5 years….

1, 825 days.  The day that has compartmentalized my life into a before and an after.  What has these 5 years taught me?

  1. That grief changes over time.  Praise God for that!  We could not survive the intense pain forever in those early days of loss.
  2. You don’t ever get over it……and I don’t believe we are suppose to.  Because if we were to go back to “normal” and nothing changed in us or through us, what kind of love is that?    When we embrace the love of Christ, it changes us.  In a way, that is what happens when we lose a child.  Their love and their loss transforms us.  For me, my Jesus and my grief intersect and I let God do what God does.  I will grieve the absence of them in my life until I am with them.  Now, that also doesn’t mean that there isn’t joy and happiness again.  Because there is and I am so thankful for that.
  3. There is healing.    It’s really hard work.  I think the hardest work I’ve ever done.  I have always told God through this, he is the potter and I am the clay….make me and mold me, transform me into who I was suppose to be in his kingdom.  I have also learned that healing is not a destination but how we handle the journey.  Healing in loss is not like you have a disease and are healed.  It is a continual process and how we use that catastrophic event to change us.  I always prayed that God use it for his glory and claim his promises that he will bring beauty from the ashes.  I just prayed he would let me somehow be involved in his work to use their loss for his glory.
  4. Lots of folks are uncomfortable with death.  Especially with the loss of children.  I was told early on that “your address book will change.”  And that is the truth.  I have been blessed to know other bereaved parents and I admired how they handled their grief.  I have friends that are further down the journey that gives me hope and admiration in how they have handled the death of their child.  My hope is that I do the same.  Through my wreath business, through this blog, through the people that God sends my way.  I am also thankful for those in my life that are comfortable and are vulnerable to share this phase of life with me.
  5. There are a lot of physical impacts with grief.  I’ve had teeth issues, bad gums, a tooth abscess, weight gain, low energy level and even toe fungus!  All of that grief you carry does have an impact on your well being.  So, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!  I have learned that lesson the hard way.
  6. As I told my mom who died on June 10 of this year and now is with Lizz and the boys in heaven……there is not a day I don’t think about them.  All 1, 825 of them.  I don’t expect that to change.  And I don’t want it to.

So, I will do what I have done for the past 5 years.  I will go to the earthly place that honors their life and clean their headstones, place sunflowers in the vases and lay their wreaths.  I always use sunflowers for this date.  Because I will never forget their beautiful flowers that hot Texas day in 2012.  Fischer with his hulk hands and Ben with his Spider-Man.  Here are their 2017 memorial wreaths:

Elizabeth 5 year memorialFischer 5 year MemorialBen 5 year memorial

I will spend time today thanking Jesus for his act of love that gives us eternal life and his promise of eternal life.    I will ask him to hug them for me today and tell them how much I love them.  And to save a place for me because I will join them one day and oh what a wonderful reunion that will be!

Thank you for following my ramblings over these past 5 years and following Elizabeth’s memorial page, sharing your memories of her and the boys.  There is great joy when other’s talk about them and the difference they have made in your lives and for that my heart is full.  To those that have supported my wreath business to help me provide scholarships at MCH and Salado High School there are no words other than to say “Thank you” for being an important part of this story and their legacy.

Lastly, I also can not leave this post without saying something about the great joy and blessings in my life (yes there is great joy!).  Elizabeth’s nieces and nephews.  Ava continues to grow into a smart and caring young girl.  She has a tender heart and I love seeing God at work in her.  Eli keeps all of us on our toes…he is always moving, but I love his spirit.  Lauren has her hands full channeling that spirit at times but he always makes me laugh.  And what can I say about Marshall?  Our Marshie, our Marshmallow.  Such a joyful child and reminds me of Elizabeth in her personality and oh how they resemble each other so much as babies.  And we are all head over heals in love with this little girl Camryn Elizabeth!  Camryn looks so much like Jennifer as a baby.

 

Ava and Nana 2017

Ava Michelle (age 10) and Nana in Disneyworld 2017

Eli and Lauren

Eli Fischer (age 2)and my daughter Lauren

Lauren and Marshall

Marshall Benjamin (7 months) and my daughter Lauren

Jennifer and Camryn 2017

My oldest daughter Jennifer and precious Camryn Elizabeth

Camryn Elizabeth 2017

Camryn Elizabeth (5 months)

What does the next year bring?  I have a strong feeling more change and transformation.  Weight Loss, retirement and travel.  That probably means this blog will change it’s focus somewhat just as my grief journey has changed and evolved.

If you still have random acts of kindness cards from last year (and even if you don’t), please join me and use one today to share some kindness to honor them.  I would love for you to be a part of their story…..to share the love of Christ with others that God puts in your path today.

Lastly, I thank you for all your thoughts and prayers on this day and the wonderful notes and messages.

 

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul…….

Julie

Physical cost to grief…….

