It’s possible to be thankful and heartbroken as well as happy and sad at the same time. These are not mutually exclusive feelings.
So many people have said to me, “But you should be thankful for the love.” I am! Believe me, I am. But that doesn’t remove the heartbreak of missing him. And, I am very happy when I’m with my grandchildren watching their activities and antics, but then I’m also sad that Papa isn’t here to make more memories with them.
This is so important to remember as I move into the holiday season. That empty space beside me as I go about the business of my days feels even bigger now during the happiest time of the year.
I have always loved Christmas and still do, because it does celebrate Christ (the reason that I get to see him again). Although the child in me will always feel that “it’s not fair” that he’s not here with me, I will keep him in my heart and remember that he is celebrating with Jesus every day, not just on Christmas.
As I go through the holidays, this is my new mantra. People honestly do try to understand, but they just can’t. I thought I understood deep loss until I actually went through the loss of my amazing husband and Daddy within ten months. So, I will try to remember to give grace to those who may say something really ridiculous. They really do mean well. And, I truly mean it when I say that I’m happy that people can’t understand. It means that they haven’t experienced pain at this level, and that’s a good thing.
As I’m trying to remember that people can’t really understand a stage of life until they’re in it, I’m also trying to remember the humor in these kinds of things.
Grief never ends… but it changes. In the days and weeks right after Bob moved to heaven, I worried that I would always be in that much pain. But, over time (and intentional effort toward healing), I have found some relief. And, now, I have more good days than bad, more good moments than bad.
Grief is simply the price of love. The depth of love is in direct balance to the depth of grief. I say all the time that I didn’t lose Bob. I know exactly where he is. He’s walking on streets of gold with Jesus. Yet, that faith – that knowledge – doesn’t make me miss him less.
Happiness is balance in all of life, but it is especially true when we go through valleys. We get so worried about finding the “old” me that we end up missing happiness altogether. We won’t find the old me. Just as our loved ones changed our lives when they came into them, they have changed our lives going out as well. But, we can intentionally take baby steps toward happiness and contentment.
Stop waiting for that moment of the same happiness you had with them and enjoy whatever little fragments of happiness you can find.It may be rainy nights spent curled under blankets with a good book. It may be licking cookie dough off your fingers. It may be spending time with those going through the same grief journey. It’s the little moments. It’s the baby steps that lead to bigger steps.
It is so easy to let ourselves fret over the days, months and years without them – the “what if’s”. But, that’s the future. We can’t control today, much less the future. Remaining in the present/Focusing on the next, right step is our connection back to wholeness. We remain in the past, because that’s where they are. But, they are also here in the present – in our love, in our memories. Bring them forward with you as you focus on that next step, not the whole staircase.
Grief needs to have out an outlet. – Speak about your loved one to a supportive family or friends. – Speak to your loved one. Whether you believe they can hear you or not is irrelevant. It’s an expression for you. Hearing their name and the words is healing.- Write your thoughts in a journal.- Express your grief through art – Drawing, Painting, Knitting, Crocheting, etc. The medium doesn’t matter. And, your talent doesn’t matter either. – Indulge in play therapy. That child in your needs comfort as well. – Any other expression that gives sorrow words.
And, remember that you can still shine as you’re doing this work to get back to wholeness.
To say this has been a rough week would be a gross understatement. Anniversaries are hard!! Not may be, can be! And, we’re coming up on the holiday season. I’m trying to remember just this!
Every widow or widower that I have talked to has expressed some idea of this feeling. Yet, very few admit it outside the circles of “widowhood”. Let’s bring out the elephant in the room. Some days are harder than others. On those days, it’s fine to at least be grateful that we’ve made it through the day, one day closer to getting to see them again.Not that we’re wishing our lives away. I’m grateful that I get to witness my grandchildren’s lives and all that goes along with life as I know it, but I also miss him greatly. Sad and happy can exist in the same moment!
In the marriage ceremony, we pledge, “I, Susan, take you, Bob, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law, in the presence of God I make this vow.” And, the two shall become one.
That’s what it feels like. He was a part of me. He made me a better person. He made me who I am. And, now, I feel like a part of me died with him. I’m having to find who I am without him here on this earth. I say it that way, because I really don’t think I’m truly without him. I still have his love, and I’ll carry it with me until I get to see him again. Yet, it’s so different now. When I am out, especially with other couples, I feel the need to explain where he is. I trust that I will eventually get to where I’m comfortable just being me, but at almost 2 years, that’s not yet. I’m sure it’s the timing with coming up on the heaveniversary, but it’s still such a raw wound.
Still, I say “yet”, because I’m hopeful I’ll get there.
One day early in my grieving process, I just didn’t have the energy to do the make-up and hair thing, but I had promised myself that I would go out every day even if was just to the grocery store. I knew as a counselor that doing a “normal” routine was good for me. So, I went out. When I drove through my regular place for lunch, the lady at the window recognized me and asked if I was ok. She knew about Bob, so I just said, “I will be.” I didn’t want to hold up her line, and I was doing everything I could do hold it together. I just couldn’t talk at that moment. Yet, as I drove away, I realized that every day since he’s moved to heaven had been rough. (It wasn’t Christmas 2020 yet, so it wasn’t even two months at that time.) That day I just didn’t have the energy to fake it. I presented my true, transparent self. And, I’m discovering that’s a good thing. Bob loved me for just who I am, and that’s who the world will now see.
I’ll carry his love forever. I didn’t think about it at the time, because I was all of 19 years old. We did say, “Till death do us part” in our vows, but that’s not right. Yes, we are parted in a physical sense with him in Heaven and me still here on earth, but that doesn’t stop the love. I feel as if he took a part of me to Heaven, and I know I carry a part of him with me on earth. So, are we really parted, or just separated by space? My grandson, who was two when Papa moved to Heaven, is now old enough to understand that Papa is gone. So, he asks quite a lot of questions. The most recent was, “Gogo (my grandmother name), did you take Papa to Heaven?” I explained that Jesus came to get him, but that picture was special to me. In his four-year-old mind, I was Papa’s special person, so it was my responsibility to take care of him and make sure he was safe in Heaven. It sometimes takes the innocence of children to help us put images to perspective.