In two days, it will be nine months since Terry went home.  During this past nine months, I have been experiencing every emotion known to man.  Anger, despair, loneliness, sadness, depression, and isolation all come to mind.  And, I have come to realize that this is normal!

Yet, today as I look back at this journey I can also see that there have been many different angels that have been there for me.  While there were times that I haven’t been aware of them, they are there none-the-less.  I have experienced the promise of the scripture that, God created the angels for many purposes, including guiding, protecting, encouraging and strengthening us. Scripture tells us that angels are God’s servants, sent by Him into the world to serve His will.

When I was following the ambulance to the hospital, my first calls were to my kids.  Not only did my daughter and son get to the hospital to be with me, but my oldest grand daughter as well.  While there, I was able to contact the leaders from our small group (Bob and Ann), along with the pastor for our care ministries.  So, when I was there in that “family room” crying, worrying, waiting and praying, these angels were there beside me providing me comfort; I didn’t have to do this alone.  Bob and Ann, Gordy, and my kids all were there physically, in spirit, and the whole prayer chain was behind us; seeking God’s strength and His will.

When it started to become evident how this was going to end, Bob and Ann went into Terry and prayed a blessing over her.  With my children at my side, I was able to work through the decision before us as a family; my angels never left me alone.

When it came time to Celebrate Terry’s life my Pastor, my church friends, and those from our small group were there to help, to encourage, and to pray.  While I don’t remember much, so many people have said that we had a great celebration of her life.  I can only say that it was because the angels were there, walking beside me.

As the days turned into months, my friends were always there for me.  Friends from our small group went with me to several concert series in the parks in our area so that I didn’t have to sit alone at home.  The men from our Saturday Morning Breakfast club were there every Saturday with their love, friendship, “man jokes”, and just having a good time with them.  Gordy and Pastor Dave would often reach out to me, just to check in to see “how’s things”.  Even my friends on the “Tech Team” were there when I needed something to do.

When we had Terry’s celebration service, we hosted a time of fellowship afterwards and our new friends from Quail Run (our new community and home) were there to lend a hand so that we could cry, love, talk, and share with each other. Angels watching over us.

I can remember when I laid Terry’s ashes to rest off of the Edmonds Ferry and I had her urn in my hand, holding it out over the water.  My hands were glued onto the urn and didn’t want to let go.  Crying and praying, I felt a presence that told me it was going to be OK and I was then able to let her go.  At that moment, a pod of whales surfaced off the back of the boat.  The angels were there, confirming that it really was going to be OK.  I finally felt a peace that I could let her go and start moving forward.

Not too long after that, I joined a grief support group, Grief Share (www.griefshare.org).  As I participated in this program, more angels were there, walking with me.  Angels in the form of fellow widows, widowers, and grieving husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, children, aunts, uncles … you get the picture.  Together, we were there for each other, studied this grief thing, and walked beside each other through the process.  This experience was so rewarding that I am going through this again, with the hope that I can leverage these experiences to be an angel for someone else.

God has provided me with an awesome family and these angels have been more  support than I can have imagined.  Terry and I are blessed to have two great kids; Chris and Lesley.  While they are processing the loss of their mother in their own way, they are also there for me and to help me in times I don’t think I could do it myself.  My grands are such a blessing, I am so thankful for them.  Audrey has become one of my best friends.  Even though I push her to follow through on her school, she comes to me when she is hurting.  And I can be there for her.  More importantly, she is there for me.  We talk, and care for each other, share each others pain, and I don’t know what I would do without her.  I have really enjoyed (loved) the times when I can get together with Hailie.  The last time we went out, we sat and talked for a couple of hours.  Note:  here is a 13 year old that is able to sit with her grandpa for a couple of hours and just talk.  That was such a memorable time; I loved it and it has to have been an angel sitting there with me.  My two younger grands, Lillie and Johnny, are always there with a laugh and a smile and provide so much joy to me.  Angels walking beside me and bringing me a smile.

Today, we laid to rest my Uncle Bob.  Uncle Bob was my mom’s brother and I have so many memories and love for him.  Bob was a special angel to me when my dad passed away, showing up, unannounced at Dad’s house and being there for me.  And the rest of my family – wow.  There is so much to say.  My aunt Carol was also there when Dad passed.  Today, at Bob’s celebration, all of us cousins, aunts, and uncles celebrated together, Bob’s going home.  All of them angels to me, as I still process these feelings and follow this journey that is before us.  I can’t go to a funeral without crying and missing Terry.  But these angels help me process the feelings that well up and try to overcome.  What is truly awesome is, not only the love for Bob but the love for Christ was definitely in that room today. And the angels appeared through my brother, sister, and my cousins, Dan, Tana, and Kathy.  Oh, and so many more of the family that was there.

Experiencing the death of a loved one can challenge us in many ways as we learn to adapt to the loss in our lives. Although there are no right or wrong ways to grieve, getting support and taking care of yourself can help you deal with your feelings of loss.  You can see from this long missive that there are many, many people (angels)  that have been there walking beside me.

As we that are grieving the loss of a loved one travel this journey, the experts will advise us to cast a wide net to build our support network.  Several areas that have worked for me, and can work for you include:

  • Family and friends
  • People in your community (church, living community, clubs, and others)
  • Small group, bible study, and other christian circles
  • Grief Share or other support systems
  • Counselors
  • Other widows and widowers.  I have even found that widow and widower support groups on the internet are a great support for me.
  • How about helping others.  I will talk about this in other blogs, but God is moving me towards “reimpacting” my experiences back to others; either by just supporting them when they need, in my own life, and LTF Journeys (my journal to help others travel this new journey).

No matter what, we must continue and build our own support team of Angels.   Rely on them when you really need to.  Don’t be so prideful that you can’t take their support.

“For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” -Psalm 91:11-12

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says it so well – “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”