A random stranger who came across a past article I wrote messaged me today to ask this pressing question, How long will my grief last? It turns out today is the 2nd death anniversary of her husband. For a while there, I was at a loss for words.
The way I understand it is that, grief is never the same for everyone. The amount of grief one feels after a loss equals the amount of love one has for his beloved who passed away. Its been four and half years since Nan died and honestly, I am not totally over the grief and the loss yet.
This grief or sorrow is something that just stays with you. It settles quietly in your heart, unmoving at times, until something triggers it and pushes it up again forward. Usually a memory that would hit you so hard, it would knock the wind out of you, leaving only in its aftermath that familiar painful twist in your heart.
Eventually, you’ll learn to live with this grief and actually welcome it at anytime because somehow it also pushes something good forward, which is joy. Joy that would make you go through life grateful. Grateful that you have loved and been loved by that person. Grateful that you are still alive to celebrate fully for the both of you what is left of life after your beloved has gone.
Today, my prayers are with the widows, orphans, and survivors of all the beloved who passed away.
I’ve always believed that it is FAITH rather than FATE which brought me to where I am now. My dear friends, this my Post-Nan story, an ode to my God whose grace alone brought me this far.
I am inviting you all to read and share this to widows and single parents that you know so they too will realize that grief and sorrow, they are not what a widow’s story is all about. Triumph of the human spirit is. Special thanks to Good Housekeeping Philippines for inviting me to share my story in this month’s issue of GH. Please grab a copy.????
That moment when your 15 year old daughter gives you a long talk about her plans, hopes, and dreams for senior high school, college, and sigh, the future. You sit there and listen as she shares passionately how she wants to be a Medical Technologist and eventually a Pediatric Oncologist because she wants to help children with cancer like her, and you think silently, I’m not ready yet emotionally, mentally, and yes, financially to let you go. You stare at her with your mouth wide open, and wonder to yourself, where the hell did your crying, scrawny little kid go, and when exactly did this sensible, level headed teenager take over?! So many thoughts running in your head and so many conflicting emotions fighting their way into your poor mommy heart. But then, you continue to sit there and let yourself have it, and when she finally said, “What do you think mommy?!” You just nod your head and mutter, “Gee, that’s some plan,” and you go hug her and tell her you’ll support her. You stand up with a big brave smile on your face and watch as she leaves excitedly to search for some senior high school scholarship program. You brace yourself as the usual painful twist in your heart comes and quietly whisper, “Oh Lord what do we do now?!” Happy Father’s Day to me. ????
“The best way to move on is from the inside out. It is when you live out the grace of God from the core of your being.” (Bo Sanchez)
Over the past three years, I have to endure listening to the same well-meaning comments/advices from friends and people I know, “You are still young…you should be open to love again…get married…start another family…move on.” I cannot count the number of times I had to politely smile my way out of such conversations. Sometimes I cannot help but wonder whether these people would eagerly fall for the next guy that comes along or readily jump at a chance at love had our situations been reversed, or if, they actually know what they are talking about.
Surprisingly for others, “moving on” simply means falling in love again. But, I beg to disagree because my faith tells me differently. Stripped of its romantic notion and all the drama surrounding it, “moving on” is best described in the Serenity Prayer. It is, by the grace of God, “having the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, courage to change the things you can, and wisdom to know the difference.” It is “living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, and accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.” It is “trusting that He will make all things right if you surrender to His Will, that you may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him, forever in the next.” Finding love or tying the knot again has nothing to do with it.
By this measure alone, I’d like to think that I have serenely moved on. As what John said in the gospel, my joy is now complete. And, I believe the decision of whether or not I get another shot at love someday is not mine or even others to dictate or predict. It is the Lord’s. So please, next time you speak to a widow, do her a big favor, wish her true joy and peace instead, and leave the rest to Cupid.
3 years later and I still remember everything like it was just yesterday: how I watched helplessly as the doctor shocked your heart back into rhythm. How I willed the flatlines to move. How I waited with bated breath for the current to bring back the light in your eyes. 38 years of momentum and then suddenly, a complete stop. I imagine the force it took to silence the last beat of your heart. It must have been so great because it flung you out far, too far where I can never reach you, except by remembering. Someday, death will come to stop me too, and I will give him a big fight. He will have to drain the entire universe of every star to hold my body down. And like how I planned it all along, I will be flung out to the heavens too at fullspeed, I will defy gravity, change tides, and slow down light. And I will search every inch of heaven until I find you.
I always prided myself for having the gift of foresight. Between my husband and I, I usually am the one who always had a clear vision of our future. In most cases, I managed to get us where I want us. I managed to make things happen for us. To me the future was so certain that absolutely nothing can mess it up…or so I thought.
The hardest part of losing my husband is losing sight of the future as well. After his death, I can’t seem to look forward into the future. No matter how desperately I try, I can’t seem to get a good grasp of it. And this has left me feeling scared.
That was a year ago. Fast forward to today, I am now living the future that I feared the most last year. Things surprisingly have been better. Yes there are still bad days but like always, the good far outweighs the bad.
It was when I allowed myself to live in complete abandon and to stop obessing about “tomorrow” that the future became less intimidating. Though it still appears vague most of the time in my mind, I don’t bend myself backwards trying to figure it out anymore.
After having been in the receiving end of God’s abundant grace, love, compassion and generosity the past year, I know for certain now that He will continue to walk me through it till the end. All I simply need to do is to continue to, with deep faith and trust, let go and let God take over.
Originally written for Eat and Cheat Cancer Book Project. Please support and like our page in facebook.
I remember how difficult the months were following the death of my husband. I can still recall the many times I found myself at my wits end trying to make sense of what happened. The many times I had to struggle to keep myself together lest I loose what little is left of my sanity.
Looking back though, I marvel at the capacity of the human spirit to withstand grief, pain, and loss. If there’s one thing I realized from this experience, it is that we are clearly made of sterner stuff than we imagined. When backed against a wall or pushed to our limits, we will manage to rise above the situation.
And what is amazing is that as we bravely face the battle raging in and outside of our self everyday, we become a moving force that encourage others to do the same.
So as you deal with the loss of your loved one, as you try to get through your difficult and painful treatment, as you struggle to stay afloat in your own sea of uncertainty and despair, remember to stand tall and fight back with all you’ve got. You’ll never know, you just might help one weary “soldier” out there find the courage in his heart to continue on after seeing that you can.
We are born in this world for one reason alone and that is, to inspire.
Originally written for Eat and Cheat Cancer Book Project.