The ever present companion of grief


I hold my breath and prepare myself for the day.

It will come and I have no choice or control, if I am blessed to live until then I will need to survive another grief anniversary.

Those dates and days that I now must embrace without my husband in my earthly life are grief anniversaries.

The sunset was taken on our final pontoon ride the evening he died.

My husband died three years ago in my arms. Within minutes we went from enjoying a pontoon ride and a gorgeous sunset on our lake to his dying in my arms. He was fighting and surviving his cancer diagnosis for the second time. We were happy and planning on celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary in a few weeks…and then he died. Unexpectedly really, his doctors said he was an incredible miracle and doing so very well. Well, we never know…we certainly did not know.

So now I have dates and days that are anniversaries of sorts.

They are the dates that were filled with love and joy and celebrating for years, and now they are different. Birthdays, his and ours, wedding anniversaries, holidays and many other dates special to us, they have changed, and so have I. These date are grief anniversaries.

A photo of us at one of our last family weddings together.

These days are now places in time where I pause and attempt to brace and hold my heart from further injury. I prepare and seek to find a way to live through the day not ever really knowing what that day will bring to my life. It is a mix of wonderful memories and heart ripping sorrow mixed together.

These grief anniversaries are difficult for other to support us in and for us to support others through, they come without adequate notice in many situations.

There certainly are actions and words that I have found helpful in my journey, cards, messages, simple notes of, “I am thinking of you” or “I remember you today” from others can be so supportive.

Simple and yet profound, there are no words for me and I personally prefer others avoid the painful experience for them and myself of attempting to explain the why and how of this journey.

I believe God knows our pain and it is for me because of that great love that comes from God that I miss and ache deeply for the physical presence of those I love.

The sunflowers are the last ones my husband grew. The photo was taken on our first wedding anniversary following his death.

Even those closest to our lives may not be able to know when or what or how to best support us. Some of the most comforting moments are when another has said to me, “I have no idea how to support you but I care.” I have come to recognize how individual and every evolving this journey is for each person. I believe there is not one way to do it better and what works well one day may not the next day.

In the aftermath of losing my husband, most everything has become an unknown path of triggers to pain. Just when I think I can be prepared to relax and feel safe in the world…another date, person, place, song, smell or sound can trigger the uninvited and ever present companion of grief.

So I hold my breath a bit more often, close my eyes and call upon God to hold my heart these days. I have another grief anniversary approaching and I will do my best to embrace the day with reflection of love and the pain of loss. Life is still good, just not as wonderful.

Geralyn Nathe-Evans has been called to the vocations of wife, mom, Lay Ecclesial Minister, nurse and friend. Read more about Geralyn on our Meet Our Bloggers page.

 


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