Dealing with Fear after Loss By Mel Tibbetts

Almost four years ago I was about to learn that my happy world was about to be ravaged by fear.  In August 2013 as I went to pick up my husband from his colonoscopy appointment with my 4 year old and 7 year old in tow, the secretary told me that she would watch my children for me in the lobby. She told me that the doctor wanted to talk to me along with my husband and that my children should not go into the room with me.   At that exact moment I knew.  I knew that our world was going to change.  I felt fear enter my body, my mind, and my soul in that room as the doctor was talking, as my husband looked at me with a tinge of confusion, as I saw the doctor’s mouth move, and as I wondered what my children were doing at that moment.  

 

I would lose my husband, my co-parent, my best friend, and my soul mate in 6 months.  I would watch him waste away from cancer.  I watched my children’s confusion grow.  I watched my husband pull away from his role as a caretaker and father because he did not feel able anymore.  I was about to see my children go through one of the worst experiences of their young lives.  I would see my children lose their male role model; a love of their lives.  I was about to see my husband’s life end and my children’s hearts tear into two.  I was about to lose him and me.    

 

While my husband was being ravished by cancer, he continued to teach me about love and bravery.  I wanted him to stay to teach me more.  I was not done being his student.  He showed very little fear in the process of dying.  I envied him.  I knew that once he left this world, fear would ravish me.  I was scared as hell, but I could not express this openly.  I had to be the strong wife, the strong caregiver, the strong mother, and the strong survivor. He died on February 23, 2014. Three days later I turned 40 years old.  

 

Fear has been my closest companion for the past 4 years.  Fear has had a strong hold over my hopes, dreams, future, and heart.  Fear turned me into an overthinking, double guessing, not good enough person.  Fear has made me believe that what I want, what I dream for in the future, and what I deserve are not attainable goals.  Fear told me that I was not worthy of more.  Fear made me believe that I do not deserve to be loved again.  Fear has hidden itself as practicality in most of my decisions since that moment almost 4 years ago.  It is practical to take care of your family first. It is practical to take what you can get.  It is practical to stay risk free. It is practical to use your brain more than your heart.  It is practical to believe that your wants and needs do not come first.  Or worse yet, that you are not important.  It is practical to want what is best for your children over what is best for yourself.

 

I am finally at a place that I am ready to decide how much fear will dictate my life.  I have armed myself with the necessary tools to control fear’s role in my world.  I have filled my heart with love once again.  Love for the future.  Love for my life.  Love for myself.  I have connected with a great group of young widows and my children have seen that they are not alone in losing a father.  With these tools in hand, I am about to take fear by the horns and take fear out of my decisions.  I am about to put myself first. I am about to discover who I am again and what I want for my future.  I am about to live a life that I know that my husband would want for me and for our children.  I am ready for love and happiness to dictate my life and my decisions once again.  I am opening my book of life to a new unknown chapter in which fear is not allowed.  I am about to let life come to me with open arms and to let the universe give me what I want.  I am ready to accept love and peace into my heart. I am ready to take a leap of faith for the first time in a long time.  And I know that with this new acceptance of love, peace, and happiness is my husband right by my side.  Holding my hand and enjoying our new life.   

 

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The infertile widow…

I held back tears last week as I waited to check out at the Dr’s office.  Not just any doctor, I should explain.  Obstetrics and Gynecology.   I stood behind a young couple.  The woman was at the desk.  The father was rocking an infant carrier.  The baby was giggling.  The rock on her hand seemed to sparkle despite the gross office lighting.  And at first the image made me smile a little.  Happy family.  New baby.  And then I heard the woman behind the desk say “And when the new baby comes your insurance coverage will…..”.

New baby?  They already have one.  It’s right there.  And they get ANOTHER one?  So soon?  And I’m here, all alone, wearing a Dr. issued pad that was invented in 1954 the size of a diaper after the procedure I just had.  And life just seemed so unfair.

Chris and I tried for over a year to have a baby once we got married.  With no luck.  We had always said we would give it some time on it’s own, and we would see how we felt if it didn’t happen.  Having never had regular periods, part of me suspected it wouldn’t be a quick process.  But neither of us were sure we had it in us to go through the process of medical assistance in getting pregnant.  I’ve watched friends and family go through the very difficult, emotional, stressful, expensive process of hormone shots and injections and IVF or IUI and all the different ways to make it happen.  And some of my favorite human beings are on this planet today because of those procedures and I thank God for those options.  But we weren’t sure if we wanted to do it – so we waited to try on our own.

