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Doing What’s Working: A Purely Subjective Take on Surviving Sorrow

 

 

Confession:  Seven months after losing Steve, I have yet to make it through an entire book on dealing with grief. Partly, because I read too many books at once and the grief books are easiest to put down.  But more because the minute I run into subjective truth that’s stated as universal, I tend to tap out. I’m not defending that method, just being honest about my response system.

 

I never want to be someone who spits out easy answers or weary platitudes, but I do want to be a helpful voice in the journey for those coming along behind. I really, really do. In fact, I feel it’s part of the reason I’m even on this spinning planet to begin with.  So, I want to share my entire strategy for walking this weird road in one sentence and it is this:

 

Do what’s working.

 

 

If something works, I try to stick with it.  If something doesn’t work, I put it on the shelf for a bit and maybe I’ll try that thing later, but for now, I put the bulk of my limited energy into the things that make me the happiest in the long run.  Here’s my short list of current Happymaking habits – these may not be happy for you, but I encourage you listen to the rhythms of your life and make a list of your own.

 

 

Movement. After five months of resisting running (which I LOVED before), I finally re-prioritized it.  Actually, I prioritized walking, which led to running which has led to new levels of health and happiness on nearly every level. Running, for me, involves the great outdoors, fresh air, great music and those beautiful and mysterious endorphins.  I try to get a trail (or as a last resort: treadmill) beneath my feet 4-6 days each week.

 

Social Connection.  I made a contract with my introverted self to connect with three people for coffee or happy hour each week.  I further promised that I would, in each of these connections, share honestly and transparently about something going on in my life – not everything, but something. Every Sunday, I take a look at how I did with this and determine who I will connect with in the week ahead. This habit has brought so much life and healing and I know Steve – who was the extrovert in our relationship – would be really proud of me for doing it.

 

Food with Joe.  This is a whole, big long story that I will probably write more about down the road, but for now I will say that many failures led to the formation of a new habit which has proven to be a huge success: Eating with Josiah four times each week.  We cook together three nights a week (for convenience and fun, we use this company and sometimes this one, and we love it!) and have an official lunch out every Sunday during which Joe gives me an update on his relationship with time, grades, money, friends and Jesus. We’re on our fourth month of this system and I can’t tell you how much it’s impacted our relationship and my happiness level in general.

 

Sleep.  I’m not an awesome sleeper, but both science and experience tell me it’s essential.  Honestly, my life implodes without good sleep.  So, I’ve had to establish strong and often unpleasant micro habits, like going to bed earlier than I want to and saying no to that afternoon cup of coffee, in order to make it a priority. I’m still not great at it, but I’m learning what works and what definitely doesn’t.

 

Mornings.  Starting the day with solitude is probably the single most important habit in my life. It gives me a chance to think, pray, plan and just sit with the sunrise. This has been true in my life for about ten years, but I wasn’t able to stick with it the last year of Steve’s life because of the aforementioned sleep situation.  It’s good to be back to mornings.

 

There are other, smaller things, like crying when I need to, journaling the journey, talking with friends who are farther down the sorrow road than I am, etc., but these five have been the most consistently effective habits I’ve committed to thus far. Within each one is a list of micro habits that make the big one easier to tackle, but that’s another post for another time.

 

Wherever you find yourself today, I hope you feel the warm grace of a good God breaking through the icy edges of winter.

 

With hope for spring,

 

Bo

 

 

February 25, 2016 - 11:16 am

Flor Nunez - Thank you for always bring your best to all of your followers! I am so blessed with your advise which comes to awaken the real me in the midst of a season of health struggles. May our good God continue to inspire you to bless us!!

February 25, 2016 - 11:38 am

Holly McKim - Bo- Thank you for sharing nuggets of truth, wisdom, and your journey. I do not have anything that comes close to paralleling the road you are on, but I am often challenged and encouraged by your words. I recently told a friend “Don’t be the you, you don’t want to be. Create a support system. Make a plan. It’s time to stand up and do something!” It turns out that I was talking to myself as well and I really like you action steps 🙂 Thanks for bringing more ideas to the table so that I might glean one or two. Ultimately, I’ll land on what works so I can “Do what’s working”. Vastly different journey- same God.

February 26, 2016 - 9:55 am

Marlys Johnson - When I was first widowed, I worried that I wasn’t grieving the right way … because I wasn’t falling into any deep, dark holes. Because I have yet to cry myself to sleep (not that I haven’t cried … oh yes, I’ve cried), but not to sleep. And because I could sit in church alone; I could walk the trails alone that Hubby and I hiked together; I could come home alone to an empty home. What was wrong with me?!!

