Today is a day to be thankful. There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for! However, this also a very sad day for many because someone will be missing. I always remember both. My heart for today is that we all remember what today is really about. Hug those you love and don’t leave things unspoken, for tomorrow is never promised. If you are one with a heavy heart because your person is missing, I will say a special prayer for you today. Again, there is always something to be thankful for, but that in now way negates the fact that you are missing someone, that there will be an empty chair.
Wishing all my friends and family a beautifully blessed day ♥️
On this day 6 years ago, I had no idea that in one short week, our lives would be forever changed. In an instant.
Some days it feels like yesterday while other days it seems like it’s been an entire lifetime since I’ve seen you.
So much has happened.
You’ve missed so much.
What I’m finally realizing?
I’VE MISSED SO MUCH
The majority of the last 6 years has been spent going through the motions, getting by each day, surviving. We have come so very far, but the fact still remains that I haven’t been able to truly live.
Why haven’t I been able to live?
I haven’t been able to let go.
I wrote a post about this very thing nearly a year ago (click Letting Go to read that post) and I have done what I said I was going to do. I said I was going to try and give the pain over to God with the intention of moving forward.
How is it that I have been working at “letting go” for almost an entire year and my hurt is still so present that I’m wiping tears as I write this?
It’s a process. A long process. It takes intent. It takes work. It’s not easy.
I feel like I’ve done the work, but now what?
I have to make an actual decision, speak it out loud, and really let it go.
I know what this looks like in my mind, but my heart just can’t do it and mean it.
But I have to.
Stay tuned, friends 💕
How do you let go of someone who was so much a part of you? How do you let go when your heart still loves them with every beat? How?
I remember a time when my Mom said, stop apologizing! I said, what do you mean??
She told me that I apologized for everything, all the time, even for things that I shouldn’t. What’s crazy is that I didn’t even realize I was doing that. I became so accustomed to saying I’m sorry that it basically became a habit.
I’m what I like to call a “recovering people pleaser.”
I’ve spent most of my life trying to make other people happy, a lot of times at the expense of my own happiness. What I realized is that, in striving to be everything to everyone, I forgot about me. I was like a chameleon, changing (sometimes moment by moment) to adapt to who I was around; just being who they needed at the time. Well, you do that for long enough and you can wake up one day with the realization that you don’t even know who you really are.
Losing one of my identities only complicated this further. I was Jonathan’s wife. So, when I lost him, I really lost my sense of self. For almost 6 years now, I’ve been on a journey of grief, only parenting grieving kids, trying to maintain a household by myself, navigating my way through changed relationships, deconstructing (and reconstructing) my faith, and trying to learn to live again.
One of the biggest things I’ve had to face is seeing myself for who I really am. I realized that I felt my worth was all about what I did for others.
I was Jonathan’s wife
I am Chase and Brenna’s Mom
I am a daughter, a sibling, an aunt, a friend
I am still all of those things and they are important, but above all else, I’m Joni.
I am not what has happened to me
I am not who I used to be
I am not the mistakes I have made
I am not who others think I am
I am not invisible or anonymous
I am not what I look like
I am not what I do
So many of us practically kill ourselves trying to be something or someone else. Desperately and tirelessly attempting to fulfill this imaginary list of qualities or capabilities that we think will make us feel loved or happy. And then we have to spend a ridiculous amount of time tearing through the layers of unrealistic pressures and expectations we have put on ourselves. It’s exhausting. I know because it’s what I have done.
I am the daughter of the most high God, who created me in His image. He doesn’t make mistakes. He formed me with His very hands. He loves me. He created me completely unique, down to my fingertips. So why shouldn’t that be good enough for me??
There are things that I need to do and things I need to finish in order to move forward into the next chapter of my life. I’ve been working hard at this.
One of the most important things that I need to do is proving to be extremely difficult. I need to finish the book that I started several years ago.
Most people would assume (after hearing I’m writing a book) that the idea came to me after losing my husband. I actually felt led to write a book two years prior. I wrote, off and on, up until I got to the point of writing about our accident.
You see, my husband and I went through a lot of trials throughout our marriage; many of which could have ended it. But, we never gave up in each other. That, to me, is a story worth telling; a testimony.
What sort of testimony did I have now?
Here I am, almost 6 years later.
My story isn’t at all what I thought it would be originally. But, I definitely have a story to tell. It’s just a different one.
I have struggled in trying to understand why I haven’t been able to finish, but I think I know now. Finishing the book might just mean the literal finishing of the chapters of the life I once knew. I know in my heart that this could be a very important part of my allowing myself to move forward. As much as I want and need that, the truth is that I’m scared. I want to let go of the the pain, but there is a part of me that holds on out of fear of letting go of him.
I actually wrote on the subject of letting go awhile back. It couldn’t be more relevant than it is now. You can read that post here: Letting Go
Did you know that the majority of people who have lost a loved one are made to feel guilty about their grief?
Did you know that someone grieving often isolates themselves, disconnects from people, because they feel misunderstood?
Unfortunately, a loved one left behind will often suffer in silence because they have been told:
It’s time to move on.
Aren’t you over this yet?
You need to stop dwelling on this.
It’s been long enough, it’s time to let go.
Aren’t you ready to get on with your life yet?
Or, some of my favorites:
He’s in a better place.
Time heals all wounds.
God needed another angel.
Everything happens for a reason.
Although, some of these things are said with the best of intentions, let me make this clear, they just aren’t helpful! At all!
We didn’t lose something that can be replaced. We lost a person. For a lot of us, this person was an every day part of our lives for many years. This isn’t something you just “get over.”
You are missed
You were special
You were beautiful
You were important
You are not forgotten
Your life had meaning
You were so very loved
You are more than a memory
~Joni ♥️ Grief to Life
Grief is a very personal thing and it is unique to each Individual person. There is a long and painful process you have to go through in order to learn to live without a person that meant so much to them. The path they have to walk isn’t going to look the same as it will for someone else. We have to work at finding our way in a new life that was not chosen or planned.
So, wherever they are on their journey…
Don’t judge. Don’t tell them what to do. Don’t tell them how they should feel. Because let me assure you, those things will hinder their grief process, it certainly won’t help it.
Be there. Be patient. Encourage them to talk about how they feel. Love them right where they are. Repeat.
For those of you who have lost an important part of your life, your loved one…
Take all the time you need. Don’t feel guilty for feeling however you feel at any point on your journey. Those that don’t understand, unfortunately, will someday. This is your life. Nobody is walking this road for you. Do it your way! And lastly; acknowledging, feeling, and expressing your emotions is an important and extremely critical part of the grief journey. Without that, you remain bound and unable to grow and work towards emotional and spiritual health. Yet, it’s one of the most difficult things to do, for many reasons.
For me, I have found that writing is my best outlet. It’s my therapy and where God most often speaks to my heart. I encourage you to seek out the way that best let’s you feel and express your emotions. It’s crucial. xoxo Joni ❤️
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.
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.
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.
You know I wouldn’t want you to cry, that I always hated to see you sad. I want you to think of me and smile, to cherish what we had. I know it’s been hard, almost too much to bear. But if you would look with your heart and not your eyes, you would see that I’ve been right there. Those nights that you were crying, when you thought no one could hear. I was right beside you, wiping away every tear. When you feel all alone, when you are in despair. Take comfort in knowing, I’ll always be there. I might not be there in body, but I promise that I’m near. My spirit has never left you, you don’t have to fear. Please know I want you happy, cause you were made to smile. You didn’t hear me say it because it was never goodbye, just see you in a little while.