Funny thing about time, you always think you have more of it.  We were starting to discuss more frequently the idea of going to see a Dr. about the fact that we weren’t getting pregnant.  I was getting more and more disappointed with each period I would get.  Not having regular periods, I can’t tell you how many pregnancy tests I took.  Two minutes of hope every now and then.   And then one morning he was gone, and so was hope of being a mom.

I need to preface what comes next as MY perspective.  My story, my feelings, my preferences for my own life and my own body.   I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to parent alone after losing a spouse or partner.  To watch your kids grieve and struggle.  I can’t speak to that and I’m not comparing my situation to anyone else’s as easier or harder or more or less painful.  We all carry the pain in different ways.  It is just different.    And I am not knocking anyone out there who decided to have a baby at an older age.  Good for you, girl.  Honestly.  You rock.  I completely understand that women are having children older and older lately.  Almost everyone has some story of “someone I know is 45 and pregnant for the first time”.  Good for them.  I wish them the best, I honestly do.  But I know what I feel comfortable with for myself and my life and the life of a child I bring into this world.  So please, if you are reading this, don’t be offended by what comes next – it is just my world vision right now.

When Chris died it left me very much ALONE.  I moved out of our apartment and back into my parents’ house to not have to be so alone and they have been amazing at taking care of me.   But I don’t have a part of him to live on.  I don’t get to see a smile that is exactly like his was as a reminder of a mark he left on this world when he went.   And that kills me.  I never got to see the man I love hold our child in his arms.  He was taken from us before he ever got to know the love in his heart of being a dad.  He would have been an unbelievable dad.   The only person that I have to be strong for is myself.  And that is not much motivation some days.  I don’t have anyone to get up and put one foot in front of the other for, so there are weekends I stay in my pajamas and don’t shower and days I don’t get out of bed until 4pm.  Still.  A year and a half later.   It is just a different type of alone.

Fast forward a year or so and an irregular pap smear has me at the obgyn.  And in the midst of cervical and uterine biopsies and other medical concerns (all of which came back fine, thankfully), I am officially diagnosed with PCOS.  Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome.  Fairly common syndrome actually, not exactly rare, but a condition that can lead to making it very difficult to conceive naturally.  I was basically told that the odds are I would need hormone shots and IUI or IVF or some sort of assistance if I ever wanted to have a baby.

Now – I can imagine this information is difficult to hear for any woman.  Even those that already have kids and are struggling with secondary infertility.   Even those not necessarily wanting a baby right then.  Just being told that you can’t have one on your own, is tough.  I don’t claim to limit the feelings of loss this can cause just to someone who has lost their spouse.  Many couples struggle with the emotional havoc infertility can cause.

But had I gotten this news at 34, with a doting husband sitting next to me when it was delivered, we would have had options. They may not have worked.  Nothing is certain.  But we could have tried.  At 36, alone and not getting any younger, the diagnosis was a confirmation of something I had known deep down for the past year and a half.  That in all probability, my chances of being a mom died with him.  Another ridiculously unfair layer to an already heartbreaking loss.

Most people I talk to about this are quick to say “You never know”.  And they’re right.  I lack the ability to foresee the future.  I am not psychic.  On occasion, psycho… but not psychic.  Life has taught me that the unexpected and unlikely can happen at any moment.   But just because something is scientifically and medically POSSIBLE doesn’t mean it is PROBABLE.

I could technically do a lot of things that aren’t probable.  I could technically win the Olympic Gold in any given sport.  Highly unlikely though.  I could hit the lottery, I could win a Nobel peace prize, I could grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.  But the odds are not likely for any of those things to happen, and I need to face the fact that the odds are not likely that I will bear a child.   And deferring that acceptance, putting it off with “you never know” or “don’t think like that” does nothing to help me process the grief and the emotions that come along with it.   I need to mourn this.  The way I’m mourning my husband and the way I’ve mourned the loss of the life we wanted to lead together.  I don’t know what the future holds, but glossing over the blow is almost making the pain I feel inside seem less legitimate.

It is okay to be upset over this.  To feel it.  To cry about it.  To get angry at the universe.  Because that is how you work through it.  So often we go through life trying to hide our pain over things and trying to seem strong or let things roll off our shoulders.  Put on a brave face.   What good does that do other than just cause a lot of people to suffer alone when they could be healing together by talking about it?

