Friday, November 30, 2012

May I simply keep moving forward.

by sherry
The journey of grief is one that I ultimately decided to complete. Because time moves forward, and so must I. 

I remember (not long ago) when this statement brought a lot of anxiety to my heart. And seeing that everyone was moving forward with life was painful for me. It would sometimes make me angry-  because I was stuck in a painful time warp where nothing seemed real (especially his death).  My days ran into one another and I definitely could not see past the moment.  Great grief was making it so I couldn't transcend time.

 But God's Word is always going forward.  And I need to also. I figured that I need to get into the flow in the unforced rhythms of God's grace...  and together with the coping skills I'm gaining from grief recovery and the grace and strength that come only from Him, I can......I can move forward too!  

That was a conscious decision about a month ago. I intentionally began to detach myself from the need of Terence's presence and focused on building a newer relationship with him- one founded on memories and legacy. There's a richness there that far outweighs remaining in the pain of his absence.

I still have some tough times at (they are fewer now, but I still have them), I have begun anew. I am focusing my attention towards new explorations and beginning to make prayerful and informed choices about my future.  Wow, That's big!

I began a new journal on my Birthday, November 25th  (anyone who knows me, knows my journey's are challenges arise, marking a milestones).  My daughter Nadine gave me a valuable gift on that day- one that encouraged me in new beginnings. A new challenge.

In Philippians 3:14 Paul says that he moved forward toward "the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (NASB). The Christian life is not static. It's a walk with God that moves you forward into a larger life with God.  In my journal, my daughter started the first page for me. She wrote;

" you begin this new life though it's not one you wold have ever asked for, the Lord is still in control..."  and she encouraged me to continue to trust in the Lord as I do this.

The Lord's plan for my new life is pure and simple: Don't lose my grip on honor and loyalty;continue to trust the Lord with all my heart; listen for His voice in everything; seek His wisdom; and honor Him with everything I own. Truely, a Father's delight for His daughter (me!) is behind this!

Lord, may I simply keep moving forward, walking with You. Take my hand and guide me. Thank you....I am experiencing a miracle....a broken heart healing!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hello, Joy

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. Ps 94:19

I've dealt with a great amount of anxiety since Terence's initial (terminal) diagnoses in 2009.
 In fact, our new normal was learning how to live above the effects of a devastating report. 

For 36 months I cried out to the Lord for peace  and strength while I watched the effects of cancer devastate my husband's body. We prayed. We believed. And he got sicker and he died.

I don't have the answers as to why. I may never find out. Frankly, I haven't spent much time energy has been spent trying to heal. His death took so much from me and all I want is to find strength and joy again.

The Lord carried me through those 38 agonizing months.  There were days I curled up in a fetal position crying out to God "I can't do this!." And right there on the floor in the middle of the living room, the Lord gave me a simple promise: He would strengthen me according to His word.  And He did. Day by day- sometimes hour by hour or minute by minute as evidenced in pages and pages of this  journal. I suffered greatly.  But He gave me the strength to endure and overcome.

But my anxiety level peaked as Terence slipped away telling me, "I'm sorry, but I have to go....."

Joy? No. I have not been experiencing joy. I haven't even prayed for it!  All I was doing was crying, asking the Lord to sustain me on a daily basis. 'Be the lifter of my head', I would beg him (I can't lift it myself!). That had been the only prayer I've been able to squeak out of this mealy mouth.

38 months: 2 simple prayers.  "Lord strengthen me according to your word" and "Be the Lifter of my head".

In His faithfulness the Lord did strengthen me. I've walked through this nightmare sometimes dazed, but  strengthened by a sovereign God.  And because the pain of losing your best friend and lover is so great,  I begged that He would lift my head- I just want to get over the devastating pain and be able to hope again.

Surprise of all surprises- little by little He began to lift my doing so, I realized that joy was present!  Hmm. I began to think that joy is the by-product of hope (the lifting of our heads).  

Wow. The Lord is so good. In facing the holidays and my birthday there were some natural tendencies toward anxiety because they are my 'firsts' without T. But I promise you, the Lord has answered all prayers we've sent up in that He is truly sustaining me and has lifted my head. From the fullness of his grace I have received one blessing after another (Jn 1:16). 

As I opened my eyes this morning I was awakened by the peace of the Lord, without thinking I slipped my wedding ring off my finger.... another huge step surrounded with His peace. Wow. I'm speechless. Unless you've been there, you will never understand the pain something like this could bring. 

I am still mourning, 
but I am dancing too. 

I am still sad. 
 But there is joy too. 

I don't understand 
this miracle-
But I am grateful for it!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

His absence is still what I come home to

I would give anything to have Terence lay beside me in bed again.                                                                                                        I have to be honest, my last post was great; it was all about me learning how to convert my relationship with Terence from being a relationship of  "presence" to a relationship of memories.                                                                                                                  Well surprise!  I'm not there yet!  I need a hug from him right now more than anything.  I'm facing the most tragic moments in my life without the one person who can physically comfort me.  Pictures are bringing no comfort at the moment. 
This yearning for Terence is too painful.  It's so.......acute. There's no other way to describe it.  No matter how busy I make myself, his absence is still what I come home to. How, how, how does one ever get used to that?

Do I accept my Terence's death?  I know he's gone.  Sometimes I cry "come back, I need you" .  Then I say, "I know you can't, but I want you to anyway.It's my protest against a very big reality.  I was with Terence when he died, at home, in a hospital bed in our bedroom, in my arms.  He's definitely gone.  

I can only think of one thing.  I need to find comfort elsewhere:    
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds" Ps 147:3

                                                        Thank you Lord.


Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Read more:

Friday, November 16, 2012

I don't remember days, I remember moments.

