We all have them. Days when we really miss a loved one who has passed away or even a love one who lives far away. These are days when thoughts of our mom, dad, spouse, sibling, child, grandparent, or even great grandparent, so fill our minds that it brings us to tears. We push through the sadness and try not to let the tears spill over, but it is so hard, because our heart has a mind of its own sometimes, and those tears just won’t listen to our pleas to stop. Reaching out to others does little to help us, and even posting on social media doesn’t help, because it is our own sadness, our own sorrow, and we have to live it alone. Truly, our only help comes from God, who sees our every tear, and has sent the Comforter to us for just such a time as this.
The thing is that we know where our love one is, and that they are happy, but that doesn’t make it easier for us to move out of our own sadness, because the true sadness of losing someone is not sadness for them, but rather for us. And for those who know someone who is going through this sadness, there is a feeling of helplessness. We love the grieving family member or friend, but we don’t have the words or the ability to make it better for them. All we can do is to pray over them and let them know we love them, and hope it is enough to ease their pain. Of course, for many of us, their pain is shared by us because we love both them and their loved one.
No matter how painful those “miss you” days are, we must understand that they are also important, because we would never want to forget our loved ones. Their memory, while painful considering the loss, is so important considering our love for them. Unfortunately, once a loved one is in Heaven you can’t have one kind on memory without the other kind.
Missing the loved on who lives far away is different, but when you suddenly realize that it has been a year since you saw that parent, grandparent, sibling, or child, your heart goes through that same pain and sadness. The heart somehow doesn’t fully understand the difference between a loved one being in Heaven and a loved on being across the country. Yes, the heart understands that the one who lives far away will be seen again on Earth, but it still feels that pain of missing that loved one terribly…especially when you had lived so close before, even in the same house. The heart just doesn’t totally understand the feeling, it just knows that it is painful, and it brings those dreaded tears. It’s all a part of “miss you” days.
As years go, 2020 was one of the worst. We had to face so much loss, some was from Covid and some was not from Covid. I don’t think I have ever attended so many funerals as I did in 2020. The funerals were all beautiful, but it’s the pictures of sadness the never fade from my mind. And it’s not just the funerals from 2020 that were filled with sad faces, but every funeral I’ve ever been to.
I suppose it is because of the compassion I feel for the family of the one who has left us. Their family is feeling such pain, that their faces have completely changed. Grief does that to a person. It’s like death takes away a layer of innocence…the unfounded belief that our loved one will always be here with us. Those broken hearted faces that cannot hold back the tears. The look of disbelief that tells me that they still can’t wrap their mind around the fact that their loved one is gone. And these are not people without the hope of Heaven, but their loved one is no longer here with them, and that is so hard to bear. We don’t grieve for the one who has gone to Heaven, the grieving is for us…the ones left behind to pick up the pieces of our lives.
My mind’s memory files retain pictures of events, and that can be good or it can be bad. I remember the faces of people who were very happy, and those pictures bring me much joy, but the sad faces, are so hard to get off my mind. Maybe it’s because I have such a hard time wrapping my own mind around the fact that the person is no longer here. When a loved one or friend leaves us for Heaven, we are always unprepared. There is no way to prepare for death, even when the doctors have said it is coming. We always hope against hope that the doctors are wrong, and sometimes they are, but when they are right, we are faced with the finality of it. While the picture of someone’s extreme sadness never fades from my memory files, there is another picture that stays with me. It is the look behind the sad face. The look of a parent who knows that they have other children who need them, so with determination, their face shows that they will continue to make a life for their family. It is look of an adult child who is determined to live the kind of life that will make their departed parent proud. It is the look of a spouse who is determined to carry on as the now widowed parent to the family. Their hearts are broken right now, but with prayer, the love of family, and determination, they will carry on, because they are all overcomers. I can’t say that every grieving face has that same determination, but the ones I know do. Maybe it comes from knowing their loved one is in Heaven…it probably does. It is the hope of the future for them and their families.
As each new month goes by since my mother, Collene Spencer’s passing, I find myself experiencing different feelings…different stages of grief, I suppose. Each day brings with it thoughts of Mom, now with Dad and other family members who have gone before us. They aren’t sad thoughts…exactly, because I know she is not sad, but they are lonely thoughts sometimes, because I miss her. I wish I could call her on the phone, or stop by her house to tell her something new I have discovered, or to ask her a question about something that only she would know the answer to. The last time that happened, a thought came to me that like stages of grief, sadness, or being blue, has many shades.
