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WSN Tribute in Florida House of Representatives

Yesterday, at the State of Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, in the Florida House of Representatives, State Representative Scott Plakon paid “A Tribute” to the Widowers Support Network and myself. Scott is himself is a widower (although he too has rediscovered love and has remarried) and is a member of WSN-MO.

I want to publicly thank Scott for the honor he has provided when he took to the floor of the Florida House and addressed those assembled while highlighting WSN many accomplishments.

You can view Scott’s remarks by going to 1.35 time stamp on the attached video. Be sure to zoom in on the “A Tribute” so you can read Scott’s generous words.

Make no mistake, Scott’s message were directed at you, for you have make our ministry what is is today. You volunteered, participated, reached out to one another at a time of need, and so much more.

Some of you have even contributed to our GoFundMe page to help with the expenses of operating WSN. To those who did so, we thank you.

If you would like to volunteer, perhaps joining on of our Special Interest Groups, write a column, write me at herb@widowerssupportnetwork.com.

For those of you who would like to donate to our operating cost, Go to https://www.gofundme.com/…/pegu7v-widowers-support…

See: WSN-MO: “A Tribute” (Part 2) among today’s posts for more coverage.

To Representative Scott Plakon …You’re the best. Thank you.

WSN – Healing Hearts, Saving Lives.

https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/4-27-21-house-session/

Be part of the herd

Hello Brothers! I haven’t written much lately. I have, however, been watching the forum, reading many of your posts and cheering you on as you courageously deal with so many issues and challenges of life and death. I’m so impressed by the young men in our group who have instantly become school teachers, IT experts, coaches and mothers as well as fathers. I take my hat off to each and every one of you. I stand in awe of the job you are doing. You are standard bearers for the rest of us. There is a lot of good happening to the men in our group. It continues to be an honor to be part of this Band of Brothers.

This week marks the 21 month mark of my journey into grief, restoration, renewal and all that goes with it. I wish I could say, without reservation, that it gets easier. I cannot say that. What I can say is it becomes more normal, and acceptable as a way of life. We may walk with a little bit of a limp, but nonetheless, we keep walking. Who ever said that grief is not a linear process really knew what they were talking about. Certainly the last year, when the word pandemic became part of our every day language, our process became even more complicated and convoluted. The isolation we already were enduring became manifested through the quarantines etc. Hopefully, we are seeing an end to that. As I look back on my personal journey in the last year, it seems like I’ve done a lot of treading water. Treading water…. that’s good. If you’re treading water, you’re staying afloat. If you’re staying afloat you’re not drowning. I’ll take that as a win.

As I write this, we are three days away from the first day of spring. I’m still in Florida, thinking of when to wind my winter season up here and work my way back to Indiana. I was able to get the first part of the COVID vaccine today. I heard a few people joking about being part of “the herd”. As I listen to them talking, I realize we all want to be part of the herd. I want to be a part of the herd that’s responsible and doing their part, no matter how minor it might seem, to help bring this pandemic to an end. I want to be part of the herd that gathers at my beloved St. Luke’s Methodist Church in Indianapolis every Sunday morning. I want to be part of the herd that sits on friends patios and enjoys good food and fellowship.

The most important herd, however, that I want to be a part of, is this one. This herd represents survivors. This herd represents men who have been thrust from the peaks of their life into the very depths of despair and have chosen to continue life. This herd represents men who have endured life’s cruelest experience. This herd consists of men who have probably never met each other, yet care for each other very very deeply.

I like that. I like seeing the instant support and response for a brother who is hurting and is brave enough to share his hurt. This group is our herd. Stay with the herd.

Wishing you all a healthy spring season!

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You can write Jim Winner via Facebook Messenger. Jim was featured along with fellow brother Larry Ahrens on the Widowers Journey Podcast #19. To listen, go to https://WidowersJourney.libsyn.com

Letter to An Old Friend

Recently, while doing my dishes, I decided to take the time to write a letter to an old friend. Though we have had the opportunity to talk here and there, it always seems like the thoughts shared are just fleeting most of the time.

