Saturday, February 11

Learning to dance in the rain

      Hey there, thanks for clickin' over. I'm in bed on my laptop and the house is quiet, so I'm going to try and get this out before my eyelids pull shut and I pass out:) I know it's late, but I've had some strong thoughts on my mind for nearly a month now, and I finally told you guys today that I would share them to give myself some accountability. Every time I tried to dig deep and write them out for the blog I would end up just shutting my computer and walking away. It's really hard lately to write when I'm feeling low, let alone put myself down there on purpose to write out deep thoughts. The last couple of days though you guys have just been so especially encouraging that I feel confident to just get them out once and for all. I want to start on the 7 month anniversary of Marty's passing as we're a few days away from his 8th now.

     The 15th of January was a beautiful Sunday. I woke up extra early, and the rest of the house was silent. I walked quietly into the kitchen and was stopped by the sight of snow falling outside. I remember pulling on my boots and a jacket and went out the back door to get some more wood from the snow-covered woodpile, and then I had to pause again to take in the sight. It was easily the most beautiful snowfall I'd ever seen. Every flake was sparkling and shining in the soft light of the sunrise, and they were clinging to even the tiniest leaf and limb. The silence was so complete, and I stood there for a while to soak it in before taking a few pictures, sharing a clip of it to my insta-story for you guys, and heading back inside with an armful of wood.




     That afternoon all seven of us loaded up in the car and headed to the cemetery as we do each week. During the Winter months we've been bringing supplies with us to try and keep Martin's headstone clear of snow and ice, and the freezing wind blew around us as I watched Richard shovel and chip away to expose it the best he could. It was such a display of love and respect for Martin on his part I thought as I watched him working so hard. After returning home I checked in on my sweet mother-in-law, and we exchanged a few messages of support and love on such a hard day for both of us. I then retreated to the basement and tried hard to write out how I was feeling on the 7-month mark. I kept typing paragraphs about how hard the day was, about how much I missed Martin, about the different ways I'm doing better and worse at the same time, about the kind of man it takes to take on what Richard has, about the height and depth of love, etc, but I kept deleting them. Nothing fit well enough for that day. There weren't words to describe my feelings, but now as we're nearing his 8th month anniversary, I want to share a few thoughts and misconceptions about grief that I feel (in my humble opinion) are very important to those of us who continue to live after someone dear to them is gone.

     First of all, there is no 'other side' of grief. It's never going to pass. You don't ever 'move on' from it. You just learn to live with it. You absorb it. It becomes part of you. You simply adjust and change. You slowly but surely find how to navigate through your new normal with it. It doesn't get easier, you just get stronger. I'll say that again: It does not get easier, you just get stronger.

You stop waiting for the storm to pass, and instead, learn to dance in the rain. 

     With my story of Martin and his melanoma, we started grieving the minute we heard the words 'terminal cancer' nearly 2 years ago now. We started immediately mourning the life we used to have where that word didn't exist, where he wasn't in pain, where we didn't have fear, where our family was whole. A life that we knew we'd never have again, not completely. The doctor left the room for a bit, and we just held tightly to each other as we cried together. The baby in my tummy kicked and he wondered if he would even be able to meet her at all. We leaned our foreheads together as he started brainstorming about how we should prepare for when he was gone, for when I was alone with all five children, about how I was going to make a living, about the kind of man he hoped I would find. I cried harder and asked him to stop. I couldn't think about a life without him. We weren't going to think that as even a possibility right then.

     Nearly two years ago now. Two years of grieving, two years of mourning our simple beautiful life. And now he's gone. The 8 years we had together, and the 15 months we fought that cancer as hard as we could; no amount of months or years or decades can change what that meant to me and the impact that it had on me. I realized a long time ago that there was no 'getting over' him. There is no 'moving on' from him. There is never going to be a time that I stop missing him. No amount of carrying on with life or moving here or there with the kids or being happy or finding love again or moving forward or making new friends is going to change that.

     There is no timeline for grief, so don't you ever ever let anyone tell you there is. Loss like that is not something that you take a year, or two, or five to get through and complete, and then you're okay to move forward. There are no rules to grief. YOU make the decisions about how you handle your grief, about how and when you move forward, because you are the only one who feels the way you do, who has experienced exactly what you have, and who has to keep on living long after everyone else has forgotten. You don't base your feelings and choices about how others think you should feel or choose. You absolutely can't.

     Secondly, there is not just one anniversary every year when the day they died rolls around again. Yes, that's the formal definition of the word, but it's much more than that. As everyone who has experienced the loss of someone they love deeply can attest, it's not even the yearly events like birthdays and Christmases (which are indeed incredibly painful), it's all those other little anniversaries that happen far more often, mostly when you least expect them, and that are usually far more crippling. Brief moments of memory that can broadside you, causing you to relive the tragedy through again in your mind; memories and dreams that can cause your heart to break all over again. After losing someone you love, especially if it's someone who lived with you (and experienced every moment of your life with you for nearly a decade or more), everything in your life becomes a potential reoccurring trigger. And since these triggers are customized to you and aren't obvious to 99% of the people around you, they are often completely unaware and oblivious of just how often and for what reasons you're mourning. In my mind, not one person in my life was with me every step of the way and witnessed everything I have felt and been through and experienced the last couple years.

