We recently passed the three-year anniversary that my Late Husband left this world for his forever home. Now Thanksgiving is on the horizon, leaving me yet again reflecting on what I am grateful for and where God has planned me to go next.
Grief is never lineal. It is often referenced as waves because this is such a great analogy. Sometimes the smallest reminder can lead to falling through “the rabbit hole” where all bearings are lost. Missing everything about Chad is brought to the surface as I ache to be able to speak to him, hold him, tell him I love him. Pain consumes me in these moments. Intense enough to convince me that I will never not hurt this bad and simply can’t keep doing this. Other times I can handle all triggers great and small with just a shadow of longing for my past life. I smile with gratitude over once being so very loved by a great man.
I have entered a new chapter now of my healing journey. I am healed enough to recognize the life lessons I would have never known if not for Chad getting sick and dying. The bible reminds me that God is close to the broken hearted and I can honestly preach about how true this is. I have been a Christ follower for the past 15 years but never have I known Him like I know Him now.
So many pieces of who I was have now changed and yet I am still me all at the same time. I have tasted death and now I understand better what it is to live. A few lessons I have learned along the way…….
Gratitude – I was always a thankful individual. I never witnessed a healthy marriage as a child but I recognized one in my own marriage. I was therefore already so grateful in what I had. I use to thank God several times each week while I drove home from work for Chad, my kids and my life. Gratitude is taken to a new level now. Watching children who were so devastated, I didn’t think they would smile again, laugh deep belly laughs, play carefree, and worry again about small child problems instead of complicated death problems, has brought gratitude front and center. I feel a deeper sense of gratitude about so many aspects of my life.
Death – I am no longer afraid of death. I have tasted what it is to suffer in this earthly world and I can’t stomach it. There
is so much pain and suffering here that it can be unbearable. I am heaven bound, a place with no more tears, no more suffering and no more injustices. I can’t wait to spend eternity in a better place with Jesus, and with my Chad!
Purpose – In wrestling with the question of, why did God allow Chad to die, why did He allow Satan to steal my most important person from me in such a horrendous way; it has become clear that I have a purpose here. God has plans for me. I am not yet sure where I am headed next, but I pray I am sensitive enough to the Spirit to be led where God intends me to be.
Life is Short – Although I am excited for heaven I also want to live. This life is short! No matter who you are or how it gets worked out, we are truly not here for a very long period of time. Even 95 years compared to eternity is a tiny blink of an eye, nevermind the fact that at any moment, any of us could breathe our last breath. That isn’t being “morbid” but realistic. I want to live this life well – and well means fun, filled with adventure and pointing people towards God. As great as heaven will be why not enjoy what this world has to offer? I no longer take this life for granted but marvel in how amazing it is that I still get to participate with other “humans”, especially my children. I always have either an adventure, get together with friends or family or upcoming race on my calendar. It gives me something to look forward to and reminds me to enjoy the time I am being gifted with here.
Mental Health – I have learned that self care and my mental health has to trump everything else or I will not be okay. My children are okay only if I am okay. When I am healthy mentally I can better help them navigate any difficulties they are having. I can help them with their grief if I have taken care of myself first. When I get stretched too thin, (believe me I have been there and it is ugly) I am not a good parent. Taking care of my mental health allows me to manage my stress, live authentically, ask for forgiveness, keep life in perspective and prioritize more appropriately.
Deep relationships – Some of the best friends a person could ever ask for have stepped up to support me. I don’t know what I would do without these women. My village who loves on me and loves on my children. I am not always the best friend back but as I heal, I become more capable of stepping up to do better and reciprocate support. I will now never take for granted how good a dear friend is for the soul.
As I move through these stages of healing and grief I continue to be rocked by devastating sorrow over missing Chad, but I am learning how to build a happy life around that pain. I may not know exactly where I am headed next but I am certain God knows. He has big plans for us. Something extra-ordinary happened to our family and with that will come an extraordinary plan! Of that I am sure!
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Phillippians 2:13