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.