IMG_7927

Nana (me) and Marshall Benjamin July, 18, 2017

I’ve been wanting to write about the price grief pays on our health for quite some time.  I also realize the impact that grief has on you is as individual as your grief journey.    Some folks turn to exercise (oh how I wish that had been me!), but in my case, it meant the first two years immersed in physical pain.  I describe those years as if I was being beat with a baseball bat everyday.  My best effort in those early days after July 30, 2012, was to get out of bed, tell my beating heart to keep on beating and put one foot in front of the other.  At the two year mark, I made a commitment to my grief counselor I would get caught up on my medical appointments.  You see I hadn’t had a dental appointment, annual check-up, mammogram etc.  since before the accident.  I followed through with that commitment only to turn around and 3 years have passed and more weight has piled on and I haven’t maintained my health appointments.  Time is an odd thing after loss.  It seems it passes so slowly……and yet you lose track of time in a larger sense.  So, during these last 5 years I have learned what it means to give grace to yourself, because as I was working on my “heart”, I had to give grace to the outward image that was looking back at me in the mirror.  I was hoping the hard work on the inside I was doing would begin to pay off on the outside.  Because like anything else…….I believe the hard stuff we need to work through is always an “inside job”.  Our outside is a manifestation of our hearts.

That realization of where to start, was overwhelming so I just didn’t.  And so it would be a gum abscess that wouldn’t go away that “made” me start this process.    Due to the overwhelming nature of everything that I needed to do…..my plan would be to start at the top (my eyes) of my head and work my way down to my toes.  So, off I go for an eye exam an updated prescription and new glasses.  Then came the dreaded dentist appointment.  I have never enjoyed going to the dentist.   I know, there are some of you that look forward to the 6 month cleanings.  Not me, but especially not now.  The one I had two years ago was painful.  And I have come to realize I have heightened anxiety now.  The drills, the shots……UGH!  But I went.  My teeth were in such bad shape they could not even clean them.  My abscess was a cracked crown that needed to be extracted which meant a trip to an oral surgeon!!!  Even more anxiety.  After the extraction, I return to the dentist to have a deep cleaning which means it is TWO appointments and they have to numb half of my mouth to  tolerate the procedure.  So, that meant two cleaning visits and MULTIPLE shots.  Thank goodness for my dentist and the hygienist who were understanding and patient.  I have a follow up visit tomorrow and a follow up with the oral surgeon in September to put the post in for my implant.  My lesson….your lesson:  DO NOT wait 3 years to take care of your teeth!  I won’t let that happen again!

With my eyes and my teeth checked off, it’s time for the mammogram.  I am blessed in my medical history that breast cancer has never been an issue, and I got a clean report.  Next was my annual check up with my PCP.  This appointment I was not looking forward to.  I had made progress on my weight loss, but no where I wanted to be.    Again, I have a wonderful understanding caring doctor, but I had a huge wake up call when she asks me medical history questions, and some of the things were last done BEFORE Lizz and the boys left us.  Wow.  Some of the things I couldn’t even remember a date….Heck, I couldn’t even pick a YEAR when some things were last done.  That’s when it happened.  I knew I had to change.  It was time.  I was NOT being a good steward of this temple that God had given me.  I made a vow and I am doing it publicly that I will turn 60 next year and with God’s grace and blessing my goal is to be in the best health of my life.

I left the doctors office that day and joined weight watchers.  I have a co-worker that I hadn’t seen in a while and I barely recognized her!  She had lost 75 lbs on WW and with that living testimony I gave it a try!  I have lost 13 lbs on WW……it’s not falling off….I am part of the “turtle” club.  But just like the children’s story, the steady turtle wins the race.  I have decided……I will not quit, I will not go back.  I am convinced if you stick with it and don’t quit, you will reach your goal weight.  So, here I am at 43 lbs of weight loss, 2 sizes smaller and still have 70 more pounds to lose to reach my goal.  I would love to be there on my 60th birthday, but again, I’ve learned to embrace that this is about the journey and not the destination.  I’m going to be EXTREMELY vulnerable here and post some of my weight loss pictures because I want to be accountable of where I started but also to acknowledge my success.  I am not proud of how I looked.  You don’t wake up one day and are 100 lbs over your doctor recommended weight nor do you lose it quickly.  I was overweight when Lizz and the boys died and their death accelerated my weight gain.  It’s interesting that many of the things I have learned about grief I am now applying to my weight loss journey.  The most important:  It takes time and this is going to be a life long process and I’m OK with that.

PicMonkey Image

I wanted to share this because I have learned there is a connection to heart healing and physical healing (weight loss).  The more I learn about myself and grief the more it drives my health outcomes.  I don’t see marathons in my future but I can take care of and embrace this almost 60 year old body that even though I have not taken care of this amazing gift very well over most of my adult life……God is a God of second chances.  Our bodies and our hearts are amazing things.  They too reset and heal.  One of the best things I have learned on WW, is that we need to give our best every day.  However, since life is always changing and has it’s ups and downs that “best” is also going to be different and that is ok too.  I am learning to do my best every day and be open to see what God wants to teach me about loss….whether that is my “heart loss” or my “weight loss”.  I do believe my heart healing coincides with my health healing.

Looking forward to celebrating a 50 lb weight loss soon!

Till next time,

Julie

PS:  I also have completed my well woman exam and will spare you the details….LOL!  But to say I got a good report!  Last but not least is a colonoscopy that is scheduled for September (it was the earliest they could get me on the schedule)!  And then it will be time to start again.