Tag Archives: death

Everybody dies …

wall photoes b and w

No one likes the thought of dying, but it’s the only event we all experience . Is it that we are really bad at talking about it or can’t we face it? I guess that’s the same thing.

“Absolute silence leads to sadness. It is the image of death.” (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) Maybe he meant that loneliness is like death, or maybe it means that the silence around death leads to loneliness? Either way it certainly is sad and it’s our own fault.

Have you ever overheard two people having a conversation about you? I have,  I’ll chew on that for hours, days even. They don’t understand me! How dare they! What would they know! And they’re the G rated responses!! As time slips by the outrage grows and grows until the ugly monster within has festered into something I no longer recognize. The story has exaggerated, just a little, and has turned into a Days of Our Lives script worthy of an Oscar or two. The mountain of emotion inside is ready to erupt on whomever is game enough to cross my path. God have pity on that poor soul.

But what if it that wasn’t the whole story? What if there was more to it, or it was spoken in concern not accusation?? That would change things, but I only know that if I will talk about it and look for the truth. If I choose to be honest with my emotions and air them in front of a third party. Me, my emotions and someone sane. If I choose the vulnerable path of letting someone in on the pain I feel so they can help me see what is real as opposed to how I perceive it. It’s like cleaning out an abscess, all the goo just has to come out, and it is not pretty.  Once clean though, healing begins.

I think it’s like that with death. We don’t talk about it, or about the one who has died and all manner of emotions fester inside. We think it might upset someone, it might make them cry. I say, that’s OK, let me cry, my tears honor my loved one. With my tears I say “I loved you and love you still”. With my tears I let the world know that their life really meant something, you’ll know that if you see me cry about him. You will know it touches my heart, it has pulled something out of me that’s personal and completely overwhelming. I don’t want to be scared of that. But as a people I think we are. Crying, or at least showing some true emotion, helps heal the wound, it goes part of the way to stopping it fester. Unattended that wound can be fatal. It is absolute sadness and keeps you looking at the death. Forgetting the life, the infection gets worse until complete shut down.

Everyone who dies has lived. That life has still been lived if they die, still happened, still part of you. Although they are no longer here with you, beside you as you would prefer, all that meaningful life still and forever has a purpose. My late husband loved me and is forever a part of me, of who I am today. My husband’s late wife loved him, and the life they lived together makes up so many years of who he is, of course I want to know about them, about her. She is the mother of children I now think of as my family. She is utterly integral, both our late partners are.

Sometimes I feel a lump in my throat when I speak his name, sometimes a smile. Either way, I believe it’s better said than locked away. Memories shared help them stay alive, helps them feel closer. We will all face death, but will we all remember the life?

Please do, even if you cry.

 


Still Believing

I am speaking to my own heart today, I am telling it to listen carefully, don’t shut down heart, don’t tune out this time. I’m yet not sure it’s listening, but I’m giving it a go. It wants to shy away, to sit in the back, to not be noticed as it wonders why. Why?

Why?

A long time after grief began, I found a smile on my face and I felt a sigh. It was a deep, relief filled sigh that I had indeed found hope again. Stress and anxiety lifted slowly, gratefulness for this hope grew and a respect for life heightened.

But I forgot a very important fact… Life still goes on and it’s not all happy. It’s not always as it should be, grief returns, people get sick, and hard, hard days are still part of life. It’s as if there’s some arthritis from the wound, it’s healed, I can walk, but it left some decay behind. So when conditions aren’t right, I feel it again. Agony. Cancer shouldn’t be able to touch my loved ones again, but it does. The agony of losing should be a thing of the past, but it’s not. My heart should not have to feel this again, but that’s just not realistic. Life, the good and the bad still march on whether I am prepared for it or not.

But why? 

Is God still good?

Is He a carer of my soul?

Is He really all powerful?

Can I trust Him?

Does He really want the best for me?

Is He even listening?  