The truth is I’m not even close to a place where I could consider wanting to make a family with anyone else.  I haven’t even been on a date yet.  And I’m not saying I may not open my heart again to someone in the future, but the rate I’m moving doesn’t lend itself to it being any time soon.  And biology, unlike love, has a clock.  And there is only a little bit of sand left in that hourglass.   My personal choice is that there is an age at which I would no longer feel comfortable becoming a mother.  For many reasons, and I’m not going to pretend some aren’t selfish.  But it is my life, I’m allowed to be selfish.  For my own comfort level, for what I want for myself and for a child I bring into this world.  I am not knocking anyone who doesn’t have such an age in mind, but for me… it is there and it is looming.  Could I hit it and change my mind?  I suppose.  Could I push it off the way I push off the date I’m going to start eating healthier or finish cleaning my room?  I am known to procrastinate so it is possible.  But again, not probable.  I feel strongly in my heart about this.

And yes, I could do it alone.  I could adopt.  My parent’s won’t let me get a kitten, I’m not sure how they would feel about another human being living here with us.   Plus I am still recovering, I’m not ready to do it on my own either.  The time it would take to feel ready to explore either option in a legitimate manner would put me right up against the same time restraints.  I am grateful that there are those options out there for me should I change my mind in the future though, because as they say, “you never know”.

So where does that leave me?  The old maid.  The cat lady (because I will move out at some point and damn straight the minute I do I am getting a kitten).  The spinster.  Maybe someday.  Who knows.  But for now, it leaves me really needing to dig deep to take a look at all I do have in this world to keep me from feeling sorry for myself, from feeling cheated.

I have no offspring, but I am far from childless in my life.  I have snuggled the hell out of so many babies that my friends or cousins have had.  I’ve had the honor and privilege of watching them grow.  I have nieces and a nephew on Chris’ side of my extended in law family that I adore.  I took over his role of god parent for one of them.  She will be two and when she says “auntie” when she sees me my heart swells.   I was blessed to know instant unconditional love like I didn’t even know existed the day my brother and sister in law had my niece, Keira.  She is four and she is my favorite human.  Some day when she is old enough to understand, I will explain to her how she alone pulled me out of some of the darkest days of the past year and a half.

I don’t know what the future holds.  None of us do.  But I know that if this is my fate, I am still going to be ok.  I will be surrounded by love.  And I will enjoy every minute of being Auntie Katie.

 

 

 

Time

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I blatantly copied this image from Pinterest.  I have zero right to use it but I had to share it. If I knew who the artist was I’d give credit where credit is due.  Because the minute I saw it, it instantly brought tears to my eyes.

I’ve had it for a while now and every time I go to post it I never know where to begin to try to put into words how this hits me deep down in the guts in a place that’s just pure emotion.

Time. What a mindfucking concept. Sorry for the language but it is fitting. We are all only given so much of it. Sometimes we know that the hour glass is down to its last grains of sand, but I’m not sure that is any easier being aware that you’re almost out of time. Sometimes it’s like a watch battery that stops mid tick of the second hand. No slow down, no warning. It just stops.

But you don’t know which category you’ll fall into in the end… if you’ll see it coming or be blindsided.  Not only when it comes to the amount of time you have, but also the amount of time your loved ones have.

This lack of knowledge is simultaneously the cruelest trick time has to play on us all and yet the most benevolent gift it could give us.

The potential for the blindside.. especially after you’ve experienced it… is terrifying. PTSD…. nightmare inducing… unable to sleep.. terrifying. The concept that anyone you love could be permanently ripped out of your life in an instant… I’m surprised it doesn’t stunt mankind from functioning to be honest.  I’m shocked it doesn’t ruin me completely sometimes.  On occasion it feels like it just might, even now.

But the potential for the blindside also does something else… it makes you cherish every single moment you did have together.  Every memory, every bittersweet reminder of how lucky you were to have experienced something so special.

It makes you cherish every moment you do have left here. It makes you look at your family and your friends and your loved ones with a deeper appreciation of how valuable they truly are.

We all start running out of time the minute we are born.  Some of us just get more of it than others.  But if the past 15 months have taught me anything it really isn’t about the amount of time you’re given but what you do with it that matters.  How you make the most of the time you are given.  Make sure that your time is measured in quality because quantity is never a guarantee.

