Guardian Uncle

Sometimes I think that conversations I had with Grant in his short life on Earth were not for that present moment, but for all the days in my grief. It is almost like we needed to have those conversations to make life without him feel as if he is still here or to give me the message/advice I need today. I have so many memories with Grant, but I have a select few that stand out so vividly to me because God knew I need those words of comfort in the days to come.

I remember one conversation that is very significant to me… And now that I am expecting my first baby I think about it even more. It was about him protecting my children. He told me that he promised he would make sure that my children never had the struggles he had. He promised me that he would instill fear into them and teach them to never make a poor decision of experimenting with his demon. He truly wanted the best for them and he didn’t even know them yet… They didn’t exist, but he was telling me he will always be there for them. I truly believe that Grant will be the most amazing Guardian Uncle to my baby. I believe he will teach and guide just as any wonderful Uncle could on Earth or even better. He will be with us as baby takes its first breaths and the day this child takes off on its bike for the first time. He will be the proud wings holding them up in their times of trouble and the beaming sunshine in their moments of joy.

After we lost Grant a friend of mine who didn’t know Grant met him in a dream. Grant awoke him with messages to share with me through a song. One of the verses sings this:

To my nieces and nephews and my future ones too
Be happy, take pride in all that you do
Know I am with you wherever you go
I’m your guardian Uncle, I’ll help you to grow

These beautiful lyrics touch my heart because for the last few years it’s really bothered me knowing Grant won’t be on Earth to welcome my children. I’ve felt like they won’t know him and they won’t be able to see for themselves what a wonderful, caring, loving, and thoughtful man their Uncle Grant was. I know I will be able to share stories and talk about him so they feel they know him, but that physical absence in their lives is very emotional to me. I want them to know how much I love Grant and how his death has affected me wholly.

I believe that Grant has already met my baby and was the first to know its beautiful soul. I believe God and Grant made sure this baby was perfect; loyal, honest, giving, and so much more. Grant always told me that Dan and I would have the most beautiful children. As this baby continues to grow I know that they made sure it had the most perfect beating heart and the most radiant little nose. I know that this baby’s Uncle Grant held him/her first… and I know he will help them to grow.

-Karm

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My Easter Thoughts

For over two years I have searched for peace and acceptance of Grants death; it’s a hard step knowing that as I heal and find peace I stray further from an imaginary place I would rather stay. My imaginary place consists of pretending he’s really not gone from this earth and life as I know it. I think when someone loses a child a million “what if’s,” and “I should have’s” go through your mind constantly. I guess blaming myself is easier than holding resentment against others or even worse in my mind blaming Grant or someone else for my sadness. Did addiction steal my son? Did Grant steal my son? Did the young man who gave my son the methadone that evening steal my son? These thoughts run through my mind daily, they can consume me for hours. I know Grant would be sad that I waste precious life searching for answers that won’t change anything or holding grudges against actions that were never meant to intentionally harm my son.

 

I know Grant would want me to be happy and live life with joy in my heart, not tossing and turning up the past over and over again. If I can forgive Grant for the choice he made that evening I need to learn to forgive myself for all the “what if’s” and find forgiveness and extend grace towards the young man detectives identified as ultimately the one responsible for Grants death. It’s hard because being human I want to blame someone for robbing me of my child but also understanding the human ways I deep down do know that no one intentionally tried to harm my son in the actions that were taken leading up to his death. Before I write about forgiveness I’ve felt I had to find meaning and then ultimately understand compassion. I would be naive to say I won’t have a lot more bitter feeling in my days ahead but I am working on the road to forgiveness. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions but I wanted to write about it because journaling helps me get through the steps and this is one I need to give to God.

 