I’ve learnt to answer “Yes” and yes there is sickness and death and horrid things that should never happen. Yes it doesn’t seem fair (don’t even get me started on that one!). But I still believe it through pain and when it’s hard. Why?

Why?

It’s nothing to do with a survey, it’s not a feeling, but a discipline of belief I can be sure of. Doubt surfaces for sure, and many questions race around my brain but at the end of the day I know there’s a whisper inside that knows hope will still come around the corner. There is a “however” on the end of the sentence that invites my heart to know there is something more.

There is more to death than grief, there is an eternity spent pain free in a better place. There is another side to hard times as we pull together and unite around common concern. There is another side to loss if I choose it. I can choose to add new people, new family, new love…if I choose. It’s not what I imagined in the beginning but it’s still good if I choose it.

I know by now that there are many, many questions in life that cannot be answered, won’t be answered, I don’t like that. That those “why’s” are not answered how I would like them to be and some days are just plain hard. If I make my heart listen it might bleed. If I summon it out of the fog it will need to go through reality before it can see hope. I cannot hear the whisper if I ignore the reason for hearing it. I cannot feel the relief until I know the pain.

When I walk with a limp I protect my wound, my broken limb, my pain from the blows of the world. When my heart hurts I protect it too. I put on my brave face, I distract conversation away from the pain and I keep in the shallows away from the deep stirrings that probe too much. I still don’t like the pain. I’m still a person. So I’m trying “however” on the end of lifes’ sentences. However, the treatment might be good. However, we are loved. However, there is yet hope. I’m hoping God is there in the however, planted firmly in between the pain and the hope that lies beyond. I’m not looking for new answers to all the hard questions, I’m choosing to keep believing what I began believing before grief began.

I’m praying my and my loved ones hearts understand. Understand we are loved, understand we know it hurts and understand we are all in this together. I’m praying we hear the whispers of hope over the noise of the why’s.

I’m praying. 

Hope.

MI Rainbow blessings getty


Remember the Smiles

Sadness can alter your memory. It can trick you into believing the lie that suffering was all there was to living. It isn’t true. Amidst the suffering there was true life, the one were a joke was laughed at, a hand was held, or  “hey how are you” was shared. These small things in the everyday mattered, and still matter.

The end did not negate the years of holding his babies, of taking them to soccer, of kissing me goodnight, of the worst dad jokes possible or of just sitting together wherever we were…because the place didn’t matter.

Hope finds it hard to return if it has to fight through regret and guilt. They where the bookends that held me captive, torturing me with a continual reel to reel of all that was bad in the end days. The “what ifs” intertwining each chapter with nagging questions.

“What if I had prayed harder…”

“What if we had tried another doctor…”

“What if he had wanted to stay a bit more…”

“What if I had been more…”

Answer-less questions that feed guilt because they can’t be answered from the grave.  

Before the suffering I knew the answers. Yes he loved me and knew I loved him. Yes his kids were his greatest achievements and nothing could alter that. Yes he found joy in life, in nature, in his faith and those he loved.  They were unaltered memories. They didn’t have question marks.

I had added the question marks to the statements of his life. I had warped the looking-glass of my memory. I had forgotten the smiles and could only see his pain.

I needed to see hope again. To believe hope was possible. I remember falling to my knees on my bedroom floor, desperate to know that moving on was OK. Stuck between the holding on and the letting go. Only a decision away but uncertain if letting go would leave him behind.  I asked God to free my heart of the guilt and betrayal that pushed hope away. To let go of those unanswerable weights and open my life up to new possibilities…even if that was on my own.

I needed to understand that choosing to live was in fact what he had wanted, even though every pore oozed the contrary. I took small steps and made small decisions that supported hope until it became a habit. Grace filled the space guilt left behind and I was able to walk on. Hope grew into a new life because you can’t grow moving backwards.

Honouring those who have died doesn’t have to be sad, live the life they supported, be all you can be. Intertwine the best of them into who you are and go forward knowing they are always in your heart. Smiling …until you meet again.

my honey


A Wonderful Life

After cancer, after death, after a bottomless pit of grief, it really can be a wonderful life.