Someone said something to me tonight that I’ve often thought myself.  That it’s not fair that I had to lose Chris, the love of my life..  or that this person had to lose the love of his life… when there are plenty of couples out there who don’t even like each other or treat each other well.

And at first glance in that comparison, I feel sorry for myself, I feel sorry for other widows and widowers who had the real deal, that true love, and had to lose it all.   But then the more I think about it…. I feel sorry for them.  For those people who don’t have what Chris and I found.  Who aren’t happy but are staying for the kids or for the convenience or out of fear and complacency.  They may get more time than we got.  And that sucks.  And he is right, it is not fair. But we got the quality.  And I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.

I’d rather have had one single day of his love only to lose it than to have never known it at all.  Because if the quality of time you get with someone, and the love you have is strong enough… it is enough to transcend time, and last forever.

“How Do I Live After Losing my Partner?”

What does it take to live life again after loss?

It takes a mindset that wants to win a battle that seems never ending. Grief is a nasty little f-er that plays tricks on your mind. In order to beat the “Grief Monster” at his game, you have to be two steps ahead, yet ready to move three steps backward.

I have learned a lot about how people cope with close loss. I have talked to a tremendous amount of individuals. I have read, I have listened. But, like you reading this blog, I have experienced it first hand.

Losing your best friend, your partner is one of the hardest things any human can experience. It is the number one stressor in life. Now, losing that person decades before you were ready, is an experience far too many people are dealing with these days. Young, close loss is a beast of its own.

So how do you deal?

First, feel what you feel. I say this to my support group members. It is vital. Far too many people in our society are looking for a quick fix. Grieving your closest person, is a lot of things, and quick is not one of them. Those that try to slap a band aid over their gaping wound, end up slowing their healing process. In order to heal, one must feel. Now, no one wants to be laying on a floor, sobbing their heart out for days at a time. I get that. But you gotta let it out.

  • feel sad, cry, be mad, feel cheated, guilty, hurt
  • try to make healthy choices: eat well, drink water, sleep when you can
  • get outside, especially on those sunny days, fresh air helps clear your mind
  • go easy on yourself, this is super hard stuff

Next, evaluate your own needs. Many people do several modes of help for their healing heart. Talk therapy with a qualified therapist is one way. A Support group that fits your loss is another. Surrounding yourself with positive, uplifting people is an important way to help yourself in your journey. However, sometimes being alone is important too. Give yourself time to just be you.

I mentioned the “Grief Monster” earlier. He is one sneaky, daunting fella. You just never know when he comes around for an attack. Someone might say something insensitive, it could be a song you hear, a smell, or even that you thought you saw your loved one across the room. Grief comes in waves. When they come crashing in at you like a stormy day that lasts and lasts, it is exhausting. Other times, those waves are light but steady. Sometimes the waves seem nonexistent, and you seem to be getting along just fine. Your smile is there. You want to be social. Other times, you want to isolate.

Be sure to keep your mind as strong as possible. Mental health is something we talk much too little about in society. Grieving is a process. It effects your mind, your body, your personality and changes you as a person. You become a person so far away from who you once were. You’ll miss the old you and want her(him) back. If you work on you and your healing, the new you will surprise the hell out of you. She’ll become a fearless warrior. One who is brave and can stand strong. You really do have to convince yourself, you are capable of everything and anything. Because after all, you are amidst life’s biggest challenge, living life after losing your best friend.

When you are feeling at your worst, call on a friend. Someone you can trust to just listen. Someone that will help you let those feelings out.

Wishing you peace in your journey.

 

This blog post is dedicated to our newest Warrior members, Angie, Matt, and Jesse.

-Julie

A letter to my husband following his one year anniversary.

Babe,

I know you hear me when I talk to you, sometimes I can hear you talking back in my head.  So, you’re probably wondering why I’m putting all this in writing when you can’t read it. All I can say is it helps to get it out of my head and there’s so much I want to say to you. I didn’t get to write you a Valentine’s Day card this year.

I’m not sure that you’d even realize that Friday was the one year anniversary of your passing.  I’d imagine you’re in a place now that may not have a concept of time at all, let alone one that is based off how long it takes our planet to circle just one of the stars you now get to dance among.

For those of us left here to face this world without you, it has been hard. I couldn’t imagine how I would survive a day without you, let alone 366. It was a freaking leap year to boot.