I think about the Easter season and the days leading up to Christ dying on the cross, and I think that the reason for his pain and suffering is a good time to reflect. Christ suffered to forgive my sins and as much as I would like to say my suffering is too painful to do the same and that it’s easier to hold a grudge on something or someone this would ultimately rob me of peace and the healing Grant would want me to find. Losing Grant will forever ache my heart of hurt and sadness but that’s different than anger and bitterness.  I believe heart ache can lead me to being a better person but anger and bitterness will rob me of love. “Mix bitter with sweet” and the bitter takes away all the pleasure of sweet. I realize there will be obstacles in letting go of my resentment. I have to learn how to forgive with gentleness and grace. Forgiveness, love and peace are qualities I taught my children but I guess this is an “easier said than done” effort for me this time. It is a hard thing to hold a grudge against yourself, you spend each day with yourself; you can’t avoid yourself in a target aisle. The “what if’s” will creep back into the mind without the help of God to help control it. I also have to realize that an act of forgiveness can be given without an apology and that forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. I have to ultimately forgive, by that I mean I have to forgive and let go with nothing in return. It won’t bring Grant back. I can’t expect an apology. I have to forgive and let go for my own peace and happiness so I can focus on the sweet… my sweet memories, my happy days in the past and those to come. Forgive the past so that maybe someday when I see a picture of my son I can replace the tears on my face with a smile. Easter: Christ died with me in mind. He died so my sins would be forgiven so I have to ask myself how I am going to better understand forgiveness. I have to learn to forgive myself, forgive addiction, and forgive the young man who I believe had no intentions of bringing harm to Grant.

 

I don’t’ believe Jesus is asking me to say that it’s okay. Forgiveness isn’t saying that what was done is by any means okay. In fact I think forgiveness assumes that it was not okay. Jesus is not asking me to necessarily understand why somebody did something wrong, or even assume that the deed was done to intentionally hurt someone else, but that it may help in letting go of my hurt and bitter feelings. Forgiveness is choosing before God to let go of the offense, even if I will never in this life understand why. Forgiveness truly is deciding that I won’t get even, that I won’t punish someone, including myself. Jesus is not asking me to pretend as if the hurt has completely disappeared or gone away. I will forever hurt. My healing, I know will take time and my forgiveness is a part of that. My forgiving is giving the bitter hurt to God and allowing him to heal my heart of holding grudges, and hopefully heal my mind of the “what if’s.” Forgiveness is scary… it means taking down the walls that protect me and some days I’m afraid to. I can only lean on God and the whispers of Grant to empower me to forgive.

 

God made the ultimate sacrifice for my sins. He forgave me of every trespass that I have made, intentional and otherwise. How do I forgive a disease? How do you forgive addiction? How do you forgive cancer? I guess I think maybe if I can forgive addiction I can feel free of a hate that consumes me.

 

My Easter thoughts… I love you Grantie,

Mama

 

Easter Version of Hallelujah:   http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=0E02FMNU

 

 

 

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Introvert

I’ve been thinking today about small talk… I have to admit I’m not really one to start up general conversation with people I don’t know, but for some this is a gift. For myself, I wonder why they would have any interest in knowing my life? I mean for whatever reason; attending the same meeting, placed at the same table, paying for items at Target. Maybe these people are more outgoing/extrovert than me. I mean, what do extroverts think of introverts? Are they more intrigued by introverts, because “I’m thinking” by nature an extrovert likes and is comfortable sharing and by all means has the best intentions when inquiring about your life.

Five years ago it didn’t bother me a bit for people to inquire, ask questions about my life, my children, my job. Even though I would consider myself an introvert I was open to talking about the prides of my life, but about five years ago I found it very difficult when people ask questions that I thought where leading me to a corner I didn’t want to be backed into. The candy coated stories that weren’t mine to share. We all have them as our children become adults. We as parents have to take a step back in what we share because their business isn’t always ours to share any longer. So how’s Grant? Is he still in School? Where’s he working these days? I began to be very good at keeping myself safe in my bubble… Yes bubble, no corners… I learned how to glide myself politely away from people. I knew that they had all good intentions asking. I myself had to think about the questions I asked because I very quickly learned. I found myself thinking twice about how I related to people
Whether you’re in a checkout lane at Target or passing someone in the hall… I mean let’s be honest your problems not going to get an honest answer from a stranger so you say fine or well.

I thought two years ago I’m never going to ask someone how they are unless I really want to know. It’s such a general question and a lot of the time it just forces us to lie. I know in my gut all was well intended, but boy…. When life isn’t going so well and you find yourself in this invisible corner that you would sell your soul to get out of you really start to think. I’m sure many can relate to what I’m saying as I sit among a table of amazing people.

