Fear of Erasure

October 12, 2016

With the realization that life continues, always forward-moving, comes many complex emotions. It’s not that I’m stuck in my grief, but there is part of me that wants to cling to the past. I cling to it because I don’t want the world to forget my husband. He impacted my life, my children’s lives, the lives of his friends and family and even the lives of strangers in a powerful and beautiful way. Don’t forget how bravely he fought, how deeply he loved, how faithful he was in his belief in God. Do not forget how funny and smart he was, how compassionate and kind his heart was. I want to scream, “DO NOT FORGET HIM!”

I’ve gone back and forth about writing about this because I don’t want you all to think I’m a selfish jerk. But in the spirit of remaining truthful with you, I’m going to share it with you. The good, the bad and the ugly are what I promised you, so here I go.

There have been many tragic and premature deaths since Mark died. They’ve all caused my heart to ache. It doesn’t matter if I know the family or not, I’m familiar with the pain they’re undoubtedly feeling. I know their ache. I feel connected to them through grief. I have felt sympathy, compassion and sadness for them. I have prayed for them. But there’s been a new emotion surfacing as well. At first I thought it was sympathy envy, because I noticed the feeling when the grief spotlight shifted to new grievers; but the more I sort through it, I realize that isn’t it.

It isn’t that I need or even want all the attention on my family. It isn’t that I require constant sympathy. Thank goodness, because sympathy envy seemed too gross. I think I’ve figured out what it is. It isn’t envy, but instead it’s fear of erasure. It’s an overwhelming longing for time to stop moving ahead so quickly. What I think I want is for life to stop advancing the way it inevitably does. As I progress farther out of my grief fog, I realize that more and more people are dying every hour of every day. New families are mourning. Many of their losses seem more notable, more tragic, more devastating than ours. There’s a painful realization that we are not unique. There’s the discovery that our loss isn’t the most painful and remarkable loss in the history of the world. I know, it sounds terrible. I’m not proud of my feelings, but I’m being real with you. There’s part of me that wants the whole wide world to understand how and why we loved Mark so deeply. My self-centeredness thinks they can’t possibly understand the magnitude of his awesomeness if they’ve already moved on to talking about and grieving the next family’s loss. I begin to fear the world has already forgotten him. I panic, wondering if he’s already been erased. I don’t want him to be erased. He was too wonderful to be erased!

I suppose cleaning out the garage the last couple weekends hasn’t helped. My husband never entered a hobby half-heartedly, so there are mountains of “stuff” to sort through. Decisions about what to keep for the kids, what to donate and what to sell are overwhelming. Am I the first person to ever feel emotionally attached to a belt sander? Again, it’s fear of erasure that’s behind it all. If I purge his “stuff” will we all forget these things about him? Will it be like he was never here?

I think this may be part of the reason I developed this website. My main priority was to try to help others by revealing our grief and all the phases, emotions, peaks and valleys of moving forward after loss. I wanted to create community and be an encourager to others trudging on with broken hearts. But if I’m honest, I think subconsciously I may have also wanted to be able to tell you all about Mark. If I write about him, he is not erased.

Has anyone else felt the fear of erasure? Is it just me? If I’m not alone, will you leave a comment telling us something wonderful about the person you’re missing? We may not be able to stop the forward movement of time, but we won’t let them be erased. Although I know this life isn’t where it ends, it can feel like a long wait. God has all of this. Extra grace during the wait, my friends.

John 16:22-23The Message (MSG)

21-23 “When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You’ll no longer be so full of questions.

Psalm 139:15-16New International Version (NIV)

15  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Extra Grace,

Jodi

 

photo credit: lacygentlywaftingcurtains I loved you via photopin (license)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 Comments

  • Reply Lisa October 12, 2016 at 9:15 am

    We have been cleaning out my grandmothers house this past month and she lived a long and beautiful life, but it’s so hard! It breaks my heart that my younger kids will not know what it was like to enter her house and be with her. To just empty a house of a life. But I also have been surprised in the past month of how many of the things i do remind me of a memory.

    • Reply Extra Grace Required October 12, 2016 at 10:19 am

      Thanking God for memories – love to you, Lisa. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  • Reply Wendy October 12, 2016 at 9:20 am

    My ‘fear of erasure’ is with my mom. She’s been in Heaven 3 years now, and our boys were 18 months and 2 months old when she passed away. I made a point to take as many pictures as I could of my mom with Blake, knowing that with her cancer diagnosis tomorrow was never promised. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of her with Nicholas; she only got to see him twice before she died, and physically she was so frail and didn’t look like the same woman. I knew she didn’t want pictures taken of her that way because that’s not how she wanted to be remembered by her grandsons, so I respected her wishes on that and have zero pictures of her with Nicholas. For awhile after she passed away, Blake would go up to a photo of my mom & dad and point to my dad & say “that’s Gwampa”, and point to my mom and say “that’s Gwamma” – it was so sweet. Then, after some time had passed, he’d point to Gwampa and then point to my mom and ask “who’s that?” Breaks my heart; still does. Even though I know that, at only 18 months when she passed away, he wasn’t going to have any memories of her except in pictures, but the reality of that is hard (one of the reasons I love being a photographer – photos matter!). Just as we do what we can to preserve my mom’s memory, you are doing the same for Mark, and in such a beautiful way. Mark was loved by many and is missed by many. Blake still asks about him and wants to go up to Heaven to visit him; I told him we all do Buddy 🙂

    • Reply Extra Grace Required October 12, 2016 at 10:19 am

      thank you for sharing this, Wendy. What an honest story. I’m so sorry she is gone – but NEVER forgotten.

