Grief Isn’t Like A Wave, It’s Like A #$&*!! Bungee Cord!

July 12, 2017

I’ve been doing really well lately. I’ve felt confident about my purpose as I move forward after loss. I’ve felt strong and determined. I’ve met challenges I didn’t think I could handle by myself and I’ve overcome.

But then the bungee cord tightens and ZING! I’m flung through the air in reverse at high speed. Sigh. It’s a #$&*!! Bungee cord. Grief is only letting me move forward at its pace, not mine. It’s in charge, no matter how much I believe I’m in control. When I try to speed ahead, to break free from it, the tension builds and I’m slowed down until the cord can’t stretch forward any more. Then it hurls me back. It forces me to deal with it.

And then, time after time, I regroup and move forward again. Each new attempt forward takes me a little farther though, as the cord stretches, but it still becomes taught if I try to move too far, too fast.

Yesterday I realized I couldn’t find my password spreadsheet (yes, again – and yes I know about online password keepers. I’m just dumb). It started out as an annoying inconvenience and developed into a full-blown panic attack. I tore apart every drawer, paper pile and cupboard looking for that thing! I blamed the kids (they didn’t do it this time), I yelled, I cried, I prayed. Nothing.

I logged into my email, because surely my organized husband who made the spreadsheet for me must have emailed it to me at one time, right? And because I never delete emails (I know, I know), it must be on my computer! I searched his name as sender. What followed was a grief spiral I couldn’t reign in. I found emails about trivial matters like “Did you pay the taxes yet?” and “Remember Lolo has Girl Scouts on Saturday.” “Want to go to the Saturday church service this week?” They took my mind back to the time when he was here and able to help drive the kids to and from activities. When he was part of our life, able-bodied and life was “normal.” I found pictures he sent me when he was on an outing with the kids. But none of the messages hit me as hard as the two emails I found next.

This one was written in June, 2014. Almost two years before he died. Life hadn’t even begun to get difficult yet. He was walking with a cane but mostly able bodied. I’m sure I read this at the time it was sent, but not with the perspective I have now. This is such a gift – and also it knocked me down. Not only did the Bungee cord propel me backwards with this, it threw me head first into a brick wall. Here’s the email:

My Love,

You need to know that I love you and I am grateful beyond words for the blessing from God that you are to me.

I know that you are struggling with my condition perhaps even more than I am. I see how caring for me is so hard, and that you’ve taken on almost everything that needs to be done to keep our home running. I know that watching me in pain hurts you too, and I love you for trying to bear that with me. I thank God for you every day, and I pray for strength and peace for you always.

I know you’re exhausted by the work of trying to help me, meet the needs I have that I can’t meet, plus being the primary caregiver for all our kids without much assistance from me. I pray for ways to lighten your load.

You are an amazing mother and wife! I am amazed at how you keep it together so well, even if you don’t think you are. You really are amazing!

I am so in love with you, and wish I was better at showing that to you. All that you do, and still finding time to love all those around you is an amazing witness to the power of God, and you inspire me daily. I am praying for you, and for ways I can ease your burden. I am so sorry you have to deal with all this, but I know you do it all out of love for me and our family. 

You are, and will always be, the love of my life. My only regret is that we didn’t find each other sooner in our lives. You are my anchor and my greatest help as I struggle with a life I didn’t plan for.

I simply love you beyond words or actions, and I thank God for you every minute!

Your husband

THIS WRECKED ME!!! It filled me with a longing for my husband I couldn’t contain. I cried bawl out loud tears. My eyes were puffy and my nose stuffed up for hours. I’m so thankful I was his wife but I miss him more than I can handle at times like this.

I took a break to blow my nose and take an Ibuprofen. Because I was still panicked over the lost password spreadsheet, and still confident it lived in my email somewhere, I started searching again. Nope, not going to happen. Here’s the next email I found. It was sent in November of 2010. My husband had recorded my kiddos singing Happy Birthday to me individually. Their sweet baby voices made me smile. I had forgotten how Gman’s voice was always raspy when he was a little guy. And Lolo and her Ethel Merman vibrato phase – ha! I was knocked down again at the end of the audio file when my husband sang to me and had a message he spoke directly to me. The audio file is below – just click the play arrow. My kids would probably kill me if they knew I posted this audio – don’t tell them.

 

I haven’t heard his voice – especially his healthy and strong voice in so long! That’s it! I was ruined for the day. Oh, how I want him. I want to hug him and tell him how grateful I am to have him. I want him back! The kids heard the audio and it turned into a family snot fest of tears. Even the emotionally resistant one couldn’t help herself. Grief sucks.

