Tag Archives: grief

A Wonderful Life

After cancer, after death, after a bottomless pit of grief, it really can be a wonderful life.

I have been silent for a while because my life has shifted again. This time for better. I laugh, I love, I work, I play and really truly live.

At 43 I thought my life was done, I knew I would continue to breathe in and out and keep moving through my existence, but I really thought that was it. My partner had died, my kids dad was gone, I was alone, scared, and sad.

So what caused the change?

For the first 8 months I was a train wreck. Pure and simple. It was just hard, I survived hour to hour, day to day. Then I had to face the reality, he wasn’t coming back, I really was in this alone. Kids grow up and move on, as they should, and in a few short years it would be me and the cat. So I had to ask myself the big questions, face the reality head on and get help.

The big questions were answerless. No answer to why my husband died of cancer and the rat bag down the road gets to live forever. No answer to what my life would look like now. No answer to why I felt picked on by God and why He decided to destroy my family. But I had to move forward regardless. Answers or not. I decided to let the questions go. To stop demanding “why” because it was draining me of life. That’s not what Paul would have wanted. I chose to step into a new world and trust that God knew my footsteps before I took them. And you know what? He did.

Beyond that I stopped shutting the world out and began once again to accept love and friendship around me. From my kids, family, friends, and a church family that demanded nothing of me but encouraged me endlessly to bask in grace and believe solidly that God who truly loved me offered new mercies daily. I believe my faith grew up a lot. Now I just know that I know He loves and cares for me. Despite circumstances. My reciprocation of that love is not always without doubt or fear, but it’s there.

I desperately needed comrades for the journey, and I usually needed them in the middle of the night. So I looked online for women, brave women, who had lost and had begun to live again. Their stories, their inspiration, and even their sadness helped me. I was done with pity, I needed real grit and real guts, these women had it.  I wasn’t alone in this; others survived this wreck, so maybe I could too. Some practical sites that helped in some very, very, very dark moments were as follows.

http://www.onefitwidow.com/

http://www.widowschristianplace.com/

http://www.secondfirsts.com/

https://anewseason.net/

Sometimes just reading helped, but through these sites I found new friends from all over the world and we pushed each other along. I am forever grateful.

There is one more reason for happiness, one more joy in my life that is new. I felt a whisper deep inside to keep my heart open and to believe that I could once more experience the greatest gift one person can give another… love. The odds weren’t good. Then 44, 3 kids, and a whole lot of complication to offer, I didn’t like my chances. But God doesn’t gamble, it was all there in His plan, a man that loves me and I love him. Not a secondary kind of love, not someone else’s leftovers, but a man I daydream about, can’t wait to be with and have to pinch myself sometimes to remember it’s all true. I feel adored, honoured, and embraced. I really thought those days were over, it is the greatest gift I could ever receive. He is wonderful and I love him deeply.

Of course I still have moments and ache because my kids lost a good dad, but I also know that goodness and life are true things and not just theoretical concepts. Life can turn around, hearts can heal and love can be felt again.

It really, truly is a wonderful life.

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A New Pair of Shoes

new shoes

Girls like shoes. Girls like new shoes…and clothes and well you know everything!

I am a girl and I like them too, but I don’t like shopping. That’s a dilemma. You can’t get new if you don’t go out to get new. (Yes I know you can shop online but that doesn’t fit the analogy…just go with it).

Recently I have lost weight, no not from grief, that’s how I gained most of it, I ate my feelings. Over and over, there were a lot of feelings! I was frumpy, unfit and unhappy. I made a very conscious decision to change all that and am glad to say its’ working. So I have a pile of fat clothes and a dwindling amount of things that actually fit properly. But I hate shopping.

So I can stay in my fat clothes, or make the effort to get new ones.   I face a few of these dilemmas nowadays.   Buying new clothes is not a big dilemma but what I sell and what I keep, do I move house, what church I attend now, how do I parent alone…all have been big questions for me, but they are all figured out the same way. By asking myself “what is the best thing in order to keep moving forward. “

The fact is I need a whole new wardrobe. My clothes had to change to a new size, a no-more-husband-size, its different now. But my shoes still fit, my feet didn’t get fat! So do I need new shoes too?

New clothes need new shoes to match. A new life needs a new attitude. The old things just don’t match anymore. It’s not the same. I cannot move forward holding onto the past. Is my husband only in my past, no! He will forever occupy a room in my heart; he will forever be my kids’ dad and if there is ever anyone new to love in my life they will need to accept that. But my life is different now. If I keep looking backwards I can’t see where I am going, I trip and I fall.

