Whoever said “it gets easier with time” lied their asses off.

They were either delusional or just downright bat shit crazy.

Apparently, they never experienced the death of someone they loved with every fiber of their being because there’s no way they would have ever made a statement as stupid as that if they had.

The only thing that time does is highlight the fact that the person you can’t live without is never coming back, and you must live with that fact the rest of your days without going completely insane.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m already at the point of insanity because I do things that normal people don’t do, and oddly enough, it feels perfectly normal when I do them.

Still Paying for His Cell Phone Service

It’s been over two years since my beloved husband Frank passed, and I’m still paying to keep his cell phone service on. Why I continue to shell out money for something that’s not being used is beyond me. Lord knows I could stand to keep the extra dollars in my pocket.

Every now and then a text message comes through on his phone, which is usually from the sports betting app he always used trying to convince him to get in on the action now that football season is here. I don’t have the heart to uninstall the app, so it keeps sending notifications.

“Strange as it sounds, keeping his phone service on brings me comfort.”

Besides, I can’t stand the thought of someone else one day having his phone number and knowing that I can’t ever call it again. As far as I’m concerned, that device is simply an extension of him. It’s evidence that he once lived, along with everything else of his that I keep. Sure, it’s impractical and maybe even unaffordable at this point. But shutting it off feels like yet another way that I have lost him.

What I really want is to hear his voice on the other end of the line, telling me he loves me and that he’ll see me when he gets home from work the way he used to do. Connection with my husband is what I crave most. That’s the brutal, intimate truth about grief that no one hardly talks about.

Taking Care of Plants Since I Can’t Take Care of Him

I’ve never had a green thumb.

I can’t even keep a cactus alive, let alone the beautiful, high maintenance plants I see in other people’s homes.

But, here lately I find myself buying and taking care of plants more than I ever have. And since tending to plants doesn’t come naturally to me, I know it’s another one of those strange things that I picked up after Frank passed. I don’t know why. I’m sure it has to do with giving love and care to something since I can’t give them to Frank anymore. That was always my job as caretaker when he got sick.

It doesn’t fix anything, but it helps me cope inside this hell called grief. On top of that, I love the look of plants on my front porch, which is where Frank and I would often sit and drink Arnold Palmers together.

The plants represent the love we created, the love we nourished, and the love that still grows for my husband every day even after two years of him being gone.

That love is what sustains me, but since it has no place to go, I’ve taken to buying plants, watering them, and watching them bloom and grow instead. Like I said, I’m not the best at it, but keeping something alive feels symbolic somehow.

Keeping His Old Medicine

As a diabetic and kidney transplant recipient, Frank took lots of medications.

He was always so meticulous with his dosage schedule and writing things down for his doctors. I still have the heavy 3-ring binder that the transplant hospital gave him to log his kidney function every day. Some days, when I want to feel close to him, I take it out just to look at his handwriting. Every page filled out and dated just so.

The last date where he logged anything was August 11, 2021 – the very day I drove him to the emergency room for Covid complications. He never returned home again after that day, so seeing that final log in the binder always brings an extra dose of pain. It doesn’t get any easier, despite what everyone says.

“When you’re grieving and missing your person, even something as mundane as the refrigerator door can be a place to find comfort.”

Frank kept his insulin injection pens inside the fridge on the door. It may seem crazy, but the pens are still right where he left them, even now, after over two years later. The medicine inside the pens has long since expired, but I can’t bring myself to throw them out, so every time I open the door, there they are as if waiting for him to come back one day and use them.

Call it weird, strange, odd, hell you can even call it crazy. Whatever you name it, these are remnants of a life once lived and shared with my husband preserved inside my refrigerator for as long as I care to keep them there. Everything is a precious connection – the good, the bad, and the completely mundane – that I never want to lose.

This Is Grief

But why as grievers do we do this? We hold on to things that are of no use to us in the living world, but because they belonged to our person, we can’t bear to part with them. Locks of hair, articles of clothing, a toothbrush, old medicine. It all becomes peculiar keepsakes that we cherish for years.

When life as you once knew it evaporates right before your very eyes, those odd touchstones become the whole world. In our desperation and grief, we try to hang on to any and everything we can to prove the existence of our person and make us feel connected to them, no matter how weird they seem.

I can honestly say that I have lived through profound grief at other times in my life with the death of my parents and seven brothers. Yet, I’ve never had to live this particular story before.

The one where my husband dies from Covid at the age of 54 after being married to him for nearly 40 years.

And the one where the aftermath of his death is so unfathomable and all-encompassing that it shows up in interesting and confusing ways and completely changes who I am and how I behave.

What I have learned is that this is grief, and grief makes you do crazy things.

Let’s keep in touch! If anything resonated with you, please leave a comment or find me on Instagram @tofrankwithlove


Do you know someone ready to make a meaningful impact this holiday season?
Join us in embracing the true spirit of giving by getting involved in the Hope for Widows Foundation’s ‘Bring Hope Holiday Assistance Program’ virtual initiative, now in its third year. This program directly supports widows who may be struggling to provide gifts and essentials for their children during the holiday season. For many widows facing financial challenges, the choice between keeping the lights on, putting food on the table, and buying presents can be heart-wrenching. When you add the responsibilities of solo parenting, the weight of grief, and the toll it takes emotionally and physically, the burden becomes even greater.
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For our widows/hope sisters in the community, please stay tuned as we’ll be sending out widow applications for sponsorship this holiday season very soon. Let’s come together and make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.


Joyce was born and raised in Oklahoma and is the youngest of sixteen children. She has worked in the education and nonprofit industries for over 15 years. She holds a bachelor's degree in Organizational Leadership.

In the summer of 1983, at the age of sixteen, Joyce met her husband and soulmate Frank and soon after started a family. They were married for over 38 wonderful and adventurous years.

Joyce is a mother to two adult sons, a grandmother to a feisty Leo granddaughter, and a transplant wife and widow after Frank passed away due to COVID-19 complications on August 25, 2021 after receiving a kidney transplant four years earlier. He died exactly one week before her birthday.

Joyce's writings on grief, love, loss, and the beautiful mess in between are an intimate look at life without her husband Frank and how his unexpected and untimely death showed her that nothing in this world lasts forever, even true love, and that life can change in one tragic instant.

You can read more of Joyce’s writings about her beloved Frank on Instagram @tofrankwithlove