Year Four

Grief is an interesting beast. I never quite know when it will choose to rear its ugly head. Of course there are the usual culprits, the holidays being a predictable season. By and large though, I can’t always pinpoint the moments that will unexpectedly take my breath away with pain.

The exception to the rule on this journey of grief, is the one time of year, every year, that I know will be tough. We are entering that season now. We are 5 weeks away from the 4th anniversary of Joel’s death. Even as I type those words they hardly seem real. In the early days I didn’t see how I could get from month to month. Four years down the line seemed impossible, yet here we are.

This fourth year of widowhood has brought forth the most changes in my life. My Memoir was released, which was amazing. I entered into a serious relationship with my high-school sweetheart, totally unexpectedly. We said goodbye to the only home my little family has ever known and moved 20 minutes away to the country. So many incredible things happened. This year has been our most redemptive one we’ve experienced.

And yet……


Joel is still not here. My children are still without their Father. And no matter what, that will always be painful. We will always miss him. All of the “new” doesn’t change that fact in any way. I wish that was something more people understood.

I got asked the question the other day-will you still do the Choose Joy project this year? I must admit that question took me back a little. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out why anyone would think Choose Joy would go away. And I realized it was because our lives have changed so much, they naturally just thought we would say goodbye.

That shows you how very little most understand about loss. It’s a hole we live with, always will. We’ve learned to function because we’ve had too. We weren’t exactly given a choice.

My Milo will be 5 in a few weeks. This year, by far, has been the most I have ever seen him grieve for the loss of his Daddy. I think he’s starting to understand and comprehend his loss more now than ever before. It’s tough to see. What do you say when a little boy earnestly asks you if text messages work all the way up to Heaven? Or why his Daddy died while he was still only a baby?

Those questions gut me, because they gut him. 

Lately I’ve tried to figure out what I can do for his little heart in this process of grief. He has a small framed picture by his bed of he and his Daddy that he treasures. I decided to take it a step further.

I wanted him to have some place he could go when he wanted his Daddy to feel a little more near. I went online and put together the perfect little book, filled with pictures of Joel. You should’ve seen Milo’s eyes light up when I gave it to him. In fact, he was sure to show it to Ellis first thing this morning. Cue the misty eyes right now. 

All that to say, grief for us will be a lifelong process. Year four contained many amazing things. Yet year four also contained some really hard processing moments for my children. That will continue on. Loss isn’t singular, it’s plural. It’s a continual road we will navigate for life. The thing that makes us feel alone in it, is so few understand. That's what I wish more than anything, that more people got it

We keep moving forward as a family, making the choice every day to keep going. And for that, I’ve never been more proud, of us.

The joy of what is will never erase the pain of what was lost. On the flip side what was lost, makes our redemption all the more sweet. That's the literal representation of beauty from ashes. The beauty doesn't erase the ashes, but the ashes make the beauty all the more glorious. 

In year five I hope to see that more than ever. 

Stay tuned for more details on this years Choose Joy Project in the coming weeks. 


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