I need to look to happiness, to love, to life, to a future. I need new things that fit my new life.

I need new shoes to match the outfit.

“No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. And you don’t put your wine in cracked bottles.” Mat 9:17 (The Message)


Prickle Underfoot

I’ve had a setback.

But that’s just life I have decided. Rocky roads and prickly ground does not signal the end of happiness.

It was a hard week. I was really down, I felt let down by a friend, it accentuated my aloneness and it hurt. So I decided to take my mind of it with a girly pampering afternoon…but it didn’t work. While being girlied up one of my kids had an accident (reserving details because it’s not just my story), this couldn’t be happening.

On my way to the accident scene I switched into crazy-mumma-fix-it-get-everything-done mode and powered through the rest of the day which included hours at hospital and police reporting. By the time we got home I was exhausted. I tossed all night long and woke early for work and to juggle the next round of accident related needs.

I chose to ignore the fact that I didn’t yet have enough emotional resilience for all of this. That was a big mistake. 24 hours later my world became unstable. I felt flung back into the depths of grief, and it felt permanent. Like an old enemy had sprung up ready to shoot me down.

When asked I was “fine thanks” when help was offered I honestly didn’t know what to ask for. Except… I really just wanted a hug, but found it hard to ask for one!! Do you do that? Or is that just me?

Whilst going for a walk a couple of days later I trod on some prickles, and then some more prickles. They weren’t life threatening, but for that moment they took my breath away and for the next few steps I could still feel the pain. Of course I am fine now, no prickles can be felt. But it highlighted my previous couple of days. They had been the same. They took my breath away and I have had a little limp ever since, but I know I will recover.

Prickles are just part of life. A well-tended lawn may not seem to have any, but an unexpected prickle can still spike you when you least expect it. Grief is like that. Life is like that. All is well then a couple of prickles move your attention again to pain. But it’s not a permanent injury.

It’s just a prickle.

A few deep breaths the pain is gone, life can resume. I will keep reminding myself of that. Life will resume. My child is OK, I am OK.

It was just a prickle.


The Upside of Death

light in the dark

What is it about death that causes you to stand up and pay attention to life?

I used to be a very content home body. Happy being wife and mum, in fact, I felt it was my highest calling. I know I’m supposed to go on about how women can have it all these days, but for me, it was having it all. Oftentimes that calling was exhausting and time alone at home was a rare prize. But I loved it. Now I can hardly contain the need to get out and live.

I guess living becomes more deliberate, more on purpose; after all it is precious and finite. I know that now. I think the living helps the loss to shrink. It pushes grief out of the way, like light chasing away the shadows and illuminating a path to hope I was convinced I’d never see again. Not denial, I certainly know it happened, that empty space beside me screams it, I am fully aware of what I have lost.

I also feel a responsibility to show the kids life goes on, even after our darkest days. I’m it, the only parent left so I better be fit, healthy and living a full and happy life. I can do this, and so can they. Of course, realistically, I still have grief moments that interrupt the living, but they are part of the remembering and that’s OK, as long as the living is resumed.

Loving kids, family and friends have been crucial, I would not have made it on my own.  But I can see now that my faith has been a huge influence. Even when I blamed God and couldn’t understand how He was loving and just in letting Paul die, even then, I felt His hand in the small of my back nudging me on, willing me to live. A patient Gentlemen who never swore back at me, even in the coldness of my accusations. I am eternally grateful.

So I guess this is an upside of grief…that seems so wrong to write, but surely I deserve an upside, a silver lining, a rainbow after the storm?? Life is the upside.  A determined spotlight on living.

The contrast between life and death is massive, like the difference between light and dark. Once the light hits the darkness it just isn’t dark anymore.


My Cup Overflows

2 years and 7 months I have waited for this. To truly feel once again that my cup does indeed overflow. Full to overflowing, running over with honest to goodness love. It’s been a long time.

I used to muse to myself of the goodness, the love, and the absolute blessing I felt just being wife and mum to beautiful people. Ordinary people to the untrained eye, but with my well-honed mumma skills it was clear: they were beautiful indeed.

Then the tragedy.

Cancer stole my love.

My cup was empty.

My cup was broken.

Now to hear my children’s laughter, and have it warm my heart, to hear them talking to me, really talking to me and be able to engage, to once again find joy in simple things is beyond priceless. It’s pure gold.

My cup must be mending.

All the tears, all the determined searching for answers, all the willingness to face the pain head on, has done something. It has begun healing my cup, my heart. I cannot say that I have willed it from my own strength, because I had none, or discovered hidden reasons, because there are none. It was the God of all creation, who made the cup, who made my heart, He knew what it needed when it needed it and healing is the result.

