Reality of Grief

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 shitty.

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

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:

When Life Brings Hurt & Disappointment

When Life Brings Hurt & Disappointment

When life isn’t working out the way you had hoped, disappointment and hurt can take over. That’s okay. Feel the disappointment, recognize and feel the hurt.

But then what?

How do you move past the pain?

You may start to feel like you can’t get past it, that you can’t deal with any more hurt. You may say to yourself, “I can’t do this.”

What I know personally, especially having gone through so much already, is that I can’t do it. I then remember that I’m not supposed to. It’s not my burden to carry because I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father. Instead of being mad at God for your situation, give it all over to Him. He loves you enough to take it on for you.

You might think, why is He doing this to me? First of all, He isn’t. He doesn’t cause our pain, but He does promise to be there with us to walk through it.

I actually heard a sermon the other day that offers another perspective as well, one that I hadn’t considered. He doesn’t cause the situations that bring us hurt. But, He may allow it. I had to stop and think on that for awhile.

It’s difficult to understand because we don’t know the end from the beginning like He does. He may allow something so that we turn to Him. He may allow something because there is something we need to learn or an area in which we need to grow. Sometimes it’s just a matter of timing. He may allow something, knowing that it’s all going to work out in the end, but it’s in His timing, His way.

So, when you are disappointed and hurt, when you don’t think you’re going to make it through the pain, when you don’t understand why things are happening the way they are…

Give it over to Him.

Take your hands off the situation, knowing it will all work out the way it’s supposed to. Don’t carry that burden. Be thankful that you have a loving Father that gave it all so that you don’t have to. That is called faith. Believe that He can and will carry you through. He will walk with you through it all, to the other side of it all.

I’m reminded of a horribly difficult time in my life, prior to my husband passing away. It was the time in my life that I learned what faith was really about. He taught me how to let things go, to Him.

I wrote about it last year and you can read that story here:

Letting Go

Although I write as I’m going through things, it is always my hope that it will help someone else. I truly hope that my sharing this does just that.

Joni 💗

Walk Your Own Path

Walk Your Own Path

I saw this posted on Facebook by Lessons Learned in Life and it really hit home.

I spent the majority of my life doing exactly what this says you shouldn’t do. I was always apologizing. I was always making excuses about why I made certain decisions or chose to do something a certain way. Why? Because people can be so judgmental.

The fact of the matter is that most people, fortunately, couldn’t begin to fathom what it has been like to be a young widowed Mother. You can’t compare me to you. You can’t compare my kids to yours. You surely can’t compare our lives. They aren’t going to look the same!

I finally realized that I have no reason to feel like I need to explain myself to anyone, but God. The path we take to get where we will go isn’t going to “look” like yours. What I do know is that three of us are going to be just fine!

Walk your own path proudly and unapologetically, knowing that every single step you take is a part of your story.

Say Their Name

Say Their Name

We will never stop talking about them.

We need to remember because the memories are all we have left.

We need you to remember them too.

Talk about them.

Share a memory, tell a story.

It doesn’t hurt us to hear you talk about them.

It’s the silence that hurts most of all.

Say. Their. Name.

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.

Be Careful With Your Words

Be Careful With Your Words

When someone you love leaves this earth, you are shattered and life as you know it will never be the same.

Not sure why this is on my mind and heart tonight, but it is, so I’m writing about it.

Typically when someone passes away, you hear everything good about that person. Regardless of how they lived their life, you begin to hear in what people say about them, things that make them sound like a saint. Well, no one is perfect and no one’s life can measure up to that picture that is painted.

Having said that, there isn’t any good reason to speak poorly about someone who is no longer here. My Jonathan would be the first to tell you, and he did while he was here, that he had flaws. He spoke more openly about them than most, usually to help someone else. So, I have never spoken about him like he was perfect. I have sometimes talked about his struggles and things he went through, when appropriate, to help someone else or to teach something to our kids. But, as his wife and as the mother of those children, it is my place to do that.

This past year, my kids have learned some things about their father that don’t put him in the best light. Some of those things were things that I chose to tell them because I knew it would help them. Other things were told to them, things that I chose for good reason not to tell them; yet. Some of the things were absolutely not true. So, I had to speak to them about all of that. Things that I wasn’t ready to say, things that I maybe never would have said. I also had to clear up the things that were not true.

It is never good to gossip about anyone. We are all guilty of that sometimes, including myself. But to gossip about someone who is no longer here, and then to take it upon yourself to share those things said with his kids is never okay.

No one will ever know what I have had to go through with my two children. Helping them grieve the loss of their father. Helping them live day to day without someone that was such a big part of their every day lives has been more difficult than anyone could know. It has been 6 1/2 years since we lost him and it is still a daily struggle for the three of us.

I am given unsolicited advice from people who will not understand unless they have gone through what we have, regularly. I have heard things like: It has been long enough. It’s time to move on. I could go on and on. They are said by people who care, people with good intentions, but it still doesn’t make it okay.

We will never move on. There will never be a day that we don’t miss him and wish he was here. There will never be a day that comes where we are over it and it should all be okay. It’s just not that easy and it is not realistic. We not only want, but we need to talk about him. We want others to talk about him. It’s important for us, especially my kids, to know that he hasn’t been forgotten.

There is so much more that I could say but I am going to stop here. Moral of the story is this… Think about what you say before you say it. Understand that your words can have life altering consequences when heard. Especially by the loved ones of someone that is no longer here.