A Grieving Love

This whole blog journey began many years ago. I first started using Caring Bridge in 2010 to keep family and friends across the country updated with the cancer journey that Adam and I were traveling. After losing him in 2011, I began this blog in January 2012. I was watching marriages dissolve and families being torn apart by divorce. It angered me to my core! I didn’t get to fight for my marriage. I didn’t have a choice in my loss. Cancer took it! How could these people just walk away from their commitments to one another? I just could not understand the why’s. I began to think of all the regrets I had in my own marriage. Moments I could never get back. Silly little things like, greeting him with a hug after he returned from work. Laughing more together. Not being so serious all the time. Not trying to make everything a perfect memorable moment But instead just be in that moment. Taking more time to “date” one another after we married and had kids. Appreciating the moments we had together even if it was just snuggling up on the couch watching movies. To remember the importance of just saying I love you. I didn’t get the chance to try and rekindle things if they got really hard. To not let the little things become big things. To remind myself that just because it wasn’t being done my way, didn’t mean it was the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, we had our own marital issues, as all couples do. But cancer put so many aspects of marriage and relationships into a whole new perspective for me. It was something valuable, beautiful and absolutely worth fighting for every single day! I was really struggling with my grief and was so lost when I began blogging. I needed a way to connect with anyone who was wiling to read what I had to say about love. I had 3 small children, my faith and my close family. I didn’t know where to go to find any kind of healing beyond God and my family. I didn’t want to do counseling at that time, or a grief group for widows and widowers. I was 36, what did I possibly have in common with anyone older than me going through losing their spouse. No one could walked the same journey I had. Mine was harder. (At least in my mind that was all the truth). Truth is, no one understands losing a spouse unless they have lost one. All that I did know was that my faith and my kids were the only things that kept me going. I truly felt that others needed to be reminded how to love each other. Because once you lose the love of your life, you realize how precious and fleeting life and love actually are. So I began this blog to help the healing process of my own heart. Hopefully I was going to encourage others to remember how to show love to those they had in their lives.

Unbeknownst to me Matt was reading this very blog! He was one of those people going through a divorce that broke my already broken heart. He was my friend. He too had small children. He too was alone unexpectedly becoming a single father who was having to balance it all. He too was grieving a loss. It was a different kind of loss, but losing a marriage is also something to grieve. He was hurting, his children were hurting. We were all hurting! I knew hurt. He says that my show love challenge was what made him fall in love with me! Who knew!!! Well God did.

I needed people to appreciate what they had, or who they had. I needed them to fight for marriages and children and families. I had to see love prevail. I know that God is love, yet I saw love failing all around me. I was struggling with just making sure my kids felt loved, but I really needed to know that I was still worthy of love too. I was painting a picture of what I wanted love to be for me if I ever found it again, outside of God. I wanted to share how I felt loved, showed love, gave love and accepted love. I wanted to remind myself to love my children in all those ways too. It was also a reminder of God’s love for us. Writing this blog helped me to find a love that I never expected. One that I never saw coming. I had resigned to do this life alone and be content in that. I had God, my babies, and my family. I didn’t want to settle for anything or anyone that wasn’t from God. I had a specific list of requirements for falling in love and getting married again. I never expected God to fulfill that list with every single item checked off! Why I ever doubt what God can do I will never know. I guess it’s my human nature. I can assure you though, that He gave me more than I could have ever imagined. He healed my heart, and my children’s hearts. He healed Matt’s heart and his children’s hearts too. We were all broken when we came into this marriage and newly blended family. Little did we know how we would heal one another. God brought us together as a family and even through our trials and struggles as a family, He has remained faithful. Matt and I have a different appreciation for love, marriage and faith after what we each went through.We feel like our children do too. We have loved and lost. We have grieved and rejoiced. We have found beauty from ashes. We have sown many tears and are now reaping so much joy. Joy ordained by God.

Today I am praying for those that are grieving. Grief comes in all shapes and sizes. It comes in ebbs and flows. It is hard, heavy and sometimes all consuming. Loss comes in many ways too. It can be from death, the end of a marriage or relationship. It can be from losing a loved one to dementia or mental health diseases that steal them away. It can be from loss of a job or something else important to you. Loss is loss. There are no definitions or rules to loss and grief. We all have to deal with it in our own way. No one way is right or wrong. We all have to move forward in our grief though. Do not become stuck in one phase of it. You must keep going. If you can only accomplish one thing each day that helps you, do it. Keep it up. Grief will never go away completely. It is always with us like our shadow. Some days it is easier to see than others, but it is always there. We can hold onto hope though because we know that one day we will all be restored wholly and completely with Jesus. Those we have lost through death and disease will be waiting to greet us in heaven. Hold on to that hope as you walk your personal journey through grief. God is walking it with you and so am I.

Find some laughter in your day. Laugh often. It is the best remedy I have come across for me. Matt makes me laugh every single day. It is one of his goals. And he rarely if ever fails at it. We usually laugh multiple times in a day. Our kids make us laugh often as well. We laugh at our pets, funny videos, movies or books. We find laughter to be a regular occurrence in this house. Our family in general is full of laughter. Don’t ever mess up around us, we will never let you forget it! HA! Especially wedding vow slip ups. Roll down a hill in a tire swing, or dive bomb on a trampoline. Fling a flaming marshmallow onto your flip flopped foot. If minced meat is stacked up at Harry’s for $2.99. Or you begin to sing along with a soloist A cappella, loudly and off key. We have been known to giggle uncontrollably at funerals, gravesides and other inappropriate places. We have laughed until tears stream down our faces and our stomachs hurt. You can’t be too serious around here. you are it never lasts too long. Todays self love comes in the form of laughter. The weather may be gray and rainy here, but inside I have already laughed many times today! Go find something funny in your life. If you need suggestions I will gladly give you some! Be happy today! Live, laugh, and love! Laughter truly is the best medicine.

*This photo is probably one of my all time most favorite pictures of my sisters and I. Photo credits to my mom, and who know what we were laughing about.

Proverbs 17:22 "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. 

Job 8:21 "He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy."

By Laurel Austin Henson

Laurel spent 8 months caring for her first husband after being diagnosed with cancer in 2010. He passed away at 33, leaving behind a daughter of 7 and 5 year old twin boys. After sowing millions of tears, Laurel sought out God daily and began to plan for a life of being a single mother, but ready to raise their children in faith, hope and love. God gave her more than she could have ever imagined when she brought Matt into her life, along with his 2 children. He was recently divorced and the providence of God had been leading up to this life for more than 20 years! Now Laurel is reaping joy with Matt and their 5 beautiful children. Thanks be to God for all the beauty created from the ashes of death and divorce.

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