Hello, Future!

February 12, 2018

For a long time, I was living more in the past than in the present. Actually, I was shackled to the past. There was no way I could contemplate the future without pain and fear. I felt incapable of dreaming. Hope seemed lost and joy unattainable. When I tried to think towards the future, it felt overwhelming, scary and lonely. And so I sat in my grief, mostly reflective of moments passed. I suspect this is normal in grief? From the moment our loved one dies, our memories are what hold us near to them. And memories, by nature, are of the past.

Moving forward to be present in the here and now previously felt like stepping away from my life with my husband, and I didn’t want to be farther away from him. Taking real steps toward the future seemed way too much of a stretch. It felt terrifying, isolating and I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t able. My husband’s death made it crystal clear how uncertain the future is, and so it seemed ridiculous in some ways to hope and plan and dream for what may never come to be. I just wasn’t ready.

But then something happened. It happened slowly over time I guess, because I barely noticed it. There was no magical Aha! moment. But sure enough, it was happening. One day the new milestones, the memories we were making without him didn’t feel as terrible as it once had. I was moving forward. I wasn’t abandoning my memories or thinking of my husband less, but I realized I was very gradually learning how to live again. And on really good days I noticed I was sometimes dreaming about the life ahead of me instead of dreading it.

Somewhere along the line I went from feeling like moving ahead would be moving farther away from my husband to realizing that it was happening anyway. It turns out it didn’t really matter how I felt about it, life was moving me forward regardless of whether I was ready or not. At first it was without my consent, as I clung tightly to the past. But now I’m more of a willing participant. I went from being unable to look ahead to catching myself dreaming of the future. And sometimes it even feels exciting. I’m currently at a point where I’m healing enough to start learning how to live the life ahead of me.

Do I wish I were living my life with my husband by my side? Of course I do! I’d give anything to grow old with him. I wish so much that we could be dreaming of a future together. Our future, not just my future. The hard reality is he’s gone from this earth and I’m still here. Believe me, there was a time when I wished I wasn’t.

But time really does have a way of changing things. Grief subsides just enough for hope to reclaim it’s rightful place in our hearts. Once hope finds it’s way in, it opens the door to welcome joy. And before you know it, grief is more of a whisper instead of a roar.

So, am I “cured?” Am I “over it?” Hardly. Plus, I’m pretty sure that’s not a thing. But today I can honestly say I’m beginning to embrace the life I didn’t anticipate and trusting the plans God surely has for me. There’s a little less fear and slightly more anticipation. I’m sure there will be days when the tears will still flow. I’m confident there will be memories that crack me wide open for the rest of my life. The difference is, it is no longer all-consuming. It doesn’t have me shackled. Grief has gone from all times to sometimes.

With this new found hope, I’m giving myself permission to be a little selfish…to prioritize myself. I made those Dr. appointments. I’m working on weight loss (down 10.8 lbs after two weeks!) and searching for what activities and hobbies excite me. When I figure it out, I’ll allow myself time to do those things. I’m booking that summer vacation and saying YES to that speaking invitation. I’ve adopted that dog and I’m leaving the dishes in the sink sometimes.

      

After all, this life is so short. We know this more than many, don’t we? We know what things matter and what things don’t. One day I’ll be reunited with my husband, but until then I need to learn how to live and do more of what matters. I am ready to live in the time I have left here. And should there come a day when grief sneaks up on me and shoves me down, as I suspect it will, that’s ok. I’ll get up again as soon as I’m able. And you will too…as soon as you’re able.

Extra grace,

Jodi

** I’m working on something exciting. I don’t know when I’ll be ready to announce it, but hopefully soon. If you want to be sure you’re the first to know, please SUBSCRIBE to be in-the-know!

*** New to Extra Grace Required? Be sure to go to the Archives tab above to find all previous posts.

You Might Also Like

20 Comments

  • Reply Kathy February 12, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    Thank you! For these words… I’ve been following you for a while, having no idea that my husband would pass so quickly. I am new to being a widow. Only 3 wks. Today I made appts. to get health insurance. I opened a bank statement for the 1st time ever. I have to go & meet with a financial planner. I was married for 42 yrs. He took care of all things, financial. It is overwhelming me. My head hurts with this stuff.. & I’ve hardly had time to let it sink in that he is not coming back. I want to ask him things, I want to tell him things. I miss my husband!!
    I’m just keep telling myself that God has been so Faithful, Surely He won’t stop now.
    Will He?? K.

