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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 ♥️
I was reading a post recently of a fellow widow and it broke my heart. It broke my heart for her and her child and it broke my heart for my own children.
It is a fact that often when someone loses a spouse, they lose many people that were in their life pre-loss. I’ve written about this before and given my thoughts and perspectives as to why this might happen. But, quite honestly, it is just plain sad.
This woman made a post on her personal FB page stating that she was tired of people disappointing her child. Now, normally we save that sort of thing for our widow support groups where we can freely talk about things with people who truly understand. She was brave enough to just come out and say it. GOOD. FOR. HER.
People should know that their actions (or lack thereof) have real and damaging affects on children who have already lost so much. It’s hard enough for us as adults; children should not have to suffer so much loss.
Children who have lost a parent should be shown MORE love, not experience more loss.
Some might not like to hear that but they need to.
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?
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.
So many well intentioned people will give you advice based on the thought that you can simply make a choice to not grieve. As someone who has been walking a painful road for almost 6 years, let me tell you, we really do wish it was that easy.
Can you choose happiness? Yes, I believe you can. That being said though; I can wake up in the morning and choose to be happy, but that does not make the pain go away. The cause of the pain, the root of the emotions, is still there.
You must walk through it.
Now, how long does it take? That’s just it; it is different for everyone. Loss and the journey to healing is so very personal. We all deal in our own way. Some don’t deal at all and therefore, their path is going look very different from someone who is feeling their way through.
So please, for the love of God, don’t try to rush someone through their pain. Love them. Show compassion. Be there. They will find their way to healing.
Lastly, healing doesn’t mean the void is gone. It means that they have finally learned to live. They have finally come to a place of acceptance of the pain and can move forward, hopefully, using it as the fuel that drives them to live a life full of purpose.
“Pain, you just have to ride it out, hope it goes away on its own, Hope that the wound that caused it heals. There are no solutions, no easy answers, you just have to breathe deep and wait for it to subside. Most of the time pain can be managed but sometimes, the pain gets you where you least expect it. Hits way below the belt and doesn’t let up. Pain, you just have to fight through, Because the truth is you can’t out run it. And life always makes more.” Meredith Grey