I find that one of the best ways of catching up still is a good old fashion letter. Not text, no tweet, no post but just a heartfelt letter sometimes does the trick. Let me share with you a portion of my most recent letter to an old friend.

Dear friend,

It has been a while since we last talked. I wanted to take the time to write this letter to you. You see since we last talked, I have suffered a couple of significant losses in my life. Though these losses threw me for quite a loop, I find myself doing better these days. You would never believe it, but your friend is now a published author! Can you believe it? Me a published author! Who would have ever thought that would ever happen? I have even had the opportunity to do a couple of book signings as well as do some limited travel promoting and talking about the book.

I find myself still lonely most of the time but have come to understand that I am never alone. There is still family and friends to pass the time with. I am still a huge baseball fan and have started my pursuit of visiting every major league stadium. I often must remind myself that I still have so much to live for and not get bogged down in constantly commiserating over what I have lost but to take time to celebrate what I have.

I now am much more discerning about how I spend my time and must be a better steward over both my health and finances that I used to be. I find my apartment both too vast and too confining at times. I have come to also understand that is just the process of getting emotionally caught in-between sometimes. Though I have been long been blessed with the gift of being able to express myself, I often feel that no one understands me anymore.

By the way, since we last talked, we have gone through what some people call a “pandemic”. You would not have liked this; it would have been much too confining for you. Do not worry I stayed safe and have recently received the vaccine for this plague.

But overall dear friend as I begin to close this letter, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I also want to thank you for the many gifts and the enormous grace you have shown me throughout the years. I look forward to chatting with you again.

I will try not to be such a stranger moving forward.

Sincerely

Your friend,

My dear brothers, by sharing these thoughts with you I am not trying to guide you toward any belief system. However, I hope to encourage you to connect to something besides yourselves. I do not have to tell you that the road we have traveled or continue to travel is not an easy one at times. But travel the road we have been chosen to do! Won’t you consider taking the time to write a letter to an old friend? It just might make for a better day!

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Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. Terrell can be reached at twhitener@thedebriefgroup.net, LinkedIn @terrell-whitener or through the Widow Support Network.

I will not let Grief control me!

On Friday March 12th, 2021, my family and I along with some friends gathered at a funeral home in in Brooklyn NY to honor, remember and show our love to my brother-in -law. My late wife’s oldest brother and the last survivor of her family passed away after a battle with throat cancer. Our service was led by my friend an Episcopal priest and we prayed, sang, and recalled the life of a good man. We the mourners tried to find solace and hoped we could experience peace through our raw pain.

Ten months ago, in Upstate New York we remembered, honored, and showed our love to my wife Diane during her funeral service. Just as I thought I was slowly healing from the pain of my loss I was thrown back into the abyss of pain and sorrow one more time. As I entered the funeral home that follows Covid -19 protocol: temperature checks and hand sanitizing; I noticed, and I realized the fear that still holds all of us at bay from each other: a deadly disease that has taken too many lives and still prevents us from any sort of normal life.

Before I entered the chapel where my brother-in-law was reposing, I saw a family coming out of one of the other chapels overwhelmed by grief, tears, and cries of sadness as they exited the building. As the last person left, I watched not one, but two caskets wheeled to the side of the building. I asked one of the funeral directors what happened. He told me that two grandparents in their early seventies had died one day apart. They were victims of Covid -19. That family was facing double the pain, double the loss and double the sorrow. I shook my head in disbelief. My heart broke for each of them. I was with my family going through another death, another loss and again burying someone I loved. I could feel their pain.

As the minister conducted our service virtually through live stream I glanced around the room and saw my family and friends filled with pain and sadness. I kept saying to myself yes, we are sad; and yes, tears will flow but do not let grief blind hope and love. I heard it in the words spoken by the minister who told us look for the signs that Paul is still with us. A reminder to us that DEATH IS NOT THE VICTOR.

