Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Memories ....

...... are everywhere.
Especially here.

I am in San Diego for Camp Widow.
Which means that I am visiting my brother in law and his family before Camp Widow.
Jim's brother.
I come every year.
I love coming here.
Even with the memories.

And because of the memories.

Jim and his brother were pretty close.
Jim's death was almost as life-altering for his brother, as it was for my children and for me.

The first time I came here without Jim .... was more than very difficult.
It was excruciating.
There are pictures all over their home.
Pictures of Jim and me from past visits.
The last family picture we took .... on Thanksgiving the year before he died.

When I arrived here on Sunday, I walked into the kitchen and saw the computer desk, pictured above.
If you look closely, as I did when I saw it, this is what you'd see:

This is Jim, around age 3, with his arm protectively around his little brother.
I love this picture.
I didn't expect to see it.

Four years ago it would have made me cry from the pain it brought.
Three years ago .... the result might have been the same.
But this year?
This year it made me smile.

I love that little boy who grew up to be my husband .... with all my heart.
I miss that man .... with all my being.
Typing those words can still bring tears.

But the picture?
The picture warms my heart.
And that's a relief.

So for those of you who still feel the sharp pain of grief when you look at pictures .... or are reminded of a memory ..... hold on.

A time is coming when the pain will lessen.
And once it lessens .... it starts giving way to memories that bring smiles instead of tears.
It wont be able to numb the warmth and love in your heart.

That time is coming.
You will grow stronger.
You will start to live again, rather than just exist.

And memories .... and pictures .... will have the ability to make you smile.

So please hold on.
Even if the only thing you have to hang onto .... is one small post from one widowed stranger.

Sometimes .... the small things are the easiest things to hold.


  1. After 3 years without my beloved husband, I must say what you say in this post is really true! So , yes there is hope it gets easier.

  2. SMILES HERE! :) :) :) A very sweet picture!

  3. Janine...thank you so much for this. There are days that are so unbearable and I think that we will never again be 'okay'.... And then a post like this gives me back HOPE. Hope matters!!!!!

  4. it's been three years since losing my husband as well, and i found myself nodding and smiling as i read this. beautiful post!

  5. I so hope it does get easier, if it doesn't get any better than this, I don't think I can make it. The memories come at me everyday, I am thankful that I have them, but they bring tears of sadness. I SO want to be making new memories with him in them, not looking at the past ones. How can I not be reminded of him every day, everywhere I go? In an instant I can go from functioning to not, with memories overtaking my being, leaving me in tears that I no longer can believe still flow. I don't want to be in the present without him, yet I am. I don't care about the future, don't care where I live, don't care what I am doing, just plain don't care. So I am patiently waiting for that day when it does get easier.

    1. Anon,
      Please hold on to that hope. I have been there. We've all been there. I made it through the worst days of my life, days where I felt that I was in the back of a cold, pitch black, dank cave, with not even a pin point of light to indicate there was an exit. The only exit I could imagine was a permanent one. My heart was gone, my future was gone, my life was gone.
      But I made it out of that cave .... and it was not easy. Some days I managed to crawl forward an inch or two, other days pulled me back several feet.
      Don't look behind you. Don't look in front of you. Just focus on this very second. This one breath. Once this moment is lived, focus on the next one as it comes. Keep your eyes only on the path right where you are, right now. It's easier to take one step that way.
      You have no proof that you will feel better. You only have us, people you don't know. But we know you. And you can trust us. It DOES get easier ..... or rather, you DO get stronger and so your grief seems easier to carry. Your strength will grow. The grief will not.
      You "so hope it does get easier.." ..... so please, keep a very tight grip on that hope. It matters.
      If you need someone to talk to you can always email me at
      I'm here.
      And so are many, many others.

    2. So true, " your strength will grow, your grief will not". All of a sudden, you will realize one day that it has eased a bit, just a bit, and you will think , " I am going to be ok. I can live again". It's not without exceptionally low days occasionally, but the "living" days outnumber the "existing" days. It's REALLY hard to grasp when you are at the beginning, but from the heart of a widow who still sometimes counts the days (802), believe me, you will somehow learn to live again.

  6. So very true - this week I began to seek out pictures to put in various rooms here and there. These are the same pictures I have had to tuck away for 14 months - now I look at them and smile remembering the times they were taken and I cherish them.
    We are not strangers - we are all joined together by the shared experience of this grief - it has made us all friends.

  7. Janine - your posts always have something that gives me hope.
    today it was this -

    "That time is coming.
    You will grow stronger.
    You will start to live again, rather than just exist."

    Thank you. It is true.
    A little at a time I am beginning to live again.

  8. Janine, you are the sweetest person on the web! Such a wonderful post for the newly widowed, mainly because it is true! So, here I am, another widowed stranger, to vouch that, in time, the memories and pictures will bring more smiles and warm feelings than the gut-wrenching pain of grief and loss. Peace to all...

  9. Thanks so much for this post! It came at a time for me when I was looking at past photos of me with my husband and the tears were flowing so much. I will hold on to the hope that I can look at these photos someday without going to pieces.

  10. Thank you for these words of hope just when I needed them most...

  11. Thank you so much for this post. I am six months as of
    Saturday and the last week has been an absolute grief
    storm of weeping, sure I couldn't do another six months without breaking in two. You all give me hope that I can one breath at a time.

  12. Janine, thank you so much for this post. I will try to believe. It's so hard. I am almost two years out andI have so many heavy issues to deal with and absolutely no-one for support. I am having trouble mustering the strength to keep going.

  13. I hear you loud and clear, Janine!! It will be three years in September and this summer I was able to look at the pictures from past summer vacations again and smile when I recalled those happy times. You never stop missing them, but life becomes "about living not just existing" again. Thanks for sharing your journey; I have learned much from it.

  14. Janine, another wonderful post.. you are so inspirational! The cyber world is blessed to have you. 2 1/2 years ago, I looked at pictures all the time and allowed the tears to flow. Now I look at pictures less often and sometimes still do cry but more often smile.

    I have absolutely had those days of no hope and a lack of concern for anything even my children. But those days are now less frequent and I do have hope. Hope that I will be doing more living and less surviving.

    Blessings to everyone!!!

  15. thank you. I needed this today. Today marks our ninth wedding anniversary and yesterday is 9 months since he has died. I am a bucket of tears today. I can look at our wedding picture but smiling thru my tears and look forward to the day where I can start living instead of just existing. thank you again!

  16. Hope things get better, I'll take it on faith that it gets better. Still can't look at pictures, only been 12 wks for me.

  17. Janine, I love the statement about how it's not that the grief gets easier, it's just that we get stronger in dealing with it. I think that is SO true. I'm over a year and a half out. My husband was a lot of fun. At first, the pictures were painful to look at. But that's definitely getting better. I can look at them now and remember the fun we had together, raising kids, camping, fishing, etc. Even hearing his voice on video was tough at first, but now it makes me smile. Sure, I still miss him. I think I always will. But I can look back at our time together fondly instead of painfully.

  18. Hi Janine, thank you for this post and the inspiration that it does get easier. I am not able to look at all of the pictures right now, because it's still so painful. I do want to be in that place where the memories of our life together brings a smile to my face. I am not there but I do understand that it takes time. However, some days are just so sad that... the possibility of hope is non-existent. Thanks again for hope.