     So no, it's not just the 15th of June, or the 21st (the day of his funeral), or even the 15th of every months or every Wednesday morning at 10:35. I wish the reminders were so few, but that's not how grief works. It's every time the sunlight shines through the big windows like it did on his hospice bed when he took his last breath. It's every time I see the snowflakes falling and remember that night he taught me to waltz in the snow, and the night he knelt and proposed. It's every time I hear Coldplay and remember our fingers intertwining for the first time. It's the movie we watched on our first date. It's the smell of fresh grass, bread flour on my cheek, and an old baseball on my shelf. It's certain colors I see, his favorite way I wore my hair, milk spills, the mirror that fell off the wall, our favorite restaurant. Certain words, jewelry, music, baby clothes, books we bought together, mangos, headphones, Thai food, power tools, violin music. On, and on. Everyday things that have memories and stories attached that only I know about, not to mention all of our children that look just like him. Our house, our whole life that we built together. This city that he grew up in and everything we did, everywhere we went. We were together almost constantly. Everything around me is full of memories and moments that hurt. That remind me of his pain. That remind me of our loss and of that other life that's over.

     Coming to the realization on that first day even that I could walk around in public with nobody knowing what was happening in my life, has helped me see that most everyone we come in contact with every day could be in a similar situation, experiencing triggers that I know nothing about. That they could be dealing with their own internal pain. Fighting silent battles maybe with forced smiles on their faces, jut trying their best to see the silver lining in every day. Trying their best to keep on going, to survive. I guess that's my main thought I want to share in this post. Yes, I want to answer a lot of questions I've received and to clear the air a bit too, and yes I want to give strength and confidence to all the grievers that have reached out to me, but mostly because I want to let those of you fighting your own silent battles to know that we are in this together. That you/we are not alone in your often constant little anniversaries of grief.

     A couple months ago I had the pleasure of talking about handling grief publically with my sweet friend Jenna Kutcher on episode 011 of The Goal Digger Podcast. I would love for you to listen if you have time, especially if you're relatively new to my blog and my story. During the interview, Jenna also shares some very personal thoughts on her miscarriage, and I love how even though our grief is based on very different circumstances, that we're still able to relate and connect and empathize with each other. That's another big thought that I want to pass on tonight. That even if we're not going through pain of our own, that we can still try our best to have empathy for others, and not judgment. If you find yourself or another ever judging and critiquing the grief process and choices of another harshly, it simply means that they are nowhere near understanding their pain and position, and if that's the case then lucky them I suppose, right?

Bill Bullard said that "Opinion is really the lowest form of knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and to live in anothers' world." It really is a gift to step into the shoes of another person, striving to understand their feelings and perspectives, to be in it with them. To not try and save them or fix them, but to simply meet them where they are, to feel with them, and let them know that they're not alone.
So many of you just glow with empathy. With the desire to take pain from the world by choosing to love tenderly as you would want others to love you, and do your best to understand others and not judge by your own perspective. I feel so incredibly blessed to be in a position of interacting with so many of you kind-hearted souls, as it just shows the world that there is still so much goodness. Thank you:)

     Well now that's all for tonight I guess, thank yous so much for reading this far. If you have any thoughts on your own struggles or grief or maybe someone close that you're trying to help, etc. I'd love for you to share with us, but no pressure as always.

Happy new week ahead my friends,
xoxo

73 comments:

  1. Emily, I too lost my most beloved to cancer in 2016. April 12, 2016 at 9:15pm. He was 39 and we have 4 kids. I find everyday gets harder in so many ways. I read a poem or short essay by a gentleman who lost someone on the topic of grief. He explained it like floating on a life raft in the ocean. Sometimes the waves of grief are huge and you are sure you will sink and drowned. Other times the waves are small but constant. And every once in awhile there are breaks where the ocean is still and you have time to take a deep breath.....but you are still on a life raft. That's the best description I have read so far. Besides my loneliness the hardest part I have found is raising these 4 beautiful children whose dad died. They are 9, 10, 12 and 14 and everyday is a battle for them to deal with their emotions, loss, pain and just missing him and feeling like he is missing out. I don't know what I would do without my faith and knowing God's grace carries me through each moment. Praying for you and your little people. πŸ’•

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    1. Kristi, I was considering connecting you to Emily's blog the other day, but I'm glad you managed to find her on your own. Praying for you, sister.