I wanted us to remember Paul not with numbness and silence that I saw in this chapel but joy, smiles and laughter.

I was honored to deliver his eulogy as I did for my wife 10 months ago. I consider it a love letter that I crafted allowing me to paint a picture of who the person was and how they enriched my life. I shared a couple of anecdotes about fun times we shared and how those memories will sustain me.

I also shared how Diane and Paul endured grief throughout their lives. Ernie the youngest brother died at age 30 in 1980. Both of their parents died at ages 63 and 68 respectively back in 1987 and 1988 several months apart. Diane’s oldest daughter, age 45, and Paul’s niece died in 2017. Despite these devastating loses they did not let grief destroy them. With each loss came the opportunity to celebrate a life by starting new traditions and hosting family gatherings and finding peace and solace through reuniting with other family members.

Despite loss Paul and Diane also lived life with joy, fun and laughter and they had soul mates who shared their love and continue to love them since love never dies.

Grief was a part of their lives as it is a part of my life but I will not let it control me.

Yes, Friday was tough day and Saturday was a little easier and I hope each day will be a little better.

Clair Austin a widow and a trained therapist who works as a trauma specialist helping children who have suffered loss wrote the following about grief:

“Grief is a true reflection of the magnificent intensity of being human”. What a beautiful image. To be human means to experience joy and sorrow, despair and hope, loss and acceptance and friendship and love. It is all part of being a human being. Let me take this a step further; to truly live and love means that someone you love will die. That is a hard pill to swallow. You and me to be fully human must learn how to continue to live, love and laugh. You can if grief is welcome at your table but not allowed to control who you are.

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Tom Peyton has been an active member of the Widower’s Support Network since 5/17/20, following the death of his bride, Diane. He resides in upstate New York and can be reached via Facebook’s MESSENGER.

I feel at ease in the arms of the world now…

There is a song that, for the last several weeks, has been on constant loop in my mind. It’s Amos Lee’s “Arms of a Woman.” In the song, he sings, “I am at ease in the arms of a woman. But most of my days, I spend alone.”

Now as widowers, we can all relate to the whole spending most of our days alone a bit. But what about being at ease in the arms of a woman? For most of us, this is a foreign concept.

I’ve read a bunch of posts on here where my brother talk about never wanting to be with another person. I’ve read similar things where there is a desire to end it all: whether that’s because there is alack of friends, lack of will, or just a lack of reason for living.

There are two conflicting views here, and nothing is ever going to be black and white. But I must ask, does being in the arms of another woman mean that we are betraying the love and memories we share with our late wives? Or, is it acceptable to feel at ease in the arms of another woman?”

For most of us, we struggle not with the being in the arms of another woman, but the other past — the spending most of our days alone. When you were married, how much time did you truly spend alone? And I’m not talking about about playing golf on a Sunday, or going hunting or fishing for a few days with the boys.

How comfortable are yo alone with yourself? How do you feel about your true self? What do you tell yourself in your head when you think about what it is you’re doing with your life, and about your late wife?

“She would want you to carry on living,” right? “She would want you to be happy again,” right? These are sentiments we hear time again, not only from friends and relatives, but also from therapists and strangers who feel it’s okay to tell us how to feel… Am I right?

Truth is, the only person whose opinion matters is you. You have to decide – yes it’s a choice – what’s right for you. Re-partnering is not for everyone. Not all of us have it in us to put our hearts out there and find another person to share our lives with.

Before Suzi died, I told her, “I will never be able to love anyone else like I’ve loved her.” She told me, “never say never. You may find someone who lives you and that you love equally. Don’t stop loving because I’m not here.” And she meant don’t stop loving myself-which (of course) I promptly did.

Thirty months after Suzanne died, I remarried. Over that two-and-a-half years, I spent a great deal of time, effort, and money trying to find my true self, my purpose, and my reason to keep living. When I found all that, the most amazing thing happened. I found new love. Not only did I find her, but also she found in me an ideal partner who meets all of her needs and wants.