The best analogy I’ve heard is that it is like losing a leg.  At first you just need time to let the wound heal.  Scab then scar over.  There’s not much else you can do during that time but just get through it.  Eventually you can learn to walk again.  It takes more effort than most people will ever have to put into any single task they undertake.  There will be progress and setbacks, highs and lows, good days and bad days and a whole lot of pain.  But those with the courage and the perseverance not to give up will not only walk again but they will run, they will dance.  They will go on to live a beautiful happy life despite the challenges that will become routine.  But the leg does not grow back.  They will never fully recover or be whole again.  The loss is permanent, it is not something you get over in time. Time does not heal all wounds.  Time gives you the opportunity to learn how to live despite the wounds.

Baby, I feel guilty saying this, but I feel like my time of just letting the wound heal has come to an end, and I’m ready now to learn how to walk again.  I gave myself a year to just survive.  To get through every “first”. To let myself wallow and let myself feel every ounce of the pain.

And despite the fact that I know you would want me to move forward, part of me feels like our love was so special that I should gut wrenchingly mourn it’s loss until the day I die of a broken heart and finally get to see you again.

But omg babe it is so exhausting. I have cried every single day for a year. And it is absolutely exhausting. I’m so tired of being miserable every single day. I’m so tired of getting up everyday and simply trying to get through it.  I cannot have grief be my full time job anymore.  It has been in the forefront of every one of the 525,600 minutes since you left. (OK I just relied on the RENT song and not through math for leap year).

I know that it will never go away. And learning to walk again will most likely be a LOT harder than just laying around letting the wound heal.  But I’m ready to try to do things for me.  Baby steps.  I’m not even talking about dating or getting back out there yet, I’m talking more about taking the time to live my life to the fullest.  Do things I’ve always wanted to do. Play piano. Write a novel even if noone reads it. Get healthy. Travel.

I want you to look down on me and see me living life for the both of us.  I want you to be proud.  I don’t want to make it to heaven someday and have you tell me how you had to watch your leaving me so soon sentence the rest of my life to perpetual sadness.

Baby I’m gonna need all the help I can get though. It is so not easy. One day you’re treading water and the next the waves hit you out of the blue and you feel like you’re drowning.

Your anniversary was one of those drowning times.  And to be honest it was more so Valentines Day this week and the night before the 17th that were the hardest.  Thinking of our last Vday. Our last date night.  Our last days together.  Those last moments where you held me on your arms and gave me your last kiss and told me you loved me for the last time.  Reliving those memories a year later was brutal.  I did not handle it well lol.

But I did it. We did it. Your family has been amazing too.  And we survived the first year without you and mixed in with all of the sadness of these past couple weeks has been relief and a sense of accomplishment. I am so proud of us. Noone ended up in jail or got fired!!

I’m ready to do more than just survive. I know it will be a long slow fought battle and it’s not like I can snap my fingers and be happy again with where I am in life.  It is still going to take a lot of time, and a lot of work on myself to get there. But I know you will be with me every step of the way cheering me on.

Baby I love you with all of my heart. Thank you for giving me so much love while you were here that it carried me through the dark moments of this first year.  Thank you for loving me in a way that most people search for their whole lives.  Thank you for giving me the kind of love that I can be grateful to have had at all, the kind of love that makes every ounce of this pain worth it.  It is the life vest that keeps me afloat when the waves hit.

I miss you more than I can even describe.  I miss you in a way that makes your chest physically feel hollow and empty.  I know I won’t ever stop missing you. In the blink of an eye your 20 year anniversary will come around and I’m sure parts of it will still feel like yesterday even then. And I will miss you then like I miss you today.  But by that point hopefully I’ll have learned not just how to walk, but how to dance again.

Xoxoxo xoxo,

Katie

Anger… God… and “it all happens for a reason”.

They say the five stages of grief are 1. Denial 2. Anger 3. Bargaining 4. Depression and 5. Acceptance.   If only grief were that clear cut.  For most people – it doesn’t work like that.

Denial and Bargaining sort of came as a joint stage for me.  Despite knowing that my husband was dead the minute I really looked at him that morning, I still prayed to God the entire time the EMTs were working on Chris.  I promised everything and anything I could think of to God that morning if he would just let them bring him back.  Which I suppose was also denial, because deep down I knew he was already gone.

I’m not sure that I will ever get to acceptance, or what that would even look like.

I don’t even really like the categorization of “Depression”.  I guess it makes sense.  But depression gives me the impression of someone incapable of functioning, and while that may be true in the very beginning, I don’t think grief becomes acceptance because you’re up and about going to work and enjoying yourself every now and then.

