Reality of Grief

For the last 6.5 years I have had one main purpose; making sure my kids were okay.

Making sure they have everything they need, a nice place to live, helping them through all of the hard times that they have had to face, without their Dad.

Trying to keep everything afloat on my own. Struggling through my own grief, mostly in silence, trying to put a positive spin on everything when I just wanted to scream, “this is horrible and so unfair!”

Trying to make ends meet so they didn’t feel or see the difference, financially, of how different and difficult it is to go from two incomes to one.

Throwing the football or trying to practice baseball when it was obvious that the person that should be doing those things just wasn’t there.

Attending school functions and faking a smile when it was painfully obvious that their Dad wasn’t there.

Struggling through homework when I couldn’t even do math for myself in school, knowing that their Dad would have been able to help.

Dropping them off at practice when I saw the Dads walking to the field to stay with their kids.

Talking through times when they lost interest in things or gave up on things that were just too hard because he wasn’t there.

Scrolling through FB to see the Daddy Daughter dance pictures or the sports awards pictures. Seeing the heart warming videos of parents returning home from service to see their kids who missed their parent so much while they were gone, wanting to lose it, knowing my kids won’t ever see their Dad again.

Night after night of sleepless nights, followed by mornings when none of us could even hear the alarm go off.

Injuries, ER visits, sicknesses, birthdays, holidays…. Every single day there is something that he is missing, something they were going through and just wanted their Dad.

Answering questions about people leaving their lives, after they had already lost so much, with some generic answer that made it sound okay.

I could go on and on.

But, at the end of the day, it’s not okay. There is nothing okay about two young kids having to grow up without their Dad.

Nothing.

It’s messy.

It’s unfair.

It’s so incredibly heart wrenching.

I found some old videos last night.

There were videos of the kids from before 6/19/2012. They were so happy. Pure joy, innocent laughter; they were just normal and happy kids.

There were videos from shortly after 6/19/2012. There were smiles and laughter, but it wasn’t the same. I heard two little voices, making me painfully aware of just how young they were when it happened. They were trying so hard to be normal, to just be kids. But behind those smiles and laughs, I could see and hear the pain they tried to hide.

There were videos that were a taken a couple of years later. They were much more serious and somber; those little voices and brave laughs were no longer there.

Then I realized that I don’t have any recent videos. The struggles over the last several years have been so hard and so intense that not only do most people not even know about, but made me wonder if we would ever be okay. There wasn’t much happiness to capture.

We have just been trying to get by.

Just trying to survive.

Then, tonight I was hit with such a raw and real picture of all that I just described. It just hit me all at once. It was like 6.5 years of grieving and pain was being felt, out of nowhere, almost as if for the first time.

I have lived every single bit of this with these two, every single day. I have dealt with my own grief and the struggles that come with being the adult left to take care of these two people. But, although I have walked through the hard times with them, I had to be the strong one. I had to make it okay. Or at least try to, the best I knew how; all the while feeling that I was always falling short. But, I hadn’t truly allowed myself to feel the hurt that a Mom feels when they see their kids hurting. That changed, truly out of nowhere, in a moment.

All of the sudden I am sobbing uncontrollably, trying to explain to them what I was feeling, what I just attempted to describe above. I could hardly talk through the trembling in my voice, blowing my nose, and trying with everything to get the tears to stop.

You know what they did?

They hugged their Mom and just kept telling me that it was okay. They wiped my tears and told me not to cry for them. They said that they were okay.

How did those two little heart broken children grow up so fast?

Now, 16 & 18, they were taking care of their Mom and saying whatever necessary to make it okay.

Here is what I realize…

There is nothing okay about what the three of us have had to endure since 6/19/2012.

We have been through hell and back.

We have struggled through things that no one else will ever truly know or understand.

Life doesn’t look the same for us as it does for others and people can judge what it might look like to them all they want, but at the end of the day…

We are okay.

We have survived what could have broken us.

We will be better, more loving, more compassionate, and stronger people because of it.

We are going to make it.

And lastly:

I have to believe that there are still great things in store for us and that we can still find joy and happiness in this life that has dealt us an extremely hard hand.

And….

Despite all the hurt and all the pain…

This is not where or how our story will end.

Love doesn’t end. Not even death can break the strong bond of true love. We may be missing an integral piece, but we are and always will be family.

path OF peace

I heard a sermon that really resonated with me and I’m sharing the overall thought process here. The reason it resonated with me so much is because it is probably one of the biggest sources of struggle for me. If someone asks me what I want most in life, it’s not anything of material value. It’s peace.

Anyway, before reading this, stop and get in your mind:

What is the greatest source of stress in your life?

Think about that thing as you read through this.

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Whatever brings you the most stress, will also usually determine how you seek out peace.

God will bring you peace, but it’s not always going to look the way you think it will.

First…

Surrender your expectation of perfection.

God promises us peace.

He doesn’t promise us ease or convenience.

Peace isn’t found in a place.

Peace isn’t found in a set of circumstances that is problem free.

Peace won’t be found in people.

The problem isn’t the problem! The problem isn’t what is causing you stress.

The enemy of your peace is your insistence on perfection!

It is impossible to experience peace when you are expecting perfection.

Psalm 23:4

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

He doesn’t deliver me from it, He meets me in it. He will guide us with the light in the valley. He didn’t take us out of the valley.

I’m at peace on the path.

Why?

Not because I’m not going through it, but because I’m not going through it alone. There is somebody with me that is greater than what is against me.

Think about this.

If peace comes from people, people can take it away. If peace comes from situations, situations can change and take it away.

The same person that you let steal your peace, is still that person. You can’t change people so you can’t let your peace depend on people.

I’ll have peace when _______________.