  • Reply Carolyn February 12, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    Good for you! I began reading your blog because a friend had lost her husband and her way – 2 friends actually, and I did not know if what comfort I could give them could or would help. I was at a loss for words and hugs and quiet strength never seemed enough. Your musings have helped me enormously. I can now see their walks through grief are normal and heart wrenching, necessary and unwanted at the same time.. I sometimes use your words as my own to help them and not once have they failed, at the very least, to give voice to my inner thoughts and wonderings. One of them reads your blogs, the other may never, but she knows she is not alone in her grief world and is moving forward bravely. Your photos today brought tears to my eyes – your hope for happiness is there to see and that young man and his new puppy – well nothing is more precious. All the best to you and your family,and thank you

  • Reply Jody February 12, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    👍 Good for you!

  • Reply Mar February 12, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    I enjoy reading your blog and perspective about grieving and life after loss of a spouse. I think what stage of life you are in plays a major part of how you move through the grieving. My children were grown and living away when my husband died after six months of cancer treatment. Their visits were and continue to be very infrequent due to life, jobs, and distanc (Texas/Alaska). Even though I am active in my church with many responsibilities there is a huge emptiness in life. It’s difficult to fit in with most friends, and in this world of dysfunctional families you sometimes don’t have comfort or support. Time helps in the healing but at my age and in this stage of life I am resigned to life as it is and making the best of each day. God’s blessings on your journey.

  • Reply Julie February 12, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    I’ve been reading your posts for about six months. My husband of 27 years died unexpectedly 18 months ago, leaving me with four college students and an empty nest. Since that time my daughter graduated from college and got married (already planned), and two of my sons graduated from college and got jobs. Oh yeah, I moved to a smaller house, learned about financial planners,, insurance, attorneys,, CPA’s, home repairs, cars and eating alone. I have been grateful to find that your writings have fairly closely mirrored my own journey. 2017 was a list of HAVE to do’s and I’m looking forward to 2018 being a list of WANT to do’s. I joined a GriefShare group through my church and have found it helpful. Congratulations to you for moving forward! I too am having moments where I feel progress is being made, and then not made. But we celebrate ANY progress and are grateful for it. Because not that long ago, I could not envision a time when the sun shown again and my chest didn’t feel like a stone was laying on it. Here’s to .making the future ours! P.S. Love your dog pictures. My two dogs (one is also a yellow lab) have helped keep me whole. Keep up the good work!

  • Reply Betty February 12, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    I’ve been following you for a few months. I’m glad you are starting to look forward to the future. I lost my husband unexpectedly from complications after surgery for cancer about 10 months ago. I know this journey is the hardest thing I’ve ever lived through in my life. My kids are also grown but are such a blessing to me even though they are 80 and 700 miles away. I am blessed to have girlfriends who unfortunately are going through the same thing or are divorced.

    I THINK I am ready to move into the future also, and retire from the job I have had for 20+ years. Unfortunately, my boss has been just AWFUL since my husband was diagnosed and since his passing. I am almost done dealing with everything financial, and now my job is the major source of my stress. I realize I want and need to be in a more positive environment. However sometimes I feel guilty because I know if my husband was still alive, I would have to find a way to make my job work because of the good health insurance and the good salary. Sometimes I struggle because I want to make this change just for me and I feel selfish and of course worry about money, especially the health insurance. I have signed up for Social Security Survivors Benefits and plan to retire within the next month. I don’t think I’m ready to totally retire, but would love to find a part-time job to get me out of the house and still be around people. My financial advisor says I will be ok – but change is scary, especially since I will need to pay health insurance for 4 1/2 years. I can keep the insurance through my job, it is just really expensive.

    Change is SO hard. Good luck to everyone on this journey. We all joined a club that we never wanted to join, however here we are and we have to make the best of it.

  • Reply jami s February 12, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    so glad to read this jodi! i know mark would be so happy to know that you are living in the time you have left here – for the kids and for yourself!