The first days after her passing, or the passing of my dad, Allen Spencer, or my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg, were dark days emotionally. I would be hard pressed to find a shade of blue that is dark enough, without having it turn black. Those days were so very painful. Every time I looked at the things I have of theirs, I felt lonely. I would much rather have them here than to have their things. My shades of blue must be worked through on my own. These are not steps anyone can take for me. The days when I think of them in Heaven, celebrating with God, are definitely powder blue days. It is a blue so pale that I can almost see right into Heaven. It’s a blue that is so close to white that it’s almost not blue either. All that remains of the blue is just a hint. The other days all fall into some other shade of blue, as I work through my feelings, and sometimes I slip from lighter blue to darker blue, a relapse I suppose. I know that whether people think of these days as shades of blue or not, they have the feelings I have, nevertheless.
We all experience shades of blue in life. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the end of a friendship, the loss of a pet or job, a child moving away or going to college…the reasons are pretty endless. Nevertheless, as we walk through our daily lives, our shades of blue will vary from darkest blue to lightest powder blue. All we can do is to hang on tight to those we love during the darkest blues, and hang on tight to those we love during the lightest powder blue times too, because it is the ones we love who will help us through, and it’s the ones we love who make life worth living in the first place. While my mom has been in Heaven now for five months, and my dad and father-in-law even longer, I know they are happy…so how can I be blue for them? My shades of blue are for me alone.
Every day, we see change happening all around us. Some of it is good, some bad, and some is just simply change, but some things just never seem to change. There is a timelessness about laughter for instance. It doesn’t matter if it is a giggle, a big belly laugh, or a throw your head back laugh, laughter is contagious and just simply fun. It’s also good for you. It lifts depression, and it just makes you feel better about your day…even if it’s been a bad one up to that point. Our lives may change, bringing periods of sadness, grief, pain, and loss, but even in those times, our memories can bring moments where a memory brings a bout of laughter, that lifts our spirits even in the saddest of times.
Thankfully, most people live relatively happy lives, filled with blessings mingled with those few sad times. It is during those happy times that we find ourselves noticing the things we like about the good times…things like the timelessness of our laughter. In taking pictures of the unwrapping of the Christmas gifts, I got a couple of pictures of my girls laughing. It’s funny how a picture in which the subject closed their eyes, can become one of the most treasured. Both of my girls were laughing and in the laugh, their eyes closed, but it was because of the joy of the moment, and that is what made all the difference. Then Corrie sent me a text with a picture comparison of her now and in the middle of a laugh as a little girl. All I can say, is that some things never change. Talk about the timelessness of our laughter. Corrie now looked so much the same as Corrie then, it was uncanny. We always think of ourselves as changing so much as we grow up, but maybe it isn’t really such a change after all.
Things like our smile, laughter, frowns, and other facial expressions really don’t change to very much over the years. We just think they have changed until we see them do the same thing years later that you have see in a picture. That is what happened to me when Corrie noticed that in the picture I took on Christmas eve. She saw that it looked a lot like one that had been taken years ago on another Christmas eve. She hasn’t changed much at all. She still has the ability to throw her head back and laugh as hard as anyone…just like she did as a kid.
Laughter is such a wonderful part of our lives. It is something that adds meaning to our lives. There are things in our lives that change…never to be the same again, and there are things that never change. It makes me glad that the laughter and the way people laugh just never change. The memories that include laughter are the best kind of memories there are. Every time I think of my kids laughing I can now remember the laughter as little ones, and realize that it is the same and the grown up daughters they have become. I love that some things just never change…don’t you?
When we think of family, we don’t always think of pets, but to pet owners, their pets are as much family as their siblings, parents, or kids. My daughter, Corrie Petersen and her family have two dogs and two cats. With four people in the family, it would seem that each one would have a pet that was their own, and in most ways that is exactly what happened. Molly is totally my grandson, Josh’s dog. If Josh isn’t there, Molly isn’t happy. Missy is my grandson, Chris’ cat…period!! Zoe, the cat, is the most flexible of all the pets. She likes my daughter, Corrie and son-in-law, Kevin, and Katie is totally Kevin’s dog. For the most part, Katie and Zoe do pretty well if Corrie and Kevin are there or not, but Molly and Missy are two very different stories.
Basically, Molly thinks she should never have to walk anywhere…at least not if Josh is around. Josh is pretty much the “she needs me to carry her” type of kid. He loves his dog and packs her around everywhere. She sleeps on his bed, and even goes to visit family with him. And if Josh goes somewhere, like camping and doesn’t take Molly, you had better believe that Molly is mad at him for a while when he gets back. There are rules to this whole game you know, and Molly can’t seem to figure out why we don’t understand that Josh is missing, and we should find him. Then when he comes home, she figures he had deserted her for a while, so maybe he just needs the cold shoulder treatment for a while so he learns not to do this again. Molly even gets a birthday gift, because she is…special, after all!! And by the way…today is Molly’s designated birthday. They weren’t sure of the exact date, so they picked the 6th of September, because it falls half way between Kevin’s and Josh’s birthdays. So Josh made sure I knew that this was Molly’s day.
