gift giving

I was asked recently if sending a Christmas card to a grieving family who had recently lost a loved one was appropriate. Nothing wrong with asking me this question, I honor it. A whole lot. Anyone who is willing to ask me these types of questions is brave, mindful, and it shows a whole lot about where their heart is.

In my experience…
Grief is not grief is not grief. Its ALL different. No one else’s is the same as another.
To each their very own. We each own our grief.
We all walk to our own rhythms of our loss, as unique as our heartbeats. As unique as the person’s life lost. All I can do is honestly offer my unique perspective. I am not an expert on grief, just my own.
Doesn’t mean it’s “right.” Doesn’t mean it will lay perfectly in time with someone else’s.
But this is what I shared…

There’s no statute of limitation on caring, supporting or loving someone going through or experiencing losing a loved one. Because there’s no limitation or timeline for missing someone.

I sincerely believe that there is no time limit to when it’s a “good time” to be supportive.
It’s always a good time.
It’s always a good time to love someone grieving.
It’s always a good time for someone, watching from the outside of someone else’s grief, to lean in. Hug. Make a meal. Clean a toilet. Send the card. Make a phone call. Text the message. CARE. LOVE. SUPPORT. When you think about them, act on it.
Its a brave love. It’s a tough love. To not just share in each other’s joy, but share in someone’s pain. To share the space when someone is going through one of the most traumatic events they will ever face, and still love them.
It’s brave to watch someone fall apart and show them you’re not going anywhere and love them anyway without any expectations.

And the truth is, we never know when the grieving will end. So keep loving.

If you wonder if it’s okay to share your feelings and memories about the person lost around this time of year – it sure is.
The temporary pangs, if any, of bringing up memories and heart-felt conversation is overshadowed quickly by the comfort that someone else is thinking about them, too. That feels good. Feels like the support is still there, and wasn’t just there for the initial shockwaves and chaos.
As the dust settles, there will be some who return back to their normals and see that we were “okay,” but it still matters a whole lot to keep his light shining and memory alive long after. There are just some who were made for the fight, and stick around for the long haul.

This year, as much as I fill up on love and gratitude for Jessep and our blended family… I choke on missing Shayne. I miss watching his heart melt right before my eyes, hugging and loving and cuddling his ladies.
I sound like a broken record even to myself, but this time of year, as with most big days and events and milestones… there’s very equal parts breathtaking heartache and gratitude.

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No one really talks about Shayne anymore to me. Days will go by. I will have thought about him dozens of times, but a word won’t be spoken.
I guess maybe that’s a responsibility placed upon the widow. To make it her/his duty to keep their loved one’s conversation going, a semicolon rather than a period.

I think we should talk about the deceased with the people that miss them.
The most caring thing I believe any one of us could do for a grieving person is look at them, lean in close with an open heart… and even if their eyes fill with tears, face all the pain and hurt with them, and ask… why did they love that person. Don’t stop listening until they are done sharing all the reasons.
Ask to listen, not to respond, and watch their face as each memory… each encounter… every smile… every joyful moment with the person crosses their face. You will see a transformation from grief to joy, even if for a few seconds.
You will have performed a small miracle.
Allowing someone to feel safe with you, escape their grief and blossom, even if only for a few seconds, in joy.
The gifts that person gave to them simply by being in their life is remembered and more importantly, shared. To you.

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Leaning in, loving, and being “there” didn’t just matter 2 months after he died.
It all still matters and it all still hits my heart sideways 20 months later. He was a person, a beautiful one, a soft and caring one, one that I have thousand memories with, and shared a promise of a thousand more… but there’s someone showing up, and he is here now.

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The one in front of me.
Wanting me to take his hand, cross the threshold and dive into the present to make new memories with.
Who didn’t know the special person Shayne was.
All he knows is of what I tell him and sometimes I dont want to fill his ear with too much. It might make him feel left out, and sometimes has.
Too second place, and I am sure it has.
That breaks me a little, too. Where do I draw that boundary and how do I balance, that? I just have to trust that Jessep will take care of Jessep and through my actions and progress, he knows I love him.
And am discovering reasons and whys I love him every day, every conversation we have and secrets we share, and so grateful for the growth and all the miles we’ve walked thus far together. Jessep and I speak about this openly all the time… if your new person really loves you, they love all of you. Even, and especially, the part that misses and loves the deceased.
They will be brave enough to sit with, and love that part of you, too.
It is worthy of love, too. Everything you’ve gone through, every person you’ve loved and experienced, brought you here. Gratitude.

Doesn’t matter how much time has passed, or who is now in my life.
Time didn’t erase the facts. I still lost my husband, my daily, my future, my person who, prior to April 16, 2016, I assumed I would be creating special holidays and building family traditions with until I had wrinkles and gray hair. Shayne is not across town somewhere, and we are avoiding each other.
Our life together was extinguished in a fleeting, unforeseen moment beyond the strength or control of our wills.
I understand what it truly means to be powerless.
So, yes. It still matters, more than ever, to share the good.

 


And I still can’t believe this person, his huge heart still beating… chose and keeps choosing all this. It’s absolutely mind-blowing and I sit in complete, defenseless awe… my second chance, my someone, my person… can respect and honor this process. All of that. Completely. My heart beats with gratitude all day. For him, and us. Every.DAY.

But I am human and I still struggle with staying in the moment with and holding onto it, rather than holding onto feelings and moments I miss with someone I am missing.
How is that fair? To anybody. Its just not.
And I don’t rightly know when and how it will ever stop…
So, lots of patience. And grace.

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And he is patient. And so willing to take all the baggage – good, bad, and ugly – and help me unload along the way. Unload the bad that weighs me down. Let’s only take the good, he says.
The truth is, there is so much good.
And there was so much good about my life with Shayne, and Shayne.
His life and who he was is not defined by his death.
He is defined by the line he walked alongside me, and his little ladies, every day and every year prior.
And Jessep is just the kind of extraordinary man that can honor that.

Jessep doesn’t pretend not to hurt with me or for me or acknowledge pains he feels in his own heart because of all this and what he has seen with his own losses in life.
But he is so brave, SO brave, to constantly… and I mean it… encourage me to break open. He wants that space to be my witness.
He wants me to talk about it, share it and wash my conscience clean of the ugly that weighs me down. The hustle of Jessep’s heart to heal mine, knows.no.bounds. It is relentless and mindful.💛

A priceless gift. A gift I didn’t think I would receive this year, and so thankful to have. A gift that, truly, keeps giving.

joy+health+peace,

caroline

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