“Hi I’m ……. “ “Hi I’m Kim.. So you live in Andover too? Yes, so do you have children? Yep; shoveling in a large portion of food…how many? 4 ‘ Shovel … boys or girls? 3 girls and a boy, shovel… Oh does your son play sports?… and heaven rang the timeout bell… The Angel across the table finely distracted her onto a different subject as I prolong swallowing my foods just so I could avoid answering any more questions… God bless her and I truly mean that… How would she have known??!! The extrovert is now interacting with this introvert who at first felt safe at this table of conversation. Everyone at the table knew Grant and myself except this one couple. These situations happen often and I have struggled how to answer and hold back tears. Backed in that corner I keep finding myself in. I’m learning how to gracefully trust that the two walls won’t cave in. I’m slowly learning to accept that Grant is gone. For over two years I have been consumed with missing him. I could talk about him all day. Grant being the topic of conversation is a comforting happy moment for me. However, when caught off guard by a sincere question/conversation I am not only forced to say the words My Son Died, but I have to feel bad the innocent question made someone feel bad for asking. Then the wonder in their face how. if I could say my son died of cancer or in a traffic accident I could feel less shameful. But when that since question of “how did your son die” it’s hard to say he overdosed because it is so misunderstood. For some they think its suicide, for some its considered????? I think even for my own mother it was hard to answer that question over and over again… There’s no pretty way of saying someone you love is/ was an addict without negative thinking of others. Not all, but still far too many think it’s???? We all struggle with demons…some more earthly accepted then others. But when it comes to our children we love them no matter what. Losing a child hurt more than any pain on this earth… How they died? It doesn’t matter.

On the worst days we love our children no less than the good days. It’s the bad days that make us aware of just how much.

I Love you Grantie
mama

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Friendship

Over the past 27 months I have been blessed with friends; friends that have been a part of my life for many years and new friends I have made since losing Grant. There is a quote about friends that I love that says, “Side by side or miles apart, friends like us stay close to the heart.” I’ve found this to be so true, especially when you have been through the deepest of grief. It seems that when tragedy happens we quickly learn the quantity of friends we have and I truly have been abundantly blessed.
I’m going to write about this because it has been on my mind over the past few years…
When we lost Grant the first several months I lived in a fog. It took an honest friend to tell me the mistakes I was making. Did that hurt?… Sure it did. But it wasn’t till later that I realized why she was able to be more honest than others. I believe it is because people who have lost deeply in their own lives recognize things more clearly than those who have been spared tragedy in their lives. I guess I felt the need to write that because if I would have read something like that, somewhere, a quote enveloping that about honest grief I wouldn’t have felt hurt at the time by the honest caring truth. Sometime when we lose someone we have to trust friends that know us better than we know ourselves at the time and we have to be open to embracing what they say. A true friend will allow you to not like them for a few weeks. That’s a friend. My true friends forgave my ornery selfish days. My true friends knew the differences between Kim and grief…because some days I didn’t feel very nice or kind or reciprocating of a good friendship.
It took months for me to recall the friends and family that came and went the days after losing Grant. His wake and funeral are still a fog. The evening of his wake was the first time I had seen Grant. One hour before visitation and my world crashed harder than the day he died. I remember wanting to hide from everyone. The thought of people saying how sorry they were over and over again suffocated me. It took a friend looking me in the eyes and saying “Kim, honey, as much as you don’t want too, you have too…” Walking out into the crowd of people was horrible. What I remember felt like eternity, a kaleidoscope of faces, and the horrible feeling of a dry mouth, a pounding head ache heaving harshly, and nothing in my body to throw-up.

As I gathered my thoughts months down the road the faces became clearer to me. It’s a blessing that it did because not only were Grants life time of friends there, each one of us had a life time of friends and family gathered in disbelief. This group of lifetime friends have continued to share stories with us and remind us of how greatly loved Grant and my family is.

Friends fade in and out through our lives, sometime for short, maybe some for much longer periods of time. I believe they all play a part in who we are and who we will become. That night, evening, and the next morning I learned what the word friend means. Not seeing eye to eye on world issues or always agreeing on what I now see as a silly reason for parting ways these friends continued to support me through such a difficult time. It makes me regret the silly issues that caused our friendships to fade. I feel sorry for losing touch over the years and wish that time back. If there is one great lesson I learned from Grant it would be I’m not perfect. I should have dealt differently in many matters. What I have learned from that night is this: at some point in my life they cared for me and my family and I will never forget that. Some may wonder if I remember their thoughtful condolences. I do; every one of them. When you lose a child nothing means more than knowing they were loved. As a mother having lost a child nothing means more than friends that unconditionally care for you, in the good days and the bad days. Thank you to my FRIENDS… from the past to the present. Thank you for your cards, for your gifts, for your thoughtful notes, for liking my photos I’ve shared in a puddle of tears, understanding it’s hard to let go, for caring on my sad days, for forgiving my behavior when I’m angry. Thank you for praying for me and for understanding my mood swings that I’m sure will continue. Thank you for sitting in bed with me when I just wanted to talk. Thank you for sitting with me as I cried in the dark. Thank you friend for listening every morning, for nearly a year you counseled me by saying nothing, you just listened. Very much like a song we all know… a friend says it best by saying nothing at all.