But as you surely must know from your blog, everyone grieves differently. And here is what works for you. And I love that you don’t want to spit out weary platitudes, but you do want to be helpful. Thank you for your good, honest, down-to-earth tips and insights.

February 27, 2016 - 9:06 pm

Miranda - I have been reading your blog for a while now. I always want to comment but I don’t really know what to say. Thank you for sharing your story.

5 Happy Things: Monday Edition

 

 

Well, okay.  Full disclosure?  Last week was not my very favorite week in all of history (aside: my grandson says “frayvrite” and it’s lodged in my brain that way now, so I hear his cute voice every time I type that word.)  I’ve been reading a lot about the science of happiness and one thing I keep running into is this idea that the happiest people are not necessarily those whose lives are going perfectly, but rather those who have learned to quickly and automatically identify the good and beautiful in a world full of hard and ugly. I’m trying to learn to scan my surroundings for happiness instead of scanning for threats and, it may sound like a flimsy strategy, but it’s helped me through some really rough days so I’m keeping it.

 

I really AM going to write more this week, but for now, here are Five Happy Monday Things.

 

  1. Arugula – because it’s delicious, but also sounds like a sunny vacation spot.
  2. Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm in every single color.
  3. Fresh starts
  4. Omnifocus for managing the fresh starts.
  5. Go, Broncos!
  6. Bonus: Tonight is Grandma Fun Night at my house!  Grey & Finn are coming to make Valentine cookies and Grandma Fun Night is my frayvrite.

 

 

What’s making your eyes light up this week?

 

With hope,

 

Bo

 

 

 

January 25, 2016 - 9:13 am

cathy Turk - Two big Happy thoughts to get me through the week.
First; our youngest (Parker) becomes an adult on Wednesday. How did that happen?
And second, we’ll be in Bend on Friday to see our Grandson Maxx whom we haven’t seen since Labor day weekend.
Bonus happy thoughts: Going to church at Westside at some point as well.

January 25, 2016 - 9:20 am

Kris Souza - Bo,

A couple years ago a friend challenged me to see “happy” in every day for 100 days. So I accepted.

Here’s how it works. Every day find something that makes you happy – and take a picture of it. Post it on your fb wall as:

Day 1: then the description
#100happydays

I was amazed at how much God showed in those 100 days.

Blessings to you.

Kris

January 25, 2016 - 11:48 am

Christine Duncan - I really love this idea… mine would have to be;
I get to meet with a new blogger friend tomorrow in my favorite coffee house, cause what, I ask, is better than making friends over yummy food and hot beverages and….
The way the winter sun finally shone in through my window by my desk, enabling my dull-sky-weary brain to work a little better today.
Keep having happiness moments, Bo!!!

January 25, 2016 - 10:13 pm

Jean E Taddonio - Bo My little sister Jane Williams has shared her love of you w I with me so of course I love I love you .too! Xox Jeane in San Diego

January 26, 2016 - 8:20 pm

David Jorgensen - I was just introduced to your story and your website tonight. My sister sent me the link and she does live there in Bend, OR, as well. To be brief, a life-long family friend was just diagnosed with ALS and she mentioned your site. The family is still trying to understand what they were just told. I will mention this site to them. Thank you for all your work with ALS and the care for them. The man who was diagnosed was a vietnam vet and a faithful church member for decades. His wife of 48 years is trusting the Lord through this and already feels a peace from Him. Thanks again for your work.

January 27, 2016 - 7:50 pm

Hope - It’s been 91 days since my husband died…and I always read your posts with care knowing you are a bit ahead of me on this journey. Strangely, I also have been recording five items to be grateful for each morning in my prayer journal. God’s provisions are amazing even in the midst of heartache and darkness. Keep writing and sharing your story. Hugs!

January 28, 2016 - 6:47 am

Marlys - Well said, Bo. I identify with so much of what you write. Hubby and I eventually learned – instead of focusing on every searing piece of spread-of-cancer news – to focus on what was left. What do we still have, in this one irreplaceable day, to be thankful for? Much.

February 12, 2016 - 1:35 am

j - Sometimes …late at night I go here just to read beautiful words that almost always wash my eyes with tears and create new perspective. I love “Saying YES to Snow”. I love that you love this little mountain town as much as I do. Thank you for your words of peace and comfort.