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  2. Emily, your post is just sb beautiful. So true and honest, so real. I have followed your stroy since before Martins diagnosis and have felt so much sadness and hope for you. Up until January 13, 2017 I had no idea what grief felt like. On that day, we lost our beloved 15 year old dog - it is by no means tge same thing as what you've dealt with but for the first time I would read your words and think 'yes!' I feel that, I know that! Our boy was with us through every major milestone in my life. We got him when I was 6 - he was there for my 10rh, 16th, 18th & 21st birthdays. He was there through my parents divorce and a life changing situation that happened two years later. He was the rock that helped keep everything normal, that I hugged when I needed an extra dose of unconditional love, that licked my face to wipe away tears etc. Loosing him has been so hard and most don't understand. Most think I should be fine now since its been a month but even though i can get through the day and go about things looking fine I miss him every day.I think of him every day - even yesterday I called out to him when I heard a bark only to realize he's gone. I know what is happening in my life is miniscule compared to the grief you feel but your words honestly help me so much in understanding my own feelings and making me realize its OK to feel this - that its no abnormal. So thank you, for writing and sharing and being so vulnerable when its so easy to hide from the judgment. Thank you for being you and for being a beacon of hope. Much love, Danielle xo (I'm @dearchantilly on Insta where I follow you :) )

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  3. You have such a way with words! As I read your post I shed a few tears and thought of my own daughters and husband and how I couldn't imagine the position you've been in.your post made me feel some of your grief and I hope that in sharing your feelings and experience you are able in some way to share your grief and lighten its weight on you. I am in awe of your strength and grace, you are a remarkable beautiful kind woman.

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  4. I can't fathom the grief that you, or anyone else has gone through, but what you have so openly shared has definitely struck a chord about how I should always try and meet in the middle when it comes to grief.
    I am thankful for the strong support you have had in this little community, and I'm thankful that even though I have not walked the same life, or have gone through the same things, that I am able to learn valuable tips for years to come.
    Much love to you, and thank you for always being so raw xx

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  5. Hi Emily,

    I'm up nursing my baby and saw your post. Emily, I totally felt you in that post. I could feel your pain. Just a tiny, little bit of it. When I read your post, it brought me back to a very painful time in my life. I hope you find relief. Like childbirth with the painful contractions and the little breaks you get in between. I hope the little breaks you get are beautiful and make you happy. There is nothing I can do but cry with you and pray for you-- and I will.

    When you are ready, you might want to read A Grief Observed by CS Lewis. The way he described his grief from his wife's passing was so profound. Maybe it will be a relief to you to have someone relatable who has written the words for you.

    I am here, supporting you through my iPhone.

    From your fellow long- haired redhead,

    Tara

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  6. Thank you for sharing.
    Grief is so personal, nobody else can or will feel like you feel, grief can and will be processed at its own pace, independent of other people. I live by Dorys "Just keep swimming" and it is even more present when I think of you and your situation.
    Hug your babies tight, Martin may not be here any more but half of each of your babies is by him and you get to keep that (if that makes sense)

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  7. What a post, you've just given me new eyes to se the world. As we say it in Franch, bon courage et merci! Following your bog heplped me to really understand the most important thing: to give all the time and attention possible to my 3 little monkeys and superhero husband! Thank you so much Emily, I wish I could hug you on harsh days, laugh out loud the darkest clouds away ans so much! XOXO from France!

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  8. Having lost two of my most important "mom figures" between the ages of 17 and 26, I agree with EVERYTHING you say here. The pain may feel different now then it did 12 years or 4 years ago, but the ache will only be resolved on the other side of heaven. I appreciate you sharing!

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  9. Thank you for this Emily. I lost my nephew this past November, he was only 14. Your words mean so much and will help me to help myself as well as my sister and law and family. Empathy truly is the light and the way.

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  10. I lost my father to cancer when I was a newlywed just a few years ago. So much of what you're saying about grief hit me so hard. I don't know you personally, but I want you to know I'm praying for you and your sweet family. Grief is so heavy and so hard. All the best ❤

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  11. This post is one I want to share with my mother when the time comes. She will be a window at 60 years old. My dad was just put on Hospice last Thursday. He also has terminal stage 4 metastatic cancer. He was diagnosed June 11 of last summer. We all live together since August and it's been so hard watching cancer take over their bodies. My heart goes out to you Emily. Sending love and prayers of comfort.
    Andrea Snow
    snowbyheart.com

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  12. Emily,
    You are the most postured, clear-minded, soul fulfilling woman I've heard from. You inspire others through your own immense grief and that's something that should be applauded and praised. You're an incredible light in such dark, intense times. Please keep sharing when you feel comfortable- it helps others more than you realize. Something that resonated with me is when you described Richard working hard to clear off Martin's grave and being a man that not only "handles" but embraces your unique situation. You're a lucky woman to have encountered two incredible and supportive men in your lifetime. You deserve it.

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  13. My grandmother passed away several years ago because of a very aggressive cancer that came out of no where. The grief each of our family members went through was and is still so different. She was our glue. My Papa remarried very quickly after and several family members struggled with this. But my pastor said something that I love. He said that my Papa wanting to remarry so quickly was the best testament to his marriage with my grandma. He said only someone who had an amazing marriage would want to jump into it again to feel even a part of what they felt and experienced before. My Papa said the same thing as you mentioned. It wasn't the big things that hurt the most. It was the little things. Like brushing his teeth without her washing her face in the sink next to him. I have followed you for some time now and I love how you have been so open. Especially about grief. Thank you for sharing ❤

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  14. It's a beautiful courageous post, thank you

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  15. Emily,
    I reached out to you a few weeks ago about my beautiful mother and the devastation of a ruptured brain aneurysm that has changed her life and my family's life significantly. She is still unchanged with many doctors questioning that she will ever recover. Yet, I find hope and solace in the breaths that she is taking on her own, and her beautiful blue eyes when she opens them every once in a while.