Not remembering him by suppressing our emotions isn’t a good option (or even possible). And remembering too much still hurts and breaks us in half. So when we go too far in either direction, the grief Bungee cord snaps us back into submission. It demands with the authority it possesses, “DEAL WITH ME!” And so we do, even though it sucks.

Today I’m standing upright again, dusting myself off and beginning the long trek forward again. I’ll try to get better at paying attention to when the cord is tightening so I can pause and deal with it, instead of taking it to the max and being thrown back. I’m learning. Slowly. And I’m realizing grief demands my attention. That doesn’t mean I’m not healing and it doesn’t mean I’m stuck. It means my love was so gigantic that my grief from the loss of it can’t be quickly swept under the rug. I’m going to be happier and emotionally healthier if I meet grief head on instead of assuming it isn’t there anymore. It’s always there. I’m still learning how to give it the attention it needs so it doesn’t go all Bungee cord Ninja on me next time.

Extra grace,

Jodi

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9 Comments

  • Reply Wendy July 12, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Thank you for sharing this Jodi. I can’t imagine what all of this must be like for you. Hugs to you!

  • Reply Kelly July 12, 2017 at 11:35 am

    My dad died almost two years ago of cancer. Two months after that my best friend of 20 years died in a freak accident. I had a harder time with her death than my Dads. Then last September my mom came to my house to tell me her cancer was back and had spread to her colon, liver, stomach and lungs. She is at the end now and your emails inspire me to turn and face the grief instead of running from it. It also makes me appreciate my husband so much more. I catch myself at times wanting to take out on him the pain I’m feeling. Then when I read what you have been through losing you’re husband, I am so grateful mine is still here and helps me through with his unconditional love and support. This last email you sent made me bawl my eyes out for you. I just cant imagine. It has turned me from focusing on what I’ve lost or about to lose to focusing instead on how blessed I really am. Thank you!

  • Reply Nancy Pedro July 12, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Oh Jodi — what treasures those e-mails will be for you and your family. I know they brought on a “family snot fest” — (loved the description!) — but as years go by they will give you a way to reconnect and remember. It will probably always bring grief, although not the landslide that happened this time — down the road it will just be a place you re-visit when you want to remember. Having that precious audio of your husband’s and children’s voices is invaluable. I have some old videos of my daughter and husband — my daughter and I haven’t been ready to watch those yet (and it has been over two years for us). By the way, did you find your password sheet? I’ll bet you’ve put it in a “safe place” — I have lots of those things that are still safe! I have been stirring up my house doing a lot of cleaning and re-arranging and I’ve found several things that have been in their “safe place” for a good many years (including some Easter candy that I evidently hid and forgot about – the Peeps were so dry they crumbled! But they were still SAFE!) Be gentle with yourself when that bungee cord of grief snaps you back. Sometimes that storm of grief is like the spring showers that allow new flowers to grow in our lives.

  • Reply Jody July 12, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Thank you for sharing….those are priceless! I lost my husband about a year ago so I’m on my own grief journey and find your stories so helpful. I have a couple of voicemail messages from my husband and I listen to them. I agree with you when you say they take on a whole new meaning.
    Hugs to you!

  • Reply Dorothy J Wright July 12, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    I had a big blow out here by myself last night and here I am having one for you! This is so moving. It had to be
    SO hard to hear his voice. I hope I don’t forget what my husband sounded like. He was such a loving and giving person. I know I’m not the only one who misses him but after 54 years with him and on August 15 it will be one year without him I feel very alone most of the time. Reading your blogs has helped me to come to terms with quite a few things. I sprayed for Japanese beetles yesterday and felt so strong to be able to do that alone. Life does go on I guess!

  • Reply Rod Snavely July 12, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Thank you for your blog. Your testimony to love and strength is beautiful.

  • Reply Debbie July 12, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    I’m crying for you, I’m crying for me and most of all I’m crying for all of us. Very sweet!
    I have a short video of my husband singing an Elton John song, he didn’t know I was recording him. It breaks me into a million pieces every time I watch it. Hugs

  • Reply Jan Masters July 13, 2017 at 4:58 am

    Hi Jodi
    I love your blog. The children’s voices and your husband’s voice oh such an unspeakable treasure. I am in the UK,ost my husband 5 years ago. It’s an enormous journey. I started s bereavement group three years ago and like you I write everyday. I need to find out about blogging. We all need to stick together. My faith has held me and my children. God bless and hugs to you. Jan xxxx

  • Reply Donna L Deforge July 13, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Thank you so very much for posting this. My husband died just over three months ago from cancer. While we knew it was coming, his death wasn’t any easier to face. I feel like the first email in this blog could have been written by him, but alas, he was computer illiterate..and you are so lucky to have the recording of his voice. So many things I would have made sure I had. So again, thank you..shed a few tears for you, and even more for myself.

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