  • Reply Carol Koundakjian October 12, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Oh Jodi, you are not alone in fearing your loved one will be forgotten. I have the fear that I will forget! My husband also has a garage full of ‘stuff’ to be sorted through. Most of it I am leaving to my sons, but the other day I moved something and found my husband’s old flip flops he wore when working in the garage. They are not going anywhere! At the moment I can’t remove them from the garage; maybe one day. Intellectually I know that he will never be forgotten. There are too many wonderful memories for that. I am learning that grief takes time, and with the Lord’s strength He will lead me (and you) through it.

    • Reply Extra Grace Required October 12, 2016 at 10:18 am

      oh, Carol. You keep those flip-flops. You aren’t alone….and no way he’s going to be forgotten.

  • Reply Peggy Reed October 12, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Mark will NEVER be erased. He, after all was my much loved and wonderful son-in-law. Mark was my daughter’s devoted husband, my grandchildren’s devoted father, etc. Mark’s memory will not be erased or filed away. The memories I hold dearly of all those I loved and joined the Lord before me, will always be in my heart and forever near in my mind. I pull much strength and courage from all of them and realize more and more how much I have learned from each and every single one of them. I will continue to pray for you and all that need all of our prayers to be able to heal and find strength ❤️.

  • Reply Tammy October 12, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Jodi, it’s so perfect! Your feelings are exactly what so many feel when grieving…not to make your personal grief trite by saying that either. It’s real and beautiful for you to have this blog to help others, your kids, and yourself, honor Mark. It’s been 22 years since my mom passed. It seems impossible that I can even write that phrase, as one who doesn’t even feel much older than 25 (but I’m 44), and the truth of the matter, she’s been gone longer than I actually knew her. But she’s definitely not erased. I am saddened that my kids don’t know her or really even think of her. That was a HUGE fear of mine when they were born….but the truth is….. I can’t put that expectation on them. It would be too much for them (especially two boys) to feel a strong emotional connection to a picture. So I just try to mention her or her ways from time to time. And they already have a special but different grandma in Becky that fills that void for them. One of the greatest lessons I am just starting to learn in life is: managing expectations. I used to spend most of my interactions in life and with others based on what I felt or expected they should do. I have had to let go of that bc it’s wrought with disappointment and sometimes disgust when others don’t FEEL the way I do about things, especially the memory of my precious, fun, silly, spiritual, emotional, pedal to the metal mom. Although those descriptions are true of her…. I have to shift my expectations of what others may feel or remember about her. But not forgotten… for Mark, because of the legacy he left in you and your kids. (and all those other great things you noted in post). In my 20 plus years of grieving and now remembering my mom… I have held on to; LARGE Indian statues from the 80s Wicker in the Wicks candle shop, purple fringed suede jacket…yes purple, Cheesy Glamour Shot photo (that I still love, cuz she was so pretty), baking pans, rolling pins, dishes, letters to me (one days before she died), her Bible with bookmarks and notes in it, shelves just because her writing was on it (she had amazing cursive). Things I have been able to let go; FINALLY donated the fringed purple suede jacket, burnt wood carving with apple scene, various dishes from the 70s, her hairbrush w/her hair in it, any “brass and glass” furniture, cherry pie pyrex dish…(no one in my house likes cherry pie). So someday you will not at all be attached to a belt sander. But it’s ok. In my opinion its not healthy to rush to toss stuff or donate…. you will feel “nothing” when you give it away if the time is right. Not to be depressing, but it will take a long time to get to that point on some things. Thankfully his “things” aren’t the true legacy….the thought of him running with Jesus is a great thought for me that can’t be remembered or forgotten bc his stuff is still around or bc someone else died. But I do know how you feel, very natural. I remember the day I couldn’t recount the sound of my mom’s voice. It’s sad for me… but I always think about her up there looking down (hopefully the no tears in heaven thing will keep her from seeing some of the really stupid stuff I do). Anyway, you are not a jerk for not wanting to focus be off Mark and your grief. It’s so awesome for you to share it and be in touch with it!!!! Thank you! I wish they had blogs 22 years ago.

    • Reply Extra Grace Required October 13, 2016 at 11:05 am

      I’m so grateful for your comment, Tammy. I’m sorry you don’t have your Mom here – it isn’t fair at all. I think we have a greater understanding of the anticipation – like an expectant mother – as we wait for Heaven. Love you, girl!

  • Reply Jan October 14, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    Perfectly said.

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