Monday, August 29, 2016

What grief is like

A couple of weeks ago, during my morning quiet/prayer time, God gave me a great picture of what grief is like.

That week in particular, I had just felt that nagging sadness hanging around. Sometimes, the sadness creeps up in the morning - a lot of times, it's just after lunch. Right after I've had a round of conversation and laughs with my friends...and this giant *sigh* rolls into my life. I didn't understand how I could go from one moment of enjoying life to one that is just...heavy. 

It's not a particular thought that triggers this heaviness; it's like I am suddenly aware of its presence.
"Hi. I've been around all day. You should feel sad. You should feel empty. You should feel tired."

Sometimes, I fight it, but I try to just feel it. I might close my door and cry; or go for a walk and cry - or do something and cry. Crying helps.

I like to understand my feelings. (that's one of the reasons this blog is basically about feelings. I'm sorry I'm not a better documentarian. I do fun stuff, too. Really.) So, on a Thursday morning while I was praying the Rosary (which has been an amazing comfort), on what had been a clear morning - I opened up my eyes and saw this:

A fog, out of the blue, just started to roll in. By the time I was finished (which is about 25-30 minutes) - there was this:

By the time I left for work, there was a dense fog covering everything.

And I just thought, "Yep. That is what grief is like." I have moments of such clarity. Profound clarity - purpose and peace. Moments of joy. ...and then, just moments of grey. Where the joy of a moment ago has been clouded over with heaviness.

I did a search for "fog" in the Bible - and there are no references. There are, however, quite a few for clouds. I thought these verse from Psalm 18:9-19 are most appropriate. If anything...grieving is one the most profound opportunities for us to turn to God and truly discover how near He is to us - how closely He desires to be to us - nearer than a brother. Seek Him while He may yet be found. He wants to fight for you.

He parted the heavens and came down;
    dark clouds were under his feet.

10 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
    he soared on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
    the dark rain clouds of the sky.

12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
    with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
13 The Lord thundered from heaven;
    the voice of the Most High resounded.[d]
14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
    with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
15 The valleys of the sea were exposed
    and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, Lord,
    at the blast of breath from your nostrils.
16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.

17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


One month.

I can't even really begin to bring my mind to focus on the fact that I lost Dan a month ago. Today, the heartstrings are raw. The emotions are fresh. Today, sadness comes at me stronger than most days.

I was looking through Facebook to find a picture Dan and I took a year ago, and I just saw all of these images of our life from the past year - and the tears flowed fresh. God has protected my heart so much in the last month, sheltering me in his wings, holding me in his hands - allowing me to only feel an allotted amount of sadness each day, and a whole lot of joy and love.

I can't even begin to wrap my mind around the loss of Dan. There are moments where I don't even feel I've lost him, at all; the physical connection is lost, but the spiritual one more enhanced. My friend: I miss my friend so much. There are questions that come up in random conversations that I know Dan could answer, but I can't ask him. My Shining Steed: always reliable, ever loyal, so good to me.

Seeing pictures from the past year calls to mind how much life we made in the last year. A year ago today, I interviewed for my job. Today, I mourn for what we won't get to do together as the department power couple. (our joke) He was so excited to contribute to the Michigan State livestock judging program and establish it, once again, as a strong program; to give students something to aim for, to build their college experience around. I was excited to help him make it a reality. I was (and still am) excited to be able to contribute to the future of a program (department) that had played such a fundamental role in Dan's development as a person and professional - and in the lives of his closest friends.

Working with him was, honestly, a dream come true for me. He would joke a lot about having to work with your wife, but - I know he enjoyed it. He was proud of the work that I am doing here, and I love that I got to share that with him.

I look at this past year, and I think: we lived. We fully lived this year, and we made a life here - even in just a year.

My biggest fear a month ago was, "how will I live without Dan?" I don't mean the daily tasks of life - I know how to pay bills, cook meals, etc. I mean, LIVE - be present; enjoy the moment; love the day. THAT is what Dan taught me to do - to not worry about tomorrow, but to seek first this day: to live. When I expressed my fear to Deacon Wayne that day, he said, "Oh Jessica, you are a better student than you give yourself credit for. I think you've learned that lesson."

That, along with so much grace from God - and frequent surprises from Dan, have allowed me to LIVE this past month. There are moments that are sad, that are hard, that are good. There are moments where I cry and moments where I laugh; moments that I feel all the things, and moments when I just "am." Every day, I ask God to help me feel what I need to feel in order to heal. He does.

I've mentioned on Facebook that Dan gives me songs. Here's Month 1 Playlist:

1. You are so good to me - Third Day
2. Friends in Low Places - Garth Brooks
3. Barbed Wire Halo - Aaron Watson
4. Don't Fence Me In - Gene Autry
5. I'll Be Here For You - Randy Rogers Band
6. Crazy Love - Van Morrison
7. Rocket Man - Elton John
8. The Road Goes on Forever - Robert Earl Keen
9. Learning to Fly - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
10. I Turn to You - Selah

[Okay, I feel better. Thanks for listening, world.]