I hope that all of you have had a happy holiday season – whatever that looks like for you. Today marks 6 years without Jim. As you can imagine, the holidays have been more than difficult ever since his loss. It’s a time filled with great pain but also reflection. I believe in the healing power of sharing your grief; so today, I’m sharing a few memories and reflections from my life with Jim. If you are grieving this holiday season, I hope you find comfort and healing in them, as well.
For my 25th birthday, Jim made me a calendar. As I looked through the pictures of us, I saw pictures from my childhood. There’s no way he could have these… He snuck to meet my parents and got pictures to add to the calendar. After dating for just a couple of months. This is just one of the many ways Jim went out of his way to show me his love.
I didn’t even think of this as I made the Griefhab Awareness Calendar. I remembered during a Team Ruthless group, as we shared memories of our loved ones. Sometimes little things come together in your life to remind you that even though your loved one is no longer with you, they’re still shaping your life in ways you don’t even realize.
Our love story was cut way too short, but it’s more magical than most ever know. I’m grateful to have our magical love, and grateful that in sharing those memories, I continue to feel that love.
On our honeymoon, the first car we rented didn’t have the correct tires to get us through most of the (non) roads we had to drive through. When we realized this, Jim didn’t complain about having to backtrack. I had to figure out how to use the crazy cell phone contraption and then call and explain (in Spanish) that we needed to come back and get a different car. Still, he didn’t get upset with me. He just started looking for adventures in the area we would be in.
He always calmed me. In situations that might otherwise agitate me, he naturally calmed me. Without trying.
It’s now my job – I have to calm myself… but I still turn to him. Thinking of him helps me to get through those moments. What he might say but absolutely what he would do.
I’ve found things that soothe me the way his presence did. I’d rather have him, but I still feel like he’s with me – watching over me – during these moments.
I can see the way Jim looked at me. I don’t have to close my eyes or think of a certain situation. I’ve learned to see myself the way he saw me.
He loved watching me – unbeknownst to me; especially when I was being my goofy self. When we went to concerts together, he was always watching me. No matter where we went, or what we were doing, I felt loved and appreciated through the way he saw me.
When I’m proud of me. But also when I’m struggling. I’m able to think of him and what he would say – how he would see me in that moment.
Learn to live life through the lens of your loved one. Learn to see yourself through their eyes. You will feel closer to them, and you’ll learn to love yourself the way they did.
It doesn’t happen overnight, but it happens!
I have great friends and mentors and tools and supports – but at the end of the day, it’s just me.
I had to go back in this year to get injections for my back. The first time was also the first time without Jim. It makes you realize that most people have someone for those moments. But now, it’s me – it’s up to me. Sometimes that’s amazing. It can be empowering to know that you’re handling life independently. But sometimes it’s completely terrifying. Both of those feelings are normal, and good. You’re allowed to feel strong in your self-assurance. And you’re allowed to feel overwhelmed and lonely. Most of all, you’re allowed to ask for help and support in those moments when you realize there is a gap.
Because getting through it alone is impossible! And it’s not a badge of honor to trudge through all by yourself. Asking for help is a strength – not a weakness!
I’m not just doing this. I’m doing a damn good job, and I’m going to be okay. I’ve got this. I finally feel like I’m living again, not just forcing myself to survive. And it feels good.
When I was planning a trip early in the year, I realized I was excited about it. Actually looking forward to it. Happy to see people I hadn’t gotten to see since COVID.
It was my 1st realization that I’m not just going through the motions anymore. I’m living. And as the year ends, I’m even starting to plan some of the things Jim & I had planned together – which I never pictured myself saying. Or doing.
Even in grief, we live. And while that can feel like a slap in the face at first, one day you’ll wake up and realize that being alive actually feels like a good thing, again – not a punishment! You’ll realize that not only do you have to live… you actually want to live.
I am a BADASS.
I am the Change.
I’m a Trailblazer, making the world a better place for other grieving people.
I’m stronger than I ever thought possible – and I know that as we grieve, we hate being called strong. But finding my own strength is different.
I realized during Ruthless in the Rockies that I’m meant to be doing this. No one else can do it the way I can. No one else can approach it with the passion I have. I’d rather have Jim – of course I would. But I know I’m meant to be the voice. I’m meant to be here, creating awareness, and speaking for all of those who are grieving.
So I’ll keep working. I’ll keep connecting with you all, creating the spaces that you need while you grieve.
And together, we’ll heal. We’ll survive.
And remember, you can reach out anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
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