    What is incredibly difficult for me is that I don't know how to define the feelings of loss I'm experiencing, even though my mom is still here with us. They are uncertain if she is aware of anything, her cognitive abilities were severely damaged with her brain bleed. I feel that I am grieving for all of the missed opportunities I could have had with her, and yet I feel angry at myself for grieving for her because she's still alive. I took so much away from what you said about the feeling of loss never changing or going away and that we just grow stronger. I have days where I can laugh, and days where I can't even get out of bed. I feel guilt for taking for granted the time I didn't take to appreciate her while she was awake and to let her know that she's my heart. So many things remind me of her and how she was. This is day 25 of what exists as a very daunting journey for my dad, my siblings, our extended family and myself. I am trying to remain strong and accepting of the changes that have happened and that must be made, but it's very easy to become discouraged when I think about how perfect life was before this happened.

    Thank you for sharing your life and your heart with us. I have found it immensely helpful to learn from your own experiences and to find similarities in my feelings and my own version of grief and loss. I continue to pray for you, for Richard, for your children, for Martin, and for all of us who have witnessed and experienced love so great that it makes our pain so heavy. In that heaviness, we become stronger, in more ways than we ever wanted to or could have imagined.

    <3Lauren

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  16. Dear Emily!
    His words touched me so deeply, I kept tears in my eyes. I follow your blog and Instagram since August 2016, since then I am waiting for your photos and your posts. How wonderful you and your family are! I just thank you for being able to meet them.
    Too bad I do not speak English so I could express myself better!
    you are an inspiration! Thank you!❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

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    1. Fabiana, de que parte es Usted? ��-Richard

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  17. emily. you weave your words so beauitfully ! it takes such courage to write so personally with such grace and love. such a beauitful post that is so real and so raw . thank you . the world needs your words ! keep writing !!!you are so loved

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  18. These words are everything! Thank you!

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  19. Emily

    Next month will be the 9th anniversary of losing my youngest grandson Caleb, 4 weeks before his 4th birthday. The grief process is very fluid, and it still shocks me at what things trigger it. A few weeks ago at church I saw a little boy with light brown wavy hair from the back and my heart nearly broke. It took me at least 5 years before I didn't cry daily . I am thankful that I can now look at his photos without crying, and remember the happy times. It will always be with me until that day in Heaven when I feel his sweet little arms around my neck again ❤

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    1. That must be so awful for you, I'm sorry for your loss x

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  20. My husband died of cancer a month before yours did. He fought it for 12 years. We'd been married 49 years, and I am just totally lost without him. There was "us", and now there is "me", and it's devastating. I don't have the gift of words that you do, but I want you to know how much your posts mean to me. It helps so much to know that there's someone else out there who "gets it". Thank you for unselfishly sharing your grief so that others may find some comfort.

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  21. Two years ago today I sat with my Mom as she died after being in a coma for two weeks and having cancer for two years. I have tears in my eyes as I just finished reading your blog post. Thank you for your words.

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  22. It truely is amazing to read about so many people who really are feeling a lot of the same things. Sometimes you feel like no one could possibly understand the depth of MY GRIEF.
    I lost the love of my life to cancer 2 years ago June 10th. I thought I was crazy that I still hurt so much on the 10th of every month. I don't even need to know it's the 10th, most days I don't... but I hurt and am sensitive and emotional and usually realize it's the 10th.
    I have met a great guy who has been more patient and understanding than I could have imagined someone could be, and I feel so lucky to have him.
    I still feel all those heartaches with the simplest things, but this year it feels harder because I feel like I can't express my inner sadness as much because people think I'm "doing so much better" "I've got a new boyfriend" and "it's been 18 months now" so I usually keep the sadness to my self. Cry when I'm alone. It's not just the death... like you said it's the grief of everything that comes with the terrible disease. The ups and downs... the hope and loss again and again. The moments of fear and torture only the two of you went through some days. And it's the now, that he's not a part of.

    I'm very lucky to have the life I do, and most days I would say I am happy... but it's still not the life I had planned, and sometimes I feel I died too, and am living a different life now.

    You inspire many people and I love reading your hard words... they make me feel understood in so many ways. Thank you!

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  23. Beautiful and inspiring as always. I love that you allow yourself to write and feel and grieve openly and honestly, and I especially love that Richard seems to not only understand it, but to encourage it. This is such an incredibly difficult, yet extremely HEALTHY, way to build the foundation of marriage between the two of you to be even stronger. He was meant to come in after such a beautiful love lost and to pick up your broken pieces as you slowly work to mend them back together.

    May the constant memories, overwhelming moments of soul crushing grief and intense missing, become sources of strength and courage more than heart wrenching pain as you continue on your healing journey. You are a beautiful couple, both you and Martin and now you and Richard...full of grace, kindness, understanding, love. I pray your future is filled with many beautiful moments and lots of incredible healing for your family.

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  24. You are ONE amazing being.
    Have you read Pema Chodron's "When Life Falls Apart" ??????
    If you haven't get it..

