Willie Nelson recently released a new song with these lyrics in the chorus. I was on YouTube when I first saw it. I clicked on it and as it unfolded, it was as if my heart was singing to me. I lost my husband on January 26, 2018 to Stage 4 colon cancer. He was diagnosed on December 7, 2017 (you never forget the day) and he remained in the hospital until he took his last breath. I am grateful for the time we had together alone in the hospital for 52 days. We talked about everything. It was the closest we had ever been to each other and God.
Losing him was like my breath leaving my body slowly. The next few weeks were the same. This was when my body went into automatic pilot. I did everything without being present. I moved forward out of habit, really. The more my body moved forward the more my mind and heart fought to just stay still. I really just wanted to sleep and wake up and find out that all of it was just a dream. I began to feel like I was losing my mind. I felt lost, angry, empty, confused, sad and overwhelmed all at once. Days started to blur into each other. Then a co-worker gave me the Christi Center Coping with Grief booklet she had found online. I read it and decided to find out more about this Christi Center. I decided to attend a group session. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew I needed to attend.
Monday came and I told myself “don’t chicken out and decide not to go”. I kept giving myself a pep-talk all day. You can do this. You NEED this. Sure enough I went. I got there early to fill out some general paperwork and then went to the group room. I was surprised to see so many people. Everyone there was grieving. Everyone there felt what I felt. Everyone there welcomed me. I especially was touched by the fact that Don and Susan Cox (the founders) were there in person to greet everyone. They led the big group session and told us how they were there for the love of each of our loved ones. I felt it. I was so touched. Then we separated into smaller specific-loss groups.
We can talk about how we lost our spouse, how we met, how we are coping or pretty much anything that is on the forefront of our minds. Or you can just attend and say nothing. I wasn’t so sure this would be a great idea. Although I am an extrovert to the fullest, something about sitting in a room full of people talking about feelings was not something I looked forward to. I had even told myself I wasn’t going to say anything. I would merely observe and if I went back a second time I would participate…slowly. HA! I know some of y’all know me and not saying anything would be hard for me to do BUT I was determined to just listen…………UNTIL it came to my turn. I started with when my husband passed away, then how he passed away, then how we met, how long we had been together, then how we married. I just couldn’t stop talking…..or crying for that matter. Well as you can tell the “sitting back and observing” plan did not last long. I’m learning that a lot of how I think things should go don’t necessarily end up happening that way. I TOTALLY enjoyed the evening. Now I look forward to going. Wondering who I am going to meet this time. Will anyone come back for a second session? I often wonder how a particular person is doing throughout the week and I pray for them. Most of all I learned my grieving process was….get this……..NORMAL! All the different feelings….the out-of-control feeling most of all was in fact NORMAL! What a relief!
Now, more than anything, what keeps me going back is knowing that Don and Susan will be there to support me and share their journey as well. It’s personal. They KNOW my pain since they lost a daughter. They are walking the same journey maybe not EXACTLY like me but we are there together. I believe God sent me to The Christi Center because it is definitely moving me through my grief journey. I know what Willie Nelson says is true. Grief is not something you get over but it is something you can get through…..especially with the help of others who are on the same journey. Thanks to the Christi Center and Don and Susan Cox.
I told a friend about my support group and he told me “Can’t you think of another name for your support group? It sounds so intimidating. What’s another name for support?” I immediately said SPANX! So now we call it my SPANX group and the attendees are SPANXsters. Actually it doesn’t matter to me what we call it as long as I keep attending. It is definitely helping me. The last 10 minutes of our session we go around the room and tell each other ways that help us cope with the loss. For some it’s having a routine, others it’s music and for most (not me) it’s exercising. (That bug hasn’t bit me yet.). Every time it comes to my turn I say one word GOD! He helps me every day. He leads me through the toughest part of the day. He takes my hand and I follow wherever He leads me….sometimes very blindly. There are times I don’t like what I feel and then there are times I almost feel guilty for laughing out loud but each time He is with me telling me it’s going to be okay. I know the times when my emotions get the best of me the devil would lead me to believe He is not near…but He is. He never leaves me. I get scriptures every day letting me know He is near. The one that keeps coming to me from different people and places is Psalms 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. I keep getting this scripture in my daily devotionals, in cards I receive and in listening to the radio. Today I got a new one. Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. This tells me the more time I spend with Him the more I will discover. There is so much MORE to discover of His goodness. God is STILL good! Love y’all!