Life After A Death And Learning To Survive

Life after the death of a loved one is hard, painful, full of ups and down, and waves of grief.  Sorrow and happiness often go hand in hand.  And tears flow, sometimes at the most unfortunate time and others at the time that they need to.

Some days you are just trying to survive and make it through as people often say. Sometimes you have wonderful memories where you smile and then other days it feels like all you want to do is cry.  Surviving a death to me is learning to be okay with all of that.

It has almost been 11 months since my loving husband passed away.  Some mornings, I wake up aching and missing him so very much.  It seems so fresh on those days.  And the pain is right back to the surface.  On other days, I wake up happy and ready for the day.  And others, I wake up not fully remembering what happened.

I cannot believe that it has almost been a year.  I was in a fog for much of that time.  It has only been recently that I am coming to terms with the fact that he is gone and not coming back.  My mind is not playing as many tricks as it used to and the realization is settling in.

And you know what, that hurts.  Having to live with the fact that a loved one is gone is so hard.  It takes time for the healing and the acceptance.  We have been learning to survive this loss and this pain.  I think we will be continuing to do so for a while to come.

Over the summer, we celebrated Kirk’s birthday and that was so nice.  Friends and family gathered together at a restaurant that he would have really liked. This fall, we celebrated Ian’s birthday without his dad for the first time.  That was tough but a really good day despite the pain and loss.

Later this month, I will celebrate our wedding anniversary without him. That will be tough and I am already trying to plan to do something special to honor Kirk.  The day we were married, we stopped at a Wendy’s near our house for dinner.  For many years after that, we had food from that favorite fast food restaurant.  It became a tradition that we enjoyed for many years.  I may have to get lunch from there.

Then that evening, I will do something special with Ian in memory of his dad.  I want to focus on the wonderful man that he was and how much fun we had with him.  I do, however, expect many tears that day — both sad and happy.

Over these months, I have been learning how to plan for the days I know will be tough, take time to rest, remember, cry as needed, and to grieve when those feelings come.  I have also been learning to give myself permission to feel as I need to before moving on to a project or item that must be done.  I am also learning to be happy and appreciate the times I have with our son and our friends and our family.

In referencing grief, Vice President Joe Biden has said that eventually a smile will come before a tear when you remember someone who has died.  I am not there quite yet but do have smiles now along with the tears and that feels like progress.

Over these months, I didn’t know how or if we would survive but we have.  And, I am so very thankful for that.  I continue to be shocked that he is gone and probably always will be.  But I am also remembering more and more what a blessing he was in my life and how honored I was to be his wife and mother to his child.

Before Kirk died, when I would hear of a loved one’s death, I would be touched and sad but didn’t have any idea of the depth of the pain and how long the healing takes.  I had lost loved ones of my own but no one as close as my spouse before his death.  So, in the months since, I have tried to reach out to others dealing with losses and be there in support of them.  I know that I fail at times on that, but I am trying.

All of us will deal with loss at some point.  A quote says that loss is part of loving someone.  I just hope and pray that we can remember to love those we care about while they are still here, tell them that we love them, and don’t take them for granted.  And, may we fondly remember those we have lost.

And may we also remember to love one another and appreciate each other.

Joy and Sadness

This morning I read a quote to choose joy.  The quote added that life isn’t always great but that we can decide to be joyful and have things be okay.  While I like this idea very much, I find that lately I have joy and sadness together.  That is the norm after grieving the loss of a loved one, at least it is for me.

Being both happy and sad at the same time is confusing, odd, painful, but only too real at this point in my life.  I continue to be sad at our loss but also am happy that I have our son to share the journey with.  He continues to impress me, motivate me, and makes me laugh. So, he helps to make me joyful.

Some things that make me joyful are a lovely sunrise or sunset, or a laugh with a friend, or a delicious meal, or a chat with my family, or a favorite song, or a great book that I can be lost in.  There is a lot of good still in life along with the loss, the pain, and the sorrow.  For that I am thankful.

This summer was all about trying to find some joy and I think we succeeded.  We had interesting adventures with clients and their children, had some time to play, had time to relax, had time to have fun, and had time to mourn.

As the Bible states, there is a time to every purpose under Heaven.  Each thing both good and bad, happy and sad has its place.  Just trying to navigate that sometimes is tough and can hurt so very much.  Other times, we laugh over favorite memories, a funny story, or a cherished photo.

We continue to have mixed emotions as I am sure everyone does 8 months after the sudden loss of someone who meant so very much.  Even it if isn’t sudden, the absence takes a long, long time to accept and get used to.  And frankly, I am not there yet.

Instead, we try to have the absence be a part of our life.  We talk about Kirk, we laugh about Kirk and his jokes, we celebrate Kirk’s birthday at a restaurant that he would have liked, we look at pictures, and talk about what we think he is doing in Heaven.

We cry, we scream, we grieve, we miss him, and we are thankful for the times that we did have.  We are blessed to have known him, blessed to have loved him.  I feel so blessed to have been his wife and Ian is blessed to have had him as his father.  He was an amazing man, with flaws and so much love.

We also know that he would want us to carry on and continue to live a good life.  I do believe that he is with us and watching over us and that is a comfort.  Still, I do want to talk with him one last time.  I want to tell him I love him and give him a hug.

