Recently, I pulled up a random photo of “us” and found myself starring at it longingly. In doing so, the thought could not escape me, “I miss you.” The photo was a good one taken after we learned that the next few months held a lot of uncertainty. We were both smiling wonderfully – even as our eyes clued into something more.
The sorrow of losing you lingers in my heart; "I miss you so."
This is the narrative in my mind. As it scrolls, it is easy to dive into analyzing my "status" in the grief journey. “Am I ok?”. . . “How sad am I, still?” . . . “Should I feel like this?”. . . “Is this what 3 years feels like?” "It's thanksgiving shouldn't I be thinking about gratitude?"
As a reader or friend you might be tempted to answer these questions for me, but I’ll save you the time, as this isn’t necessary. I know it is ok to be “whatever.” I say it often. It is “ok” to feel however I am feeling at any point. Yet, even when facing the facts and feelings about grief and fully accepting the various levels of permission, there still remains this humanistic desire to try and fix the piece that doesn’t feel right. To find a solution to the part that we know is just a little out-of-sync with what was or what we imagine should be correct.
This tangled mess of grief that lingers like the lyrics of a song by The Cranberries remains an unsolved mystery. It tears at my heart and seeps into my mind making it hard to navigate the present moments. The shear fact that "I miss him" pops in and out of my mind, even in fun moments, like an ongoing bass line of a song fading in an out. It impacts how I handle various stresses in life and how I navigate the relationships around me. This grief allows me see the immense value of enjoying the big and small moments of each day, and leaves me disappointed at the big and small parts of life in other ways.
This grief badge also provides opportunities to minister to new friends walking in their own heartache. There is joy in this, although I have found that in in doing so, my own feelings of loss can be rekindled and enhanced.
Maybe . . . (and this is me trying to “figure it out again”) . . . this is why I find myself starring at our old photos missing “us” terribly. Of course, it could also be the holiday season – which easily triggers grief, both fresh and tucked away. There are so many memories with family and friends who once sat around a room or table; things change, and there are people to miss who are no longer here – for me, my late husband being a key figure.
These memories are beautiful and hard. Encountering these emotions makes me want to burrow down in my sorrow. Of course, they also serve as a fuel for gratitude. I am thankful for our story. There is a tension and a challenge in it all. A challenge for myself and reminder to keep making those memories worth missing.
This Thanksgiving, I will spend time with friends and family who I love who are still actively part of my life - thanks to God's grace. I want to enjoy these moments and will. I already enjoyed time with friends tonight listening to great local music – a new memory and something I wouldn’t have pictured three years ago. .
Of course, it's fair game to know there will be times when I need to say out loud to the heavens or to family member or friend that indeed, "You are missed." This acknowledgement is a perfectly acceptable part of any holiday season.
One last word of encouragement for my grieving friends. Joy might feel like it is also missing but it is there, it truly is. It is there because God is there with you.
Photo captions: this post contains both that picture of "us" (below) that I looked at for a long time (and still do) and a photo of a fresh bouquet of Thanksgiving flowers bought for me, resting in a cup that was from a few years back (Royal game memories) what a mix of then and now.
Bonus pic of a fun night out listening to local music to bring in the holiday and kicking off Turkey day with a fun run!
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.