DSCF7306I am sharing what I wrote right after school got out in June. Just feel led to for some reason.

I just finished up one full year at Sandburg without my long time partner, friend and daughter, Carly Grace. It was excruciatingly hard to begin with, but over time became somewhat easier. Of course, never a day, never and hour passed without thinking of her, grieving still the loss, and having true heartache. I suppose over time that will lessen, too, but for now it remains part of the journey. I miss her and can’t shake the sorrow I have for her, having been taken so young, so suddenly and so shockingly. But….I must trust God’s sovereignty, that He knows what obstacles Carly faced, and in His mercy, took her home to a better place. Still…..I miss her.

As I think about this past year and 4 months, the challenges, the blessings, the changes, and the things that haven’t changed.

People. The family and friends that I am blessed with have been, literally, life savers. Without their love and support I don’t know if I could have made it through this past year. Though I’d like to believe that God gave me the strength, the comfort and the support I needed, I know that it was not just something between Him and me. He brought many angels in human form to surround us with prayers, practical support and just plain love from the heart.

My family. Frank, my husband, friend and supporter of 35 years was my rock throughout. Though he was hurting and grieving, too, he still was the one I could lean on and cry on and depend on, always. Frank, of course, handled his grief differently. I say “of course” because everyone handles grief in a different way. There is no right way; there is no wrong way. But it must be done. Grief cannot be ignored; swept under the rug; buried. If one tries to push it down, it will eventually resurface and the steps of grief will have to  be walked through then. These important “pieces of grief” I learned through Grief Share, a faith-based support group that Frank and I joined several months after losing Carly. I am thankful for that group, and to the facilitators, Helen, Lori and Bill, Kirsten, Per and Marilyn for leading in such a wonderful caring way, having dealt with their own loses and helping others deal with theirs.

When I lost my parents, almost 20 years ago now, it was hard, but nothing like this. I say “lost” when I talk of my dear loved ones who are no longer here, but I know they are not lost, just relocated, found actually, in a better place, Heaven. Of this I have no doubt. I am  thankful to have the faith that I will see them again. That this place on earth is not our real home, but a real perfect home in Heaven awaits us. As I type this a butterfly hovers outside my window. I have a penchant for butterflies, as more than just a few people referred to Carly Grace being as free as a butterfly now. When I see butterflies, have a dream like the one the other night, or find a penny (pennies from Heaven), I think of them as kisses from God. Little things that bring comfort and peace and a bit of joy.

The night before Carly left this plain, I spent the night by her side in the ICU. I wasn’t going to leave my girl. And my other girl, Carrie Joy, was not going to leave me. She, indeed, more than epitomizes her middle name. Carrie has always been a Joy. Not that we’ve always seen eye-to-eye on things; after all, she is her mother’s daughter. I had wondered as my girls got older and I did, too, “why are my girls so snarky??” As I was pointing that finger, however, the Lord was turning it right back in my snarky face! Hmmm…okay. I get it. Children learn what they live. She mentioned just recently that she needs to soften up that side of herself. Carrie has always had a generous and giving heart and has been there to go that extra mile to “honor her father and mother”. I so much love that about her.

I dearly love all of my family. Frank, Carrie, Colin, Shawn, Amanda, Alex and Myles. My brothers and their families. All so precious to me. I have been blessed. I am seriously guilty of not taking the time and effort to show those I love, just how much I do. These things become so much more apparent when you lose someone. In church we have been encouraged to have a block party. I need to have a family party first!

I had lunch with my friend, Lana, a while back. She lost her husband a month before we lost Carly. We share our journey and did attend Grief Share together. It is good to talk about our “new normal”. The fact that things will never be the same, but very different. Always a heavy sadness will lay on the heart that was once buoyant and happy. Of course, there are good times with laughter and light moments, but always with the underlying presence of sadness as a constant unwanted companion. This too, shall pass. Not entirely, but will morph into something softer and easier. I am sharing a handout we received at Grief Share.

How do I know I’m moving forward through grief?

There is a different kind of sadness, a change from a bitter sadness to a sweet sadness.

You are planning for the future and finding rewarding and meaningful activities to pursue.

You can talk about your loved one, your loss, without feeling hopeless or helpless. You share your memories with others.

You give yourself permission to take a break from grief to enjoy other aspects of life. You do not see this break as a betrayal of your love for the one who is gone.

Where there once was “we”, you learn to say “I” or “me”.

You return to eating and sleeping as you did before the death.

More often, you feel free form the heaviness of loss; your sense of humor returns, and you can enjoy pleasure without guilt.

You feel you are relating more openly with others.

You are exercising regularly.

Your loss will always be a part of you~it makes you the person you are today and the person you will be in the future. Now and again, you will be caught up in a resurgence of feelings of grief. This will happen with decreasing frequency as time goes on, but may in fact never cease entirely.

Blessings on your journey~

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