This past week, I got to sit down and have a mentoring session with a photographer that I have greatly admired for several years now. We went through my photography - most specifically, all of the photographs I made about my grief after Drew died. It’s taken me years to get to the right space emotionally to be ready to have someone look at these photos with a critical eye and tell me what is working best and least in relation to showing them in galleries and having exhibitions. I’ve thought for years that I’ve just been avoiding it, but I’m now seeing that I just wasn’t ready to take these photos into such an often harshly critical atmosphere as the fine art gallery world.
Deep down though, I have never been able to ignore this pull from inside my gut that wants this work to be out in the world in a bigger way. The parts of me that went through all that trauma and pain and grief and sadness and anger and confusion and brokenness… which is captured in the images. I want this series and this experience to be seen by those who have the fortune of not yet experiencing such pain as well as those who have. I want it to be seen by anyone who has ever been broken by life, because I think seeing visuals about struggle and rebuilding can help all of us feel more connected and less alone.Read more
Funny how different losses can create such different kinds of struggles for us. How different versions of loss can confuse us and blindside us in unexpected ways… even when we have dealt with loss before.
I feel like I came home from our recent trip to Texas changed. In a good way. I feel like there were a lot of things that were rearranged inside me while on that trip. I know it had a lot to do with seeing good friends, and Drew’s family, and being in my hometown and feeling that anchored feeling of the place I grew up.
Usually when we visit, I leave feeling like there just wasn’t enough time… to see everyone and do everything that mattered. This time though, it didn’t feel that way. I made it a priority to have greater amounts of time with the people I often barely get time to see - some of them, the most important people to me. So as we hit the road back to Ohio after 10 days in Texas, my heart felt so full and satisfied and peaceful. It was the first time a trip back home didn’t feel like “not enough”. And it was beautiful.
That trip has left a different sense of calm in me since being back in Ohio. I feel this stronger sense of connection to the people and places I love that are far away, and also to the person I was then. In a way, maybe it feels like I’ve brought her with me this time.Read more
For some reason, I always feel that this blog should be sad and grief-driven. But, today I just feel AMAZING! It would have been our 10th anniversary last week, and yes, it was hard, I mean really hard. However, it wasn’t nearly as hard as in the past.Read more
This past week, Mike wrote about how we are continuing a dream he and his late-wife Megan shared as we are looking into getting a camper next year. There were a lot of dreams I had with Drew that never came true too. Even just planning a wedding and spending time on every little detail was something I never got to do with him. Much less a wedding itself. Hell, we didn’t even get to live together yet because we were waiting until he was done with flight school and got his first flying job. We were only a few months into him getting that job, and were finally ready to embark on so many new adventures together that we never got to. Our honeymoon plan was to get a small camper in fact, and travel across the country for a few weeks.
Seven years later, Mike and I live together. We are engaged, and I am happily planning away every little detail while trying not to hear the whispers of “What if he dies before you ever get to the wedding?”. We’ve already done so many of the things that Drew and I never got to do. And I’ve done a lot of things that I was only beginning to dream about when he died. I’ve been selling my art and photography and teaching healing workshops. Much of these are dreams that came out of the ashes of his death… dreams that I didn’t realize were buried deep inside me until he died and I had a perspective shift. Or dreams - like writing on this blog - that evolved from my experience with grief and my passion to help support others through it.
There are dreams that I paused when he died. Like the idea of buying that little camper. It was a bit of a different dream than the one Mike and Megan shared. For us, it was a “someday” dream of a tiny teardrop trailer, while they were actively pursuing purchasing a larger travel trailer for their little family. But still, there was a shared dream there that we can now reignite.Read more
The Fourth of July - All things summer right? It’s cookouts, pool, family, sunscreen and fireworks. All the freedoms you get living in the good ole USA. It’s funny how the word freedom is used. By definition, freedom means you are not enslaved or forced to act or be a certain way. You are not trapped. Of course, for the USA freedom means all of those things to show our independence. Interesting, that word freedom, because it is purely based on one’s perception of the situation.Read more
The death of your significant other can have a tendency to place your goals and dreams on hold. You may have been planning a major purchase together...a new home, a vehicle, or even a major furniture or appliance buy. It might have been that trip to the Grand Canyon or Alaska you had dreamed of for years. Kids? That was always a “sometime soon” until they went ahead and got themselves dead. An experience that the two of you wanted to have together suddenly not only seems impossible, but undesirable, because it will only "remind you of them".
