Welcome To The Club

The growing club of grief.

Now more than ever, it seems several are being forced to join the club that no one wants to belong to. It’s happening in our local community, in the state, across our country, and the world.  There will be more deaths this year, than ever before in the history of mankind.  That leaves a lot of us behind with holes in our lives that can never be filled.  Unfortunately, grief is still a topic that so many are uncomfortable preparing for, thinking about, and dealing with- when the time comes.  I’m certainly no expert and it would be really sad for someone to be a grief expert, but here are a few things I’ve learned since I’ve been a part of this club:

  1. Don’t have any expectations for what you may feel, think, or do as a result of your grief.  Even when we think we know ourselves and how we would usually react to something, we aren’t ourselves right now.  Grief taints every circumstance-especially in the immediate future after a loved one has passed. An unexpected emotion may blindside you and the best thing to do, is to go with the flow and not expect yourself to react like yourself, if that make sense?  I’m not only talking about the feelings that come with sadness.  Our emotions will “run the gamut” as we venture forward and we will use them to deny, protect, and avoid the real work of grief.  This is where grace comes into play.  Have grace with yourself and hopefully others will have grace with you as well. 
  2. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-we don’t all move through grief at the same pace.  Never expect yourself to be “over it” or done with it.  Likewise, never expect a grieving person to be at a certain point in their healing, just because time has passed.  We all arrive at different times and that’s ok.  Along that same note, just because a person seems ok one day, doesn’t mean they are ok the next day.  At this point in my grief journey, the days are usually quite normal, but at night–when all is quiet, my thoughts always go to Sarah and I miss her so much, it’s hard to breathe.  I do still have days when I need to just sit in my grief and allow myself to feel what I feel.
  3. People will act awkward around you at first.  They won’t quite be sure how you are coping.  So, they may avoid mentioning the death of your loved one.  So, if you’re feeling up to it, please keep talking about your loved one that has passed.  Those who are grieving with you will want to talk about them as well and it really is therapeutic for all of you to remember.  Those who aren’t necessarily grieving, will seem uncomfortable at first when you mention your loved ones name, but that’s not because they don’t want to talk about them.  It’s because they don’t want to cause you to be sad.  Mentioning your loved one first gives them permission to talk about them to you.
  4. I’ve briefly mentioned this in some of my other posts.  Grieving can sometimes physically hurt.  So, please do what you can to relax and destress your body.  You will feel like you’ve been ran over by a truck at times, but if you can-stretch, go for a walk and just be outside for a bit.  Eat well, stay hydrated and allow yourself to nap, if your sleep schedule is off.  My sleeping pattern is so different, since Sarah has passed.  I find myself still waking up early and because of that, sometimes I go to bed much earlier now.  If I wake up in the middle of the night, sometimes I just go ahead and get up.  I usually spend that quiet time reading, listening to worship music, and just visiting with God.  I’ve had some very precious times in the early morning with The Lord.  He is very near to the broken hearted and I know that strength comes from Him when we admit our weakness to Him. 
  5. When you’re ready, you may want to find a creative outlet for your grief.  Do something to honor your loved one.  You don’t have to be the best artist, singer, writer, etc. Maybe it’s as simple as finding a favorite photograph and doing something special with it to make a keepsake.  Many people have found comfort in making pillows, quilts or other memorabilia out of their person’s clothing items.  Maybe writing a letter or keeping a journal would be helpful for you.  It doesn’t have to be for anyone else’s eyes but your own.  It will help you process what you’re feeling and express it in a tangible way though and there is comfort in that. 

These are just a few of things that come to my mind today about being in the grief club.  Please know there are many things that will change, but it may surprise you to know that some things may change even for the better.  People in the grief club don’t seem to take the same things for granted any longer.  The terrible thing is that we have to sometimes join the club before we realize what it means to truly value life and all that goes with it.  Hopefully, even in the midst of your grief you will know that you are never alone.  Scripture tells us that God is near to the broken hearted (Psalms 34:18) and He cares deeply when our loved ones die.(Psalms 116:15) I pray that you will feel the nearness of God and that you’ll also stay connected to the other members of the grief club through blogs and FB pages like Grace In Grieving or other types of support groups.  Grieving people are really good listeners and we can relate to one another in our loss.   It has helped me so much to read all the responses and comments to my blog posts.  Here’s the thing about grief-sooner or later, everyone becomes a member.  None of us are exempt from loss.  When it happens, I hope you will find grace in your grieving. 