    SS

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  25. I have been following you for years now and this post rings very true in my life. I lost a very good friend of mine unexpectedly almost exactly a year ago to the day that you lost your Martin. I wouldn't even acknowledge what I was feeling but it still hurt. Every anniversary and memory brought all the pain to the surface. One day at about the 9 month mark I read this interesting quote. It was written by an older man. He said that the death of a loved one is like a shipwreck in the ocean. He said that at first you hold on the anything that will help keep you afloat; the waves are 100 feet high and come one right after another and it's all you can do to keep your head above water. But soon, the waves are only 80 feet high and there are a few seconds between them. Then they are only 50 feet high with a mixture in between. But the 100 foot waves still come- just a little less often. And sometimes you can see them coming- an anniversary, birthday, holiday. They will always keep coming but you start learning how to swim and then maybe you find a boat. The waves will always be there but eventually you learn how to weather them.

    Those words made so much sense to me. It hurt and it always will hurt but I'm noticing that 19 month anniversary doesn't carry quite the same sting as the 7 month anniversary. I made it in to work. I laughed with my friends. I didn't count down the minutes until I could go to sleep so I didn't have to feel.

    Shortly after the one year anniversary I started therapy. I was diagnosed with insomnia, anxiety, and depression. I'm doing a lot better now. I'm not panicking on a daily basis and I'm not so numb. I watched your Facebook Live post the other day and I really appreciated that you talked about the stigma behind therapy and medication. It made me feel less alone.

    Thank you for inspiring me to keep pushing on. I will keep you and your lovely family in my prayers. :) hang in there!

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  26. What a beautiful piece on grief. I myself can attest that it never goes away. Our firstborn had a condition called hypoplastic lungs and we had to choose to leave him hooked to a machine or let him go peacefully when he was born. It was such a tough decision, and 16 years later, the grief is still there. Certain times it comes back, but it has been lessened with time. However, I almost don't want it to be less, because I want his memory to remain.

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  27. Emily, thank you for sharing this. It was incredibly moving. Praying for you.

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  28. Right on about the anniversary not being just one day a year. It truly is in every holiday, jokes that were their own signature, and in the many details that attribute to them or you and them. I lost my father 5 years ago this coming August when I was 31. Time goes by and grief comes in waves. In fact, I didn't even truly grieve until that following father's Day. Because when it happened, I was focused on taking care of my mother and facing judgmental family, some of which I hadn't seen in years. And somehow I managed to sing ("I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin) at his service...a strength I can only attribute to God. After that, I had to go back to work and continue with life and the time to grieve got stuffed with life as I'm sure you are finding out. Someone sent my mother "Tear Soup" which is a children's book about grief for both adults and children. It portrays the grace necessary for the grieving process beautifully. That book allowed me to allow the grief out when it would come. It's totally true it doesn't get easier...I'd even say it gets more difficult as I reach more milestone in my life that he will not be here to see. But it has also given me the strength to face the "difficult" and to minister compassion and fellowship to those experiencing grief around me. I believe God will use you mightily in the same way. God Bless you, Emily!

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  29. I was shocked how your post gave words to my own grief as I finalize my divorce from a decade long marriage and 5 small babies. Grief is sometimes hard or even embarrassing to express when youve ended a marriage. It's almost a faux pas, like you are admitting you made a mistake or that you're not "over your ex-spouse". But every aspect that you describe, baby clothes, songs, movies, and even just mannerisms of the children are tied to memories to the man I was once married to and the marriage I once had. Thank you for putting a voice to what I've been unable to describe.

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  30. We lost our first baby at full term - she lived for 4 hours, and at the time I never thought a day would pass that I didn't feel pain. You have described grief so well here, exactly like my experience. I don't think about her all day every day anymore, but every day she crosses my mind and I feel a pang of what we've lost. I am so sorry for your loss. Love from the UK xxx

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  31. Your post resonated with my as a survivor of sexual assault; I have the same seemingly random intrusive thoughts that hit me and I go from feeling alright that day, to feeling panic and anxiety rise in my chest over a smell, or a sound, or a fleeting thought. I feel grief over who I am not able to be anymore, over who I am, and the time I'm not able to get back that I have lost to that anxiety. My poor husband has to navigate his way around a person that may be fine one moment, and then isn't the next because he touched my back in a way he's touched it 1,000 times before, except this time it triggered a memory. I feel crazy, and sad that I can have all of that bottled up in me the same time as I am able to be a person that can laugh, and crack jokes, and love fiercely. I don't know how both can exist in the same body with such fierceness of emotion that I can be rolling with laughter one minute, and then with tears the next. It has been nearly 20 years and it's still there, quietly waiting to ambush me both when I'm high equally as when I'm low. PTSD is a horrible thing to live with, it's like going to prison for a crime you didn't commit, but get to live with the consequences of anyway. Much love to your family, I know it's not easy to be what others need, but when you have a spouse and children you just sort of have to be, don't you?