So, today, while I still miss Suzanne terribly-and feel waves of grief wash over me too often to recount the number of times- I am at ease. I am at ease in my own company, as well as in the arms of another woman. And that, my brothers, is saying something.

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Jeff Ziegler is the founder of The Infinite Man. He can be seen every two weeks here on WSN. You can write Jeff at Jeff.ziegler@ymail.com.

Is It Possible to Befriend Grief?

by Tom Peyton

For the past several months my grief counselor has encouraged me to look at grief from a different perspective. Instead of allowing it at times to crush my spirit, to hit me with an avalanche of tears or overwhelm me with sadness and pain, he suggested I view it as a friend. Initially I rejected the thought. How could I befriend something that took away the love of my life, my soulmate, the woman with whom I hoped to spend so many more years? Could I discover friendship from what I perceive to be my enemy? Let me emphasize that I am just over 9 months into my loss. The thought of doing this a few months ago was inconceivable. The thought even now leaves me somewhat skeptical. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to take on this suggestion and see if it is possible to befriend grief.

I have learned many valuable lessons from the veteran brothers in our group. My first few weeks and then first few months in this group – none of us ever wanted to join – were filled with pain and so many tears. I recall many brothers telling me to trust them; to give it a week and that with each week the pain would ease slightly. It has subsided to some degree but it still hurts. Grief can hit at any time, without warning and is triggered by so many memories, events or experiences that may or may not seem significant. After nine months I have learned that grief can debilitate and prevent me from living my life. I am not looking for a quick remedy for dealing with grief. I am coming to a realization that the process of healing involves me taking active steps to deal with my grief. The wisdom of Herb Knoll, Fred Colby and Terrell Whitener shows that being pro-0active means moving forward in life and learning how to confront, and I dare to say, befriend grief.

I don’t have a plan or a methodology or a solution for confronting grief and converting it into a friend. What I have done is take a couple of small steps still early in my journey that are helping, me to heal. These two very small steps have enabled me to find a purpose and develop a routine in my everyday life as I attempt to discover the new me.

I rescued a large dog a few months ago and he has become a great companion. He was abandoned on the side of the road and as I sadly recently discovered was beaten by his former owner. Fortunately, a Good Samaritan found him and a dog rescue connected me with him. Everyday, we take many walks in my neighborhood. I enjoy his curiosity about everything he sees and smells. He travels in my car and works with me as my sidekick. I am learning from him how to heal and trust again when tragedy hits. He senses when I am down and stays by my side.

Secondly, I spend time each day writing in my journal. It’s an opportunity for me to put into words those feelings that I am experiencing. I can see in my writings what I feel. It enables me to reflect and expound on my emotions. Its cathartic and I find it beneficial.

The healing process I have discovered is a journey that requires time, patience and work. It will cause tears and it will make you sad. Yet it can be a tool to help as it helps me. As I look at pictures from our past family parties, gatherings or holidays, I can view them in one of two ways: sad reminders of what was and will never occur again; or with gratitude that I participated in events that enriched my life. I want to see them as inspiration as I move forward in my life. I have been blessed by a woman who taught me how to live life fully and how to die with dignity and grace.

Grief will always be a part of my life. Its not a death sentence – although it may feel that way at times. It becomes more painful if I see it that way because then it truly takes on the form of my enemy. If I view it as my grief counselor suggests, as part of my life but it does not strip me of all joy and happiness. Before my wife died, she told me to go forward; She said; “You have to go on.” She did not suggest it: she did not say give it a try, but give up if it doesn’t work; she gave me a command.

I am not an expert on grief. I learn each day from you and our veteran brothers ways to move forward. I am not a the point of saying grief and I are best friends. I am however willing to welcome grief as a part of, but not the whole of my life. As with any friendship, it takes time to develop and and hopefully, we can be friends rather than enemies. I wish each of you success in your path and hope that you discover peace and comfort in your journey.

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Tom Peyton’s bride Diane earned her Angel Wings on May 17, 2020.

