How are you? I get asked the question all the time and never quite know how to answer it. I realize it has been awhile since I did a post simply sharing how I am doing. I thought I would take a stab at answering the question for all of you. I'm nearing the 5 month mark since losing my husband. It still seems unreal. My head knows the rest of my life on this earth will be spent without him but many days it's hard for my heart to comprehend it. The reality of it comes in waves and hits you at the oddest of times. The holidays have been challenging but not completely unbearable. I think it is because our insistence as a family has always been to make holidays what they are really about, which is well, family. There are no festivities I feel like I'm missing out on because Joel and I never really did them. The day of the actual holiday is hard because I miss Joel so deeply but that's not really different than any other day. I guess I will say all in all the holidays just feel like something is missing, because someone is.
I had to go back to work a week after Joel died. That was difficult. They say you should resist the urge as much as possible to make any major changes in the first year after a loss. By and large that is what I have tried to do, just continue on with my normal day to day routine. Once established and past that first year you can start to make some broader life changes. I'm quite sure there will be more life changes for me although I'm not certain yet what those will be. I'm trusting God to lead me where He wants me to be and walk me through whatever open doors He has for me. If that sounds vague it's not intended to be. I just feel more change coming my way and I am open to it. After such a loss you realize life is short so you should live passionately and with purpose. That is what I try to do each and every day and will do for the rest of my days.
I'm still really involved at my church and with my church community. I still sing on our worship team. Joel would be amazed and humbled at the way our church community has rallied around our story. They prayed for him and carried him so deeply in their hearts. I still hear from people frequently who tell me how inspired they were by Joel. He would be completely blown away by that. He would also be so happy at how they continue to cheer on his wife and son.
Milo is doing well. His day to day routine didn't really skip a beat and we have tried to keep things consistent, consistent, consistent for him. He thrives on a schedule and a routine and none of that has changed. He seemed a little out of sorts the first couple of months but has returned to being himself. I've stated before I don't know if it's a good or bad thing he will never remember all of this. I know there will eventually be a grieving process of his own to walk through, most likely when he's much older. For now I suppose I'm just thankful he isn't having to walk through the pain that I am. He's surrounded, even more so now, by so many friends, family and people that love him. I'm thankful for that. He loves people and people love him. I've said it a thousand times and I will say it a thousand times more, I'm so grateful for my son. He keeps me going on even the worst of days.
I'm still writing for A Widows Might. What a blessing this has been for me. Not just the opportunity to grow as a writer but the opportunity to minister to other women who have walked through what I have. Their stories and their feedback is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. I post on the site monthly. My latest post is here.
After the start of the year I'm going to have the chance to help my friend Hillary who's involved with Crio International. Crio is an organization that does community development in Africa. Their goal is to have a school, a church and a bible college in every nation of Africa. They have attained that goal for 3/4ths of the country already. Crio is the group that I went with to the Epoch awards a couple months ago. That event was life-changing for me and it was such an honor to be there. I love what Crio stands for and I'm so excited to be a small part of it.
My parents have officially moved in with me for the next 6 months or so until their house is finished being built. After that they will be right down the street from us. It will be so great to have them within walking distance so when Milo wants to venture out he can head over to Nonnie and Pops house. He's pretty obsessed with them and loves having them around. They've been such a help and a blessing to us both.
The first couple months I tried to stay constantly busy and I was doing something nearly every night of the week. I've made a conscious effort to start to slow down and try to develop a more natural rhythm to our life. Milo and I are still with friends several nights a week but we are also at home just as much. The busyness, at first, was what I needed but you can't keep up that pace forever. Slowing down hasn't been easy because it certainly amplifies the loneliness but even though it's not easy it's necessary.
The Bible talks about when two become one flesh. The union of marriage is such that we mesh ourselves and our lives together so completely we become as one. When your other "half" is taken away from you it gets you all out of sorts. It feels like you are missing an arm, a leg, and all of the things you need to make it on a day to day basis. That's certainly how I have felt. Like half of me has been ripped away and a large gaping hole remains. Then, on top of that you have a life full of all these new things. Learning to parent on your own, learning to be the sole provider and learning to do all of the things your husband used to do. I don't think I will ever be able to fully put into words how difficult all of those things are on top of losing your very best friend. There's so many competing elements to loss.
I heard someone say recently you take grief with you everywhere for awhile. In your moments of happiness you still grieve, as you are working you grieve, in day to day routines you grieve, and in sadness you grieve. No matter the circumstance you are still grieving. I agree with her statement. It is a constant. It's like a blanket I wear around my shoulders day in and day out no matter where I am or what I'm doing.
I couldn't end without saying I do not know how people walk through something like this without the Lord. The verse that says "we do not grieve as ones who have no hope" could not be more true. In my darkest times I cling to Jesus. He has picked me up on His back and carried me. I have completely felt the prayers of others for me. I am not anywhere close to being the girl I was 5 months ago. My relationship with Him is closer than ever before. I trust Him more than ever before. I have the hope of seeing Joel again and I have the hope of Gods promises. He has not failed me and He never will. I believe this now more than ever.
I've spoken on this blog about the things I am learning and the things He is teaching me. I'm so thankful He's using the dark places of my life to pour into me, refine me, and make me a better version of myself. As we carry Joel deeply within us beauty will begin to rise from this loss. It's already started to. Day in and day out I can see it more and more.