Getting to Know Single Bo

 

 

I met Steve Stern when I was 16 years old.  We fell in love when I was 18 and were married one year later. Knowing him, loving him, making a life with him – it’s most of what I know in this world.  When I lost him a few months ago, I felt a little like I and all my history had been erased – it was as if I couldn’t see my own face in the mirror anymore.  The first month was filled with spinning, spinning, trying to find solid footing. It was so easy to focus on what’s been lost, and very hard work to fully appreciate what remains.

 

About six weeks in, I sat down and had a good heart-to-heart with myself.  I made the decision to stop looking back and figure out who I am now.  I wanted to get to know this Bo.  Single Bo (which still sounds super weird to me.)  Steve will always be such an enormous part of my life because that’s what truly great people do to you. They weave their way into your thoughts and opinions and hopes and dreams, and when they’re gone holes happen.  Gaping holes. Scary holes. I’ve watched some sorrow-sojourners fill those holes up with someone or something else so they’ll stop hurting.  No judgement on this method, I’ve seen it work for some, but it’s just not for me.  I don’t want quick fills.  And I don’t want to form this new season of my life around another person.  Quite transparently, that means I don’t want to look a certain way or cook a certain way or fold my laundry a certain way because of someone else.  Not yet.  Maybe not ever.  But I’ve been around long enough to know that in the “not yet” and the “maybe not ever”, unknown possibilities are often incubating inside the sovereignty of God.  I’m more than content coexisting with that mystery, and in being on a need-to-know basis with Him.

 

 

In related news, a few friends have asked about my wedding ring, which I recently moved to my right hand (baby steps) and will eventually put on a chain.  I didn’t move it because I’m ready to move onto another person, but because it felt like an important step in the next phase of the journey (though again, lots of people do it differently and that’s perfectly great!) I’m saying yes to this season of life, however scary and crazy and uncomfortable it may feel. I am in no condition to date, so refrain from sending me suggestions. Just know that I am alive and well and trying to lean into the adventure. I can’t change that loss and sorrow are a part of my story, but I can choose to write the narrative around it to include discovery, development and joy in the me that I am now and the me that I will (hopefully!) become.

 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I know this is intensely personal and perhaps even really awkward to read. If I’m honest, it was pretty awkward to write.  But this is my story and I’ve come to believe my story is good. And also? I’m grateful for you.

 

With hope,

 

Bo

 

 

 

 

January 8, 2016 - 1:36 pm

Phyllis B - As always, thank your for sharing.

January 8, 2016 - 1:47 pm

Debbie McKenney - Dear Bo,
Thank you for your words of wisdom. I wish you had been writing these words 20 years ago, when I walked this road . . . only I don’t wish that for you, because I’m glad you had all those years with your Steve.
I was 12 1/2 years into marriage when my husband died suddenly, we had 2 children, ages 7 years and 10 months. I too had met him young, married young. I too had to learn who I was and only by the grace of God was I able to figure that out. I’m still working on it because my children are now adults, so the ‘Mom’ title has diminished and the ‘Me’ title has increased.
Baby steps are the best. God’s grace is amazing.
You have been in my prayers for the past few years and I will continue to pray for you as you walk this road God has you on.
Again, thank you for sharing your heart.
In Him,
Debbie

January 8, 2016 - 1:51 pm

Sue Powell - I didn’t find any of the thoughts your shared here to be ‘awkward’ in any way! But whole and raw and honest,just like your books,just like YOU.What a blessing to be able to ‘look in the mirror’,and see that new version of who you were;married Bo to single Bo,and be content to let Abba work out all the details,without all the ‘stress and strain’ of trying to ‘fill in the gaping holes’ yourself.One of those ‘mysterious ways’ of our Father;when He fills us up with His Presence..there is ‘room enough for whomever He brings along with Him’.Love and hugs,Sue4Him

January 8, 2016 - 1:55 pm

Darleen - I love your updates and take in every word and anticipate the next as if I’m in the middle of an amazing novel! Bo, thank you for being such a great example as a Christ follower, you are needed in a dark, what appears to be hopeless world, you are salt and light! Darleen

January 8, 2016 - 2:11 pm

Jalet - You are the bravest, broken, healing, faith entrenched, visionary, with rock solid transparency, that elevates us all on life’s chaotic journey, I know. I love you and the weird correlation that single yells and vibrates into the quiet space you are newly discovering. You are sojourning, so well.

January 8, 2016 - 2:14 pm

Christine Duncan - Bo, your courage, no matter how awkward, is so needed in our time… praying for you all, and your journey is an inspiration. Feeling blessed to have discovered your beautiful blog almost two years ago.