Managing those Difficult Days

Many if not most of us find some days more difficult than others. For some it may be a birthday, or an anniversary, yet for others it may be a song or even the house you live in that can be the basis of these feelings.

For me, the most complex day of the year is Valentine’s Day. During my marriage I found Valentine’s Day the most stressful day of the year. You see Valentine’s Day was the day you did not want to get wrong if you were married to Robyn Street. Full disclosure, my wife was not an overly materialistic person, however she made a very good living and one of the great exercises in our marriage was picking out a gift for Robyn that she had not already given herself! So, this brings me to the yearly challenge of picking the right gift for this “day of love”. Or as I referred to it” the day my blood pressure increased 15 points”! Get it right and you saw her eyes light up I that way I miss so very much, get it ok, and receive that thank you Terrell, this is nice. Dang! Note to self, on your next business trip come home with something special.

On Sunday I experienced my sixth Valentine’s day with my Robyn. It was a very long day, but a day that has a mixed history with me anyway. Let me give you the background on why I feel this way.

It was on Valentine’s Day of 2014 while taking a stress test that we discovered what would become quadruple bypass surgery that my wife would need to undergo. Despite positive checkups, I now know that she would never fully recover from that surgery. The following year on Valentine’s Day Robyn and I would have our last date, dinner at a French restaurant that she loved. You see Valentine Day and I have a bit of history together.

As the years have gone by and love has not found its way into my life to date, Valentine’s day can sometimes feel like it takes a week for the day to go by. To combat the sadness that comes with it, I have begun to focus on the irony that this day has recently brought into my life. For it was on Valentine’s Day two years ago that my son got engaged to his wife. On that same day two years ago, I accepted a new job and had the first conversation with someone that has become a good friend. No, that friendship has not become love, but she is a widow and we both have come to appreciate the familiarity we have with how difficult it is to lose someone you love. So, could it be brothers, that Valentine’s Day is not so bad after all? Time will tell.

No matter what your difficult day is, let me offer a bit of encouragement to you, push through the uncomfortable feelings. Denial is seldom, if ever progress. While recalling the emptiness, remember the special memories and muster up a smile. Remind yourself if you must that it is just a day and not a lifetime you are felling at that moment.

There are times that I lean on one of the countless words of wisdom my great-grandmother used to remind me of when she would say “remember Terry, trouble do not last always. My brothers, we will carry grief with us the rest of our days, but remember while doing so, we also carry love. This is where you find the strength to carry on. This is where you find the strength to manage those difficult days.

____________________________________________________________________

Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. Terrell can be reached at my newly redesigned thedebriefgroup365.com, there you will find all my social media contacts or through the Widowers Support Network.

Managing those Difficult Days

Many if not most of us find some days more difficult than others. For some it may be a birthday, or an anniversary, yet for others it may be a song or even the house you live in that can be the basis of these feelings.

For me, the most complex day of the year is Valentine’s Day. During my marriage I found Valentine’s Day the most stressful day of the year. You see Valentine’s Day was the day you did not want to get wrong if you were married to Robyn Street. Full disclosure, my wife was not an overly materialistic person, however she made a very good living and one of the great exercises in our marriage was picking out a gift for Robyn that she had not already given herself!

So, this brings me to the yearly challenge of picking the right gift for this “day of love”. Or as I referred to it” the day my blood pressure increased 15 points”! Get it right and you saw her eyes light up I that way I miss so very much, get it ok, and receive that thank you Terrell, this is nice. Dang! Note to self, on your next business trip come home with something special.

On Sunday I experienced my sixth Valentine’s day with my Robyn. It was a very long day, but a day that has a mixed history with me anyway. Let me give you the background on why I feel this way.

It was on Valentine’s Day of 2014 while taking a stress test that we discovered what would become quadruple bypass surgery that my wife would need to undergo. Despite positive checkups, I now know that she would never fully recover from that surgery. The following year on Valentine’s Day Robyn and I would have our last date, dinner at a French restaurant that she loved. You see Valentine Day and I have a bit of history together.