SpeakI learned this today regarding a classmate. Some people just don't want to be around for the bad and you know what that's okay.old saying: good friends are like stars, you don't always see them, but you know they're always there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blogging

A few weeks ago I began reading the blog of someone I met a few years ago. As I carefully read her words I find it to be a sort of calming I myself may have needed that day. I have found that even though a different life journey for her, her thoughts and feelings have opened my eyes to something we all have at different times in life; pain, fear, and humility. The price we pay for a long life is there is no way to escape the pain and suffering life dishes out to the last man standing. Her journaling, her journey has opened my eyes and given me a new understanding to human emotions. A blog, not the same journey, but clearly I found myself understanding the rollercoaster of emotions she is feeling; fear, anger, good days, bad days… different adversity, same search. It made me think deeper into myself. How is this journey going to make me not only a whole person again but a kinder, thoughtful, more empathetic person? A person that someday better understands the important things in life? Not the number on the scale or in my bank account, but the feelings and emotions for those who suffer for whatever reason.

Something I have experienced since losing Grant is the feeling of honest, raw hurt. Not just for me but for others. I’m not afraid to embrace these emotions, I consider it a strength. I actually feel blessed…

What I have learned from blogging is that no matter what you’re journaling it gives you time to reflect on the things you are writing down, giving you a clearer perspective on the real underlying issues.

People think differently when they are hurting and fear the future. It is a lot like walking with blinders on and seeing nothing but what is ahead. Simply means that you don’t get a clear picture when you are feeling overcome by what life dished out to you. I could repeat the words “it’s not fair for the rest of my life” and live defeated but then my son would have died in vain. My Grant died, My Grantie died. He didn’t die in vain; he taught me kindness, humility, love and deep empathy; something I never understood till now. I thought I did but I have found that my understanding and compassion is much greater. What is the blessing in all of this hurt? I’m kinder.

Grants journey on earth was different from mine, mine is different from Steve, different from “The Girls” (Grant’s girls). And different from the blog of a special someone I know. But Blogging/Journaling is a way of letting go of our fear, uncovering the real raw truth, to find a greater meaning.

I blog because it’s therapeutic for me. I had all these built-up emotions when Grant died. For months I shut my emotions away from others and I just wanted to go into hiding. Once I started writing it was my outlet, so I started blogging my feelings while we documented the progress of Grant’s Place. I wanted people to know what kind of man he was, the deep love he had for each of us, how he always shared his feelings and the journey that would unveil through the years that may touch someone else at a different mileage marker on this road to peace and understanding. I have never gone back and read my entries. Maybe someday I will but for now that would probably be a step backwards for me. But for someone else it could be the first step. I don’t need to re-read that pain. I’m learning to breathe with the pain and that is my strength today. Grant’s death hasn’t made me a bitter person. It has made me a kinder human being.

The second reason I started the blog was to raise awareness about addiction and the misunderstanding of this undiscriminating disease and the rising deaths of young men, women and children… our children.

I know some of the people who are reading, most I don’t. Many strangers have found their way to this blog which is good. It makes me feel like I might reach out to someone who needs me today because there are plenty of times I’ve needed someone and stumbled upon a blog that put a little clarity to the day, gave me a giggle, or made me feel less alone. Whether or not I know you personally we all need to find strength to find meaning in the important things in life.

Grantie, you make me a better me.