January 8, 2016 - 3:01 pm

Rebecca - Bo, my husband passed away on August 12, 2015 after a 5 year struggle with vascular dementia. So close to the time of your loss. My thinking is much like your’s. However, we were married for 47 years. I am sorry your love was so much shorter. I have been told I will always feel married. That felt so comforting to me because I could not imagine thinking otherwise. I have known my husband my entire life. He will always be a large part of my thinking. Your writings are an inspiration to me. I can feel the raw in this writing as I am right there with you–feeling raw myself. The healing is yet to come. Love to you.

January 8, 2016 - 3:28 pm

Angie - Your story is good. 🙂
Thank you for sharing so transparently. I’m proud of myself that I made it all the way to the last paragraph before I started crying.
Thank you for inspiring us throughout your journey. I can’t say it as eloquently as I would like, but please know that the seeds you are sowing are growing and beautiful things are happening (and I think I am speaking for lots of people) in our hearts and attitudes because of you.

Angie

January 8, 2016 - 3:36 pm

Lori - You inspire. Keep going strong, girlfriend.

January 8, 2016 - 4:11 pm

Debbie Earlywine-Jackson - Love you Bo!! My the Lord bless you and keep you and make his face shine, shine, shine upon you his beautiful daughter!!

January 8, 2016 - 4:14 pm

Joy - Good luck in your venture of moving forward getting to know yourself. That is courageous and brave! God go with you!

January 8, 2016 - 4:28 pm

Lori - Not awkward at all…..just different. Hugs to you! And your kids:)

January 8, 2016 - 5:24 pm

Karen - Ah Bo…..my learning to be single came from a very different source and was in some ways a time of celebration for me, but also very sad and hard….and you know in your heart that you need lots of time to learn to be “Single Bo”, or, could we just call you “Bo 2016”? Be ever gentle with yourself and I’m confident that a new and glorious chapter is unfolding in your life.

hugs,
Karen

January 8, 2016 - 8:26 pm

Toni - You don’t know me, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know each other. Sorrow-sojourners…..what a word. I know you already know this, but don’t give up, don’t stop and don’t worry too much about what other people think. Keep being brave. God loves us brave girls.

January 8, 2016 - 9:11 pm

Patti - Thank you for sharing this season with us!!

January 9, 2016 - 8:23 am

Debbie Hammagren - Bo, I love your words and your transparency. “Incubating inside the sovereignty of God” That phrase is where we should all live. Love to you!

January 9, 2016 - 1:13 pm

Lisa - Keep writing
We will be here

January 9, 2016 - 2:14 pm

Wanda Stewart - Bo,

I continue to enjoy your blog with tears and smiles. Stan and I were high school sweethearts and married short of 37 years at the time of his death.
I can so identify with the “not yet”, “maybe never” thoughts and said 6 weeks prior to his death that to be involved with anyone else would have to be “God-sent”
Knowing what to do with the wedding ring was another struggle for me. At times I thought it was a protective shield and took comfort wearing it. Stan work his on a chain and I like the idea of that possibility.
God Bless you in your journey!

January 9, 2016 - 2:33 pm

Jody Collins - God has anointed you with such wisdom on this side of your ‘single’ journey, Bo. Wow.
These are amazing lines: “I can’t change that loss and sorrow are a part of my story, but I can choose to write the narrative around it to include discovery, development and joy in the me that I am now and the me that I will (hopefully!) become”
So wise. And not wierd at all.

January 9, 2016 - 7:17 pm

Pat Whitson - Although we are strangers from the unbeliever person’s perspective, in the Body of Christ we are sisters… So, yes, I’m still ” with you” in your journey… In the Manual we both read for guidance and direction, namely the Bible, we are instructed, “their is wisdom in the counsel of many”… And, indeed, Bo, I see you, in this blog as a wise, vulnerable, and courageous counselor for our family to continue listening to regarding how to grieve… ” Jesus wept” at Lazarus’s tomb, and then He raised him from the dead, following that miracle up with instructing the witnesses to unbind him from the grave cloths he was still all tangled up in… I am so grateful that you seem to let us loving family members be a part in the Holy Spirit’s holy work of unwrapping you from Steve’s grave cloths. You remain in my heart and prayers as you continue walking on this path… Pat

January 18, 2016 - 2:27 pm

Jim Marr - I came across this blog post via a Facebook article from Charisma magazine. I could immediately relate to your journey somewhat as a widower. I know in those early stages of grieving, I found solace in the writings of other men who had lost their wives–thank for sharing your story for women facing such a great trial in life. As it turned out, I too found writing to be a cathartic process and a memoir was birthed: http://www.itwasoutoflove.org–free ebook for anyone to share

Your reference to moving the ring to your right hand very distinctly brought back those memories on my journey. You might find a couple paragraphs on Pg 194 interesting to read concerning my wedding ring and the right hand.

