The Grief Timeline

June 25, 2017

I’m sitting on my deck this morning, staring at the garden and thinking about the whirlwind that has been the last few weeks. The kids are home for summer and we’ve been struggling to find our new groove. There’s been lots of button pushing (they are fighting like two barn cats!) but I think we’re finally on the right course.

Last weekend we moved one vanload of B’s belongings to her new apartment in Chicago and are now on the final countdown until she officially moves. It will be a new change for our family, in a year that’s already been a lifetime worth of changes, but the time has come. It’s important that we miss each other now, no matter how difficult that may be.

And in my personal life, the summer has brought about new challenges as well. I continue to work on the roof situation with insurance. Is it damaged? Is it not damaged? Why have over 15 houses near me qualified for new roofs, including the house 10 feet from me but mine is just fine and dandy? I just need the truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth. So, I continue to fight for that. It’s exhausting. I want to give up but I haven’t been satisfied at all with how I’ve been treated. I want Mark to handle this. But it falls on me, and so I push forward.

My house is a disaster, yet this week I’ve decided to clean and organize all of the areas no visitor to our home would ever even see. Makes sense? (not). I tackled the pantry, the “clutter counter,” the junk drawer(s), spice cabinet, and a couple other cabinets. It feels great to be organized, if only for a little bit. So if you stop by ever and all of my cupboards are open, just focus on those areas and not the dust on my blinds or the dirt on the floor, ok? Here are some pictures, since no one I live with really cares or appreciates the effort. I don’t have before pics for all of these areas, but you’ll just have to trust me that it was BAD.

Clutter Counter – BEFORE (Seriously HOW did I let it get THIS BAD?!)

Clutter Counter – AFTER

Upper pantry – BEFORE (so embarrassing)

Upper pantry – AFTER

Pantry – AFTER. No before pic, but by now, you can imagine

Under the sink – AFTER. For a before image, just imagine 8,000 plastic bags blocking whatever else might’ve been in here

In addition to a strange organization fixation right now, the house is being painted this week (weather permitting) and I am so excited and anxious! It’s a big investment – what if the colors I’ve chosen are hideous? If that happens, please just lie to me and tell me how amazing it looks, ok?

With all of these changes, comes a reminder of the grief timeline. All of the milestones, events and memories that happened when Mark was here (BD – before-death), and all of the new things that have happened and are happening after Mark died (AD – After death). It’s so strange to me to be recalling memories now that didn’t involve him. Things he wasn’t here to experience with us, especially the joyful moments. I recollect fun times or big events and then stop in my tracks to realize they were AD. There will be more and more things with each passing day that are AD, and the BD moments move farther and farther away. It’s just how it is, although it still leaves a pit in my stomach, an ache in my heart.

Although I carry him with me wherever I go and honestly feel him close to me, I don’t like how time separates us more. I want him to know what color the house is going to be. I want him to see B’s new apartment, cheer on Gman at bat, teach Lolo how to use the telescope he got her for Christmas a couple years ago. I want him to fight with the insurance company and change my burned out brake light. But most of all I want him to sit by my side in the garden, holding my hand and talking through the day’s happenings. I miss him more than any words can convey.

BD…. AD.

We continue to move down the AD timeline and find new and comforting ways to bring the BD stuff along with us as we travel forward. It isn’t easy, it isn’t what we wanted, but it’s where we are and we’re doing the best we can.

What are some of the ways YOU bring the BD with you into the AD? Have you also found yourself realizing a memory you’re recalling was one made without your person and not one you shared with them? I’d love to hear your stories. Please share them with me.

Wherever you are on YOUR grief timeline, I’m thinking about you. Praying today is a good day.

Extra Grace,




Cover photo:


photo credit: hernanpba It is always now via photopin (license)

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  • Reply Nancy Pedro June 25, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Hi Jodi — We just passed the two year mark since we lost my husband and my daughter’s father. Father’s Day was very difficult for both of us and I realized that I had planned for us to do something to keep our hearts occupied last year, but just didn’t think it would be that hard this year. Big mistake. I’ve been on an organizing kick lately myself, cleaning closets and cupboards and trying to get the paperwork earthquake under control. (Several months ago, my old wood file cabinet collapsed — well the drawers lost their bottoms and the files all fell and mixed and made a huge mess!) The mess was moved to bins and boxes and even shopping bags as we fished it out of the hull of the filing cabinet — those have been moved around, generally landing in my bedroom because we’ve had company! Finally got a new filing cabinet and am now trying to sort out and put all the mess away! I’ve also been having some painting done. I’ve decided that it is a control thing — I can’t control that my husband is gone and all the things that he used to do didn’t get done when he was seriously ill or for the first year after his death because I was dealing with the estate stuff, the bills, my daughter’s grief. etc. Suddenly it felt like things were falling down around our ears and the repairs and upkeep on the house was out of control. I’ve never been in charge of taking care of the house and yard maintenance before. I did all the other stuff, which, of course, I’m still doing. It is overwhelming and a steep learning curve to try to figure out what to do to get rid of all the weeds in the yard, how to run all the lawn equipment, where to find the cordless drill that I know is there somewhere, why the wood on the deck looks like it is rotting, etc. etc. etc. I had to hire someone to fix the drywall where the upstairs toilet leaked and ruined the ceiling in the downstairs bathroom, to sand the deck so it can be refinished (the wood isn’t rotten, just the many layers of finish needed to be removed!). Ask around to your neighbors and friends and see if you can find someone you trust to look at your roof. Then if the insurance is still giving you the run-around, have that person be there when the insurance adjustor comes back (if the person you trust says you need the roof repaired!) I’m lucky that my brother lives nearby, but he is very busy — so I try not to bother him except with the big stuff. He knew who I could get to do the repairs. There are just some things that are outside our comfort and knowledge zones — and it is okay to ask for help and advice. I admire how you put yourself out there and talk about the challenges you are facing. Believe me, there are lots of us out here facing the same challenges. I’m nearing 70 and not able to do a lot of the physical things — but I’m getting the organization part of things down and am learning to hire someone to do the things that I can’t.

