6 Months

Tomorrow it will be 6 months since Joe died. I want to type “left us” but I honestly think he is still here sometimes, giving me little signs that he is here by my side. I live for those signs because I just miss him so very much.

I have been traveling a lot this summer. I have been gone more than I have been home. Even as I type this, I am not at home, but in Indiana, helping my parents get to see my sister and her family. I have been traveling abroad the last few weeks and will put some photos up in a few weeks when I have them processed and my parents are back home. I will be driving all day tomorrow, on the 6 month anniversary of Joe’s death, so I thought I would write this now, while I have the opportunity.

My life completely shattered when Joe died. Am I better now than I was then? Maybe. I wouldn’t say better…just different. A lot of friends and family have backed away to give us time to grieve and collect ourselves. I am sorry to say that doesn’t help. I am grieving my child…and it is not a process or a step-by-step program that has an ending point of a rainbow and puppies (although I still appreciate and marvel over both). I have learned that this utter devastation…this deep-seeded grief for the loss of my son, will never leave. I will carry it in my heart, on my soul, as long as I breathe. It is not getting easier, but it is getting different. I don’t think you ever get over the loss of a close loved one, but you learn to live with that loss better. I am meeting with a Stephen Minister from a local Methodist church once a week. It is a ministry of listening. She asks me questions and then just listens. There are tears, there is laughter, and in the end, there is prayer. I have missed the last 3 weeks due to travel and I am looking forwards to meeting with her again. I have signed up for a child loss program through a Catholic Church in a town near Omaha called Jesus Wept. I am looking forward to it because I have so many questions….why did God chose to take Joe? Is God punishing me? I was ready to go because of my advanced cancer diagnosis. Why did God take him instead of me? My faith is in a desert right now. I pray and expect nothing. I go to Mass and leave sadder than when I arrived. I thought facing my own mortality was hard…it is nothing compared to this. Please don’t leave a comment about God having a reason that none of us know. I already know that and it doesn’t help to have it repeated over and over again. Just like it didn’t help when I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and people told me, “God has a reason for this.” That is a hard pill to swallow while you are sick on chemo.

I have spent much of the last 6 months trying my best to comfort Michelle, Joe’s wife, from afar….in the best way I can. We are both deeply hurting, but in different ways. I have lost my son….she has lost the love of her life. I have tried to reach out to his friends through letters or social media, because I know they are hurting too. I try to talk about Joe a lot….to his brother and sister and my husband. The memories may sting a little bit at first, but more often they end in laughter, because Joe did that for me….made me laugh. What a beautiful gift! So I love to talk about him…because memories are all I have now and I don’t want to forget them. When I was first told I was going to die young, I was so afraid that my kids would forget me. I am not sure I ever told anyone that, but that was it. Rich would eventually remarry, life would march on, and I would be forgotten. Pretty selfish, right? Well, I don’t want Joe to be forgotten, so it actually makes me mad when people won’t mention his name. Yes, I may cry. I cry all the time in private. I cry much more in public now and just don’t care. But those tears are cleansing. I guess I wouldn’t say if you aren’t willing to see those tears, say your goodbyes and stay away because it is my life now. I can’t help it. I want to mention that until you lose a child….you can’t understand. I can be distracted for awhile, but it will all come crashing down again.

I don’t say all of this to bring you down, but to let you know where I am coming from. Grief is very lonely. Being deserted by friends and family until they think you might be happy again? Well, makes it even more lonely. If I turn down an invitation to lunch or a Bible Study….I am just not ready. It takes so much work and energy to try and be “normal” out in public. I feel like I am standing still while the world marches on around me. I am often more comfortable in the company of strangers because they don’t know the “old” me….the one that smiled all the time. I now feel it when I smile….as it isn’t as automatic as it was in the past. I try very hard to not make people around me feel uncomfortable….but again, that is a lot of work. Grief is exhausting. With my cancer and the meds I am on, I just have to pick and chose how exhausted I want to become. Sometimes going to a cardio class with strangers at the YMCA is less exhausting than being with friends I know. It is weird…but I am just letting you know how it is.

So Joe. I miss him so very much and I can’t believe it has been 6 months already. Six months ago I would have said that my heart couldn’t take continuing to live for 6 months…yet here I am….still putting one foot in front of the other. There are a lot of other “firsts” coming up pretty soon that will be hard to go through. But I can’t borrow worry for another day. This one is big enough. So I end with some favorite photos of my Joe…

8 thoughts on “6 Months

  1. Such very precious memories you have! My heart just breaks every day for you. I wish there was something that I could do to ease the pain; but I know there is not. Please know that I am always here for you day or night, just a phone call or text away and I am a great listener. Continually praying for healing for you and your family.


  2. Those are beautiful and precious photos. I admire you for being able to articulate and share your feelings. My brother-in-law’s mother recently passed away and the funeral was Friday. Saturday on the phone he said, “Please pray for me, Suzy. I’m still sad.” I said of course I’ll pray for you, but you will always be sad about missing her. It’s not something you get over, just like you stated. I’m glad you meet with a Stephen’s Minister. I have heard great things about them. I hope the Jesus Wept program helps too. I don’t know why Joe died, but I do know God was not punishing you. Six months is both short and long. Safe travels. I continue to send love and prayers.


  3. I’m a pretty good listener and even though I’m back at school, I’d love to just let you be you…whenever you’re ready.


  4. I hold you in my heart my precious friend. I ache for you. You are in my prayer so often and in my heart always. May you feel Jesus’ arms around you today. I remember one night when I lay in bed trembling and crying I sensed God crying with me. May you sense Him with you today


  5. Dear Cyndi, thank you so much for sharing your journey through and life with grief. You have the gift of expression that enables us readers to experience this with you. And that helps us all to understand what to do to try to love on those going through a catastrophic loss like yours. I wish I could take all of this pain away from you. I know life will never again be the same w/o your sweet Joe. He gave me hugs when he and James would come around and I can’t tell you how loving your son was! Thank you for sharing these pictures of this beautiful soul you raised! He was such a great guy! You don’t have to be anything for anybody right now. Just surviving day to day for the rest of your family is heroic! I love you and hope you and Rich know that you’ll always be thought of fondly by me and James no matter the day. Love, Liz Headid ❤

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


  6. Thanks for always sharing your heart with open honesty. I never feel like I have the “right” words, so I’ll just say that I would be happy to be a listener if you ever want to chat on the phone. I don’t have experience with this type of grief, but I know you are in pain and I wish this pain did not happen to your family. Hugs and prayers always.


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