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  32. This is beautifully written. You are so strong. I love your quote about empathy at the end. It's so true. Sometimes I find myself silently judging someone else's situation, and this is a great reminder of why not to. <3

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  33. "Coming to the realization on that first day even that I could walk around in public with nobody knowing what was happening in my life, has helped me see that most everyone we come in contact with every day could be in a similar situation"
    Emily, it is so typical for you to take this pain and create something so kind and so helpful for others to help them see the world through a different lens. That is a very rare gift and I think you are really changing the world a bit by using it.

    This post made me cry but feeling peaceful at the same time.
    It's just words on a screen but they are reaching so many people in so many different countries. I am not sure you are aware of just HOW strong you are with words. You're one hell of a writer!

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  34. Sweet sweet, Emily. First, this is me giving you a virtual hug. :). I was able to catch some of your live Instagram the other night and it made my heart so happy to see you genuinely laughing at the story you told about the plant snatchers. (Eye roll for them though because really, who does that??). I cannot imagine the roller coaster of emotions that flood over during certain times, but in that little moment, during that silly story, I saw a glimpse of such sweet happiness and it just made me so thankful I was able to hear that story. You will always have those memories. Keep doing you. One thing that has crossed my mind and has been on my heart, perhaps it's been done for them already, but what if you take pieces of martin's clothing and turn them into teddy bears/stuffed animals for the kids. A piece of him, something they can hug, talk to, love on when they're having a tough time. I know you've got some sewing skills, so even it could be something the kids can do with you. All the while you can tell silly stories about your life together or things he did with them, just like the plant story. ��❤ Completely a random thought ❤. Please Know you are doing amazing, and don't let anyone make you believe you are not. Your courage to even post anything let alone your life is more than most can say they do. You open yourself up to everything, and that in itself takes courage. ��

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  35. Bless your heart for always being willing to share and be so honest. I hope Heavenly Father continues to embrace you and your sweet family in His loving arms

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  36. You are such a light, and I appreciate you sharing such deep and personal feelings because it helps me to be better in my life. I can't imagine the daily pain that losing a spouse brings your existence; especially as a busy mother of five beautiful children. You are a wonderful person, and you are making the world a better place.

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  37. So beautifully said. You have a gift in your humility and honesty, allowing that to shape what you think and tell yourself, and also write and say to others. I know you often don't feel strong, and you shouldn't have to, and platitudes never do justice to what you are going through. God bless you and keep you.

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  38. So beautifully said. I know you don't feel strong, and you shouldn't need to be. You have a real gift in your humility and honest awareness of life, what you feel, and what others might be feeling. Thank you for sharing your writing. -Emily M

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  39. You have such a way with words and speaking straight from your heart. I love this bc I am not good with expressing feeling through words and I feel like you just spoke straight from my heart too. I lost my mom almost 2 years ago. It was sudden and so unexpected. I am extremely close with my mom. She was there for me through all my trails of divorce and figuring out how to be a single mom. There are always those reminders that sting and hurt but my Dad tells me that every time one comes embrace it love it bc without her that moment wouldn't mean so much. It take it in and listen to what she would tell you at that very moment. When my life was really down my mom would call each night to ask me what was my silver lining that day. It was so hard to find the positive some days. But she always said life is hard and unfair but there is always something to be grateful for. I have followed you for quit awhile now, was dying to have met you at the pop up shop at thanksgiving point. And I admire your strength. Thanks for your sweet words to start a beautiful week.

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  40. You are simply amazing. So kind and pure! I wish you the very best ❤️ You deserve a life filled with love. Thank you for your openeness. You have so much grace - truly inspiring.

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  41. I think this is so spot on. My own grief is my marriage ending. My husband checked out and it was like I couldn't recognize him. There were so many emotions, anger, paralyzing fear. The first time I ever felt I could relate to anyone was when I read a woman's story of her husband dying and how she grieved him. If you have time Emily you should google NYT "getting grief right." The two points that stick out in my mind are: 1) "Understanding the relationship between degree of attachment and intensity of grief brings great relief for most patients. I often tell them that the size of their grief corresponds to the depth of their love."
    2) (referring to the final stage) "is the long road that begins after the last casserole dish is picked up — when the outside world stops grieving with you".
    I feel like my whole family expected me to move on within months.
    Dear Emily you have been so gracious and kind in your hardships. You and your tribe deserve nothing less than a life time of happiness.
    Xxxx (ruckster_diaries) on Instagram.

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  42. <3 <3 <3 Love and light to you and yours.

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  43. You have such a beautiful way with words :) How I wish I could give you and your little ones a hug...

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  44. "There is no timeline for grief, so don't you ever ever let anyone tell you there is. Loss like that is not something that you take a year, or two, or five to get through and complete, and then you're okay to move forward. There are no rules to grief. YOU make the decisions about how you handle your grief, about how and when you move forward, because you are the only one who feels the way you do, who has experienced exactly what you have, and who has to keep on living long after everyone else has forgotten. You don't base your feelings and choices about how others think you should feel or choose. You absolutely can't."

    Thank you for this. For validating all of our own forms of grief. You have such a beautiful heart; we are feeling with you.