It’s not the path to peace. Because that means that the peace is far off, out there, somewhere.

Peace.

Stop waiting for it.

Start walking in it.

Watch the whole sermon here:

Don’t Give Up

You may feel weak and tired. You may feel lost and alone. You may be losing hope that things will ever get better, that you will ever truly be happy.

Let me tell you, God sees you. He knows your heart, what you want and need. He hears the cries of your heart.

Your pain is not without purpose.

This is a temporary season.

God is working it all out as you walk through it.

Hang on.

Don’t give up.

Your breakthrough is coming.

He says, “I’m going to do a new thing.”

Just you wait and see.

Never Stop Looking for Rainbows 🌈♥️🌈♥️🌈

I was hurt. Bandages around my wrist. Bruises on my face and all over my body. Still had pieces of glass that hadn’t been removed from my skin. Broken leg. An undiscovered pool of blood from broken blood vessels in my leg, which later developed into compartment syndrome. Two surgeries to follow.

There I stood, with our two young children, staring at a casket that would be lowered into the ground. The worst feeling of the whole experience hit me at that moment. It was time to walk away. We would leave him there. 15 years together, battling things that some will never experience, and I have to leave him now. After all we had been through.

I will never forget what it felt like to turn and be led to the car that would take us away from him. I would try to describe it, but there are no words in the dictionary that could adequately define it.

Then…

I see a friend of ours running toward the car, yelling my name and trying to get my attention. I heard, you have to get out, look up! I made my way outside of the vehicle and I see a line of people as far as I can see, all looking up. I look up. I can’t believe my eyes. There was the most beautiful double rainbow I had ever seen. It hasn’t been raining. Weather did not call for something like this. But, it wasn’t just a double rainbow. There was a perfect rainbow circle around the sun.

Ever since then, on significant days, I have seen rainbows. Too many to mention them all, but these stick out the most in my mind:

My son’s first baseball game without his Dad. My daughter’s birthday. My first trip with the kids without him. What would have been my 15th wedding anniversary.

You may call them coincidences. I do not. There is no way that anyone on earth could convince me that the very worst moment in my life that coincided with a moment of pure hope like that, is anything short of a miraculous sign from God. There’s no way.

I was reminded of this today as I stood in the pouring rain, getting drenched, looking for a rainbow. I didn’t see one. I felt silly coming in all soaking wet, but thought… I will always look for the rainbows. 🌈

When the rainbow is hidden;

When it seems that light doesn’t exist.

When you can’t remember or don’t believe in the promises anymore.

Hold on.

Don’t let go.

Refuse to give up.

Even when they aren’t there, I’m still going to look up. Even in the storms, through the pouring rain, when we can’t see light or the rainbow… there is always hope. Don’t ever stop looking.

Joni ♥️ Grief to Life

A RAINBOW = A PROMISE FROM GOD

Eternity

Poem I wrote 8/5/14

They say it gets easier, regardless of how you feel. Just be patient, your heart will heal. Give it time, that’s the only cure. Well, I keep waiting, I’m just not so sure. Every day that goes by, I miss you a little more. Everywhere I go, it’s you I look for. When I open my eyes each morning and when I close them every night, I expect for you to be there, right by my side. What does it really mean, to say you’re in my heart? Cause you took it with you; you had all of it from the start. With everything in me, I try to be okay. I try to be strong, keep going each day. But if I’m being honest, I’m putting on a brave face. Pretending to have faith, even when that’s not the case. Uncertainty is all I know for sure, it’s hard to see past today.

I’ll never stop asking, why you just couldn’t stay.

So time keeps on moving, but one thing will never change. A love like ours is forever and I can’t wait for that day. I think about it often, just how it will be.

I know I’ll run straight to you and we’ll start our eternity.

~ Joni Roberts Grief to Life

Gratefulness and Pain

I’m thankful that I know God. Without Him, there is no hope. Even through my darkest times, He has always been with me. There have been so many times where I felt like he had forgotten me and I was alone. Grief has a way of stealing ones joy and sense of security. The enemy feeds on the sadness and uses it to try and separate you from God and other people. God is showing me that He is the only thing, the only one, who can save me from the darkness.

The Pieces Don’t Fit Anymore

When you don’t fit where you used to, you grieve that like any other loss. But, if you don’t fit anymore, you don’t. Move forward. We aren’t supposed to have to fight for a place in people’s lives.

I was talking to one of my long time friends today and we were talking about regret or being able to go back and take certain things back. I told her that every little bit of our lives along the way, bad and good, make up where and who we are today.

When you feel like you don’t fit where you used to, it can take you to a really low place. It hurts! The thing to remember is; it’s not your fault, don’t stay there. Move forward knowing that God will place you where you fit, perfectly.

Is There Really a Choice?

I’ll be honest, there have been several times where I truly wanted to throat punch someone who said to me that happiness is a choice. I often thought to myself, “how in the world is it as easy as saying that I choose to be happy when I feel so bad?” I have even told myself several times, “just make a decision to be happy!”

Ugh, if only it were that easy!

It didn’t matter how many times I told myself that I was going to be happy, the weight of the reality I was facing and the feelings I felt weighed more in comparison to that choice.

I finally realized though, it really is as simple as making a choice. I can wake up each day and entertain all of the feelings I am faced with, all of the thoughts floating around in my head or, I could just tell myself that none of those things matter and it was going to be a good day. Now, I might have to tell myself that very same thing 20 times in that same day but, the attitude I was choosing was much better than the alternative!

Long story short, here is what I tell myself now: “Joni, you either trust God or you don’t.” So yeah, it’s not easy but I am making a conscious decision every day to put my trust in the one who actually has a say in what happens!

One day at a time. Sometimes, one hour or even, one minute at a time.