  • Reply Kara Meech June 25, 2017 at 11:49 am

    I am pretty young in this process, mister has been gone ,8 months now, and I still struggle,and even though I know he isn’t here beside me,I struggle with getting stuff done , things he would take care of…I find myself waiting for two or three days, waiting for him to take care of it, then I remind myself that I have to do those things now, although the biggest thing I struggle with even though I was right there when he died, is he really dead, you all those crazy things yr brain makes up…and I have to stop , and tell myself he is gone…and no nothing is bringing him back….

  • Reply Melinda Kemp June 25, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Hi Jodi. Thanks so much for sharing your story. It is so helpful to hear the story of others who have or are traveling on the same journey as I am and to realize the similarities and differences. Richard and I were married almost 25 years. He has been gone for almost 7 months now. During this time I have found myself dealing with a whirlwind of new struggles, fears, emotions and blessings. I love your before and after pictures of your organizing! Great job! That is the type of thing I have been doing to survive these months. I built a raised garden, rebuilt a run down fence, updated my patio, made home repairs (myself), and have plans for more repairs. The work keeps me busy and keeps my mind occupied. The end result of my labors make me happy and proud as they have all been projects we talked about doing and just had not gotten to because of his sickness. I am glad we spent the time together enjoying every minute we could and that I can busy myself now with those things we talked about doing together. I hope he would be proud of what I am accomplishing. Thank you so much for your posts!

  • Reply Karen Underdahl June 25, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Oh Jodi,
    I wish I could do more for you! You are in my thoughts and prayers often! I read your post, and all the organizing has paid off, it looks great! I wish I could continue with my work on the porch, it will not happen before the reunion, now only 2 weeks away. I was so thankful for Jesse and his family from Wednesday afternoon to Sunday morning. Savannah had to lay on the bed with me and put her foot in my boot, we iced and did leg lifts together she was a vey sympathetic nurse. Jesse helped with some fencing and went to the vet with Lynn. A heifer was having trouble. The vet pulled the calf and pronounced him dead. He even tried CPR but couldn;t get the calf to breathe. So they loaded
    up the calf and mther and brought them home, they stopped at our mail box 15 -20 minutes later and heard the calf bellar. So did the trailer ride home revive him or was it a miracle????? I think God had his part in this. Lynn has had to feed the calf colustrum, a friend checked on the calf today and got him to stand. Not sure if he has any mental or physical problems. I hope he or she will be okay and soon nurse the naive heifer. My ankle is feeling better, I hope to take my last pain pill at bedtime and not take any more. Tomorrow should be the proof in the pudding so to speak. Take care dear friend and know that I think of you lots! Healing love from ND, Karen and Lynn

  • Reply Cheryl. Fetsis June 25, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    Hi Jodi, a dear friend introduced me to your blog (?) and your personal journey as you and yours continue to navigate this strange, new world following the death of your husband. My Andy passed away almost 9 months ago (can that be possible? Nine months?)) and I am able to relate to so much of what you’re saying and going through and dealing with on a minute to minute/hour to hour/day to day basis. I wish I could tell you how often I’ve cried with you as you’ve mourned and missed your beloved. I want you to know I’ve also smiled at the small but oh so important moments that you remember sharing as a couple. I’ve appreciated knowing that I’m not losing my mind nor am I alone in trying to rebuild myself as a complete person without the calm, steady reassuring presence that Andy was for me and our 3 kids. I can see now how he made our lives so much easier, more secure and whole. I miss him. Every day, every night, on the weekends and on those never-ending “special occasion days'” that dot the calendar month after month. After 30 years and for more than half my life, he was the one person, the only friend, the most faithful lover and the only soul who recognized me as his ‘one and only’. I know what we shared is rare. I am learning to be grateful every day for the blessing he was in my life. And, as time passes, I’m grateful to God, On My Knees Grateful, that from diagnosis to death his suffering was brief–a mere 21 days. Three weeks. Not that I felt thankful at the time yet, knowing Andy, it was a couple of weeks too long. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and what is a very personal and difficult journey for anyone. You, too, are a blessing to me in this time. Now? Now, I guess I should probably organize my pantry. A closet or two. Perhaps some cabinets and, why not, I may tackle the attic while I’m at it. ♡♡♡

  • Reply Dorothy Wright June 26, 2017 at 10:02 am

    My son was married yesterday without his father here. It will be one year on August 15 and we made new memories this past weekend without him. He died in a MC accident in Idaho and as we were driving home we were followed by a fly, just one, each time we stopped. Yesterday at the wedding there was one fly that buzzed around our family, especially the bride and groom. He wanted my son, who is 48, to find a love of his life and he did that. Jack knew that he was happy with her before he passed. We just think that fly might be a message from him! Don’t know if I really believe in that but it helps to think it.

    Thanks so much for your blog. And thanks for answering my last comment via email. It helps a lot to hear that other people are going through all of this pain also.


  • Reply Kathy July 8, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    I admire your strength. Thank you for the encouragement you give me. God Bless You.

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