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  45. Wow, Emily! I admire your strength and courage to put your thoughts out there for others. I know you probably don't feel strong but life has a way of making us that way. It was hard for me not to feel cheated and betrayed by the Lord when I was a young mother standing at the open casket of my sweetheart of 11 years. He died at 32 years of age to glioblastoma brain tumor and I know what you mean how you absorb grief and it just becomes part of you. I feel so blessed to have had 18 months to adjust and accept my loss but one is never ready for that day. The one where he is first not there. When you have to touch his clothes and tuck away your hopes and dreams and start your life over again. It took me a long time to be able to be with my old friends. Their husbands all still healthy made things worst than ever. I had two small children, John 5 and Alisa 7 that kept me going. Now, 27 years later I can honestly say that Happiness is an illusive thing. It takes us a round about way to find it again. I've been married again now for these past 24 years. Maybe my children would have been happier if I would have just stayed single. I hope I sheltered them sufficiently from the hardness of it all. That was a hard choice to make, but in my case things worked out. I'm grateful for the course my life has taken and that my children have become strong as well. Grateful for a husband that is strong and allows me to share the memories of my children's father with them as we go through life. Best wishes to you Emily.

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  46. Dear Em,
    My eyes are overflowing with tears cascading onto my cheeks as I read this. I am sitting all alone in my family room, my heart both breaking for you and proud of your courage at such a young age. I can only imagine your grief and the deepest feelings of your heart and soul.

    I, too, have experienced grief. I once had a high school sweetheart, the peanut butter to my jelly and everything in between. With a heart as big as he was tall, always eager to give service and share his smile. Between both of us serving missions at different times we each dated other people, yet remained the best of friends, kindred spirits really. His relationship didn't work out and I got engaged to someone else. Two months to the day before my wedding, he committed suicide. Nearly 22 years later, I am not 'over it'.

    Just over five years ago I lost my mother 3 months to the day after I turned 40. She had been battling endometrial carcinoma for four years. She had been a single mother since I was ten, and she was one of the hardest workers I have ever known. Her own mother battled post-partial depression and when my mother was 10, she and her siblings were split up and went to live in foster homes until the age of 18. She was beautiful and strong.

    Tonight as I sit reading your post I am consumed by fresh grief. This time in a figurative loss instead of literal, yet it hurts just as much. After 22 years of marriage and four babies, I am looking at single-motherhood. The man of my dreams who proposed to me on a cold, snowy night on Valentines Day has found someone else to love... somedays I don't want to get out of bed or off of my couch, but I read your posts and know that I, too, can be strong. I have felt the loving arms of my Father in Heaven pull me up and hold me tightly, as I steady myself against the storm. This thing we call grief has so many facets and comes in so many forms...and you are right, we don't know how many others are holding steady as they go through their everyday lives.

    Thank you Em, for your words. I hope we can all rise to the task of lifting one another and showing grace in the process. May Wednesday be a day where you find a tender mercy along side your pain.

    With love ❤️

    Marcie Belton
    my_tribe_of_6

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  47. Thank you so much for taking the time, and allowing yourself to go to the place that it takes to write such a post. It's a blessing to me and so many others. As a young widow also, it could not of resonated an more true that grief is a journey that never ends. It changes who you are and how you see things. And anniversaries...oh my, what you said is so true. For the first year, not a month, Friday, or many more went by that I didn't think about him and those days and the weight in my heart would be so heavy. Blessings to you.

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  48. <3 emily, thank you for doing the good work and using your life to spread so much hope and acceptance and love in this world.

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  49. Thank You too, for your true words. Blessings and love

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  50. Emily,
    This is so beautifully written and touched a special place in my heart, especially for me today. A year ago today I lost my first baby at 9 days old to an unknown genetic disorder. We had 9 wonderful and hard days with Scarlett. I would not trade them for anything. Grief is incredible, it knocks you down some days to the lowest of lows, the tides that roll in when you least expect them. It hasn't gotten easier the last 12 months, it is the new normal, forever living without her. I dream of the day I will meet her in heaven. I hope she is proud of me and my husband for the last year. We have leaned on God's grace, love and each other. It is hard to look at pictures from the past when we are smiling and look so naive to the events that would unfold unbeknownst to us. I have followed your story for years and it is amazing to see what blessings have come our way since our losses. I pray for your family and your new marriage to an amazing man. Martin is surely smiling on you and your family. We too will be blessed in March with a healthy baby boy. It is so hard moving on but that is life and we will always carry our loved ones in heaven so close to our hearts.

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  52. Thanks so much for sharing, Emily! I love these snowy pictures and I am so glad Richard is so understanding!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

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  53. This is the most sad and most beautiful thing I could ever read.
    How can a human being write words, which are such lively, emotional and pure?
    This is such a strong declaration of love to your husband, your life and your children.
    It hurts and is blissful at the same time.
    Hugs from Germany.

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  54. Emily,

    I have followed your story since right before Martin was diagnosed. You're words always seem to offer comfort for me, but more so tonight. I am currently going through my 5th miscarriage. I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep and I stumbled onto your page. I listened to your podcast with Jenna and then came over to your blog post. I just wanted to let you know that while reading your post and listening to your words, this is exactly where I needed to be tonight. This space feels so safe and comforting during my time of loss.