I don't remember days, I remember moments
A lot of our 'moments' were captured on film during the course of our cancer journey.  In grief recovery class, we've been transitioning (for several weeks now) into 'Letting go'. 
They say death ends a life, not a relationshipSo I'm learning how to convert my relationship with Terence from one of presence to one of memory.  So you can see where  the photo journal I kept would be important in my healing.  But the pictures have been hard to look at.

We first started this exercise three weeks ago.  He were asked to use photographs, videos or letters to tell our story.  At first I was excited because I've photo-journaled our entire story from the beginning.
But as I started filtering through pictures, I  found I wasn't ready to look at his 'sick' pictures.  It was overwhelmingly sad for me.  Which meant, I couldn't tell the complete story without those.
So I took my time.

The initial goal in telling my story is to help me identify and understand my grief emotions and work through the grief process instead of going around it.  As I said earlier I couldn't do it at first.  When I began to fashion my inner story (pictorially) it carried me right into the heart of pain.

 I've pretty much avoided Terence's videos and most photos
(especially the 'sick' pics) thinking that circumventing these memories would be better for me.

My biggest question has been 'what kind of relationship do I have with Terence now....?'

 Reflecting the significance of our relationship through videos, pictures, journals and
converting them into legacies are examples of a different form of a continued, 
but different relationship with Terence. 

 The process of beginning to embrace my memories began with embracing
 these memorials (pictures) and offers me the opportunity to affirm the
 value of his life that was lived.

Telling my stories is a part of my healing.  If our world had no stories, we would have no history.
The story of my life with Terence, our fight against cancer, our families struggles and victories will become my new relationship with Terence.  In my mind I hold a conversation, see the sights and hear the sounds, the details surrounding our life.  Each time the story is told it removes one small bit of hurt from inside with me and eases my pain.
 I am learning to cope with the fact that Terence is gone by visiting our memories.
 I am pursuing a new relationship with him.

I am told that this is a slow and painful process that occurs in small steps.  The video I created here would take me an hour or so under normal circumstances, but it took me three weeks to put together. A lot of tears accompanied those three weeks. 
Slowly, these images are becoming precious memories. 
Slowly. Slowly.
And I will begin to embrace these memories as a part of my healing
in a continued, but changed relationship with Terence.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The most I ever did for you is outlive you....

I was not prepared to be left behind.  For what ever reason, both Terence and I assumed that (not only would we grow old together) but that I would 'go' first.  And yet, here I am coping with aloneness.

Outliving Terence was never a part of my plan.

I am alone. I am lonely, but when our grief counselor asked us today "if you were asked to decide between being the cause for sorrow, or accepting the sorrow of loss, which would you choose"?

I visited an old thought.  When Terence was alive- throughout the last 36 months (up until his last 2 weeks) we would have conversations like this:

 Me:       "I wish it was me, not you".
Terence: "No, I'm glad it's me and not you".
Me:         "but I hate seeing you suffer. You know, if it was possible I would willingly be the one to
                have the cancer instead of you".
Terence: "well then if that was possible, I would take it back"....

...and on it went, us telling one another that we would gladly give our life for the other.

Living in the moment we were focused on the one who was dying. But neither of us were thinking about the one left behind.   It is we, instead of our loved one who is experiencing the sorrow.  It is , in a way our gift to that person.  I guess we had it backwards.

"We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord"
2 Corinthians 5:8

I think Terence got the 'good side' of goodbye...

I am here to go on
to carry on the legacy of our relationship
into the generations ahead 
making bright our memories in their lives.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

The winds of winter

"...a strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough...." 
 Jn 6:18

The initial impact of Terence's death is starting to wear off.  
It's been 12 weeks.  Sometimes I feel that I am losing control.  
In fact,  I think I lost control a long time ago.

They say I may 'experience a feeling of temporary instability'...
yes, and it's a scary feeling.  
 I think this is an important time for me to
 remember that I have the ability to cope:
"God is my refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling." Psalms 46:1-3

 The winds of winter are blowing heartlessly 
and the waters have become rough... 

I am realizing 
that this is a time 
when much of my adjustment 
to widowhood takes place.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Heartache is when your love have no where to go

"Heartache happens when your love have no where to go"

I miss his smiling eyes
Last night I cried myself to sleep.  I had a great day and even went to be feeling at peace but woke up at about 3:30- my mind replaying Terence's last hours.  I tossed and turned- shutting my eyes tightly as if that would make the images go away... and the images brought on powerful surges of grief. 

Someone recently said "Heartache happens when your love have no where to go".  I can attest to that.  I miss Terence so much.  He's gone.  I can no longer reach out and hug feels like my love has no where to go.

However, I discovered something new today. 
There is a love that is driven by compassion and it does have somewhere to go. 

I went shopping today- the cashier asked me if I wold like to make  donation to the American Cancer Society .  I said "Of husband recently passed away from cancer".  The young man standing behind me joined in our conversation- he said " I'm so sorry to hear about your husband......I just got my test results back- I am now 2 years with No Evidence of Disease (NED)".  He told me that he has been fighting stomach cancer since he was 22. He is now 26. I have a son his age.

I started to cry.  Not because Terence had died, but because this young man had lived.  I was overwhelmed with emotion appreciating what it takes for someone to battle cancer.  Without thinking, I reached out and hugged him and said "I am so happy you are alive!!!"

He started to cry.  

Later he told me that he has no family and his wife left him when he was diagnosed. He had faced the journey entirely alone.  He was touched by what I did because there had been no one who appreciated his fight, or his life. 

I genuinely celebrated this young man's life with a hug.  I guess my love does have somewhere to go.

I can't explain what happened inside of me- but when I got home my heart ached less.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn". 
Romans 12:15