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Living with Grief and Heartbreak

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A sign in front of a large rock

January is off to a quiet start here on the blog, partially with intentionality and partially completely out of my hands.

When I scheduled my carpal tunnel surgery for Jan. 5 I knew it would be hard to do a lot of my daily tasks, including computer work, which was fine because I wanted to spend some time focusing on my purpose and vision for 2016. Last year was survival mode in every aspect of my life and I wanted to begin this year with a clean slate and fresh mind.

I’m happy to say I’ve been halfway successful! I’ve spent time working through Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever to help me with purpose (my word for 2016!) and goal setting as well as organizing my life.

This semester my youngest daughter has begun a class at the local community college and one at our homeschool co-op while working a part-time job and doing school at home. As I chauffeur her around I’m adjusting to squeezing in work in smaller increments of time and a daily changing schedule. (Why does that sound exactly like the last 20 years?)

My husband started his first steady job outside his own painting contracting business for the first time in 25 years, praise God! For anyone who is self-employed you understand how long that is without a consistent paycheck, no benefits, paid vacation or days off. He is loving it and I’m so thankful to see him upbeat about going to work!

My blog was down for some or all of a 12 day period which was NOT GOOD. Not only could my readers not access it but I couldn’t work or post. Thus, the very quiet start to my blogging year. 

Last year I would have FREAKED out about this complication, but this year I decided if it had to happen it was perfect timing with my surgery and decision to spend more time thinking than working. Lost page views and income wasn’t part of my plan but I know it’s all part of a bigger view than mine.

Text, letter

I haven’t written much about my personal life in the last several weeks for some of the above reasons but also because I went through a HARD place before Christmas.

Each year I’m triggered because of my mom’s tragic death by hypothermia outside the locked doors of her nursing home on Christmas Eve 2010. In 2014 I finally went to my therapist for help coming to a place of understanding and acceptance with this loss in my life.

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I believed last month would be different, yet I descended into the depths when I just knew I had overcome so much of my grief and pain.

My writing below is the vulnerable place I was in a few weeks ago. As always, my goal is to share with transparency in hopes my journey will encourage and remind you that you’re not alone.

I am not in this emotional state now, thank God.


December, 2015

I have questioned my purpose in writing this blog these last few months.

I Am Not Alone worship video by Kari Jobe reminds us that even in the midst of the darkest night God gives us hope and strength for each new day.

Even through grief and heartbreak I have continued to write about DIY projects and trash to treasure makeovers, recipes and even frugal fashions for those of us over 50.

Today I sincerely want to write about the ways our family has faced challenges this year and triumphed over them.

I want to share how I have grieved deeply and crossed to the other side.

Unfortunately, my reality seems far from these desires.

I am struggling.

I stare aimlessly into the distance, disconnected from the here and now.

I Am Not Alone worship video by Kari Jobe reminds us that even in the midst of the darkest night God gives us hope and strength for each new day.

As my heart deeply desires to inspire, encourage and empower (my blog tagline) the truth is I feel discouraged, defeated and overwhelmed.

At every corner this year I  have faced yet another battle, another crisis.

A torrent of tears are only held back by the brute strength of my will as a headache pulses at my temples.

This year every facet of my family life has been challenged.

Mental health

Physical health

Financial stability

My marriage

Spiritual battles

Life itself

When someone you love is forced, either by their own choices or by a deep desire to change the direction of their life, to truly examine themselves through the lens of truth, then you better buckle up because it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Change doesn’t come without heartache and battles.

A small piece of food, with Hope and Grief

I weep with and for my husband, sister-in-law and nieces at our incomprehensible loss. There are no words.

I grieve because Christmas is incomplete without our youngest son, whose choices cause him to live apart from us. His wounds threaten to drown me as my mother’s heart wants to save him and wrap him in a cocoon of safety and rest.

This cannot be. I cannot sacrifice myself at the altar of his illness when the rest of my family desperately needs a loving, healthy mom and nana to speak life into them.

There are so many details that I can’t share, truths that would shine a light on our family story, but they are not mine to tell. Not yet.

God has called me to live vulnerably and transparently no matter the cost, to bring hope to those who also suffer through painful, unbearably life-quenching situations.

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My faith in God does not waver. He is still my first love and my source of strength and hope.

No matter the lonely days or invisible wounds my hope is found in Him.

I am just grieving the pain inflicted by a world filled with sin that intersected mine and damaged those I love.

A chain link fence

Motherhood has almost broken me this year.

I visited my therapist and she again spoke truth into my heart.

She gave me permission to say, “I’m not okay.” For this moment in time, as I grieve with a mother’s heart, I’m not okay.

But I will be.

Yet through it all I am not without joy.

My grandson has been my light this year, sunshine wrapped in a precious cuddly gift of perfect love.

Hope and Grief

(Picture courtesy of jlydesigns)

He is an ever present reminder that my God is still good and loving, an ever present help in times of trouble.

The road to healing a broken heart is a long one, but I will never give up hope for those I love.

Hope and Grief

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

May you know the same hope and remember that you are not alone.

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  1. Right. There. With. You.
    My blog used to be filled with hope and encouragement. My life’s purpose was (in addition to being a wife and mother) to inspire and encourage other women. Now . . . my blog has been silent for far too long. Grief and heartbreak has consumed my life.
    I pray that one day the Lord will again use me to encourage and inspire others. I pray that one day the grief and heartache will be a faint memory. I pray . . . one day . . .

    1. Hi, Laurel. I didn’t see this comment until a couple of days ago because my blog was down so much last month. I know your journey and I pray that for you as well. You know it isn’t hopeless and that God will redeem the days the locusts have eaten. Just hold on to what you KNOW is true even when you can’t see or feel it. Our mama hearts hurt but I don’t believe we have to live in that pain. Letting go is part of the grieving process. Hard stuff, I know. Email me if you need to talk. Love you, friend.