This is the song that we closed Sarah’s Celebration of Life with. Maybe it will bring some comfort to someone who’s new to our club. I’m just going to leave it right here…

This is Us

I think it’s time to talk about us. I mean I know it’s usually a private thing, but I feel strongly that I just need to put it out there and be real and open with even this. Grief takes its toll in so many ways. We’d heard about the statistics even before it actually happened and it frightened us, even then. A lot of marriages don’t survive the loss of a child. Maybe it’s because we all grieve so differently-in our own way and it changes us…forever. I’ll never be the same woman that I was before Sarah died. That “innocence” is gone. That wife who felt so blessed all the time because she had everything that she had ever dreamed about-she’s gone. Right now it feels like there will always be a dark cloud hanging over me and I know you have one too. So how do we make sure that our marriage stays strong?

I think the journey of cancer itself can be detrimental to a marriage. We were separated by circumstances so often for almost a year. There were so many raw emotions and pain even in the diagnosis itself and not being able to be together on the hard days to talk and comfort one another, made it seem all the more dangerous. You were suddenly overseeing everything at the house and I was focusing on caregiving 24 hours a day. Often times, there was so much to think about, talk about, and so many unknowns. Both of us trying to process and do the best thing at the time, given the ever-changing circumstances. When we did find ourselves together, I know I was exhausted and just wanted a reprieve from everything. Our focus had to stay on Sarah though, so we kept putting her needs first. We had to.

It’s all still so surreal when I think about how our lives changed over night. We went from a happy family of 4… to just the 3 of us trying to figure out what is now a new normal in the middle of a world pandemic. You, with your distractions of work, and your hobbies of hunting, fishing, etc… Me, trying to figure out what to do with myself now that I’m not caregiving…And poor Libby, suddenly the only child, with parents that want to “smother” her because of the indescribable loss that we’ve felt. The struggle is real.

One thing that has helped has been the grace that we’ve had for one another. You know that I’m not always having the same kind of day that you are having and vice versa. The darkness of grief hasn’t hit us at the exact same time for a while, so when we recognize that one of us is being hit by one of those “waves,” I’m thankful that we can communicate that it’s one of those times and then extend grace and support and even enter into that with each other. We give each other permission to feel and question whatever we need to and we don’t take it personal. Ultimately, it helps us pull each other out of it and our conversations turn to what we know is true about Sarah today. She’s good. She’s better than good in heaven.

I think we’re continuing to learn so many new things about each other. I know over the past year, I’ve admired your strength and watched you grow as a father, as a believer and a worshipper. You’ve even gotten a little “artsy,” which admittedly, even surprises you. I know there’s new things about me that are developing, good or bad, I’m not sure. You are patient with me though and are allowing me to find myself, if you will. If I was ever going to just “run away” from it all, I’d still want to run away with you. 26 years of marriage and we’re still trying to figure it out. I’m committed to us and I’m thankful that you are too.

Another reason why we’re weathering the storm the way that we are is because of prayer. We’ve had so many prayer warriors that continue to lift us up and cover us and our family–specifically, our marriage. So, “Thank you” prayer warriors! Please don’t stop lifting us up. There is nothing more that the enemy would love than to divide and conquer each of us, but like one of our favorite sappy Jack Johnson songs…we are so much “Better Together.”

Grace In Grieving

Everyone wants to know how we’re really doing.💔 There’s no easy way for me to respond to that. I won’t speak for Chad and Libby, but one minute I’m doing ok, thinking about some menial task, and the next minute something triggers a thought of Sarah and what should “be” and I’m in tears. Grieving is hard work—not just mentally either, but physically. Sometimes I feel my heart is literally breaking on the inside and I feel random aches and pains and the old familiar gut punch that has come and gone for the past 10 months. 10 months… I still can’t fathom that she’s gone and it only took 10 months. I hate cancer. I hate our new normal. Please bear with me as I figure out what life without Sarah looks like. Please have grace with me in my grieving…and No, this doesn’t mean that I’ve lost faith. God is close to the broken-hearted(Psalms 34:18). I know He can handle my honesty. There’s really no use pretending with Him. I learned that a long time ago. I know He’s the only one that can heal my broken heart. I made Sarah that promise as we talked about her being healed in heaven, instead of earth. I told her that just as I could trust Jesus to take care of her there, she could trust Him to take care of us here and heal my broken heart. “The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die.” Psalms‬ ‭116:15‬. He cares for all of us who are hurting because we’re separated from those that we love. I’m so thankful that He made a way to defeat death once and for all.❤️

So, regarding the hard work of healing, I’ve decided to start this “Grace in Grieving” blog. If you’re interested in my journey through grief, or maybe you’re grieving too, hit the “follow” button on FB, subscribe to receive updates, share, and comment.

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