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.

Our Hardest Weeks

Over the past few weeks, my son and I have been trying to deal with the passing of my husband. It was sudden and unexpected but just how he would have wanted it just not for at least 20 years or more. (picture from Power Point clip art)

Since I am a writer, I realized that I needed to take some time and write down my feelings in order to start dealing with them. In the first week, I was up in the middle of the night for several nights in a row. During that time, I have been thinking of what I wanted to say. So here goes.

These have been the hardest several weeks for me and for our son but they have not been hard for my loving and sweet husband. He is in glory and there is comfort in that. My family and friends have also been an amazing comfort. So many people have reached out and have come through for us and we really and truly appreciate that.

But for me it hurts like hell. Parts of the day I am okay since he traveled a lot. I don’t think it has all sunk in yet. Other parts when it hits me that he is never coming back as we knew him, I want to scream. And, in fact, one of my friends whose husband died two years ago told me to do so. She said to wail when you need to. So recently while in the shower I did. I will again.

A few friends have mentioned that they are amazed at my strength. I feel I have to be strong right now for our son. There are times when I am strong but there are also times when I am very weak and ready to fall apart. So, I am taking it one day at a time, and sometimes, one hour at a time and even minutes at a time. And I am crying in front of our son and he is too. We are in this together.

The first week, my brain was in a fog and it was hard to do the normal things. I kept making mistakes and forgetting things or staring at someone. That is the pain and grief and perhaps a coping mechanism. I have worked as an editor so it is odd to not see mistakes that I could always see. It is frustrating but you know what, I don’t care right now.

I have several friends who have also lost their husbands. They have reached out to me. A few of them had a sudden loss, others have dealt with a longer term situation. No matter how the loss happens, it hurts so much. Some have younger children and others have children who are grown adults. No matter the time in life, it is still very hard to lose your soul mate and life partner.

With all of the pain we are going through, we are clinging to our faith in Jesus. That is a great comfort, as are our family, friends, church, school, neighborhood, and community. Imagining Kirk walking the streets of Heaven and making new friends makes me smile with tears in my eyes. There are so many who I imagine he is chatting with. That helps on the worst days.

My husband and I had talked about our plans and what he wanted when he died. He took care of us and did all he could so we would be okay. I will do my best to honor his legacy. Still, I am bumbling through all of the paperwork and things that have to be taken care of and people who have to be notified.

We had a celebration of life that was attended by both family and friends. We all cried and laughed as we remembered my dear sweet love. The outpouring from our loved ones has been amazing and has helped sustain us and helped us carry on. They say it takes a village, and that seems to especially be true in times of great loss and grief.

My advice is to talk with your loved ones about all of this hard stuff, arrangements, words for an obituary, your finances, and names of your relatives. It is just so hard to do immediately after the loss. Be sure that you both know what the other wants, and how and where to find the important papers.

There is a song that Tim McGraw sings that says to live like you are dying. I don’t like those exact words but he is onto something. I have learned the hard way how important it is to savor each moment with our loved ones and not take them for granted. We do often do that and get stuck in our own little ruts. My husband and I did that as well.

We had a great life together but it was by no means perfect. We would argue and annoy each other and sometimes fight, but we would make up. We made a point to do that. I cannot tell you how much of a blessing that is to me right now. And, with it all was love. I know he loved us and he knew we loved him.

We met when we were both a bit older than many people who get married and we knew it was right from the start. We had a wonderful 20 years together and a sweet son. Still, I want more. The fact he wasn’t here for any of December hit me last night and hurt again. I feel that I should have done more for him at the end but did all that I could.

I don’t like thinking of him in the past tense. I remember how vibrant and full of life he was. He lived his life full of love and laughter and also worked hard. We had our inside jokes and traditions that I want to keep alive for our son. We had annoyances with one another as all couples do. We complemented each other with our skills and abilities and we supported each other. We also had such a rich and treasured history that I will cherish and tell our son about when the time is right.

There are many of us who are grieving. My husband was also a father, a brother, a son, an in-law, a nephew, an uncle, a cousin, a friend, and a teacher and friend to his students. The people who had these relationship with him are also grieving and in shock.

Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking of a song “I Can Only Imagine,” that brought me to tears before all of this happened. This summer, the three of us watched the movie of the same name. We all cried and hugged one another. What a memory. It is one I will cherish for a long time.

Amazingly, now my love is experiencing all of this. After I cry some ugly tears, I try to imagine what he did when he arrived in Heaven. I then smile and cry some more. My love, you are missed and loved.

I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me (most of the words)

I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk, by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When you face is before me
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Surrounded by You glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine when that day comes
When I find myself standing in the Son
I can only imagine when all I would do is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine
I can only imagine