      1. Thank you, Sweet Friend! I am holding on to the best of my abilities, but some days my strength is so very weak.

    2. Thank you for sharing. I came to your blog to read about your deck decor and ran across this article. I’m struggling with several different issues and when I read your post felt like I wasn’t alone and I can get through this. Thanks.

      1. Hi, Rebecca. I’m so glad you were encouraged by this post. I’ve written a lot about family, grief and loss amidst all the other DIY and recipe posts. My hope is always to encourage those who are in hard places because I do understand it. Blessings to you!

  2. I do hope that 2016 is going to be a better year for you. There truly is nothing worse than a Mother’s heartache, coming to terms with a Mother’s death, especially how your Mother died. Thank goodness you are able to talk to someone about it. There will be healing but just know that God’s got this….I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have God to talk to. You do have the blessing of your adorable Grandson. It is so nice to have those positive things in your life. I will keep you in my prayers Marty.

  3. Don’t give Marty- Your post is written with such courage, conviction and honesty. The love and compassion you have for others and for your family is such a gift . Sometimes in life when you have done everything that you can as a parent, spouse or friend is to move past the situation and only hope and pray that time with heal the heart and the relationship. I did not realize the details of your mothers death and I pray that you seek comfort in her memory and love for you as a mom and not that of the manner in which she passed. Take care sweet friend.

  4. We sat in a theater at Dollywood. We took off on the wildest ride of our lives. We were suddenly passengers in a car. Racing, bouncing, jerking every which direction, through woods, farms, rivers, barns. We held on for dear life. Laughing inspite of this runaway car ride. Not familiar amusement park “ride”. What a ride we exclaimed!
    My husband had just been laid off from his job. We moved to a new city for this job.
    The amusement park tickets were a gift from people at the church we attended.
    Who knew that amusement park ride was to be the talisman of our lives for the next two decades.
    Not until December 2015 did we ever look at this journey. On paper. It took our breath away. We have been putting one foot in front if the other. We didn’t even see tge wild, roaring, out of control river we were careening through–minus means of transportation and appropriate tools/equipment. We were in full survival mode.
    I read Job. I read Jeremiah. Isaiah. I lived in the laments of Psalms. Ecclesiastes.
    Daniel. Joseph. Jacob. Noah.
    Wet fleece. Dry fleece.
    Jesus. Thomas.
    We are floating for a second in calm water. I am on my back, staring into the blue skies, letting the water ease my aching joints. Quench my thirst.
    It is tranquil.
    I want to stsy right here.
    My hands are still clenched. Anything i feel that i cannot identify with my senses, i withdraw. Still in that fight or flight mode. Terrors remain.
    God is calling me to quiet waters. How i only wants to listen to him. How satan persists. I cast him out and away. God still my heart. Though my heart has been taken and beat to a bloody pulp, I only long for you to make me whole and live at and in peace.
    Because those black, foamy, churning, boulder filled waters did jerk us down a never-ending river. Waterfalls. Relentlessly beating us. Gasping for air as we went down hundreds of times…they did not. Those black waters did not overtake us. We are here.
    We are promised struggles. Calamity. Wave upon wave of trials. Not for the faint of heart.
    Ecc. 3:1-15 (The Message).
    ‘…a time to search and count your losses, a time to hold on and another to let go…’
    As westerners, the searching and count is disdained. Drink. Drug. Shop. Eat. Run. Hide. Mask it with “Fine. Just fine.” (Please be fine! We cannot bear your pain, get over IT.) How? IT is hot on my heels.
    “…He has left us in the dark, so we can necer know what God is up to, whether he is coming or going….I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always….God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.”
    Though this is fierce and harsh…he’s got a good point.
    Nothing. Not even a sparrow is out of God’s keeping.
    Still, I remain. Here. Struggling. Flailing. Even whimpering and checking out my wounds. Are they going to heal?
    Yes. Altered. Absolutely.
    Fires are devastating. The new growth from that charred forest floor…astonishing. Achingly breathtaking. I am the ashes. Waiting for spring. What will capture my eyes? Please open my eyes to see the beauty from the black, ashes in my soul.
    With you, Marty.

  5. Hun, I am so sorry for what you have been and are going through.

    You need to allow yourself to cry those tears as they are destroying your soul and your health. I know I was there for the last three years myself, but once I came to terms with these things. Not condoning in anyway but actually just accepting that I am not guilty or at fault as they were out of my control accepting that I could not change my circumstances no matter what I would have done differently. Looking at the mistakes I made of my own control not looking at them as Failures but instead as lessons learned and asking God to show me the lessons in them. But also at the same time knowing that some of the lessons were not for me but rather for my family members to learn while I keep on praying for them daily. Then asking God to remove the wounds from my heart—> and this is the key part asking<— God to fill me up with His Love to Overflowing only then and only then did I start to feel God-given joy. To remember that "There is NO condemnation in Christ Jesus." Not let the "What-ifs" destroy me.

    I know what it means to have to give up my children. You can find most of my Testimony on my blog. Yes, I still do struggle with this as well but I have had to hand them both over to God and trust that He has a good plan for both of them while I pray for them daily. God can love them both so much better than I ever can with this limited faulty human love of mine. I still love them both very deeply and always will. I even love my future Grandchildren which I probably will never get to even see and I even pray for them daily.

    Please know that you are very Loved and yes, as Christians we will have these painful troubles but they are not because of us but rather because of Jesus. No it is not easy but we cannot shut ourselves off from the world as much as we would love to do so. Rather than letting these painful lessons make us Bitter we have a choice and can choose to let them make us Better as God has intended.

    Love in Christ,

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