I’ll be honest…

Not too sure how to write this blog post really. I am reflecting as I write so it might get messy and interesting…. like the rest of my posts really…

A friend of mine and a member of the church passed away suddenly on Sunday, and now I am faced with a lesser grief inside of the big grief, and that’s very strange indeed. Because I can feel myself going into different stages of grief for him and moving into different ones for John…. I don’t understand, so I don’t expect you to either… but it feels very odd.

Today has been so strange, woke up very anxious about various things that needed to be sorted out and had to ring about 3 different people to get different views that all lined up perfectly which helped greatly, and my anxiety dropped out, thank goodness as it was overwhelming me.

Went shopping as nothing much in the house, then came back feeling very emotional for no reason in particular if you know what I mean… and thought “Oh! I’ve got that documentary on George Michael to watch!’ So sat down to watch it….

Let me first say I used to LOVE George Michael, for many reasons, music, voice, depth and his music and lyrics really connected with me, I was listening mainly to his 1990’s going forward stuff, and when my Nephew was born and tragically passed away after 7 days it was one of George Michael’s songs that God spoke to me through and I didn’t realise it was God till years later…so there’s some background. When I sat down to watch I wasn’t really thinking about any of that…

That documentary wiped me out. I had no idea George Michael’s life had been so affected by grief and bereavement or how many of his songs I had internalised, and had meant a lot to me. And even though the documentary only played snippets of his songs the force on my emotions was so powerful and kind of blindsided me, I sobbed so hard. I have a banging headache and at one point I couldn’t even breathe properly. And even though the documentary was in no way shape or form spiritual, I honestly believe I had a spiritual experience… I know, I know, that sounds like right dodgy theology,  but I can’t help it… I looked back over all the songs I knew from him and all the times and places and things I had felt and thought about and I saw God working in my life… and I was overwhelmingly grateful and…. there’s another emotion but I can’t articulate it right now… maybe it is just grief…

I guess even if I don’t fully understand what that was all about, at least a lot of tears and emotion came out…and my bereavement counsellor would say that can only be a good thing.

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Circles and cycles. 

The so called “5 stages of grief” are not straight forward for anyone as everyone is different and behave and act differently and have different stages some more, some less. For me I am back  where I was a few months ago with thinking everything through. It’s a horrible stage and I’m annoyed that I’m back in it, and I’m dreading if I have to go through this stage again. It’s exhausting. Thinking thinking thinking all day long about everything, over and over again. It’s ten past nine in the evening and I’m going to bed as I’m tired even though I only got up at 8am and have done only 4 hours of study all day long. I hate this stage, cause the thing is there’s only so much you can think about things without trying to guess the future or second guess yourself or your circumstances, or rush ahead in your thinking which for me isn’t so much of a problem as the further off future I can’t seem to think about as it’s too uncertain right now, and any thought I do have either end up with me in unstoppable tears or questioning everything. My main priority is to keep walking with The Lord and honour Him, but because everything has changed with John passing away this has been the biggest struggle I have faced. Also (and this maybe slightly controversial for those who don’t believe in these things) the devil seems to have been tempting me a lot the last few weeks and it gets tiring trying to swerve him, thankfully I know my boundaries and also I couldn’t handle the guilt or shame that I would feel if I succumbed to the temptation at the moment, I just don’t need that complication in my life (When do you ever? But you know what I mean.) So I’m off for an early night. Church in the morning and that’s a whole different mountain to climb…

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Bereavement counselling was hard yesterday… like all the times it has been difficult I have floated around the hard bits until about 10 mins before the session is due to finish and then discovered/admitted what was really going on…. this is my way of doing things which is not helpful. My counsellor reminds me very much of a Priest I know and one of my Youth Workers growing up. Mainly because eventually, they get the crux of the matter out of me and somehow that forces me to deal with it…dealing with the issue normally takes time though and I will still skirt round it at any opportunity I have.  What a pain in the neck I am, here are people trying to help me and they almost have to literally pin me down to get the real stuff out of me. Makes me feel like such a fraud for 90% of the time. In a nutshell, what I learned yesterday was I need to cry more…. not what I wanted to hear. I don’t like crying. I never used to mind it, but since John died its been horrible. And I have had to stop myself crying at times cause my eyes were so swollen I could hardly see out of them….for days… so it’s not as if I haven’t cried, I have, but for some reason, it would appear, not enough. How much is enough though?  Maybe I should try just crying whenever I feel like it! Ha! Even the thought horrifies me….maybe I do have an issue?… Am I just a pride monkey? That may well be the case, but no! I’m not having that, how can you go about living your life when you are crying every 4 seconds? Grrr… I’m frustrated. I definitely don’t want to suppress my grief, but at the same time, I want to be able to actually function…which potentially if I was crying all the time I wouldn’t be able to. In my last post, I spoke about how I have to build myself back up countless times a day. Well, crying is one of the things that knocks me down… and now the advice coming is to cry more?… to be fair I have just confused myself. I understand I have to give myself time etc etc, but again how much is enough?  And I feel like such a narcissist by thinking about myself so much. Man alive! I’m so bored of me. I’m doing my own head in. I’ve got to go and doing something else before I crack up completely.