Mama

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The Mirror

I few days ago I had this wonderful dream – almost like a vision. It was unlike any dream I had ever had before because it was very vivid, lasted only a few minutes and it had a beginning and an end that told a complete story. In the dream I was standing in front of a mirror with three sides just looking at myself and this overwhelming feeling came upon me. A feeling of disbelief because even in my dream I knew Grant was gone. I could see Grant looking back at me in the mirror. His hair was combed different but he had the same beautiful face and smile. In my dream I kept looking into the mirror to touch him but my hand never felt anything. Several times I would look around the room because my feeling that if his reflection was there he should be standing next to me somewhere but he was nowhere other than in the mirror. In my dream I said “Grant, I just want to touch you.” At that moment he was in the mirror to my side. I walked over and hugged him and for a second I felt him. I think at that moment I woke up, maybe so I wouldn’t forget this amazing feeling.

I have thought about this all week trying to find meaning to my unconscious experience. I’m convinced that the mirror represented that Grant may not be physically here with me in the same way but he is with me. I looked up the meaning of mirror. Even though I know what one is I needed to find a deeper meaning to what I experienced. Mirror definition: A highly reflective Surface – Glass or polished metal, that reflects light without diffusing it so that it will give back a clear image of anything placed in front of it. My thought was: ANYTHING? I’m sure that some of my science geek friends could go deep into the whole understanding of a mirror but I think I will just believe what I want to believe.  I think God is okay with that… I like to think this message was this: Grant wasn’t in the room with me physically. I could see that he was not there in the room with me. I believe that the message was that he is a part of me… he is every bit of me when I look in the mirror; that just because I can’t see him in any other form than a reflection doesn’t mean he’s not always with me. I see him in reflections all around me… I see him in Steve, I see him in the girls.

As I gathered my thoughts and understanding this is the message I take: The rest of my life will be very much like a mirror, every direction I look, I will see a reflection of him. Kind of like the three-dimensional mirror. It doesn’t matter if I look up or down, left or right I will always see Grant’s unique expressions and the presence of him. I continue to learn from the kindness he had and the empathy he had for those who hurt. I don’t think Grant ever looked in the mirror and thought more of himself than others. Today, I learned to love myself a little bit more… to forgive myself just a little bit more…  to let go of a little bit more guilt… because the reflection in the mirror was him. My reflection was Grant.

Mama

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The Moon

I just love the innocence and sweetness of little girls and their conversations. We are visiting friends in florida for the week. Their little girl, Shaylyn, is a couple of months older than Anniston and I could listen like a mouse in the corner for hours, watching them dress-up in their 500th princess gown and dance the night away. A new room of dress-up costumes has consumed Anniston on this trip. Tonight, we went to the park with our friends. The following conversation is exactly why I’d like to bottle this little girl’s voice, innocence, and sweetness into a little bottle so I can hear it for the rest of my life. She is so sweet!

Shaylyn: “look, the moon is smiling at us.”
Annie: “oh Shaylyn, that’s my Grantie smiling at us”

They continued to walk in silence staring at this beautiful sky.

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Baby it’s cold outside

The frigid temperatures have been the subject of just about every conversation lately. You go to the store, on the phone, talk with a close friend or someone you barely know and the cold temps will definitely be a part of the conversation. For me this weather chills me straight to the bone and has begun to make me crabby. I have to remind myself that any temperature I feel is a feeling I should embrace because it means I’m alive and on that note I need to remind myself I’m blessed.

This morning on my way into Minneapolis I was at a stop light and couldn’t help but giggle at what I think was a younger man. This person was so bundled up I couldn’t tell if it was a boy or girl. In fact his hood was pulled up so tight I couldn’t even see a face. It was a pleasantly long light this morning because it is moments like this that distract me (good or bad). I seem to find a message in some of the most random things in life, something I never really did before losing Grant. For me it is a feeling of his presence. Maybe some would say otherwise but I find myself seeking these messages out like I never did before. Most of the time in my mind, sometimes even out loud, I find myself asking Grant what I should learn from whatever scenario I am pondering on or that that took my attention away. Whether it’s something that makes me cry or something on a cold morning like today that makes me giggle all the way to work I ponder about the message.

