Last week Larry Aherns, one of our brother’s shared a short inspirational piece entitled: “A shout out to everyone who is trying right now” by S.C. Lourie. Lourie is an author and blogger from the U.K. who writes of hope to all who have suffered a loss. She suffered a miscarriage a few years ago and wrote extensively about that loss and how it changed and affected her life. Our brother Terrell Whitener a fellow columnist, and I both commented on Larry’s post and agreed we would attempt to expound on some of Laurie’s thoughts.
For those of you who did not read it, I encourage you to do so. She describes the struggles of trying: trying to stay open and to keep moving and trying to stay afloat, trying to find your flow, trying to meet each new day, and trying to find your balance. I want to focus on these struggles from my perspective as one who entered the loss journey nineteen months ago.
On May 17th, 2020, I lost my wife after succumbing to end-stage kidney disease that she bravely battled for over five years. The first weeks and months after her death was at times unbearable. Every day I cried and wept, often uncontrollably, and asked myself, “How could I possibly go on”? “What purpose do I have as my beloved is gone”? Life had no meaning at that time. “How could I stay afloat”? Finding my flow was a foreign concept. Those first few weeks and months of grief after losing my wife led to brain fog, the constant tears, the anger, the disbelief, and the thought that I was so deep in the ocean of sadness I would not get back to the shore. I felt as though I would eventually sink and die. I had to make decisions so I could somehow get to the shore.
Enter my grief counselor, who gave me a lifeline and gently pulled me toward the shore. It was not an immediate rescue and required work from me to reach the sand. We spoke initially every day and eventually three times a week to now once a week. He listened and understood my pain. He knew what I was going through as an experienced Hospice grief counselor for over 25 years. He helped me reach the shore and gave me tools to safely swim again and not worry that I would drown in my darkness and fears. I am moving toward my flow but no longer worry about staying afloat.
How did I stay open and learn how to meet each new day? Dr. Cassandra Brene Brown said it best: “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is to show up” Fred Colby invited me to join a support group he started about two years ago for Widowers. I found hope and strength and support from my seven brothers, whom I call good friends who continue to help me as I journey down this path. Seven men whom I would never have met now united in a fraternity by our common loss, forever together to give hope and comfort to each other.
I try to pay it forward and now lead a group for Widowers in my area of the United States. I find joy in being able to help my brothers. I have no special skills; I lend an ear, share what helps me and try to be a source of comfort and support to my brothers as we walk this path together. I owe a debt of gratitude to all these men, especially Herb Knoll, who has helped me in so many ways.
It takes courage for my brothers to show up and try. Believe that if you are doing this, you are walking the path of a courageous man. I never thought the grief would open my mind to roads and trails that offer me so much insight. So often, we see grief as the crippler, the destroyer of us ever enjoying life again.
Grief is a part of our lives but not the sum of our lives.
I read a line written by the youngest poet laureate Amanda Gorman for the New Year 2022. She wrote, “Solace can be sourced from sorrow.” What a powerful line! It encourages us to find solace, comfort, and peace from our sadness. That my friends require work, it doesn’t happen overnight; it may take a very long time, but if you work on it, you can find peace, comfort, and hope.
I know because I am trying to work on it each day.