I lost my wife, Kristen, nearly 3 years ago. November 18, 2015, would have been her 33rd birthday. We have two children together, ages 7 and 2, and I have been their primary caregiver since her passing.
I don’t grieve over Kristen anymore. For the first 3 months after she died, I cried every single night, usually during the day, too (driving provided too much time to think and reflect about how much I missed her. Good thing I could hide my tears behind my sunglasses). And then for the next year and a half after her death, I continued to grieve intensely. It was horrible. There were times I genuinely wished I were dead, just so I wouldn’t have to deal with the onslaught of emotions anymore.
I needed to do something to salve my wounds, so I would do things to honor and remember her, especially on her birthday. I wanted to feel connected to her in some way, so I would buy her a card and write her a note, or I would buy flowers to put on her grave. I didn’t want to let go of her, so I clung to my memories of her. For a time, it was all I could do to keep breathing, keep living.
But I don’t need to anymore. I’ve moved on.
I don’t have any special advice to give that will take away a grieving person’s pain. One of my dearest friends told me soon after Kristen’s death that, little by little, I would slowly work through my grief, never really knowing where I was headed, until one day I would just wake up and realize I didn’t hurt so much anymore. And that’s exactly what happened. Through counseling, prayer, and a lot of support from family and friends, I made it to the other side.
Of course, I miss Kristen. Of course, she’ll always be part of me (she’s the mother of my children!) But she’s not here anymore. She’s in heaven, with Jesus, and she wouldn’t want to come back to earth to celebrate her birthday even if she could. She gets to celebrate in a place where there is no more death, or sorrow, or pain, where all things are made new.
So I try to forget what lies behind, and I do my best to strain forward toward what lies ahead. My children are healthy and strong, and provide me with endless moments of joy. I have an amazing girlfriend who is, hands down, the best thing that has happened to me since Kristen died. My career is going well. I’m finally making progress on my dissertation, and hopefully I can graduate in 2017. And I’m very blessed to be able to volunteer at church and help those around me.
Through the storms and the calm, God is good! All the time!