Hello and Happy New Year! Hope you enjoyed quality time over the holidays with your family and friends.
Ellie and I got lots of extra quality and snuggle time while we were quarantined in our home for a week when Ellie came down with the flu on New Year’s Day.
We also welcomed a new addition to our family this past weekend when my little brother, Pres, and his wife, Anna, had their first baby, Amelia!
I don’t know about you, but I was ready for a New Year, a fresh start.
Last year was by far the most difficult year post Andrew’s death. I spent most of it in doctors’ offices, trying to figure out strange and painful symptoms in my body, leaving me with low energy, severe fear, anxiety, and depression.
Not sure if it was spending so much time in hospitals that brought back sad memories, the fear of getting cancer and going through what I witnessed my husband go through, or just slowing down long enough to feel and face my reality of losing a loved one and becoming a widowed single mom, but for whatever reason I experienced intense grief, fear, and sadness like never before.
When Andrew passed away, I thought I had to be strong and keep moving.
I was afraid if I slowed down and allowed myself to grieve my loss, then everything else in my life would unravel. Four years later, when I finally did let the walls down, things started to fall apart.
I struggled to complete regular day-to-day tasks. It was like a heavy fog was following me everywhere. When I failed to stay on top of seeking out new speaking engagements, the opportunities to share my story decreased, all while my medical bills increased, which led to some financial struggles. Everything was falling through the cracks and I felt like such a disappointment.
One of my greatest fears was coming true. It was scary not knowing if I was going to be OK (health wise), or if I was going to go broke, or if the intense grief would be lifted.
I decided to trust God openhandedly with all the things I couldn’t control and focus on what was in front of me. I took the next few months to nurture my mental and physical health and be fully present with my daughter.
I sought out professional and financial mentors, and decided to be a student and simplify my life. I stayed open-minded as best I could, and looked to God’s guidance on how to rebuild from grief.
Over time, my symptoms disappeared and my blood work started to normalize. The grief still comes in waves, but finally allowing myself to feel it has set me free from the build-up of avoidance and denial. It’s enabled me to build a new life on the foundation of acceptance, deep compassion, and empathy.
It’s helped to acknowledge I’m on a continuous journey, and to root myself firmly in a state of gratitude as much as possible. And I mean gratitude for ALL of it—the pain, fear, confusion, and unraveling. Because each challenge I experienced presented me with an opportunity to create something new, to reprioritize, and to approach life from a fresh perspective.
In the weeks to come, I will be sharing some of the best wisdom, advice, tips, and guidance I received during this transformational time in my life. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and invite you to share your experiences as well.
I encourage you to give yourself permission to grieve. Take the time and space you need for yourself to feel. Even when the pain feels like it will consume you, it will not, there is relief on the other side of grief, but we must go through it to receive it. You are not alone, my friend. God is with you and for you. Love and Blessings.