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When John died it’s like everything went to zero. That may not be true but that is how it felt and still feels at times. It’s like every single day I start at zero and some how through out the day I gradually work my way, the most I’ve probably got to is 4 and that was at my theology degree Residential, when John was alive I was on 9.5. And throughout the day something can come and knock me back to zero in an instance, a smell, a sight, a sound, a memory, and back to zero. So my days are spent building, trying to build something of me back up. Sometimes I can be knocked back to zero three or four times and those days I probably get up to 2 at the most before I am back at zero. Which may explain why church is so hard… every second is a sight, a sound, a thought…and I’m at zero. Today has gradually gone down and down, met with one of my Pastors this morning that was alright, verbal processing felt good, but I woke up at zero as I do everyday when I open my eyes and John isn’t there, so at 7am I managed to get up to about 3 for coffee with one of my Pastors but last night when I went to bed I had a sore throat but thought I would shrug it off, but it’s been getting worse and I’ve been feeling rough, and then the thought hit me… I haven’t been poorly without John yet…. back to Zero in one fell swoop. Have remained at zero for about 2 hours and now I’m going to bed as I am so tired, I don’t have the energy to build just to wake up at zero again… I hope a good nights sleep will make me physically better and so tomorrow building won’t be so hard. “Come on Vickster”, I hear you say, “Rely on the Spirit”. You come here and do this and I’ll tell you to rely on the Spirit and we’ll see your response. Harsh, maybe, but I’m just telling it how it is for me.

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Even as I write I’m annoyed, frustrated, fed up and sad. Only lasted 35 mins at church. Didn’t even make the preaching. Started crying when I left my house. When I got to church and saw my friend outside absolutely sobbed my heart out and that was before I even got in the door. Some how managed to compose myself and go in and sit down. But by the time it had got to the tithes I couldn’t handle it anymore. So I left and felt ridiculous for leaving, felt guilty and ashamed. Felt I’d let myself down, John down and the church down, so felt even worse than I had when I started out to church. Not good. But seriously I couldn’t handle it, I mean really. I wanted to have a proper full unstoppable loud wailing melt down. Can you imagine? In the middle of taking up the offering? And I knew it was coming so just legged it. The thoughts that hit me are: Am I suppressing some of my grief? Will this always haunt me at my church? Will it just pass with time, as at the moment it isn’t? What exactly is this? And another thing is people who haven’t experienced this, some of them can be very understanding and sympathetic and empathetic and I think God for them but if they have never been through it they don’t really understand the complexness (might have made that word up, sorry) of it. It is true that I can go into other worship places and maintain a modicum of composure even though I cry and there are still times that I want to leg it, but it’s just about manageable. At my church it is not. It took everything within me on Thursday when I went to worship practice to stay in the building, and I only managed that because I was hidden away at the back. Is it a pride problem? Don’t know. Could I cry like this at home?  There have been many times when I have yes, of course, but it’s ok I can just go to bed afterwards when it’s all over and sleep, at church I cannot do that I have to face people I have to walk out the church drive or be driven home and it’s messy and horrible and maybe it is pride but I don’t want people to see that and think I’m a lunactic. “Remember the time that person had a meltdown during a random moment of the service and had to be carried out?” Is not a line I want spoken about myself. Not everyone knows me in church and knows what I’m going through so to them it would be random and highly inappropriate. But there’s more to this. I moved to my church for John, not that I didn’t want to or that God didn’t say to, all of those things are true, I knew John was a leader so I asked the Lord whether it was right for me to go, and He gave me a visible unmistakable sign, that it was right while we were dating to move across. It was a smaller church then and everyone knew who I was, the moment I walked in people said “And you must be John’s girlfriend?” When we weren’t serving which was very rare, we would sit together. So now I walk into church and what? It may seem like a minute detail, but to me it’s massive. Where do I sit? I have been offered a place at the front but I can’t sit there, it’s too much, it’s too unnatural, and maybe it’s pride, it’s too on display, crying in front of everyone STILL. Nope not happening. John used to sit in more or less the same seat, so every time I’m there I look over expectingly to find him he’s not there, obviously that helps the emotions…. Lovely kind people offer to sit with me, which I am grateful for but you know what, make the most of the time to sit by your spouse, cause I would give anything to sit next to mine. So I sit mostly at the back, I try to sit with people, but when I cry people either have no idea what to do, want to comfort me which is impossible, or move away. So what do I do? Someone said to me “You’re lost here aren’t you?” What a precise remark. Yes I am lost, and not just here, everywhere I go. Totally lost without John. I have no idea what I’m doing, where I’m going and how I’m going to do it. Now you may ask “What about the Lord?” Good question, “Surely you are found in Him, He will direct You, and sort it out.” And that is true. He will but right now it certainly doesn’t  feel like that. Not that I live by my feelings although this post would suggest otherwise…. see how complex this whole thing is? I feel like a walking contradiction. And what’s weird is the only song I have in my head is James Morrison “Undiscovered” and the chorus says “I’m not lost just undiscovered.” Helpful. Not. 