I have been silent for a while because my life has shifted again. This time for better. I laugh, I love, I work, I play and really truly live.

At 43 I thought my life was done, I knew I would continue to breathe in and out and keep moving through my existence, but I really thought that was it. My partner had died, my kids dad was gone, I was alone, scared, and sad.

So what caused the change?

For the first 8 months I was a train wreck. Pure and simple. It was just hard, I survived hour to hour, day to day. Then I had to face the reality, he wasn’t coming back, I really was in this alone. Kids grow up and move on, as they should, and in a few short years it would be me and the cat. So I had to ask myself the big questions, face the reality head on and get help.

The big questions were answerless. No answer to why my husband died of cancer and the rat bag down the road gets to live forever. No answer to what my life would look like now. No answer to why I felt picked on by God and why He decided to destroy my family. But I had to move forward regardless. Answers or not. I decided to let the questions go. To stop demanding “why” because it was draining me of life. That’s not what Paul would have wanted. I chose to step into a new world and trust that God knew my footsteps before I took them. And you know what? He did.

Beyond that I stopped shutting the world out and began once again to accept love and friendship around me. From my kids, family, friends, and a church family that demanded nothing of me but encouraged me endlessly to bask in grace and believe solidly that God who truly loved me offered new mercies daily. I believe my faith grew up a lot. Now I just know that I know He loves and cares for me. Despite circumstances. My reciprocation of that love is not always without doubt or fear, but it’s there.

I desperately needed comrades for the journey, and I usually needed them in the middle of the night. So I looked online for women, brave women, who had lost and had begun to live again. Their stories, their inspiration, and even their sadness helped me. I was done with pity, I needed real grit and real guts, these women had it.  I wasn’t alone in this; others survived this wreck, so maybe I could too. Some practical sites that helped in some very, very, very dark moments were as follows.

http://www.onefitwidow.com/

http://www.widowschristianplace.com/

http://www.secondfirsts.com/

https://anewseason.net/

Sometimes just reading helped, but through these sites I found new friends from all over the world and we pushed each other along. I am forever grateful.

There is one more reason for happiness, one more joy in my life that is new. I felt a whisper deep inside to keep my heart open and to believe that I could once more experience the greatest gift one person can give another… love. The odds weren’t good. Then 44, 3 kids, and a whole lot of complication to offer, I didn’t like my chances. But God doesn’t gamble, it was all there in His plan, a man that loves me and I love him. Not a secondary kind of love, not someone else’s leftovers, but a man I daydream about, can’t wait to be with and have to pinch myself sometimes to remember it’s all true. I feel adored, honoured, and embraced. I really thought those days were over, it is the greatest gift I could ever receive. He is wonderful and I love him deeply.

Of course I still have moments and ache because my kids lost a good dad, but I also know that goodness and life are true things and not just theoretical concepts. Life can turn around, hearts can heal and love can be felt again.

It really, truly is a wonderful life.


The Upside of Death

light in the dark

What is it about death that causes you to stand up and pay attention to life?

I used to be a very content home body. Happy being wife and mum, in fact, I felt it was my highest calling. I know I’m supposed to go on about how women can have it all these days, but for me, it was having it all. Oftentimes that calling was exhausting and time alone at home was a rare prize. But I loved it. Now I can hardly contain the need to get out and live.

I guess living becomes more deliberate, more on purpose; after all it is precious and finite. I know that now. I think the living helps the loss to shrink. It pushes grief out of the way, like light chasing away the shadows and illuminating a path to hope I was convinced I’d never see again. Not denial, I certainly know it happened, that empty space beside me screams it, I am fully aware of what I have lost.

I also feel a responsibility to show the kids life goes on, even after our darkest days. I’m it, the only parent left so I better be fit, healthy and living a full and happy life. I can do this, and so can they. Of course, realistically, I still have grief moments that interrupt the living, but they are part of the remembering and that’s OK, as long as the living is resumed.