Mornings can be hard; another day waking up to reality. The everyday routine of getting ready, pouring my bucket of coffee just to repeat the same mundane commute to work but with an emptiness I will never fill in the same way, seems so tiring, especially in a winter that’s been this long. So anything in the present that reminds me of Grant, even if it means something as simple as a message, I feel his presence with me.
So back to the stop light and bundled up young man at the stop light. As I was slowing down for this light I could see this guy just dancing away, not just shifting his feet a bit, this guy was dancing like he had just won a lottery. Whatever the music was playing in his ears put him in a happier place or just a place that helped keep him physically warm by dancing. As I approached the light, I sat there watching him, my thoughts went from negative to a full blown giggle. He just kept on dancing. My first thought was, “he’s crazy” then…the messages started to flow… I could think negative about this situation, thinking he was weird or out of his right mind. Just as he could have felt negative about standing out on the corner of a busy street waiting for a bus watching all of us leisurely sitting in our warm cars complaining about getting stopped at once again another red light. The message that worked its way into my mind was that he’s finding and embracing whatever pleasure he can in the miserable situation he was in because baby it was cold outside, -12 on my odometer. And he still made whatever the situation he was in as joyful as possible.

I thought about this all day at work for a lot of reasons. God and Grant both know, along with several other people, I have been whining and whining about the weather and how cold it’s been. Being I have two wedding this weekend with temps not looking anywhere above 0 has been making me cringe. But this morning was my message that this weekend was something to look forward to, cold or not. I worry about my hair and the thought of wearing a hat. That young guy dancing at the bus stop reminded me that it isn’t my big day and that my job is important to someone and well… just wear the hat, no one cares what my hair looks like and if I feel cold…. just dance.

Thank you Grant for opening my eyes, helping me grow and always reminding me that it’s true …if I just listen I realize just how close he is. I Love you to the moon and beyond, Mama

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The misunderstood messages

Most religious quotes I read I find a bit of peace and calm…. For me I believe social media has been a way to send a message of hope to someone. In living a life where you have felt defeated you find yourself trying to find understanding in some of the messages that tug at your heart and in many cases you find the reminder that God is Love and that God loves you. While many of these messages have given me hope I also believe that they are not all quite what God intended. Trust me I am the last to raise my hand with the right answer in any room full of people but sometimes there are messages that haunt me and leave me with a feeling of being defeated. While struggling with Grant’s addiction I had faith that God would heal, strengthen and cure this disease. I read quotes that lead me to believe that Grant was strong and brave and he wouldn’t be given this fight unless he was able to overcome. I had faith. I prayed hard. I believed and had hope. Just as Grant had faith…

I don’t think anyone had more faith than Grant. As much heart ache, shame and many days of feeling defeated he may have endured he always had hope. I remember the day and the very place (the corner of Hanson and 10) where those ocean blue eyes looked into mine. For those who knew Grant knew he always looked you in the eyes when he was serious about something and shame didn’t change that. We were at a stop light and he looked over at me and said “the only thing that’s going to get me through this hell is God.”

I will be the first to admit that I struggle with a lot of these messages that promise us hope. It took me a long time to truly understand that God does not give us pain. He does not intend for us to struggle. He does not want us to suffer. I don’t believe God took Grants life. I don’t believe God struck him with addiction. I don’t believe God intended for him to fight and suffer. My God, the God that Grant fell on his knees to repeatedly was a loving and compassionate God. Grant’s God didn’t give him this battle to fight… earth gave Grant this battle to fight. Grant’s battle on this earth is no more or less shameful than the sins we hide in our closets. We all have a fight to fight, maybe a different, less publicized one, but in the end we all stand before God without scrolls of shame and sins, but to open arms because we knew Christ and we believed.

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I don’t even want to start on some of these messages because I could go on for hours about how these had given me hope at a time in my life and then disappointed me when I thought God had let me down. I misunderstood the message or they weren’t written to be perfectly clear on what they really meant. My take-away on these is this: God is Love. He loves us. He loves us! He LOVES US… he doesn’t cause or give pain; he is not cruel and mean. He doesn’t ignore prayers because you just happen to be able to handle the tough stuff. Our earth is evil, Satan has caused sin to be powerful within this world. The world is full of disease, sadness, despair, burdens and grief. There is hope…. Eternal life. There is a day where we will no longer suffer. Trust in Him and remember he loves us. This earth will give us more than we can handle, those are the moments we must turn to God.