Missy…my grandson, Chris’ cat…is having a very difficult time right now. She is suffering from depression and grief, and quite frankly, she is just a little bit stunned that no one else in the family seems to realize that Chris is missing. Missy knew something was going on in the days preceding Chris’ move to Sheridan for college. She was confused about all the boxes, and tried to pack herself up to go too. Unfortunately, Chris couldn’t take her. Their goodbye was hard on everyone. At one point Missy put both of her paws on Chris’ chin as if to say, “I love you so much!! Please don’t leave me!!” Nevertheless, he had to go. After Chris left, the whole family was quite sad, but Missy went and hid to suffer through her grief…alone. When she finally came out early yesterday morning, Kevin tried to pet her, but she kept backing away. He tried again, and she backed away again. In the end, she led him to Chris’ room and got on the bed. She looked at him as if to say, “Don’t you know he isn’t here?” I think she somehow thought that they had not even noticed that her person was missing, and that they needed to go find him. She misses Chris so much. I never really saw a pet in grief before, but Missy is definitely there, and that breaks my heart. Yes, Missy…believe me we know he is missing, and we are sad too.
Our 1st cousin once removed, Nathan Avey, who is Bob’s cousin Sandi Kountz’ middle child finished college this past year, and landed a job in Lewiston, Montana working for Spika Welding and Manufacturing Inc doing drafting and design work. He is somewhat lonely living so far away from his family, especially since the passing of his brother, Brian on June 21, 2014, just four days after Nathan…who we have always known as Kyler..moved to Lewiston. Nevertheless, he is adjusting.
Kyler was a swimmer in school, and loved the hard work and practice. It made him strong and kept him in shape. And he loved the competition. Sometimes people find release in the competition, and I think that is how it was with Kyler. Swimming kept him focused, as well as keeping him in shape. I believe it will be that focus that will give him the strength and wisdom to help his family through the coming months and years. He has already begun, by keeping close tabs on his mom. As a kid we don’t understand how important that is, but now that so much has happened Kyler is stepping up and taking on the responsibilities of the man of the family.
As the middle brother, Kyler was often in on the teasing that he and Brian used to do to Destreyia, but now that Brian is gone, Kyler feels not only terrible loss, but the very real need to step up and be a good big brother to Destreyia and also the man of the family for his mom, Sandi. It is a big responsibility for anyone to take on, and Kyler is just 20 years old, and still dealing with his own feelings of grief.
I know that right now, things seem impossibly hard for Kyler and for his family, but with time it will get a little easier…or rather, will become normal…if losing your brother can ever be normal. I guess it is just a matter of moving forward, because that is all you can do.
The future is bright for Kyler, even if things seem grim right now. It won’t be easy, but this family will rebuild itself, and I think Kyler will be a big part of that. He is stronger than he knows. Today is kyler’s 20th birthday. Happy birthday Kyler!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
A few years ago, I found myself sinking into depression. There was so much going on in my life that I had no control over, and I was stressed out to say the least. This situation was so new to me. I had always been a happy person, and now I was becoming angry and bitter, and I didn’t like it one bit, but there seemed to be nothing I could do about it. My situation had taken on a life of it’s own.
After my Dad passed away in December of 2007, I found myself feeling like there wasn’t much to live for. It wasn’t like I wanted to commit suicide, I just felt so sad, that I couldn’t find anything to be happy about. We had fought so hard to get Dad back to health, and we were winning, and then his liver failed, and he was gone. It shook my whole world. Nothing was right, and it wouldn’t ever be right again. Even though I know that my Dad was saved, and I will see him again in Heaven, I missed him so much, and I still do, but I knew he wouldn’t want me to continue on in this depressed state.
I had to find a way back to life. I began to pray for help…for a way back. The Lord guided me first to begin eating better, thereby giving me more energy. Then the Lord began to encourage me to get outside and walk. I started walking on the trail near our home, and slowly began to feel like the fresh air and beauty of God’s creation, and the time spent talking with the Lord began to heal my spirit. I continue to look forward to the warmer months when I can get back outside and recharge again.
I still miss my Dad terribly, but I have been able to move forward with my life. I know I will see him again in Heaven, and I very much look forward to that day, but I know that I have a job to do here. My work here is not done. I am needed here. And my Dad would want me to live a full life.
I know that my life will always have it’s challenges, but the Lord is always there for me. He is my source of strength. I know many people might not find that to be true for them, but they have not been down the road I have. They have not seen the Lord help them to find the way back.