Blessings as God fulfills His purposes in your life.

–Jim

January 18, 2016 - 2:29 pm

Jim Marr - Oops, some characters got stuck together in that ebook link:

http://www.itwasoutoflove.org

January 21, 2016 - 4:23 pm

Bernard - Hi Bo,
Here in New Zealand, or Aotearoa as us Maori call it which means ‘Land of the long white cloud’, Focus on the family have been doing a re-run of their shows from 2015. I guess a re-run of the ones that made the most impact, and I must say that after having the privilege, over the last couple of nights, of listening to your journey with your husband and your children, I just wanted to thank you for sharing your journey. A journey that, I must mention, also included our Almighty Father in Heaven, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus, The Awesome Power of the Holy Spirit. Thanks again for sharing your story Bo.

Blessings from Aotearoa,

Bernard.

January 24, 2016 - 7:28 pm

Marlys Miller - You are such a great inspiration. Thank you for sharing from your heart. May God richly bless you and your family.

January 24, 2016 - 8:35 pm

Chris Collins - Day 167 for me. Thanks for putting into words how it feels.

January 29, 2016 - 12:12 pm

Andrea - Dear Bo, Funny how God directs us. Sitting here on a rainy Friday and some how happened upon your blog. My Aunt was diagnosed last year with bulbar ALS. Her decline has been so rapid I can’t really wrap my mind around it. Her physician said if we are lucky she might make it to spring. She is so hopeful to see the garden we planted for her come into bloom. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope you will continue.I guess that’s why we are called to help carry each other’s sorrows. Today mine feel a little lighter. God bless

My Vantage Point from Wedding Week

 

It’s a grey, snowy Monday here in our little mountain town. We’ve had a lot of grey this year, which isn’t at all typical.  Our city’s weather resume proudly lists “300 days of sunshine per year”, and I can feel the population collectively scanning the sky for signs of Merry & Bright.

 

I’m not doing much sky-gazing this week.  I’m keeping my head down and my shoulder to the wheel because I’m busy, y’all!  It’s wedding week.  Plus also it’s finish-the-basement-remodel-week.  Plus also Tori-moves-down-to-the-new-basement-apartment week, which means Bo-has-so-many-closets-to-clean-out-down-in-that-thar-basement week is also upon us.  Two big things that are very important to each of my wonderful daughters have converged at the same fixed point on the calendar.  A point on the calendar, by the way, that on it’s own carries such weighty reminders of Steve’s absence. I often find myself wanting to text him with wedding updates or remodel issues and it takes a minute for reality to splash up in my face and remind me he’s really, truly not here.

 

What I’m learning through this is that for any given situation, there are multiple vantage points, multiple realities, and each one is valid. Weddings are a lot of work and money and stress. So are remodels.  So is moving. So are the holidays. Each would be so much easier to do with my beloved here. Grief is hard to carry during already-emotional life events. These are just really real and there’s no point in arguing with them. However, I’m finding that the whole key to whether a day is grim or glorious is in my willingness to find alternative vantage points which allow me to see the equally valid, positive realities.

 

  • I have a home we love, with plenty of room for the people who share my life and my heartache.  All this remodeling business means I can share my home, but have my own space which is just about ideal in every way.
  • Doing all this during the last week of the year means we will all start the New Year with fresh new spaces – and one of us will even start it with a fresh, new name! I adore new beginnings.
  • The people I love most are about to converge upon my home to celebrate with us. For five years, I have wondered how I will survive my first New Year’s without Steve – now, I know for sure I won’t have to do it alone.
  • Biggest of all: my sweet daughter is about to marry the man of her dreams.  He is the man Steve and I have prayed for since before she was born.  Together, they will climb mountains and build dreams and GIVE ME MORE GRANDBABIES! (No pressure, Tess!)  Truly, this is a remarkable gift and it is worth the long to-do lists and the late-night planning sessions and 17 trips to Goodwill to find “just one more glass vase candleholder thingy” (I’ve collected well over 100 over the past 12 weeks.)