As the years have gone by and love has not found its way into my life to date, Valentine’s day can sometimes feel like it takes a week for the day to go by. To combat the sadness that comes with it, I have begun to focus on the irony that this day has recently brought into my life. For it was on Valentine’s Day two years ago that my son got engaged to his wife. On that same day two years ago, I accepted a new job and had the first conversation with someone that has become a good friend. No, that friendship has not become love, but she is a widow and we both have come to appreciate the familiarity we have with how difficult it is to lose someone you love. So, could it be brothers, that Valentine’s Day is not so bad after all? Time will tell.

No matter what your difficult day is, let me offer a bit of encouragement to you, push through the uncomfortable feelings. Denial is seldom, if ever progress. While recalling the emptiness, remember the special memories and muster up a smile. Remind yourself if you must that it is just a day and not a lifetime you are felling at that moment.

There are times that I lean on one of the countless words of wisdom my great-grandmother used to remind me of when she would say “remember Terry, trouble do not last always. My brothers, we will carry grief with us the rest of our days, but remember while doing so, we also carry love. This is where you find the strength to carry on. This is where you find the strength to manage those difficult days.

__________________________________________________________

Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. Terrell can be reached at my newly redesigned thedebriefgroup365.com, there you will find all my social media contacts or through the Widowers Support Network.

No Such Thing As Closure

There is closure on real estate deals, businesses deals, etc. but there is no such thing as closure on a relationship. Closure means the end of a deal. It’s done, over, completed. All conditions have been met. No more expectations that need to be fulfilled. Closure relates to deals, not life, not relationships.

As far as I’m concerned, there is no end to the relationship that Lorna and I had. Yes, our physical relationship on this earth has ended, but our RELATIONSHIP has not ended, nor will it. She is very much alive to me right now, even though I can’t see her, feel her, talk with her or touch her. It is me that is not as alive as she is. I will die, someday, whenever that will be. Then, I will join her in a new life that will never end. Then, our relationship will continue, in a different manner than it was here, but it will continue. I have that promise. Without that promise, there is no hope. It is more than a hope. Once you know the truth, it sets you free. Free to know that I will be with Lorna again, no question. Different, but still in a personal relationship with her, walking with her, talking with her, experiencing an amazing life WITH her! And there will be no more intermission, no sorrow of having to say “see you later!”

Many people say that a funeral is the “closure” for the family. For me, it wasn’t. Maybe for others, it is an end of that relationship, but for those of us who have lost that most important person in our lives, there can be no closure. Yes, we “move forward”, we learn to “manage” without that person in our daily lives, but that person, that love, is still very much a part of our daily lives. They will never leave, but now it’s called “grief”. It is now a part of life, part of what we deal with every single day, multiple times throughout the day. At first, it is overwhelming, like the waves of the ocean when you are not used to them. Later on, we learn how to see them coming and can handle them in public, but in private, we still often have our times of being swallowed by them. When things go wrong during the day, I find myself stealing away to have my alone time and cry out to Lorna, without the comfort of hearing her reassuring words that it will be ok. I have to imagine that, and yes, I can hear her telling me that.

Sometimes we get caught up in the rhetoric of what other people say that you should have “closure” on. For me, personally, I will never “close” on the relationship I had with Lorna, I can’t, it’s not possible. I am the person I am because of a 40 year relationship with Lorna. However, in the past 2 years and 10 months since she has been gone, I have had trouble with holding on to myself, the way she would’ve wanted me to be. This happens when everything that was “normal” in my life gets totally disrupted. What was “our” normal, disappeared.

While in many ways I feel like I am starting over, it is a “moving forward”, not without Lorna, but with her in a different way. Again, I am who I am because of the love from her and the desire I had to be the best I could be for her. I need to keep going forward being the best that I can be as if she was still here. I will get there, in time.

Closure should never exist in relationships, because we should never “close” a relationship with anyone.

“Love you to infinity and beyond” was the line she would always say to me just before going to sleep pretty well every night. There is no closure in that. Nor will there ever be.

