Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Grief X 2

Those of us who have lost loved ones belong to fraternity of grief that we never wanted to join.  Each of us walk our own path of pain that no other person can understand.  While others can sympathize and provide help and support, they can not diminish the weight of grief. 

I have a long time friend and colleague who lost her beloved husband in July, exactly one year after I lost mine.  Her husband fought a long, valiant fight with cancer.   

This weekend, her youngest son was brutally attacked and lays in the NICU in a coma.  While we have prayed fervently for his healing, the doctors have given a very grim prognosis.  My friend and her oldest son have made the painful decision to move him into a private room for end of life care.

My community is reeling from this horror.  On a personal level, I am broken.  I watched this young man grow from a toddler into a man  I was his teacher in fourth grade.  He had just recently graduated from law school and was preparing to take the bar exam.  

His life was just beginning...
And now, it is at its end.

How does my friend cope with the loss of her husband and son in less than two months?

While I understand grief, I can not fathom the intensity of this much loss in such a short period of time.

I ask for your prayers for this family.  
Prayers for their comfort and strength.  
Prayers to find light in this darkness.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3




Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Moving on?

Moving on.
People keep asking me if I'm "moving on."

Moving where?

I'm still here
In the same spot
With vastly different circumstances.

It's hard to move when you have one foot in the past
and the other afraid to step in the future.

I'm stuck.

How do I get unstuck and move on?


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mother: My Steel Magnolia

I love the movie Steel Magnolias.  The women are Southern, strong, and sassy.  

There is a scene in this movie that so reminds me of my mother.  The family has made the painful decision to let Shelby go.  The machines are turned off.  Shelby's father and husband say their goodbyes and leave, unable to be there when she dies.  However, her mother, M'Lynn, stays until the very end.

She was the only one.
She stayed by her daughter's side the whole time
Until her last breath was drawn.

Sitting in the waiting room are the men, shell shocked and full of indecision. M'Lynn, weary with physical and emotional exhaustion from the ordeal, walks in and pans the room. With the strength and clarity that only a steel magnolia could muster, M'Lynn remembers all the details that must be done and puts the men to work. 

The right clothes.
The right funeral home.

And then she is off...
To find the closest thing to her daughter she can find.
Her daughter's son.

My mother was there for me like that.  
Though she didn't lose her son, she loved Steve like a son.
And like the steel magnolia she is, 
She remembered all the details that had to be done and did them.

And she cared for my sons
Because they were the closest thing to Steve she could find.
And she cares for them still.

I am blessed.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Strong for Too Long

I've been tearful quite a bit in the last few weeks.  It has really bothered me and I talked to a friend about whether or not I may have depression.

Goodness knows, I have every reason to be depressed.
But I don't feel depressed
Despite the fact that I cry a lot
And I'm tired all the time 
And want to sleep away every uncommitted moment I have.

Then I found the quote above...

I've spent the last year tackling the biggest hurtles of my life while grieving the loss of the great love of my life.  It has taken every ounce of strength I possess to do this.

What I have realized is that I am

I am weary of being strong.
I am weary of being in charge.
I am weary of carrying the pain of grief.

No wonder I am prone to tears.
No wonder I am tired.
No wonder I want to sleep all the time.

I've been strong for too long.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

I Need to Forgive

"Forgiveness is God's invention for coming to terms with a world in which, despite their best intentions, people are unfair to each other and hurt each other deeply. He began by forgiving us. And he invites us all to forgive each other." ~Lewis B. Smedes~

Today our Sunday School lesson was on forgiveness.  I'm a pretty forgiving person.  I have realized the futility of holding grudges.  In the recovery classes I teach, I tell my ladies that forgiveness doesn't let the one who hurt you off the hook; it just gets their hooks out of you.  

As the lesson went on and I began to truly examine my heart, I realized there were a few people in my life that I've allowed to hurt me over and over.  Actually, their actions are not overt...their hurt is caused by the act of omission.  

Abandonment.  It is hard to come to terms with being avoided...forgotten...
Especially by people who say they love you.
Especially when you are drowning in grief.

But I need to forgive.  
I will forgive.


