A Letter to Myself about “Moving On”

It’s been over nineteen months since Kristen died, and my journey has taken me from the depths of sorrow to the heights of joy.  The lessons I’ve learned have been necessary as I’ve matured in Christ.  If I could somehow travel back in time and give myself advice after Kristen’s funeral, this is what I would say.

Dear Joseph,

I know you’re hurting right now and can’t imagine “moving on.”

Your world has been turned upside-down, and when you’re not feeling pain and sadness, you’re still in shock over what’s happened.  The idea of “moving on” feels dishonorable, like you’re forgetting Kristen and pretending she didn’t exist.  That’s the last thing you want to do.  Right now, you think you’ll never be happy again, or even want to be happy again.  But that’s just the grief talking.

Hope is coming.

At this moment, you’re still walking through a fog, unable to concentrate or focus.  (Try not to be so hard on yourself when you can’t remember things you’ve just read.  It’s totally normal.)  You’re also feeling down.  Not so much depressed.  Just sad, listless, and numb.  There will be times when death will seem preferable to life, especially given the overwhelming responsibility you’ll face trying to raise two small children without Kristen.

Your relationship with Elizabeth and Ian will be stronger than it’s ever been. 

Here I am with my son, Ian, after church.
Here I am with my son, Ian, after church.

It’s true that being a single parent will drain you physically and emotionally.  You will have to do everything, but that also means you get to experience so much more.  You have the privilege of reading to your children every night, playing games, singing silly songs, and dancing with the cutest, most adorable 6-year-old in the world.  You get to have tea parties and fashion shows, and you’ll become an expert with nail polish.  You will grow as a father and as a Christian.

Nobody can paint Elizabeth's fingernails like Daddy :-)
Nobody can paint Elizabeth’s fingernails like Daddy 🙂

God is with you and will never forsake you.

You’re going to learn to lean on God for everything.  Not just a few things, but for everything you need physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  He’s going to be your rock, your help in times of trouble, your all in all.  When you discover how much you hate being alone, He’s going to send caring family and friends to walk beside you.  When you feel like no one else understands what you’re going through, He’s going to encourage you to see a Christian counselor for individual therapy every week, and to attend group counseling for over a month for bereaving widows and widowers.  You’ll shed more tears in six months than you have in your entire life, and you’ll lose a lot of sleep, but your relationship with God will run deep as you learn to live one day at a time, asking God to give you this day your daily bread.

Forget what lies behind.  Press on toward the goal. 

You’re a fighter, Joseph. Just keep going.  Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re stuck in place or even moving backwards, but in those moments just keep straining ahead. Life is not a snapshot.  It will take some time, but as you endure and persevere, God will bless you in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.  You won’t grieve forever.  This journey will change you, but you can’t approach the cross of Jesus Christ and stay the same.  Let God heal your brokenness, and you’ll experience amazing joy!

Strength for today.  Hope for tomorrow.

I’ve finally moved on.  After going through so much darkness, you won’t recognize the morning at first.  You’ll keep going through your day-to-day routine without pausing to notice, but one day you’re going to wake up and realize just how far you’ve come.

You’re going to be able to see glimpses of how God was providing exactly what you needed in each stage of your grief.  And your heart will be overflowing with joy when you realize God has restored your heart and made it possible for you to love again.  Be thankful to God for the beautiful, Christian woman He’s going to place in your path.  Cherish her, Joseph!  She’s more than you could have ever asked for or imagined!


Your future self


4 thoughts on “A Letter to Myself about “Moving On”

  1. Joseph, grief is like a spring. You never know when it will hurl you back to the beginning. Those times will come. Embrace them. It won’t crush you as it did at the beginning, but you will find yourself back in the past. Annie’s lost her late husband 10 years ago, and still finds herself there at times. I just try to walk the path with her. Never telling her how she should feel.
    Those times will happen to you. You may find yourself at Elizabeth’s birth, the hospital bed, the shattering news from the doctors, the graveside. Anyone who truly loves you won’t try to stop them, hurry you through them, or be cruel ans say, “Get over it.” They, or she, will hold your hand, walk and cry through them with you. I pray Katie is just such a woman.
    Come what may, I hope you will always honor me by being my son-in-law. I will always love you.


  2. Joseph. I suppose I had a head’s up that this was coming. I am very happy for you, really I am. I have hoped, and prayed countless hours, you would come to a place where you felt the time was right to fill your heart again. I would be lying, however, if I said it is somehow not at least a bit painful as I know this moving on means it is without Kristen. Perhaps that’s my own form of grief, one that will require my own journey to mend. But I can say without any form of doubt or hesitation, I am so proud you are a part of my family and I love you dearly. I would say I hope Katie is worthy of your love, but I’m sure she is or you would not be in this wonderful place you have found. You have experienced enough pain for a lifetime, so I hope your path is nothing but glorious. God bless you, nephew. ❤


  3. Today is the 6th month anniversary for me and knowing that there is a light at the end of this journey and the possibility of finding happiness again is exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of us widows and widowers.


  4. Joseph, I don’t know you but I know Katie! She is a precious gift. Your story is touching and my prayers are with you on your continued journey. Treat this sweet girl well. We all love her! 🙂 Tammy Titus


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