Living with Grief

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I have always loved the excitement and hope associated with a new year. I love the traditions of a New Years day meal, creating resolutions, and planning for a better, brighter year. But January is also a month I associate with grief, hospitals, and ultimately loss. My father passed away January 25, 2011 and our son Graham gained his angel wings on January 24, 2017. When I reflect on those time periods, I am flooded with images of sickness, hospitals, and death. These recollections are sad and they contradict the anticipation of a new year we associate with January. And even though these events happened years ago, the memories often feel so present.

When scrolling through Instagram, I came across a quote by John Piper. “When sadness makes life heavy with tears, don’t stop doing your work. Own the pain, believe a promise, take a step in faith.” Whenever grief strikes and feels as if it consumes my thoughts, I try to remind myself to take this moment in. Feel the sadness, recognize the pain, but do not stop doing what God has called me to do. Although I’m still not sure what that looks like, I know He wants me to be a wonderful wife, a strong mother, a great friend, and good teacher. To be the person He has created me to be, I must live with my grief. And the key word is “live.”

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Grief does not fade away over time. It is always a part of us, even when the rest of world believes you have moved on. But it cannot consume you. Living with grief does not mean you cannot experience joy and hope, and we should not feel guilty for those feelings. But living with grief is a constant battle of those emotions. If you know someone who has experienced a loss or trauma, remember to recognize their loss and the emptiness they carry with them on a daily basis. Take time to say the name of the person they lost, or share a memory of their person. It truly lifts them up because in your simple gesture you are saying, “I still remember and am here for you.” It’s never easy to juggle the joy of the future with the reality your loved one will never be a part of it. But when someone acknowledges this challenge, it makes a world of difference.

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Even though I lost two amazing men in January, those memories do not define this time of year. I also have images of hope when I think back to January 2016. When Graham was born prematurely at 24 weeks, the doctors were not sure if he would survive. And if he did, the statistics indicated he would face countless obstacles. But Graham surpassed every challenge and survived. He was a miracle! Not only did Graham show us that he was a fighter, he also reminded us God’s power. Our Lord can help us achieve anything! When I think back to those NICU days in January, I remember how Graham surprised us each and every day. He showed us how strong he was and how good our God is. Even though we might struggle outwardly, like Graham did, God is lifting us up each and every day. Graham tackled each challenge and rose above the obstacles stacked against him. These NICU memories remind me that despite temporary troubles and setbacks, God is with us. He renews us each and every day, so that we can achieve a greater glory.

I will always associate January with sadness and pain. After all, no matter how much God loves us, the loss of my father and son is very real and very present. And even though my grief is a part of me, it does not define me. I am able to live with grief because of God’s love for us and His promises for us. During this January season, I am also reminded of Graham’s strength and God’s ability to help us rise above the challenges we face. God is good and He is faithful. His love for us endures forever. As I look forward to 2020, I am full of joy and hope.

 

13 thoughts on “Living with Grief”

  1. Thanks as always for sharing and for your inspirational words on the power of faith and hope as well as remembrance. You are a daily reminder to me of the power of the human spirit to endure and overcome and your strength strengthens us all. I am proud to know you and blessed to work with you. My love always! Bill

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  2. Thank you, Lauren, for another beautiful message. As always,so inspiring. Graham was also very inspiring. I looked forward to Bob’s weekly videos of that precious boy. In spite of all of Graham’s struggles he always had a big, beautiful smile on his face. He was such a happy baby. His gorgeous eyes and smiles melted my heart. Graham was a blessing that will live in all of our hearts forever. You, Brandon, and Carter are always in my prayers. Love, Bette

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  3. Lauren, your comments are always so mindful and inspiring. Like you, January is a tough month to get through for me. My mother passed away almost 16 years ago; I still have daily conversations with her. My husband, Ray Rovansek, has been gone for 21 years after succumbing to pancreatic cancer. My nephew, who was only 40, passed 11 years when a bout with strep throat turned into sepsis.
    I continue to think of them daily and hold close to the many good memories we shared. It is comforting to know that I will see them again!
    Hope your family is doing well; I know Carter must be getting so big.
    Love, Margaret

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    1. It is so comforting knowing we will see them again! I am so sorry that January is a tough month and know you have some incredible guardian angles looking down on you. I’ll be thinking of you!!

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  4. I worked with your wonderful dad at Sybase and have such fond memories of the laughs and fun we had. I admired your dad’s passion for the work we did but discovered just how truly amazing he was as he shared his spiritual journey living with cancer. I switched fields 5 years ago and am now an oncology nurse. Your dad’s inspiring words and strength are in my thoughts as I care for patients going through those tough times that your dad handled with hope and grace. You are carrying on his beautiful legacy with your inspiring sentiments. I imagine him beaming with pride in Heaven.

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  5. I really needed to hear this right now. Thank you so much for your inspiring strength! Thank you for the sweet reminder of how God’s love endures even in the darkest times and how his plan for us is greater that anything we can imagine.

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  6. hi Lauren, you don’t know how powerful your words are. I am so proud of you. Jim is very ill with stage 5 kidney failure. He is on the transplant list. Every day is a struggle. Reading your words reminds me to find strength in God. I miss your dad alot and I felt his presence reading your blog. love you ,Kathy

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    1. I had no idea Jim was sick! I am so sorry to hear you guys are going through this! God will carry you through this!! Miss Dad a lot & know he’d be telling you how good God is. Love you Aunt Kathy!!

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  7. I love to read your post. I know a day does not go by that you are not missing your Dad and Graham. But how you handle this just amazes and inspires me. Graham was such a fighter and a sweet sweet boy. We all miss him! Love y’all and Carter is also just such a precious sweet boy! xoxoxox

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