Grief Really Is a Journey


Grief Really Is a Journey

sand-768783_640One of the many things I have learned in the three months since my wife Valerie passed away is that grief is a journey. Sometimes it feels like there is no end in sight. Maybe there is or maybe there isn't. You have to take it a day at a time.

There are good days. There are bad days and they there are frustrating days. What has been frustrating for me has been that I remember every detail of what happened the day Val passed away. What I don’t remember is the day before which is September 7th. Did I talk to Val that day? What did I say to her? When was the last day I saw her? What were the last words I said to her or she said to me?

To take it a step further: My last memory of my wife is a “selfie” that I took of her and me at her in her room at Community Nursing and Rehab in Naperville. I took that photo in July. It turned out to be the last photo of Val and me together.

My memories are few and far between from the time Val went into the hospital on February 13th 2015 and September 8th, 2015 (the day she died). That’s right, Val spent our last Valentine’s Day together at Rush Copley Hospital in Aurora, Ill., and I don’t remember one single detail about it.

She was also in the hospital for our last anniversary.  I do remember that I brought her the photo albums from our wedding. She loved that. I kept the albums with her. I picked them up the day we cleaned out her room after she died.

Since Val passed away, I found a VHS copy of our wedding ceremony. I realize now and it’s heartbreaking to take that Val will never see that video again.

I guess the reason why I don’t remember a whole lot is because I was too busy to appreciate what was going on around me. I visited Val a lot in all of the facilities she was in. Our visits were show. An hour or two. I was too busy being Jamie Newell, broadcasting student, I never really sat down and talked to my wife. We never discussed what she was thinking about. Did she know she was going to die? I think Val knew she was going to die young. She always told me that she feared that she would never live to be as old as her mom. She was right. Val’s mom Sharon died when she was 49. Val was 47.

I think that is why this has been a complete shock to me. One day you are a patient in a nursing home. The next day, you are transferred to a hospital and you pass away.

Another thing about grief is and I will put it in sports terms. There is no playbook on how to handle your grief. It is different from person to person. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Each person must do it in their own way. There is also no normal way to feel. How a person feels is how they feel. What a grieving person thinks is normal is their normal.

What have I been doing for the last three months? I am still a broadcasting student. I am done with classes on December 23rd. What I have done is I have started to attend a Grief Share group. That has been good for me.

Another thing that I have learned at the Grief Share group is. I’m paraphrasing: My grief is not my identity. My identity is in Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the Son of God and I am hurting right now.

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Lillie Fuller

I'm glad you found a group Jamie. Thank you for continuing to come and share with us. Like I always tell you, I appreciate you and I'm glad to call you friend. I believe your grief has much to do with your not remembering details. I know you remember that you love Val and she loved you. That to me is the important part.


Thank you, Jamie, for sharing such a personal post and trusting us with it. I'm glad to hear you have found a Grief Group to attend and it is helping you. Your care of Val was tender, loving and attentive. We could all have done more for our loved ones, but in the end, we did the best we could, and that is always going to be \"just human\".


Hi Jamie, I was glad to see your post. I think all those days before, yes, you were being Jamie, but sometimes I feel like we put up a guard, we go through what we have to do, not wanting to imagine the future, the decline. I've had the same thoughts. When was I there, what did we talk about, what days did I spend at her house, at the hospital? I've had the same feelings about me best friend. Why didn't I talk to her more about her thoughts, her wishes? Did she know she was dying? Well, I know why we didn't talk.. it was too hard for her to talk and breath.. but I wish I would have had the words... \n\nYou're right. We all grieve differently and at our own pace. But there are some common threads, it feels good to see them here, or hear them in a support group. Hugs.


Wow, Jamie, I swear if we swapped out the words \"my wife\" with \"my Dad,\" I could have written this post! Dad has been gone for one month today, and as I look back at my blog posts, I realize I've already forgotten some of the stories that I posted (confirming that blogging is a good thing to do!!). And just this morning I was thinking about how I don't have any pictures of me & him together during the month that he lived in Texas with me - I have pictures of him with both of my kids and even my dog(!), but none of me and him. I guess I just always thought there would be plenty more time to do that...maybe wait for a day when my hair looked good, his shirt was clean, the lighting was better - whatever stupid excuse that I made at the time. He and I had a lot of good talks during the month he was living near me (although on days when his dementia was strong, those conversations were pretty wild!) - but I still wish that I had talked with him more and delved deeper into his thoughts and experiences. I try not to focus much on regret - I can't change the past, so I need to just ignore it and move on. But it's hard when it's something important, and something that can't be un-done. So it's during these times that all I can do is look up to God and ask for reassurance and comfort. And in time, He provides. Hang in there, you are definitely not alone in this!