I say my three stages of grief are sadness, anger, and inappropriate humor.  And I switch between the three back and forth with no linear progression whatsoever.  Sometimes each emotion lasts a few minutes, sometimes a few days.

Anger is so common after the loss of a loved one.  I will say, I am very lucky that it does not show its ugly head for me as often as sadness and inappropriate humor.  But it is still there in the background.

When you lose your spouse at a young age, you don’t just lose the person.  You don’t just lose their presence in your today, but you lose the future you were planning and looking forward to.  You feel cheated.  And you just can’t help but think to yourself sometimes that this is just not fair.  You don’t just mourn them, but you mourn the life you were supposed to have together.

I was angry with myself.  I was angry that I didn’t make changes in my life to help Chris and I be healthier together as a couple.  That I didn’t push the importance of eating healthier and going to the gym, and taking better care of ourselves before a heart attack took him in his sleep.  I was mad at myself for not digging deeper into his complaints of heartburn the night before he died.

Eventually I had to forgive myself.  I had to accept that there was nothing I could have done.  The “What ifs?” plague most of us.  If only I had gone to wake him up earlier that morning.   But at the end of the day I had to tell myself he was a grown man, and if his heartburn was bad enough that it was borderline heart issues, he could have said something and gone to the hospital.

In the beginning I was furious with Chris.  I was angry at the overarching fact that he died.  He promised he would never leave me and he broke that promise.  He had the nerve to sweep me off my feet and give me a taste of what true happiness was and then he left me here to face this world without him.  How dare he?  I was angry at the details.  I was angry that he never went for a sleep study when I knew from his snoring that he stopped breathing in the night.  I was angry that he didn’t take better care of himself.  I was angry that he didn’t immediately refill his high blood pressure medication.  When I moved out of our apartment, two weeks after he died, I remember finding golf balls and throwing them as hard as I could off the walls.  I always said if he walked through the door tomorrow I’d hit him before I hugged him.

But then I had to forgive him too.  Because I know if he did walk through that door the very first thing that would come out of his mouth is how sorry he is.  How he never would have left me by choice.  I had to literally imagine him apologizing to me in my head in order to let certain things go.  I had to realize that yes, he was a bonehead for not taking more medical concerns seriously, but he was 34.  You never think, even with high blood pressure and probably sleep apnea, that you are going to die in your sleep at 34.  If we were 60 and he didn’t want to take it more seriously, I’d have kicked his ass.  But he was 34.

That’s not to say I don’t still get frustrated and anger doesn’t spill out.  I do.  When I have to do something for myself that he should be here to do for me I think “God Damn It, Chris!”.  Just today my dad was talking about how I have a bunch of stuff that had been taking up storage space in a room he is renovating and how I have to find a place for it, and out burst “Sorry I was supposed to have my own fucking house to put it in!!”  And then I bawled for an hour and felt even worse that I made him upset.   I have moments of anger still.  But thankfully it is not something that lingers with me the way it could.

It is very common when something like this happens to be angry with God.  Or if you’re not a religious person, with fate or karma or the universe or whatever the powers that move us be.  But especially if you are a religious person, it is really tough to keep faith when you do bargain with God and you do pray and pray and somehow God still takes that person from you.  And each person is absolutely entitled to that anger.  Because it isn’t fair.

I was raised Catholic but I don’t consider myself to be a particularly religious person in the strict sense of it.  I do believe in what I choose to call God.  And I’m not saying that anger at God isn’t normal, or isn’t justified.  All I can speak to is why I, personally, haven’t found myself angry with God, in the hopes that maybe someone else could relate.

I was used to hearing at funerals “God chose to call – insert dead person’s name here – home”.  And when it is the funeral of a 95 year old person who had been suffering from ailment and was in pain and had lived a full life – that was comforting to some extent.  But when bad things happen to good people, there’s little comfort in claiming it was God’s plan.  Then you just want to ask why God feels the need to do horrible stuff to good people, and that sucks.

At Chris’ funeral the priest spoke to how everything at one point was attributed to God’s will because we didn’t have science or technology to explain why things happened otherwise.  Progressive for a Catholic priest.  I liked it.  Earthquakes and tornadoes and hurricanes were God’s anger as opposed to the plates of the earth moving and weather patterns.  Disease and illness was God’s plan instead of biology.  (I am not here to have a philosophical and theological debate on Science vs. Religion or the wormhole you could go down with the line of thought that God ultimately created science and biology).