Loving kids, family and friends have been crucial, I would not have made it on my own.  But I can see now that my faith has been a huge influence. Even when I blamed God and couldn’t understand how He was loving and just in letting Paul die, even then, I felt His hand in the small of my back nudging me on, willing me to live. A patient Gentlemen who never swore back at me, even in the coldness of my accusations. I am eternally grateful.

So I guess this is an upside of grief…that seems so wrong to write, but surely I deserve an upside, a silver lining, a rainbow after the storm?? Life is the upside.  A determined spotlight on living.

The contrast between life and death is massive, like the difference between light and dark. Once the light hits the darkness it just isn’t dark anymore.


Life and Other Sadness

I lost a friend this week, a beautiful lady, mum, wife, sister, and woman.  So much sadness. She was young; she has 2 gorgeous girls and family that are aching for her.  I get it. I know the sadness, I know that ache, the yearning for it not to be true, the disbelief, loss is hard.

When I heard the news I felt my heart resist, turn off, I didn’t want to feel the sadness, not again. But I have learnt something this week, I don’t need to be afraid of sadness, it won’t kill me, I can live this life, it won’t be the same, but it will be OK.

It means risk to keep my heart open; an open heart can be crushed so easily, to close it off makes more sense. To hide behind excuses of “well I need to protect my heart after such grief” or “it’s just not in my personality” may hold some truth but will only cause my heart walls to harden. It will shut out any potential for pure life that I have, so I won’t do that.

Life dishes up sadness sometimes. It also offers joy and love. God offers me the ultimate choice between life and death. He encourages me to choose life. It occurs to me that so much extreme sadness drains said life and erodes away the ability to choose. So many lives are cut short because there doesn’t seem like a choice exists anymore, there seems like only one way out…such a tragic illness.

So today I choose life, sadness and all. I will not be afraid of sadness, I will embrace it as part of my journey, part of the fabric of who I am knowing that God holds me close, whether in joy or sadness. Yesterday, today and forever I can count on that.


You Loved Me Well

383384_10200668001495730_496952534_nWhat was it that felt so much like love? What was that thing that sent my heart racing, and had it keep up pace over 20 years? You loved me so well, I will always be thankful for that.

It wasn’t an action, an event or words. It was who you were, who you still are in my heart. I am forever changed; forever will I know what true love is. Whether I have that again or not. I knew a love with you that stirred me to grow. Stirred me to look beyond myself and try to offer that love in return. Now, with you gone, I can still do that, still offer what I have. That’s an amazing gift.

We were certainly not a perfect couple, and trouble found us like it does everyone. There are things I would rather forget, I would be happy if they fell out of my circuit of memories and just left me with warm thoughts. But, those times were part of us, part of fighting it out, working it out and loving still. They showed me that hard times do not equal rejection, hate or punishment. But that loves uneasy times can serve to strengthen us as much as the good ones.

I need that now my Honey, to know that the hard times serve a purpose and that I can still draw on the love you invested in my heart. There is a deep well that will benefit me for a long, long time.

I still miss your touch, your warmth beside me, racing home to tell you something before anyone else in the world, the way you loved to kiss way longer than I did, your unabashed checking me out and goofy love stares that I couldn’t match. I miss all of you.

You’re nearly a year gone from me. It’s ridiculous how time and life can go on and by without you. But I have found it does. So I have a choice.  I can stay locked in my memories of you or I can choose to move on and keep making memories that you aren’t in. The former is tempting, it’s quite a safe place, but it’s a very lonely place. Of course you are forever in my heart, part of my heart and soul. Part of who I have become. I cannot and will not deny that. But I must move forward or the absence of life that casts unrelenting shadows will strangle me. I must choose to live, you know that right? I think you do, I think that’s what you’d prefer, because love prefers the other, you taught me that.

You loved me well.


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