  • Reply Cindy February 12, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    You just put words to what I have been feeling. Thank you! My husband died December 6, 2017. It was very sudden and totally unexpected. Tomorrow we would have been married 30 years. I love reading what you write. It makes me feel less alone.

  • Reply Cindy February 12, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    You wrote just what I have been feeling. Thank you. My husband died December 6,2017. It was sudden and very unexpected. Tomorrow we would have been married 30 years. It is the hardest thing I have ever gone through. I love reading what you write and will continue to follow you. I love the picture of the dog. I have 3 beagles and they keep me sane and busy.

  • Reply Patti February 12, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    You continue to say what my heart feels, still is feeling after two and a half years! Please continue to remain strong and verbal for all of us Jodi! You are a bright light that I continue to look forward to reading. God’s blessing to you and your family!

  • Reply Betty Hiett February 12, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    I am encouraged by all of your messages but this oe is especially helpful to me now as I approach the first anniversary of my dear daughter’s death. Thank you so much.

  • Reply Nikki February 13, 2018 at 5:21 am

    Your post has made my heart smile! We are 20 weeks without Jeff. My heart still hurts but I know I must live forward for myself and our kids. I am working on better nutrition and exercising more, not near where I once was but will get there.

  • Reply Sara Miller February 13, 2018 at 7:35 am

    Wow. You took the words right out of my mouth. I couldn’t have written it so eloquently though. Sunday was the 14th anniversary of my husbands death and it was a good day. That is a change from past anniversaries. We celebrated him. The kids and I weren’t all able to be together due to the miles but some of us were and FaceTime and texts and Facebook united us with friends and family with stories and memories and laughs and tears and songs and just wow. Floods of emotions. But I am actually moving forward with life. Something I haven’t felt for a while and never thought would happen. I felt like life was moving on without me and I was just waiting out my days to be with him again. Yes like you I would rathe be growing old with him but I know God has a plan. And although I wish I had a clear vision of what that was I will continue to search for what that is and move forward and live for each day and enjoy the journey appreciate the gift of the three gifts Lon gave me of our 3 beautiful kids that amaze me every day. Thank you for sharing your heart in this blog. God bless! 💜

  • Reply Diane February 13, 2018 at 7:43 am

    Jody,
    You continue to amaze me with your strength, courage and perseverance towards life. You are so blessed.

  • Reply Jayne February 13, 2018 at 8:00 am

    JODY, FUNNY YOU SHOULD WRITE THIS IN YOUR BLOG, I LOST MY HUSBAND OF 38 YEARS UNEXPECTEDLY, HE WAS ONLY 56 , THIS HAS BEEN THE HARDEST THING I HAVE EVER HAD TO GO THROUGH, THE LAST 8 1/2 months have been rough, when I start thinking about my future and then I push those thoughts away, guess not ready yet, the sad part is people are living life and I am still in May, 2017, I think I am getting ready to join a grief support group and I really think it would be good for me. Thank you for writing blogs and j have been following you since my husband passed and it has really helped me, thank you so much!!

  • Reply Libby Peay February 14, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    Jodi, the first two paragraphs I can identify with to the tee. Yesterday was a year since I lost my Ruf. I know I must snap out of these doldrums. You give me hope and I will continue to try. Right now it is 1 step forward and 2 back.

  • Reply Janet February 15, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Right where I’ve been lately—all of a sudden, I’m interested in things I’ve been setting aside and actually enjoying doing them as well as not feeling so sorry for myself and overwhelmed and “heavy.” Yesterday I realized i was ok w/o a Valentine although I still miss Bob and his sugar cookies. So much better than last last year and year before. Don’t really know when or how it got better but it has. Your blog is great, and except that I’m much older and do not have young children, your writing has pretty much mirrored my feelings.

  • Reply Jody February 15, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    So glad to read this. It warms my heart. Your dog is precious too! 😃

  • Reply solitonkoba February 16, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Thanks for checking them out Extra Grace Required! 🙂

  • Reply Sue February 18, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    Thank you, You give me hope and I will take it wherever I can get it. But it is very, very hard. Last week it was one year after being married 40 years. I miss him so very much and I am still overwhelmed by this new reality, not to mention scared and alone😢

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: