My Grief Challenges

Surviving The Holidays ??? December 30, 2013

“Surviving The Holidays”, this part of the G/S class, was happening on Sunday, November 24th, in the afternoon, I attended AM services at the church the class was to be held at-saving some travel time.
1 Thessalonians 5:16 was the passage being taught about, that morning. The 3 directives were: 1. Be joyful, 2. Be prayerful, 3. Be thankful.
For me, these past weeks, the theme that keeps popping up, many times each day, being thankful. I am sure I can look around and find things to be thankful for, but my heart has been filled with such an awful ache. A few questions torment me: How can I be thankful God took Shawn ? Why am I not finding a positive ? I am plagued with guilt regarding giving the decision to the doctors for Shawn’s remaining days. What if he just needed more time to heal ? Yes, I know that if God had wanted Shawn’s life to continue, it would have. I still deal with being asked to allow the live saving machines to be shut off. How does one know the right decision, regarding another’s life ?  To be honest, it seems that ANY hope for ANY peace in my soul-regarding Shawn’s last days, is not in sight. Don’t get me wrong, I know God is in charge. I am just trying to manage these emotions I have been given. Remember, Psalm 139, is my favorite bible passage. I still cling to it, wholly !!!

I do not take to for granted that I was at Shawn’s side when he died. I do not take it for granted that I was able to tell him-many times over-that I loved him. My Mom and Bob would ask, in each phone call, if I had reminded Shawn about seeking forgiveness of sins.
Each time the Spiritual Care people came in, they asked Shawn if they could read from the bible. He would nod yes-even that last Wednesday. They would read Psalm 23, with Shawn’s nods of approval. The Lord’s Prayer, was repeated many times. I did not know how much would be overload, so I used the scriptures I had taught Melissa and Shawn when they were 2 and 4 years old. Maybe folks will think that wasn’t very profound. I just wanted Shawn to have comfort and even peace in familiar things.

Back on task:
Class was good. It helped so much, hearing others tell about how they made it through the firsts. To hear how time has allowed for some healing. From barely able to function to now bringing out decorations that had been collected over the years. One person mentioned how she even enjoyed reminiscing over items that had been bought when her husband was alive. Some told about new traditions they had started.
For many of us to imagine enjoying any day that held special memories of the person(s) no longer alive, still seems impossible.
Each of us has such a different story. At the beginning of class we were all strangers, now friends. With the end approaching, it was a bit scarey to not have a designated time of meeting-a place of understanding- with others who know the ache of loss. Having folks to be accountable to and folks who will hold us accountable when it appears that grief has become too dominant.     No, it wasn’t a boo-hoo class. Yes, there was some share time. There was a maze of information in the workbook and videos. All helpful in easing some of the scariness of grief. The weeks completed, now time to break out and put to practice all the learnings from class.  I am looking forward to a get together to see the growth in each of my new friends.

Class was dismissed, what to do next ? I knew Bob wouldn’t be home, from church-he locks up. So, I decided I would do a return, at Fred’s. Mind you, Bob and I have tried to make sure to honor the Lord’s day, Sunday, a day set aside to worship the Lord and not participate in commerce, but for some reason, I was compelled to make this return.
The line was not long, but the person ahead of me took a long time. As he left, a person-opposite me-popped up to the counter. It took the person behind the counter off guard. The man was wanting a discount on the turkey he wanted to buy. I am one of those folks that does not get irkitated at happenings like this, and waiting in lines does not bother me. BUT, this day that was not the case.
As I was standing there, a strange feeling welled up in me. A deep sorrow, causing tears to well. The man at the counter was getting loud and upset.  All of a sudden I heard, “Mom”. I turned around to look behind me-it was Shawn’s voice, exactly how he would have sounded. I was ready to have a conversation with him.  I swear he was right behind me. After being jolted back to reality, the tears trying to race down my face. It was finally my turn at the counter. It was my hope that the transaction would be quick. I started quivering. Just in the nic of time, money in hand. Where to now ???    My mind was flooded with wondering where I could go ? I didn’t have much time before the reaction would happen. What hiding place was there ? Christmas decorations everywhere, and quite a few people, oh no !!! Cameras !?! What caused me to look up ? What would the security people think ? Were there any secret shoppers-wandering the store ? No private area !!!  So, right in the middle of the Christmas section, I let my body release. You see, I heard Shawn’s voice as if you and I were talking, but the reality of it not being so, crushed me. To hear his voice: such joy, such turmoil. Why did this happen ? Am I being tormented ?   I so miss talks with Shawn.
This situation reignited my desire to retrieve his messages from my old flip phones. It has been quite the depressing ordeal. The reasons for doing this are unselfish. I would love to somehow make an electronic book (just an idea)  with Shawn’s voice and photos, for Melissa and the grands. At this point, I have been told it is impossible.
Okay, so, in this technology age: why can I not retrieve those messages? They occurred on a device with memory parts, going out to who knows where or whom else has captured them ? Why can’t I ?  I was told that I could go to the police, and maybe with a compelling reason, someone might be able to help. I told her I just needed to hear my son’s voice, who is now dead. She said she was sorry, and did not think that it was a compelling enough reason. She was very adamant that the server would not be able to help. She wished me, “Happy New Year”.
I will keep trying. I can not have my daughter or grandchildren think that I give up easy.
I know this doesn’t seem very positive, and it is my goal to change my writing so that my grands will be able to read about their Dad, when they are older-I am just not there, yet. Maybe this first year is just meant for raw writing.

Oh wait !!! Here is a positive. It has been since about 1995 when I last decorated for Christmas-at home. I have been buying items to decorate Christmas 2014-although-my ideas are not the usual—who would expect that from me ???

Christmas is over, next New Years, then,  January 3-would have been Shawn’s 30th birthday.  Surviving the Holidays ???   One second at a time !!!
For now, K


One thought on “Surviving The Holidays ??? December 30, 2013

  1. Lezlee Harvego says:


    I so enjoyed reading this post of yours. I regret that I did not get to complete the class. I totally experienced the same feelings with voice mails left by my sister and my mother. I kept listening to a message about my niece’s wedding and how my sister was so sad I had not made it to the wedding at the last minute. A very poor decision not to fly to Florida at the last minute because of money. We had just purchased our first home in Portland since moving here from Minneapolis. My son was just 17 months old and we truly needed to use our depleted savings for other matters than flying across the country to see family. I had not seen Vicki since Ian was born almost a year and one half earlier. I look back now and realize that is my first lesson that God wanted me to learn. If I had gone to the wedding that would have been a wonderful scene to look back on years latter. Instead I ended up flying across the country the next month, but with Mike and Ian accompanying me this time. This trip was on my birthday for her funeral. I kept the voice mail about the wedding day for years until the battery for the cell phone would not charge anymore and I could not buy a new one because the phone was no longer made. I feel really silly now sitting here writing to you about it because I have never told anyone about this as I thought I was crazy. Hearing that you listened to voice mails rom Shawn makes me think this is a common secret many us share about our lost loved one. I actually mourned over the stupid cell phone battery. Can you imagine?

    I had a voice mail from my Mom that had an Easter greeting included with her message. I listened to it for two years and finally nailed phone and all to an Easter cross on Maundy Thursday at New Hope church two years ago. My Mom so loved Easter it seemed fitting to nail it to the Easter cross. That seemed to make things easier for me relating to the lost of my Mom. I knew she was in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit so I did not have to worry about her any more. I have never told anyone about this either. I am realizing now that maybe if I had shared some of the strange things I did during grief, that maybe it would not have been so hard. Thank you for sharing these personal memories with me.

    Other news: I had a bad painful weekend and realized that my leg wound had become infected again. About 2/3 of the wound has closed up, I had to get put back into the Unna Boot again and start antibiotics again today. I will find out tomorrow when I get the x-ray report back if I need to have IVs again. I am praying that does not become necessary. Please pray the same prayer for me too.

    Search your calendar and see if you have a few hours on a Saturday afternoon soon when we can get together. Thank you for your continued communication. I look forward to seeing you in the NewYear! Lezlee

    Sent from my iPad



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