On April 5, 2012, Greg Foster went to heaven leaving behind his wife Michelle, their 7 year old daughter Kate and 5 year old son Garrett. Michelle is a friend of my #3 daughter Charity. Approaching the 1 year anniversary of Greg’s death, Michelle wrote something this week that I felt would be a blessing to other widows and I have her permission to share it with you today.
Turning a corner
March 20, 2013
I think I have turned the corner in the grief journey……..whatever that corner might be. And I say me because the kids don’t know they are on a journey yet.
I know there isn’t a prescription for going through the process of grief and it’s different for everyone. My way of getting through something difficult is being super busy. In that, I have done a remarkable job. I feel like a Gerbil on a wheel lately. Actually, as I look back, it’s pretty much been since Greg passed away. And it has accelerated leading up to these last weeks before the “last of the firsts”. For some reason I keep thinking of baggage the last couple weeks. In terms of life experiences that shape us. As I was thinking about it I made an interesting connection.
When I think of baggage it’s usually a heavy load to carry around or something that restrains me. For instance, it’s fun (at first) getting to ready to travel or do something special. You pack all the goodies you might need. If you are like me, you do drive by packing on the way out the door just in case. By the time you get to your destination you are weary of dragging around all the “stuff ” even though it started out light. Take that analogy and apply it to life or relationship baggage. It’s the same sort of situation. You are excited about learning and collecting all the new info available. You spend time and effort to get things just right! Then if anything happens, that time and information can become heavy. For the most, having a life partner pass away from an incurable illness would be considered heavy and produce some serious emotional baggage. We didn’t have that type of situation so sometimes it’s hard for me to figure out what is going on with me!
What I have realized is that my “baggage” is trying to attach Greg or his memory to everything we have done. It has been an attempt to keep him close. To continue sweet memories that included him even though he is not here. Unfortunately, that just doesn’t translate to reality as life continues to move on. It also adds weight to a lot of potentially easy things.
I realized I was turning the corner when I didn’t have to put my wedding rings on everyday or eat ice cream every night. It’s not that we don’t think about him or talk of him almost everyday. But I can go through my day without the added pressure of that attachment. And most of all, it’s alright if I don’t! It doesn’t dishonor his memory or lessen the sweet time we had together. It gives us more freedom to branch out, explore, and thrive the way he would have wanted us to.
The cool part is I can always keep a Greg travel pack close by. I can open it and be refreshed. I can keep him close without it becoming to heavy to bear.
Feel free to send Michelle some words of encouragement or tell her what her writing meant to you by commenting at the bottom. I’ll be sure that she gets your messages.
Sometimes, as I go through a new event that I would have loved to share with my husband, I just reflect back on that special without words communication we had and communicate to him. Remembering with a smile is so refreshing, too! As you travel through this journey with your lightly packed Greg bag, may you find peace and jot!
Thanks, April. This is so helpful to me!
Michelle- This is a great insight and I had somewhat of an epiphany myself this past Christmas season. I was so busy. I have kept all of our family traditions and even started some new ones since my husband died 3 years ago. I had a very nice holiday. I wasn’t too stressed. I kept things very simple. My adult children and extended family all commented on how relaxed I was. Then it hit me over the head…. I had lightened my load by not constantly thinking about what Michael would have wanted or if he would approve or if I was doing things good enough etc.
I, too, felt some guilt. Then I realized that I lightened my load just as he would have wanted me to! I am free to unload my guilt and now pick up my smaller travel pack when I need him close by. Thank you for putting words to my feelings.
Thank you for your beautiful post. It put words to a lot of my thoughts.
Candy, thank you and Michelle for sharing. I’m getting close to the one year mark, May 4 and I can relate so much to what she wrote. Blessings to her and her children.
Hi Marisol. Thank you for reading my blog and for posting a comment. I found that the days leading up to the one year anniversary were harder than the actual day. It’s a very wise thing to make some kind of plan for that day whether it be to go to the cemetery with your children and release balloons with messages to him attached, get together with family and friends for a meal of remembering him, going out of town someplace where either you had been together or a new place altogether—just whatever feels right for you to help you get through that day. May you feel God with you each and every day.
Thank you Candy for these suggestions. I have been thinking about that day and what plan.
One year can be a significant time in this journey… or it may not be! We each travel at our own pace. My “wise” advice at 3 yrs and 7 months is not to have any expectation that a certain time frame will produce certain feelings or healing. My way has been to continue with prayer and my relationship with God. Put your trust in Him. He may seem silent but persevere always. You will get inklings that He is watching over you and protecting you. Be grateful to Him always for His love- even if you sometimes have to really push yourself to do it. Sometimes I had to get pretty low before I felt His presence even though it was always there. Be good to yourself and take care.
Thank you Carol for your advice. I have told myself that just because I have a few days or even weeks that I am doing OK there will be days when I feel like it hits me all over again. I continue to seek The Lord for His comfort and He picks me up every time.