Friday, August 12, 2011


I never realized how broad my husband's shoulders were until he was gone.  He cradled my head in the crook of his shoulder and I would nuzzle in comfort in the hollows of his neck.  I felt safe there...harbored from all the hazards of life.  He carried all the real weight in our marriage.  While I felt so helpful doing this and that, too late have I realized how trivial were the things I did compared to what he did.  

Now, I shoulder life alone.  
No comforting hollows to make me feel safe.
No help with the heavy load of life.

How am I going to do this without him?


Thursday, August 11, 2011


I dropped my basket yesterday.

My youngest son had a tooth ache that gave him a chipmunk cheek.  He was five hours away at school.  His roommate called me to let me know.  When I finally talked to my son he admitted that the tooth had hurt for a while, but he didn't say anything because he didn't want anyone to work on him but his daddy.  

My baby had been hurting for months because his daddy had been the only dentist he had ever had.

His pain broke my heart.

His grief broke my heart.

It was a heartbreaking day.

The doctor that bought my husband's practice graciously worked on my son for several hours today and got him out of pain and formulated a treatment plan to handle this problem.  I am fortunate that he treats us like family.  

But my heart is still broken that my son misses his father so much.

You never get over losing your daddy.

I know from experience.


Monday, August 8, 2011


A soulmate is someone who will make you be the most "you" that you can possibly be.

I grew up in a wonderful home with loving, supportive parents.  It was just my sister and me...no brothers.  Needless to say, my father was VERY protective.  He never let us drive out of our city...or pump our own gas...or not know exactly where we were at all times.  When I left on a date, Daddy would hand me a dime (yes, I'm showing my age) for me to call if I needed him.

I did not marry a man like my father.  My father was structured...my husband was spontaneous.  My father always had a plan...my husband planned as he went.  My father saved...my husband spent.  About the only things they had in common were their drive, their work ethic, and their love for me.

My husband, Steve, gave me my wings.  He nudged me out of my comfort zone...challenged my ideas...and made me look at things from different perspectives.  All the daring and wonderful things I have done in my life have been because my husband either encouraged me or shoved me into them.  He required that I be independent...and I can never remember him telling me "no" to anything I wanted to try.  

Though I couldn't see it when he died, now, a year later, I can see that Steve prepared me to live without him.  He made me make decisions, believe in what I wanted, and chart a course of direction for my life.  

He helped me be me...
And I like who I am...
That's what a soulmate does.


Saturday, August 6, 2011


This quote struck a chord in me.  The truth of those words was an epiphany. My life’s hurts and hard times HAVE made me wiser.

Life is funny...first comes the test and then the lesson follows.  Too often, I've failed the test, but those are the times that I have learned the most.  It's hard to believe I am wiser for it, but I am.

While I would never wish the pain I have endured over the last year on anyone, I would say that the journey through my grief has made me a better person...stronger...more thankful...more open.  I have learned lessons along this path that only this pain could bring.

As a parent, I have tried to shield my sons from pain and hardship.  While this maternal instinct is grounded in love, I don't think I've always done my sons a favor in harboring them from all the storms in life.  They truly needed some good doses of falling and failing to help them learn how to get up, dust off, and move forward with the wisdom of what NOT to do the next time. 

And they needed to do this themselves...without my intervention.  Another lesson learned after the test.


Monday, August 1, 2011


I have found that nothing in my life has made me feel more vulnerable than becoming a widow.  The learning curve on this new life is steep and there are lots of landmines along the way.  While this grief journey has brought out the very best in me, it has also accentuated the very worst.  I am skittish and insecure.  I think that is part of the whole widow deal.

But what if I could learn to embrace my vulnerabilities and imperfections so that I could engage in this new life thrust upon me from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do I cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that I need to recognize that I am enough just the way I am?  How to I convince myself that I am worthy and capable of love, belonging, and joy?

I don't know if you are familiar with TED Talks.  If you have some time, you need to peruse the TED site.  The speakers are amazing and from all walks of life.  However, each has something unique and powerful to share.

I love this poignant, funny talk talk by Brene Brown. She studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. She shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. 

I enjoyed Brene's talk so much...it's lengthy, but powerful and worth your time.  I hope you'll watch.