For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Monday, July 6, 2015

On Hard Anniversaries

I think I started counting days two weeks before the actual date. Had it really been a year? How could it be a year since I heard his voice? Or shared a laugh? Or...said goodbye? It was just yesterday...wasn't it? Not a year.

But the calendar is not prone to lying, so sure it had been...a year.

How do you face a day like that?

How do you face a day when part of your world went into a black hole and part of your heart went with it? How do you face a day when everything changed...and nothing did?

And now, this young woman sits in front of me at the coffee shop with tears slipping down her face, and she is asking me the same thing. How do you walk through that day and not fall into the black hole yourself?

Grief is a funny thing. Funny insane, not funny haha. And the one thing I can tell you about it is there is no absolute right way to grieve or face grief. Therefore, there is no absolute right way to handle the holidays or anniversaries or just crappy days, but I think there are ways to get through them easier than others.

First, remember it's a hard day. Give yourself the grace to let it be hard.

Second, you are not required to have any particular kind of day. You do not have to be happy and bubbly and pretend all is fine. Nor do you have to be miserable and glum as though the world just stopped all over again. Just be. There may be moments you can't breathe. That's normal. There may be moments when you realize you are just having a regular ol' day. That is normal. One year I remembered the anniversary of my dad's death...a week late. I laughed. This past year was 12 years since his death, and I missed him like I hadn't missed him in years. A lot was changing in my life, and I really wished I could just talk to Dad about it. Both of those reactions are normal. This year my son missed his dad horribly on Father's Day. Last year it was no big deal. This year he is the tallest person in the house, has a shadow of a moustache, is becoming a young man with all the changes that go with, and he missed his dad and the friendship and companionship he and his dad shared. Makes perfect sense. Accept that the day is what it is and roll with it.

Third, I found it helps the first few years to have a plan. Our friend David died from cancer when we were all 33. The first year he was gone I decided I could not sit around missing him all day drowning in the loss of this precious man. So, I made a list of things he loved, and the kids and I did them. Rob was at work for most of it, but that evening we did things as a family, which was second only to God in importance in his life. I don't think anyone but me knew what the activities really were. They thought we were just having fun, and we were, but we were celebrating David. And, yes, during the celebration I had some emotional moments, but it was celebrating his life, not focusing on his death.

Since then I've done the same thing with my dad, mom, Rob, and other family and friends. It helps me remember the gift of them. It feeds my soul with life. In my mind, it takes back what death tried to steal, and it blesses the world with joy.

Fourth, don't make it worse than it has to be. Booze and drugs won't help. Letting the ups and downs of the day go over you like a wave is what helps. Be weepy and normal and absurdly funny. Honestly, it is no different than yesterday. It just has a tag attached to it. The loss is no greater than yesterday. Your heart is no more broken than yesterday. The day is no darker than yesterday. It's the number that trips us up, that screams a reminder. Just remind the day, "I made it through last week and the month before and yesterday. You are no big thing. I'll walk through you, too."

Now, I know folks who take the day off and stay in bed each year or go to the cemetery and sit and talk to the gravestone or sit at home, look at old pictures and videos, and let misery and grief consume them for the day. I'm not a counselor, and I'm not them, but I wonder how that helps. But then, I'm not one to focus on dead. I'm one to focus on living, so I choose to take the life of the person into the living of life now. No. That doesn't bring them back, but it helps me remember that the important part of them--the real life of them--is still with me and is still affecting the world. It helps me see that the loss is not total, that I can choose to infuse the world with their lives any time I want.

I'm not a grief expert. But, I have experienced a lot of it, and I am pretty experienced with going on with life anyway. Life means some days are hard. They just are. Some days feel like going through the motions, but I'm a firm believer that if I have to go through the motions, they should be motions of life and celebration of God's gifts.

This morning I am praying for several folks who are facing anniversaries of loss, and if I could tell you anything, I would tell you I'm sorry. I'm sorry about your loss. I'm sorry about the hole in your heart. I'm just so, so sorry. I wish I could sit with you and listen to your stories of joy...and sorrow. I would look at your pictures and listen to the crazy antics and precious memories. I would slip a box of Kleenex to you when tears fell. I would go with you and visit the places you need to visit and listen to your words...and your silence. I would simply be a presence and tell you how sorry I am I never met this person you love so much because they sound so amazing, and I have missed a bit of heaven for not knowing them but thank you for sharing them with me.

I would also tell you it won't always hurt like this. I know it feels like it will, but it won't. Sometimes it takes a long, long time, but Life wins if we let it. I am praying you are able to let Life win.

Please know on hard anniversaries my heart and prayers are with you, but more than that, the Lord our God is with you. May He be a comfort in your grief and joyful hope for your life.


Can I pray for you? I'm not a counselor, but I can pray...and listen. You can find my email on my profile page or leave a comment with request for privacy. If you give me your email, I'll reply. If you don't, know I'm praying.

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