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You’re Not Alone

I met with a group of moms a few weeks ago; most I did not know, some of which I had seen in passing a few times but never knew their life story, and a couple I knew a little better. The conversation started by sharing a little about ourselves, what had gone on within the week, the ups and downs of life. The conversation started our pretty light, similar to almost any conversation that is had by a group of women who don’t know one another very well. This light conversation quickly led into a deeper one when one woman started sharing about the loss of her mother and how it had been a difficult few months. Within seconds this conversation made me suddenly realized that I am not alone. While sitting with this group of women I learned that one had recently lost her mother, another it was her son, another lost her unborn baby. I also learned that in this group of women three of the four who had grown children had one or more who struggled with addiction. Immediately I felt at home, I felt safe, and I felt less alone. It is amazing about what you learn when you take the time to hear someone’s story. My church has recently encouraged us to listen to one another stories and I’ve thought really long and hard about this and how I can be a better friend. While I sat I in this group I thought I should apply the church practice. I consider myself to be a more introverted person so this can sometimes be difficult for me. I tend to answer questions of “how are you” with a “I’m good” for fear that the other person would press harder if I said “I’m okay” or if I was even more truthful and said, “honestly…. I am sad, angry, depressed, am having troubles lately, or [insert other adjective].” Not sure I could even imagine the surprise on someone’s face if I wondered the grocery store and gave one of those answers to the produce guy stacking the product. Imagine that scenario! I do have to say though when it’s a friend I am sure they would rather you express how you really feel and get it off your chest. If you say, “I’m good” I am sure they take it for what it’s worth and think you’re good. We are all pretty good, I think especially those who have lost a piece of their heart by losing someone so special in their lives that months or years prior could not have imagined going on with life without them, at putting on a good front. To be honest? Over two years later… do you want to know what grief looks like? Grief looks like this:

  1. You are reminded over and over again, every minute of every day that you’ve lost the very person that you lived life for. And every time you remind yourself that they are gone it is as if you heard it for the first time. ** Every day that I have to remind myself that this is our reality I am reminded of a story that Grant once told me. He worked for a man who had dementia (his short term memory was completely gone) and was told that each morning when the man would wake up he needed to tell him that he was retired and that his wife had passed away. Grant was just heartbroken at the day to day response that would leave this man feeling hopeless and grieved of the loss of his love and thought there had to be a better plan. One day Grant decided that enough was enough and today would be the day he’d just omit the loss of his wife part. He wasn’t going to lie, he just thought maybe if I don’t recite this paperwork perfectly his day could maybe be saved. He saved this man one day of living in this deep sadness. They spent the afternoon different than every other afternoon. It was spent in chatting about his life, playing a game and having a peaceful lunch. By afternoon nap the man’s memory had been lost again and the story would have to be again recited. I honor Grant for giving this man, even if it may have only been four hours, it was four hours that he was not haunted by this incredible sadness. He borrowed him a few hours of his life back.
  2. You aren’t content staying at home, but you’re tired of keeping yourself busy.  ** Home makes you lonely. It reminds you that someone is missing slamming the cupboards shut, dirtying the dishes, and walking on the carpet with his shoes (even if it were in a tip toe sort of manner.) Well, I’d take a dirty house back any day. And, keeping yourself busy is expensive… enough said!
  3. A day may seem to be going okay for the most part but somehow a stranger says something stupid and it throws the whole day into one you’d like to do over. ** Reminder to myself that those who have not lost someone they love can say some of the dumbest things… I have to accept that. I wish that I didn’t have to go through this life lesson to learn this. I am sensitive; something you could have said sarcastically two and a half years ago will affect me differently now. I am human, and I am sensitive, and I don’t know how to help the way I react to certain things. I apologize that this has changed me as a person and I wish I could have a do-over. A do-over where I could be the naïve person who hasn’t had the life experience to allow me to write this list.
  4. You tell yourself that you can’t write another blog post because you feel like you’re saying the same thing over and over again. ** This is what I say: Keep writing, keep telling it, keep saying the same thing because your story matters. A new person may enter your blog world and the one thing that you keep saying may be the one thing that makes her not feel alone. We need to know that we are not alone. And if writing makes you feel better then do it!
  5. You find yourself at a table of women, women of a variety of ages and are floored at how they can affect you in a way that no other person or therapy group could have. You are reminded that your story matters and that everyone has a story to tell. I walked out of this group being told I was a blessing and that my story allowed someone to heal just a little bit that day.
  6. This list could go on and on about what grief looks like, and I’ll probably continue to write this list over and over and post it on this blog in some fashion or another… because our story matters and I care enough about the next person going through loss to let them know they are not alone.
Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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