Just about anything that you and your partner had a shared dream of is, quite effectively, brought to a halt. "Life keeps on moving" is indeed true, but mainly in the sense that it’s "day to day" life that keeps on moving. Bills aren't suspended and your place of work doesn't close up shop, donating their profits to you. Your widow card doesn't come with free lunch or retail discounts. We widows still HAVE to keep living, it’s just not the fun parts of life.
But your dreams? Well, there goes that. Who the hell wants to go to the Grand Canyon, and bawl not because of the sheer beauty, but because our person isn’t there to see it with us? Why would I move now? This was the house Megan and I shared...that place in the country won’t be enjoyable anymore, because I’m just reminded that we never got there “together”.Read more
I’ve been in Texas on vacation for a few weeks, hence my absence here. I have however been waiting to share something very special that happened while we were down there. If you’re new here, I lost my fiance Drew 7 years ago in a crash. I am now engaged to a widower, Mike, and we have this new little blended family together with his daughter Shelby. When we go back to Texas for visits, we are usually visiting all of my friends and also, Drew’s family. We stay with them for usually half the trip. In fact, we sleep in Drew's bedroom, which weirdly enough isn't ever weird at all.
Since day one they have loved me as part of their own family. The week after Drew died, his mom and I were sitting together hugging and crying and she told me that when the day comes that I am with someone new, she would be honored to be the Mother of the Bride. Yeah, I cried a lot.
Since I lost my own mom when I was nine, these words have continued to be some of the most memorable of my life. They told me so much about the heart of this woman, who was enduring the worst shock and pain of losing her son - her firstborn - only a week before. It told me that she felt the same way I did, that she and I were each other’s connection to him and we were never letting that go. Over time, it has grown into so much more.
It is no surprise then, that when Mike proposed to me (At Drew's parents' house on Christmas Eve, which I wrote about here), she was the one and only person I could imagine having with me to go dress shopping. So, while Mike, Shelby and I were down in Texas, Drew’s mom and I went out one afternoon together to go wedding dress shopping. We thought initially we’d just see what’s out there, not expecting to find THE one. What unfolded was one of the most beautifully bittersweet and incredibly surreal moments of my life.Read more
When You Love Again,
after life-altering loss -
everything inside of you,
that you will again wake up,
to the very real nightmare,
of a world
where all of it
When You Love Again,
after death has stolen your other life,
and your partner -
you fear looking forward
or toward the future,
because the minute you do,
it all might come crumbling down,
and you will be left,
With the wreckage.
My friend just texted me about dates. Her text wasn’t about a coffee date or an up coming dinner date. Nope, her text was not about those type of dates. Instead, she was referencing dates on the calendar that are significant because her husband died.
What a Joy Kill is what most people outside of the grief community might think; but, I’m widowed too. I “get it”. I know exactly where she is coming from. I have come to understand how time and grief are intricately and intimately tied together.
My friend's text message made me stopped and deeply think about the practice of “counting days” and “keeping track of time” based on something other than a clock. Time tracking behaviour is common among the bereaved because we are grasping to measure the distance between their aliveness and their deadness. We are trying to understand how their death seems so long ago; yet, in our mind, it concurrently feels like it was only yesterday that they were alive. The reality is that Mike will have been gone from here for three years this November 2019; but to me it feels like only moments ago that he was real in this dimension.
Clearly, 4 ½ years is far too long to miss the love of your life since society continues to tell me not to miss my wife anymore. The thrust of the conversation is aimed at pushing me to stop talking about missing my wife and get over it! As a result, we all learn to judge our social environment carefully before bringing illness, longing and/or death, if only grief weren’t so powerful.Read more