With deep love comes deep grief

The pain of grief

“The pain of grief is the price we pay for love.”

I don’t know where I read that quote but it feels spot on. As humans we love so deeply that when someone leaves our physical world, it brings on a pain that at times feels like your heart might literally break.

Yesterday we said goodbye to my grandma. My last remaining grandparent.

So much sad, and honestly, I am so tired of sad. This is not me. This is not how I want to be. I feel like I’m on this hamster wheel of joy and sad and I can’t get off. I know this is the reality of life, but could I please have a little more joy and less sad? Is this too much to ask?

They say God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. I want to say “uncle” right now. I’m glad He believes in me and my ability to hold it together when I need to; however, I really feel like I am hanging on by the thinnest of threads.

The intensity of my pain ebbs and flows as I assume it will for the rest of my life. Grief never goes away, we just somehow learn to manage it. Right?

Some days I fight the need to look to the heavens and scream the most guttural scream. The kind that sounds like your body just burst into a million pieces. Other days, I beg for silence and quiet to get me through.

Before my grandma died this week, I felt as though the joy-filled days were starting to outnumber the days of despair. This gives me hope. This feeling will not last forever. Joy happens a little bit every day, and while the loss and sadness will still show up, there is just too much happiness to be had.

2019 – My Year of JOY

My word was joy

I am not one to do resolutions at the new year, instead I choose a word. A word to help me focus on something important. One year it was determination, another listen. Joy was my word for 2019. I wanted to live as joyfully as possible, choosing joy and seeing joy in all the things. And then June 20 happened and I thought I lost my joy forever. 

While my sadness has been overwhelming, almost consuming at times, there are so many things in life to be joyful about that this word actually helped me get through the toughest year of my life. Talking to a friend over coffee the other day, it occurred to me that 2019 taught me many things: 

  1. My children have always been my greatest source of joy. I lost one to the physical world, but he is always a part of my heart. For my two living children, I will continue to always be their biggest cheerleader and love them more fiercely than the day before. My love for them is intense and immense and I am more proud of them this year than at any other time in their lives. They have lived through something no one their age should. They have lost a brother, a friend, a confidante, yet have come out the other side with resilience. 
  2. My relationship with my husband is the strongest it’s ever been. God started this path for us over a year in advance – bringing us together in a much deeper way than we had ever been. I believe with every ounce of my being God did this to help us weather the storm of Kola’s death. While the statistics of marriages dissolving after the death of a child is astounding, Joe and I love and support each other on a whole different level of peace, understanding and kindness. I could literally not do the day to day without him. 
  3. My faith and belief in God and the way He works in our lives is at a level I cannot describe. I have never felt so close to God before in my life. Ever. I really do see Him clearing my path – setting it out for me to follow. And, the people He has put in my life at just the right moments – unbelievable. 
  4. This little book club I started in July is one of the single best things I have ever done. This group of women have become some of my very best friends. I have realized over these past few months that we actually all needed each other, for very different reasons. I love watching us laugh, cry, grow, empower, motivate and inspire each other. This group is what living fantastic is all about. 
  5. There are friends I thought would support me through my sadness with their every breath, and many of them walked away from me because my sad was too much for them. It doesn’t make them bad people, it just means they didn’t have the capability to be there in a way I needed them. 
  6. There are people in my life that I never in a million years would have thought would be able to offer support to me in any meaningful way. Yet, today, these people have become friends that push me to get up every single day and do the impossible things. 
  7. I have friends who have become a part of me. People I talk to or text every day. Friends that love me unconditionally. Friends that pray for me and love me through all things good, bad and ugly. These people bring me such joy.
  8. Kola’s death has made me realize who I am. I am strong. I am courageous. I am brave. I am kind. I am pain. I am sorrow. I am joy. I have a purpose now that I didn’t have before. I have direction. And while this is still sometimes fuzzy and full of obstacles, I know that all of these things will become clear at the time that I need them to. 
  9. Mental health and suicide deserve more attention, and alongside friends I have made through this journey, we will make this happen. We will do the important things that we can and help as many people struggling as we can. 
  10. Kindness rules. 

Every day since Nikolai died, God has continued to show me that there are so many things that bring joy into our lives. Life really is joyful. This year, I urge you to take time to appreciate the present moment and learn to live where life actually takes place. At this exact moment. 

Writing is my therapy

I like words

I like words. Words have meaning to me. I’ve always been that person who can write out what I want to say better than I can speak it.

I keep a grateful journal, a blog journal and a journal of just my thoughts.

Words are my therapy. It’s the way I extract all those good and ugly things from my head.

And I love meaningful quotes, like this one from William Wordsworth, “fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”

People say very powerful things and if you sit still long enough to listen or read them you will find they bring you motivation, inspiration, the drive to dream, the will to survive, a sense of purpose, determination and so much more.

I wear words as well. I have several bracelets that I wear every single day to remind me of the important things in life.

“We rise by lifting others.” – Be kind to people. It’s really that simple. Lift people up every single day. Give a random stranger a compliment. Open the door for someone. Say hi and smile. These aren’t big things, but to the person on the receiving end they could be HUGE things.

“Be the good.” – Be the change or be the good you want to see in this world. I try to live what I preach. You may never know the impact you make on a person, but by gosh make it a good one.

“One day at a time.” – My friend Jamie gave me this bracelet this week as a reminder that each day is different and that’s okay. Each day I may experience joy and sadness and that’s okay. That right now, taking one day at a time is okay.

“Joy.” – Have you ever chosen a word of the year? A word that you want to live your year by? I have done this the last several years and this year, I chose joy. I’ve been wearing this bracelet since the beginning of the year, not knowing that my immediate future was going to be filled with days of such immense pain and heartache that joy would be the farthest thing from my mind. Here’s the thing… I truly believe that God put the word joy in my heart at the beginning of the year for this very reason. Because even in this period of extreme heartache, there is joy to be found in each day, in each memory. Not a day goes by that I don’t have a dozen memories go through my mind and heart of Nikolai that make me laugh or smile. He was a funny guy and he did and said funny stuff. I also experience joy when my other two boys come home from their days at school and work and share all the things. Joy is my husband bringing me coffee in the morning. Joy is a hug from a friend. Joy surrounds me all the time and makes those darker times a little more bearable.

This race was joyful

What an amazing joy-filled morning

What an amazing, joy filled morning💕 I haven’t run competitively since Beans died. My runs are for me and me alone.

But as I left the gate and started on my journey I was overcome by a sense of peace and I literally enjoyed every single step. I took it all in. Bagpiper at mile 1, guitar players at mile 2, random people out fist bumping me on the sidelines, the lady with the sign that read “tap this for turbo boost” (which I totally tapped) and so many others. I enjoyed every step. I pushed through every hill. And I PR’d my 6.2 mile time finishing in 65:33🙌

And waiting to high-five me coming into the Finish line was my dear friend Tracy 💕 She overcame her own doubts today and finished her race strong and I’m so proud of her.

And the love of my life waiting in the wings for me. Damnit I love how much you support me Joe 😘 You are my rock❤️ I am fierce. I am strong. And one day at a time, with the help of my tribe, Joy-filled moments like these will begin to outweigh some of the heartache😊💙