I took this photo this morning during a walk. It made me joyful. It looked to me like a window into Heaven through the clouds. I looked up and said hi to Kirk.  Maybe odd, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time. So, again some joy through my tears.

I read a headline of an article that states that it is helpful for those grieving to talk to the one they lost.  I don’t know about anyone else but I do that regularly.  I talk with Kirk about something that Ian did, I ask him to forgive me, I tell him I love him, I tell him how missed he is and how loved he still is.  I just wish there was an answer back.

For those of us grieving, may we be comforted by our memories, may we know how much love there was between us and the one(s) we lost, and may we know that happiness with sadness is okay and to be expected.

I did want to share that scripture that came to mind.  The time for every purpose under Heaven is in Ecclesiates 3: 1-8, which states:

  • “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
  • ” A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
  • ” A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
  • “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
  •  “A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
  • “A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
  • “A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
  •  “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

May we find our purpose, may we be kind to one another, and may we always, always love.

One Tough Day

Today has been a tough one for me and I am not sure why. Today has been a wave of sadness for me with very little ability to concentrate on things. I just haven’t had the energy to do anything despite a long to-do list.

Over the last few days, I have been busy with family, friends, our church, have completed some big projects, and have been taking over many things that my late husband did for us. I am figuring out how to carry on without him and that is still painful.

So, I cried a bit, yelled once or twice, and then decided I was going to take today until Ian got home from school to be sad. I guess I needed to wallow in my pain and misery. I needed to realize that there will be days when that is important to do.  And that it is okay to do just that.

Surprisingly it has helped. I watched “Bull” starring an actor that we both liked, the movie “The Book Club” which was quite funny, and Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life. The last is a favorite show of mine. I have probably seen every episode more than once so seeing these last four parts was comforting. Bull took my mind off things and The Book Club helped me laugh.

And, as I was watching these shows, I thought a lot about Kirk, when we met at our church, what he was wearing, how handsome I thought he was, and then how funny and kind he was to me, when he proposed, our wedding, our honeymoon adventures, our first house, when we found out we were expecting Ian, the day our son was born, and so much more.

I also thought about the little things in our life — our routine of me cooking dinner and him cleaning up, our partnership, a few shows that we loved to watch together like Nash Bridges, our regular pizza nights, taco nights, hugs on a Saturday morning, laughter, time with our friends and family, our never-ending pile of laundry, his cars, James Bond movies, travels, and talks.

Those memories are helping me through the pain of his loss. It is hard to believe that he has been gone for four months. I cannot believe that we have gotten up each day and have gone on without him. I am glad we have but it has been a challenge on some days like today.

I also realized how blessed I was to have had him as my partner for all of those years.  He was a great father to our son and a wonderful husband and best friend to me. We both believed that the Lord brought us together. He always did the best by us and for that I am forever thankful.

I still wish there was more time with him. I am mad that I didn’t get more. I am mad that I didn’t get to say a final goodbye, or that our son didn’t get that one last hug and word from his father who loved him so very much. I am mad that he won’t get to see Ian graduate from high school or grow up into a fine young man.

Thankfully I have faith and know that we will see Kirk again one day. Also, I believe that he is with us just in a different place. I simply want to look into his eyes again, hold his hands, and receive a wonderful hug. I still want to hear his laughter and smell his cologne that lingered on my clothing after a long hug. I want to see him interact with Ian and laugh with him.

To see these things, I now look at our pictures. We took tons of them which he often made silly faces for or complained about. I am so thankful that we did. There are so many slices of our life that I can remember because of those images and all of my senses.

Now, I need to go help Ian with some homework and focus on dinner and the plans for tomorrow. I hope that after a good night’s rest that I will be ready to get back to my ever-growing list of things to do. Along with this list, I will also take time as I need it.

My prayers for those also grieving. May you take the time to feel the way you need to as the waves of grief come to you. May you have fond memories of your loved ones and no regrets. May you know that they are at peace. Blessings to you.

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.

Life is Short and So Precious

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday I found out that a high school classmate had passed away.  She had been sick with melanoma.  It came as a complete shock to many of us.  We knew she had been sick but not how serious it was.  J was loved by so many and will be missed.

I wasn’t very close to her but remember her fondly.  She was kind to everyone, always had a smile on her face, and had some dear friends who she has kept in regular contact with since elementary school.   One of my best friends was close to her and part of that special circle.

My thoughts and prayers are with J’s family.  She is survived by her husband, children, mother, sister, and many friends.  Some who have known her since elementary school and others from more recent years.  J is now a lovely soul in Heaven who will be missed.

As my friend so eloquently said regarding J’s death, when you have someone on your mind and in your heart, they are there for a reason, take the time right at that moment to reach out to them and let them know you are thinking of them. You just simply do not know when the time will come that you are not able to do that anymore.  I totally agree.

Life truly is precious and so very short.  We don’t know how long we have or how long we have to let someone know we love them.  Twenty-five years ago, my paramedic friend Gordon D. advised me to never be a grave hugger, meaning always tell someone you love them when you can and have no regrets.

I have tried to live my life this way but do sometimes forget to do so.  And, then surprising news like this brings back the importance of it.  I am going to work to make this a priority again.

Cheers to you J!  It was an honor to know you.  You are loved and missed.  Rest in Peace.

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