help people and joke around with them as well.  He never met a stranger and enjoyed his time with family and friends.

I have learned a lot about friendship, faith, loss, joy, tears, laughter, and so much more from both Malachi and his parents.  I feel that my family is blessed beyond measure to have had these friendships. I will forever be thankful they came into our lives when they did.

May we all savor those relationships we have, make a point to tell those we love them, hug our loved ones, be there when they need us, and remember to laugh and enjoy life.  It is a gift and each day is so very precious.  May we also have joy.

To Dancing In The Rain

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAHi and Happy Monday.  I came across a great photo this morning on Facebook.  It had a quote that said, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

This really spoke to me today.  Isn’t that so true?  Life sometimes is really hard.  It is painful and sad, and it can be hard to get out of bed in the morning.  But most of the time, we still have to figure out a way to get out of bed and start our day.

Sometimes at least for me, it is good to have some time to have a good cry, grieve and be sad.  It helps to feel what I need to feel for a little while, and I can then try to see the good that is there along with the bad.

I am not saying it is easy and often the hurt and pain don’t just fade away.  It takes time and often lots of it.  Each day, I hope and pray to wake up and find things easier to deal with.  Some days are good and some are bad.

Over the weekend, my parents went to funerals or receiving friends for two men who we all have known for years.  One was a co-worker of my dad and also of mine.  He was 68 years old.  The other was a friend from church.  He lived to be 90 years old and had an amazing and long life.

Both of these men meant a lot to their friends and families and had great lives.  They will be missed.  My prayer is that their families and friends can remember all of the wonderful times that they enjoyed and celebrate their lives.

Losing people is always hard but celebrating them and remembering all that they meant to us can help with that hurt.  The saying of one day at a time truly applies in the case of losing our loved ones.

Struggles in life can also wear us down.  We watched the 10 year anniversary show on Hurricane Katrina last night.  It was amazing to see all of the devastation again and the pain and suffering that so many people in numerous states dealt with.

Yet, after time and effort, communities have been rebuilt, homes have been rebuilt, and families have rebuilt.  These stories were inspirational and uplifting.  Despite all of the heartache, people helped one another and got back on their feet again.  That is something to celebrate!

May we always remember to be kind to one another and helpful.  May we bear one another’s burdens.  May we remember to let our loved ones know how much we do love them.  May we remember to dance in the rain.  And may we remember to always have hope.

A closing prayer: “Dear Lord as we deal with struggles, please help us to remember that you are always there for comfort and strength.  May we also lean on our loved ones and help each other through the challenges of life.  And, may we remember that better days are ahead.  Amen.”

Throwback Thursday – In Grams’ Honor

DSC06130Hi and Happy Thursday.  Today’s Throwback Thursday is of a photo of me with my precious grandmother, Grams.  It was taken in 2006 when we were at a baseball game with some other family members.  That has been a family tradition for several years in the summer.

I decided on this posting today in Grams’ honor. You see, she passed away yesterday and is now living with our Lord. She had celebrated her 93rd birthday in January.  She had been quite ill in recent weeks and months so we knew what was coming.  Because of that, we had a chance for a last visit and to tell her how much we love her.

I feel so honored to have had that chance.  Often, people die without us having one last chance to see them and tell them how much we love them. It is truly a blessing and I think was for her as well to see all of her loved ones before passing away.  I learned a lot from this amazing woman and am so blessed that she was in my life as long as she was.

Right before I got the call that she had passed away, I listened to “I Can Only Imagine” on the local radio station.  As I was listening, I felt a calm wash over me.  Later I realized that might have been playing at the time that Grams was meeting Jesus face to face.  Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with emotions.  Through my tears, I smiled thinking of what she was experiencing.  Thanks Lord for that gift.

We will be having a memorial service for this great lady soon.  It will be so nice to see family members and comfort one another.  But, knowing we have a special angel watching over us certainly helps.