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.
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,