The past year has been pretty interesting to say the least. I really don’t even know where to start. Long story short, last year I was experiencing a deep sadness that involved the loss of my wife a few years ago. I don’t know how to describe it all. One thing I do know is this; I really believed I would spend the rest of my life grieving the loss of my first wife.
The most important thing I’ve learned this year is this; that’s not necessarily true. I don’t have to be sad my whole life, and I don’t want to. Why would I want to spend my life in the depths of grief? When you look up the definition of grief, it’s defined as, “experiencing deep sorrow in the midst of a loss.” Well, I have experienced that and more for an extended period of time. For the better part of the last five years since Ashlie passed away to be exact. For a while I was in shock, then hurt, then a little bit of denial, then sadness hit. I slipped into what could only be described as depression. I hate saying that. I didn’t even want to type the word depression, but it’s true.
I could hide it pretty good from most people, but the people that were closest to me knew something was wrong. Mostly my wife who also just assumed that I would be in some sort of deep sorrow for the rest of my life. Also, some of the family would ask her if I was OK. They would say, “He just seems different…” I just continued to maintain the false facts that I was fine.
On the outside all was good. I took the gold medal at a big grappling tournament, was promoted to jiujitsu blue belt, received the Fire Service Medal of Honor for rescuing a kid, was promoted to Lieutenant in the fire department, and received the Firefighter of the Year Award. All that while finishing up some projects around the house. It was a good year if you were looking in from the outside, but Internally I was strugglin’. I was letting the deep sorrow consume my life and nothing felt like it mattered anymore.
I definitely believe God gives us all time to mourn our losses, but I think that’s just it, it’s time. At some point, I also believe the mourning is over. For me it ended when God asked me to trust him again in May 2019. I heard Him as clear as day but didn’t want anything to do with Him. I wasn’t ready to let it go. That’s right about when it started to really go downhill for me. He said,” Trust me.” I said “No.” I actually shared a pretty honest post in the blog called, The Grave of Grief. It really dives into how I was feeling during that time.
It was time to transition from a place of lifelong grieving to a time of honoring Ashlie by living the life God called me to live. I really struggled with this transition. I DID NOT want to move from mourning to honoring. I thought if I moved from mourning to honoring that I would somehow dishonor Ashlie. Almost as if I would forget about her. What’s interesting is, I could never forget about her, even if I wanted to. Moving forward doesn’t mean forgetting about the ones you lost.
When I discovered I could live free of deep sorrow, I was a little shocked honestly. I didn’t think it was possible. I had been to counselor after to counselor with no help. It wasn’t until the depression started to consume my life that I realized I didn’t want to live like that anymore. To me, it was like depression was winning, and I wasn’t fighting.
So, I brought my sadness before God and after five years made a choice to lay it down and let Him take it from me. This was a process, and it wasn’t easy. I still have days where I have sad moments, but I’m not living sad anymore. It’s been a new life for me and my family. My season of sadness has ended, and with God I’ve chosen to honor Ashlie by living a life where I can experience joy and happiness again. Through that I’ve chosen to share my journey with you, and that’s what Ashlie would have wanted.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about grief it’s this; you can move past it. This does not include forgetting your loved ones and never being sad again. That’s going to happen, but God heals and restores. He can heal your pain, hurt and sadness. No matter how deep and how strong it seems. God is bigger than grief, and when you’re ready, He’ll be ready for you to trust him with it.