The priest said that God didn’t choose to take Chris.  That biology will tell us what happened within Chris’ body to cause his death, and that God was just as sad as the rest of us but that God will welcome him home nonetheless.  That resonated with me.  And again – that’s just me and my beliefs.  I’m not saying everyone should agree.  If you’ve lost someone you love and you’re pissed at God – who am I to tell you not to be or that you don’t have that right?  All I can speak to is what I believe.

The hardest justification I had when it came to God, the universe, fate, karma whatever it is you want to call it –  is my belief that good things happen for a reason while simultaneously bad things can happen to good people for no reason at all.  I don’t believe there was a reason, other than high blood pressure and genetics and biology that Chris had to die.  It wasn’t to make me stronger or teach me a lesson or further my path or anyone else’s.  He just died.  This may not comfort others.  Some people do feel there was a purpose to their loved one’s death, and in some ways I’m jealous of that.  I don’t feel that he died for a purpose.  Sometimes I think it would be easier to wrap my brain around if I did.  But it makes me angry to think of him having to die for some bigger purpose to be fulfilled.  I guess in my mind no purpose is worth him having to give his life.

But I do believe I was put into his life to make him happy before he died.  I do believe he was put into my life to show me what true love and true happiness really is.  And I believe God brought us together for a reason.  Not to test me, not to challenge me, but to bless me with his presence and his love even if it was just for a short time.

But isn’t that hypocritical?  To believe the good happens for a reason but not the bad?  I grappled with that for a while.  How some things seem so predestined and meant to be, while pain and hurt can seem so random.

I’ve put these thoughts out on my Facebook page in a prior post: There is a driving force behind us all and it is a force of good.  And if we allow it to guide us, through faith or prayer or whatever it is you believe in… it will do its best.  I think of that force as God but you don’t necessarily have to attach religion to it.  But we also have free will.  We make decisions for ourselves.  Science and biology play their part.  So bad things can still happen, despite the best intentions of God.

I believe that if we allow ourselves to be, we will always be guided to where we are supposed to be.  It doesn’t mean that bad things are part of the plan or happen for a reason.  But I was supposed to be with Chris.  We were supposed to share our love before he left this planet.  If anything, I thank God for the fact that I got to have the love I had with him at all, even if it wasn’t for as long as I wanted.

It is not fair that I had to lose him.  But what would have been more unfair is if I never got the chance to love him at all.  Even if that means there are times I still look up to the sky and say “Ugh, wtf Chris!”

Good Grief, Anyone?

 

 

Remember when Charlie Brown used to say, “Good Grief”?  Let’s talk about good grief.

What is grieving well……what can it look like?

Since everyone is unique, the grief journey looks a little bit different for each of us. However, some things will be constant.

We will miss our dear loved one.

The pain is very strong year one, and somehow intensifies in year two as you are no longer numb.

You have to put one foot in front other. Many times in robot mode for quite some time after close loss.

So here is a little cheat sheet on how to beat the “Grief Monster” at his own game.

Good grief looks like:

  • Finding someone who “gets it“. Make a buddy. It may be a complete stranger.A buddy with some common thread. Maybe the circumstance of death, the age, the date, possibly your own connection, like your age, how many children you have, or your proximity.
  • Feel what you feel, whether it is anger, sadness, loneliness, isolation, happiness, or seeking out new friends. Feel what you feel, acknowledge it, do not hide from it. You have the right to those feelings. Not handling them and feeling them will lead to a longer, hard grieving period.
  • Exercise, yes that is right. Find exercise you enjoy. Cardio is good. I myself, balnace things out with yoga, hot yoga, and kickboxing. They keep me off anxiety and depression medication and keep my mind and body fit. Exercise releases amazing feel good chemicals in your brain.
  • Find away to express what you are going through. Journaling, artistic expression, music, gardening, and photography are all some ways to put your feelings into an art form.
  • Stop complaining about what you don’t have and really look around and see who and what you DO have. I bet you have some good things going on. It is super hard to focus on the good, when you are in your hardest part of life. However, channeling positive energy brings in and out more positive energy and experiences.
  • Work through your grief with a Grief Counselor, they are trained in this extremely difficult life challenge. Let them help guide you on your grief journey.
  • Be open minded. You deserve to be loved, get love, have fun and experience good times again. Leave your heart and mind open to new experiences.

 

Be well,

Jules