Sitting down to write a reflection of this September 30, and even now – two years later – it still seems unfair that Josh isn’t here. Of course, there's a lot about life that is unfair, so does saying this help? Maybe not, but it is a true statement that represents my feelings and others also.
Navigating grief has been and still is, an ongoing challenge. It’s like walking uphill in an elevation you aren't prepared for. It doesn’t escape me that today’s adventure outing with Erin (Josh’s sister) represents grief so fittingly.
On our moderate hillside Colorado hike, I found myself pausing way more than I wanted to catch my breath. We even deemed the term, " the mountain mosey,” as a way of walking extra slowly up the hill. I debated turning back at one point but powered through to the next level. In my mind, and out loud, I wondered often, “Why is this so hard?” Of course, there are some logical answers to this question, such as the elevation in Missouri is much lower, I haven’t trained for this, I ate a lot of carbs for breakfast, etc . . . but still it was frustrating; so is grief.
While you can gear up and train for a mountain climb - navigating loss is harder because it so often catches you off guard. Even if you have experienced grief before, each time and story is unique. What I have found is that once you are in it, there's work to do. Moving through grief slowly, with honesty and intentionality is helpful.
I still don’t believe our culture shares enough about grief. We tend to shy away from how we really feel, and how a loss can impact us so deeply. We tend to try and bounce back into our busy lives - without making much of a change. We quickly stop talking about how the loss of someone has impacted us or how it’s changed us - because it does change us at some level, always (or should.)
Navigating my own grief process ever still means continuing to step up that mountain. It might be slow at times and might feel selfish at times, but the reminder that self-care is not selfish is always good.
My grief and self-care “training regiment” is still a work in process, but today, it includes pausing for special occasions, writing, and taking time to be outside to explore and wrestle out the various emotions that still come with grief. It means talking with a counselor. And, it means continuing to remember the incredible, beautiful moments Josh and I shared while at the same time investing in friends and family who still surround me today.
This “training regiment” is still a work in progress, but so I am.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” - Phil. 1:6
Trust in Tomorrow
Within today's grief narrative, I find there is a pit in my stomach as the date of when I last sat beside my loved one living and breathing approaches. Today is Sept 29, 2021, nearly two years before the "tomorrow" when I officially said goodbye to Josh. I recall that weekend not going well and my anxiety was high. It was a Sunday - but not a typical Sunday with church and all the things. In fact, none of the Sundays for the past six months had really been typical. Our life had been flipped upside down. Ugh...brain cancer. I can still feel the weight of anxiety within me as I reflect back.
Fast forward, two years and I am free to travel on a road trip through Kansas to see my sister-in-law. Currently, my dogs are laying at my feet as I type this post with the door is open inside a KOA cabin in Wakeeney - it's glorious outside and the highway noise reminds me that life does indeed go on.
My life that existed two years ago is very different today - yet I am still Jenn Brown. A person who still enjoys life, music, road trips, puppies, shoes, new adventures, relationships, and my ongoing journey with God. How my life displays this day is quite different, with the primary change being that Josh (my husband) is not around to share in these adventures.
On top of all of this, I find myself wrestling with trust - both trusting myself and God with what is happening and what might happen next. I don’t believe I am alone in the challenge of trusting again after loss or change. It would be easy for me to just say, “God is good! Just keep trusting him! All will be fine!” These are true statements. Yet, it is harder to say them, believe them and feel them – often it is REALLY hard to feel them.
There are times when I don’t truly believe I’ll be fine or that it will all "work out," but that is part of the trusting part – believing at core that God has a much, much larger perspective than I ever will. Trusting that there is still so much beauty discover if I keep stepping forward in my grief, in my story, and with the hope and peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.
So with this thought in mind, I make a "toast" . . . here’s to today, where once again I am asking God to be WITH me (both today and tomorrow) in a different way, and as the rest of Philippians 4:7 says to guard [my] heart and [my] mind in Christ Jesus.
Another version of the same passage (below) in The Message version is even stronger. I especially like the last line: "It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life!
Whew! I am not there yet and may not ever be but what a challenging thought.
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.
Hi! It's Jenn Brown, writing my story that is now slightly different as we enter a season of new grief. On September 30, 2019, my dear husband Josh passed away after battling brain cancer.