I am sure that my grief is not completely over, because my life isn’t over, and for as long as I live I will hold love in my heart for my Paul. But I feel love and joy again, and I know that I know that’s a good sign. I can once again be full of love and blessing. Nothing grand so far, nothing the papers will write about, but I know it’s going to be OK. In my everydayness I can smile and have life overflow.

My cup overflows.


Running the Gauntlet

“A gauntlet is a double line of people with clubs, whips, tomahawks, fraternity paddles, or other weapons; the poor bastard being punished runs between the lines and everyone hits him as he goes by. Depending on weapons and circumstances, this has been used as an initiation, a test of courage, a way to decide which prisoner to let go (to take the message back that you are holding hostages), or a way to execute someone without making any one person responsible.” (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Run%20the%20Gauntlet)

This post was to be called “I’m OK” in response to the many people who are expecting me to fall apart as the anniversary of losing my Paul looms.  But the more I took an honest look over the last year the phrase “Running the Gauntlet” just kept popping into my head. So in true morose style I gave in to the fact that although I really am OK, there is also a welling backlog of emotions waiting to surface. I hate that! Each emotion a powerful and formidable weapon awaiting its opportunity to take me out. Not one willing to take the full blame or strike the deathly blow, but all pounding away together weakening my resolve.

I am of course “the poor bastard” in this story that the above definition speaks of. But I hate pity and remember that not everyone dies that runs the gauntlet.

Is it hard?

Yes.

Are there injuries?

Yes.

But there are survivors. Injuries heal and I hope that as those mental images of hospital wards and ICU equipment taking over my Paul lose their sting more and more, I too will join the list of the brave that survived.  “A test of courage” indeed it is. To open my eyes, heart and soul to another day and another hope indeed feels like a courageous move that I hope I am brave enough for.

I intend to be that “prisoner let go”, in fact I insist! There are few comforts in grief, and although it took me a year to accept it, I am now encouraged to see if I can help another soul lost in grief see the light of day, to find some bravery, and to see hope again. Somewhere, somehow, I hope for that. To be that one running back to the King pleading for those still held hostage by their grief. The King will help, how do I know that? Because He helped me.

So, I am through the gauntlet…you know, I hope! Still some wounds to heal, but all in good time. No rush, no shortcuts (unfortunately), but I am OK. The memory of the gauntlet is strong and still very powerful, but I survived and will continue to do so.

I am OK.


Lonely

Loneliness rounds me up in circles and then jumps up and bites me on the bum! So unexpected and more brutal than I had ever imagined possible.

I spent 21.5 years with Paul, dreaming the same dreams, planning things, facing disasters – you know life!

Then he was gone.

Just gone.

My mind couldn’t comprehend what was happening. I remember a swirl of emotions, knowing I didn’t want him to suffer, but wanting him to live,I  felt sucked down by the reality of what was happening in front of me. A horror movie …and I couldn’t find the off switch.

It took me 6 months to realize that horror movie was in fact my life. No more reliance on numbness or simple denial, realities wanted me to face them. I hate you realities. You are very very cruel. Reality doesn’t allow you the luxury of believing the mind tricks that it is just all a cruel joke. So I woke up and Paul wasn’t here.

Just gone.

He lives vividly in my mind, in my heart and every deep place within me, but it’s not the same. I want to get mad at someone, but it’s no ones fault. I don’t like the medical process that he went through, but I believe they were trying to help Paul live, I can’t hate them for that.  Guilt swallows any chance of getting mad at Paul, he did leave me, but not by choice.

So I’m only left with being mad at myself. Weird? Maybe. But I get mad at being lonely, mad for not doing more, mad for not understanding our finances more, mad at everything I have to do that demands I say out loud Paul died. A woman asked me about my husband today, she didn’t know, it was like a punch in the stomach…I get mad at that.

I don’t want to be lonely, I want to be enough. To never want anyone else’s affection or love. To be alone, but happy to be alone. Big problem there, I am not happy to be alone. I don’t believe we are designed for loneliness, but for togetherness, for families. So no, I haven’t figured it all out yet. And friends in faith, relax, I have not turned my back on God. Instead I look at Him straight up and plead “How?” Say a prayer for me as you turn to snuggle your partner tonight because one day you may feel lonely too and then I will say a prayer for you.

I have a certainty that I will not let go of, that God is for me, not against me. That He loves me first, before I even wake up each day. So I will sort this sucker out beyond platitudes, I just don’t have all the answers today. Today I just felt lonely.


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