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At church worship practice again. Trying to work my little complex self out. Every time I come to church I am just overwhelmed with sadness….but when music is played tears are unstoppable regardless of whether it’s upbeat or slow and emotional. I mean is it just cause I miss John so much when I am here? Is there a weird emotional attachment to this place that means that the grief is more intense and unavoidable? Is it just a matter of time, and eventually I shall feel better? I’m worried that I will never feel different when I am here and I desperately want that not to be the case cause I love my church and all the people here so much and that is why this is even harder and more upsetting. I’m really not sure what to do, so I came to see if I got some of the tears out on a day when no ones here, maybe I might be better on Sunday by then. Having just thought that I didn’t cry at my lodgers wedding and there was music at that…but then I had a reason to be strong then. Logical conclusion is to have a task on a Sunday but I can’t handle any ministry weight at the moment, just the thought tires me out. Maybe there is just no rhyme or reason to grief…. maybe this is just one of those things, and that might well be but it really doesn’t help me, as I can’t do that every Sunday, as it exhausts me and it’s very unpleasant. Crying out to the Lord for wisdom and peace. 

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Theology Degree Residential was AMAZING! The support I received there was overwhelming. People prayed with me, cried with me, laughed with me, talked with me, ate chocolate with me, checked on me, everyone was so kind. And that’s only all the positives from outside the classroom. The lectures were awesome too, I learnt so much about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the Bible, and I got to encounter God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit in new ways. 

Now I’m back I honestly feel refreshed and energised, like I’ve drank from a stream while being in the desert. Was it still hard, yes, there were moments that when the grief came it was all consuming and overwhelming, however I have left with a sense of hope which has been alluding me. I am acutely aware that I may not feel like this tomorrow, but for now I’m enjoying it. 

On the last lecture the lecturer prayed and felt that there was someone in the room who was overwhelmed with fear about going home (Which I knew was me straight away as I was absolutely dreading it with every fibre of my being) and that God wanted to swop that for courage, and when she said that, that is exactly what happened in me, the fear left, and something else was deposited, so I walked out of there with my head held high, instead of with fear and trembling. This is the first time since John died that I have felt hopeful and alright. And I thank God for His mercy and Grace. He is the Ephesians 3:20 God. 

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Love my degree course and my Theological College and my lecturers, because they all teach me how to discover more about The Lord. Navigating this Residential while grieving is interesting, I won’t lie, it’s hard and yet I’m still enjoying myself 🤔 It’s draining seeing everything through the eyes of loss, and I almost want to push it one side but I know I can’t do that… and I realise God is working at my pace regardless of whether it feels like He is or not… if that makes any sense.

Interesting to still feel the weight of grief and loss so heavy, and at the same time feel exhilarated about what I’m learning about God despite all the massive questions I have. 🤔 And to feel massively frightened and unsure about the future and at the same time ever so slightly tinkering on the edge of a chink of something that feels like possible hope….which feels like an alien feeling, and it’s fleeting. 

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Quick post. At Theological Degree Residential. Have been honestly looking forward to this for such a long time. Genuinely excited about it. Got up this morning to travel down and wanted to burst into tears the whole way down, now I’m here I am still on the edge of tears and I have no specific explanation, other than – Doing things when you are married is one thing, doing the same things when you are widowed is VERY different. It’s like the loss of John is highlighted, which feels strange as John never came here. I think it’s cause it feels different not being able to “feel” his support backing me up. My world is so different without him…. 

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Complicated attending Part 2

Cried all the way to church today. Cried when I arrived, cried through the worship, and when I really cry, tears come even when I’m not crying… that’s a bit weird. Cried during the announcements as they announced something that John did last year and spent so much time and money on, and it’s just another reminder that he is not here and doing it, it’s so unfair. Being widowed is so crap. Everything in church reminds me of John and I’m not sure I can take it. There so many things coming up that will remind me of him 😦 I absolutely love my church to bits but it just feels way too hard at the minute and I feel like I cant stand it, which makes me even more upset :(. Don’t know what I’m gonna do 😦 Totally fed up. Feel down and out 😦 

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