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Death, Disease , Divorce

#death #Disease #Divorce – they leave us with painful memories of traumatic moments. Yet, we must find a way to grab life by the horns and keep living, not merely existing but truly living.

Words to live by: Remember…. But do not forget to keep moving forward. Or as my husband will say, “It is OK to be where you are, but it is NOT OK to stay there.”

In the movie News of the World, Tom Hanks says to the little girl: “It does you no good to go back to the past; keep moving forward.” She replies, “Sometimes you have to remember in order to move forward.”

In a couple of days, it will be the 3rd anniversary of my first husband’s death. I find myself unwillingly reliving the anxiety of that tragic and traumatic night. My sleep is consumed with dreams of death in general. I work hard at not remembering and not thinking about that night, yet my subconscious finds ways to take me back there. I know this, it is not easy to forget; I work hard daily at ‘not remembering’ the final images embedded in my brain, the moment of truth, the moment when my world was brought to a screeching halt for just a few moments; then it started to spin nauseatingly out of control.

For the first 6 months, reality was too painful to accept; so, while my head tried to forget my heart just would not catch up with reality. Then, the painful reality of loss hit me and grief that I can only describe as a deep, dark hole consumed me. I still fought back, hard. In those first 2 years, I ploughed through life with desperation – I had to survive! My girls and I were going to make it through.

Remembering was not an option because it weakened my resolve to fight; however, forgetting was not an option either because my subconscious would not let me. I buried myself in work trying to keep my mind from going places I did not want it to go. Several times in those 2 years I hit a hard, unyielding wall and crumbled like a cookie. I yielded to grief, but only for a short season. Then, I dusted the crumbs off, put on a straight face and decided it was time to fight again. This process was exhausting, and I needed a breakthrough.

One fine morning a year ago, I decided to fight a different kind of fight. Not the fight to forget but the fight to find Joy. I understood well that we were never made to be in a prolonged state of sadness, but we were meant to be vibrant reminders of God’s faithfulness. The scriptures state, “Weeping will last for the night, but Joy comes in the morning.” I decided to seize the ‘morning’ and to pursue ‘JOY’. That was the birth of our new ministry “Joy Comes in the Morning!”

Much has changed in this last year – a year filled with remembering and moving forward.

Transitioning from one state of life (widowhood from my first marriage) to marriage again; this required me to work hard at forgetting. It required me to not look back but to learn to embrace the present and dream of the future. Yet, for me to do that successfully required me to ‘remember’ and then make a conscious decision to move forward. My most recent act of remembering was an entire day of going through photographs, cataloging them so my daughters and I would some day be able to go through them and remember. Those pictures right now represent pain, but someday they will represent memories and stories to be shared with spouses, children, and grandchildren. I had to ‘remember’ so that I could continue to move forward.

On days like this memories flood my mind. Memories of intensely painful moments surrounding the loss sear my heart. Yes, I will remember; but I will keep moving forward. My life is a story of victory! It is a reminder of God’s faithfulness in the storms. It is a reminder that even though you feel alone and abandoned in your darkest hour, God has never left your side. It is a promise of tomorrow.

If you are in this journey of pain and grief, remember to make a decision to move forward. Remember the past as a means to your healing; but embrace the present with its promise of tomorrow.

When you lose hope remember this:

THE SUN WILL SHINE AGAIN BECAUSE THE SON NEVER STOPPED SHINING ON YOU.

I pray that you will remember: JOY Comes in the Morning! A very Good Morning to you.

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Cynthia Waits (Mascarenhas) is the Founder of Walk with a Widow, a ministry to widows worldwide; You can also find us on the web. Walk with a Widow Group is a support group on Facebook, serving almost 500 widows from over 13 countries around the world.

Cynthia and her husband David Waits, are subject matter experts for Joy Comes in the Morning #Death #Disease #Divorce, which can be found on Facebook. We hope to help you in your journey of finding Joy after a season of despair. Joy Comes in the Morning!