    I usually don't ever share my pregnancies because when I misscarry (I've misscarried all my pregnancies), I don't like how people look at me different and don't know what to say to me. And then I almost feel responsible to make them feel less award or whatever. And then my least favorite is having to tell people over and over and over the story or the details who haven't yet heard it. So thank you. Thank you for being vulnerable and open when it is so incredibly hard. You're so brave and so strong. It's so comforting to be able to relate to someone when you're going through such thick and heavy stuff in life.

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  56. I can't even believe my eyes as I write this. My dad passed away from cancer last April and we're very quickly approaching that 1 year mark. This post is everything in my heart and more. You said it all so perfectly and beautifully and the best way possible.

    My mom and I stayed awake until almost 1:00am last night just talking and crying together about my dad, and his spirit and grieving and missing him and the daily struggles and the huge waves of grief. My mom is living a story extremely similar to yours and I cannot wait to share this blog post with her.

    I know you probably hear it all the time, but thank you for sharing your heart and your life with us, like this. It really helps more than you know.

    xoxo

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  57. Thank you for sharing this. I lost my best friend, my Daddy, 9 years ago today. I keep thinking I need to get over it but I lost a brother when I was ten and a sister when I was 21. I am 46 and I haven't gotten over losing them. I have followed your blog Emily. I am sorry for your loss of Marty. I appreciate you opening up and sharing your experience. It does help more than you know. You and your beautiful children are in my prayers.

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  58. Thank you for sharing this. I lost my best friend, my Daddy, 9 years ago today. I keep thinking I need to get over it but I lost a brother when I was ten and a sister when I was 21. I am 46 and I haven't gotten over losing them. I have followed your blog Emily. I am sorry for your loss of Marty. I appreciate you opening up and sharing your experience. It does help more than you know. You and your beautiful children are in my prayers.

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  59. This was a particularly powerful read! Thank you for working so hard to share this- I can only imagine how difficult it must be to write so openly about this journey. We could all use a lesson on grief and understanding the pains of others. Thank you, Thank you.

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  60. Thank you so much for sharing this. Every word is true. I lost my mom 1 year and 9 months ago to cancer. Nothing at all can possibly prepare you for a loss so big. Grief still is hard for me, and that is OK. It might continue to be for a long time, and that is OK, too. This post is a sweet reminder of that. Your heart in writing means more than you know! You and your family are in my prayers.

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  61. Your words hit the nail on the head. We have similar stories with 15 month terminal cancer diagnosis and last week was 7 months. I tell people that unless you have went through losing a spouse there is no way you can know what it is like. But it has opened my eyes in so many ways to the fact that many have challenges and struggles that we know nothing about. I am more kind and understanding. I am changed in ways that have made me a better person. Grief is hard and as you said you never know when it will hit. I love your blog because you share so many feelings that I can relate to. I am glad you have someone to help you through it and with the kids. Thankfully all but 1 of my 6 kids are adults and they are a huge support to me. I honestly do not know what I would do without them.

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  62. Thank you for writing this, I lost my daughter 4 years ago and you put actual words to grief. I needed this.

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  63. Thank you for your words. I wish everyone I know could read them, I feel as though they'd understand my struggle better. Three years ago next month my 19 year old daughter passed away. You could not have expressed the flow of grief any better. Praying for you all.

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  64. Beautiful words and post. Hugs to you.

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  65. Thank you Emily. You are a brighful heart and soul, never doubt that <3
    Laure

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  66. Beautifully written, I can only imagine how many attempts it must take to express your pain and grief so honestly. This has helped me, immensely, and I am trying to empathize and support my sister as she grieves. Her loss is not quite the same. My sister's daughter (my niece) was diagnosed with leukaemia shortly before her second birthday. For two years they fought hard alongside their little girl, and she survived. But the cancer and the treatments took a tole on her frail, young body, and she now suffers from seizures 10-30 throughout her days. She is 8 now and the seizures have been so aggressive that she is developmentally delayed, and has even regressed to the level of a 3 year old. They have tried almost every medication available and nothing has stopped her seizures, they are now down to one final medication and all their hope rests on it being the "fit" for her condition, her freedom. But they have lost their daughter, the daughter they had dreamed they had. They understand that she may never get married or have children of her own, she will live with them permanently, she will not graduate or attend college, or travel to her dream destination, or maybe ever fall in love. This is their grief, and I can out imagine all the little anniversaries of loss they have. All the hopes that die day after day. Thank you for your insight, and your humility.

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  67. Your words are beautiful and really resonate.
    I lost my beloved Papa to cancer when I was 14. I still find it hard some days knowing that he missed my high school graduation, my wedding and he didn't meet his great grandchildren. You never really get over it, like you said. You just learn to deal and live on for those who can't. I take comfort in the fact that he is with God and no longer suffers. I hope that he gets to look down on me from time to time and is proud of the woman I became.
    Thank you for sharing your story. It truly does help others.

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  68. This spoke to me! I lost baby to cancer on December 3...a little over 4 months ago. I am broken over things that make no sense but the memory of him is tied to it! Thank you for sharing. I guess I just want to tell you that you are not alone either. πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’š #hayestough

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