No matter the season or how long it’s been, grief still has a way of melting you – melting your heart, causing your eyes to puddle.
I started the month talking about how this Christmas season felt different - lighter more spirited. I wanted to celebrate this year - put up decorations, watch silly movies and more. I still do, but recently have felt the sorrow of Christmas’ past drifting in at times.
The cool breeze of loss hits me most in ministry settings - a special church event or activity. I expect it is because for over a decade, Josh and I did ministry life together. We often would do separate things within a service, but at the end of the event or night I knew, at some point, I’d look up and see his smiling face across the way. We’d wrap up the night talking about how things went, the highlights, challenges or conversations we had. It was a shared moment and over the years it was hundreds of shared moments - especially at Christmas.
Today, in this next chapter, I'm creating new memories with people who didn't know Josh - they never even met him. It’s very weird, it’s sad, and feels a bit like a grief speed bump. There are many things I'd love for my new friends to know about him, but even my descriptions fall flat (in my own mind).
Navigating all the feelings of Christmas, changing seasons, the new with the old and familiar is complex. I often try to figure it out but there's not a perfect strategy. As much as I would like to place my various emotions in nice little organized Christmas boxes with bows, they doesn't really fit - grief is messy and can't be boxed up.
So, I continue to work out my grief, knowing I have to feel it -- yet again. I have to leave space to acknowledge that it is still painful. And that in this second year of Christmas grief, there’s still a lot to feel. There are new joys, friendships and memories occurring, yet even these bring new avenues of grief to navigate and ponder.
If you are entering Christmas season with fresh or even lingering grief, know that God is with you. You are not alone in this and you aren't crazy - there is a lot more stirring at Christmas than mice - especially when it comes to our hearts that are heavy because of the great love we have both experienced and lost.
Merry Christmas Friends!
It’s still there . . .this thing called grief. Over a year into my reality of being a widow - ripples of grief still hit. I imagine it like a thin rock skipping across the surface of water disrupting ever so slightly along the way.
At this point, I’ve hit many major milestones - holidays, anniversaries, birthdays - and now I am going through round 2. And without fail I still encounter disruptive moments. Sitting in a church meeting, my eyes tear up and I get a pit in my stomach hits as I realize this is the type of thing Josh and I did hundreds of times so casually. It was part of us doing life in ministry together for over a decade. Now that duet is missing.
The grief ripple hits again as I remember goofy things, inside jokes and whether or not he liked a certain restaurant.
As much as I keep trudging along creating new, fun memories that don’t include Josh - I still miss him.
I know it’s okay and that sorrow will linger - whatever I do. It doesn’t dominate my every thought but often the thought still flashes through my mind like a digital sign. I . . . miss . . . Josh.
It’s been a while since I even wrote about my grief feelings as I seemed to be almost at a loss of words of late. My last post was about receiving his ashes, which I still don't know what to do with and now they are kind of oddly placed mixed into my Christmas decor. How weird is that?
Even with that weirdness, this Christmas I do feel like celebrating. I have a big tree and lots of decorations up. I've been watching Christmas movies and leaning into the love, joy and cheer of the season. It's a big contrast to last year when I didn't even want to put up a tree - I felt like a robot. It was a true blue Christmas.
Today, my grief still takes a lot of time and energy. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. I find myself analyzing new angles of my emotions that still spike up and down and I find myself asking many questions
- What are these scattered emotions all about?
- What does my grief look like from a slightly different angle?
- What does it look like to mix in new people, places and perspectives?
I don't have answers, which is very annoying. So far I have only reaffirmed the fact that grief is complicated and really different for each person. I know God continues to work in me and through this story. I don't want to forget Josh and our life together but hope to use those experiences and memories for good in the future. How does that work? I am not sure but I'll keep trying.
I know God doesn't waste our experiences and I know my story is still unfolding. There is joy in that. Joy for more than just the Christmas season.
Hi! It's Jenn Brown, writing my story that is now slightly different as we enter a season of new grief. On September 30, 2019, my dear husband Josh passed away after battling brain cancer.