 

Multiple realities this week.  Some of them hard, but many of them holy and so, so beautiful.  I get to choose the way I see these things and I know that no one would argue if I wanted to cry  big, drippy tears of self-pity for a minute or a month.  But, I can’t.  I won’t.  I don’t have time! This week of wonder is too precious, too perfect, too important to sacrifice on the altar of a life-is-against-me mindset.  I may (read: definitely will) cry tears of joy and I may cry tears of wishing Steve could see all of this, but I refuse to view this week as bad or unfair or anything but a gift. This is my solemn vow.  Yes to the New Year.  Yes to weddings.  Yes to new life.

 

With hope,

 

Bo

December 28, 2015 - 8:58 am

Dawnette - Thought of you many times this past weekend, and will continue to pray that the wedding will be a blessing to all. Blessing sent your way from Denver.

December 28, 2015 - 10:12 am

Nancy Shaw - Talk about emotional train from one end to the other, God bless!

December 28, 2015 - 11:08 am

Faye Adams - Thank You for sharing you life.

December 28, 2015 - 1:54 pm

Dana - I just want to say thank you. Your sharing gives me hope and confidence that it is possible to survive. Not that I think otherwise, but there is comfort in witnessing someone else’s story (even in glimpses). My husband was diagnosed a little over a year ago. The habitual planner in me has a hard time not thinking too far ahead, which can be a very frightening and depressing place. Reading your posts help that planner part of my brain settle down so that my current-focused brain can handle business and enjoy today. Congrats on the wedding, the remodel, and new beginnings.

Yes to Seeing in The Dark

 

 

Grief is heavy today.  It’s awkward and cumbersome and frustrating and surprising.   Weird that it’s surprising, right? But it is, because so far the holiday season has been pretty much lovely.  It’s been fun to decorate and plan and shop and not worry about how Steve is or where we’re at in the Shadowland.  It hasn’t been overly-emotional or difficult and so maybe I thought I had moved into a new phase or something.  Not “through it” or “over it”, because I’m not yet convinced those phases exist, but maybe I thought I had moved into the “handling it” phase, like I had Olivia Pope’d my grief – all efficient and decisive and in control.  Heh.

 

This side-road of sadness snuck up on me because last week was awesome.  And Sunday was great. It was full of family and really fun.  But Sunday night, I felt the clouds roll in and I think I’ve identified the trigger point and I fear it’s going to sound crazy when I tell you what it was, but I’m telling you anyway because then you can tell me I am, in fact, not crazy.  So, I started on the gift-wrapping and it was going fine, until it came time to sign the tag.  To Josiah.  From…my pen hung in the air for a long time until I found the courage to write it.  Love, Mom.  Just Mom.  To Corey.  From….Bo. Just Bo.  Seeing my name all alone on the card made me feel as alone as I have felt since Steve went home and it made my kids look truly and honestly fatherless for the first time ever.

 

And that’s when the clouds rolled in, grey and weighty, with a suffocating kind of sadness. Usually they move in and out pretty quickly.  This time, they’ve lingered longer than I’d like – through two nights and two mornings and three coffee meetings and two Christmas movies.  Through driving and shopping and still more gift-wrapping.  I’ve fought it, but not very passionately.  I’ve jabbed at the air a bit, but I don’t think I’ve landed a real punch yet.  Grief makes you tired, is the thing, and sort of wild-eyed so I feel my aim is off.

 

This morning, I woke up and my Year of Yes seemed not just impossible, but invisible. Impossible, I can do.  I like impossible.  The quickest way to get me moving is to tell me it can’t be done.  But invisible? Different story. Today I have felt sorrow-blind, widow-blind and, consequently, Yes-blind.

 

But here’s what I know: I am following the One who can see in the dark.  I am living in relationship with the Light of the Whole Wide World, and though this corner is blind, He sees the entire road.  If I could see, I wouldn’t need Him to lead.  But I can’t, so I do.  I need Him. So much.

 

Because I have no other weapon to wield, I’m saying Yes to Day 143. The only day I can see.  The only truth I know – that He is good and all He does is beautiful.  He will be beautiful to me and in me and through me. Yes to that truth.  Yes to light.  Yes to life.

 

Those who walked in the dark have seen a bright light. And it shines upon everyone who lives in the land of darkest shadows. Isaiah 9:2

December 8, 2015 - 10:20 am

Heidi Rowles Friesen - How do you do it? How do you share such beautiful thoughts the pierce me right to the heart in wake of your difficulty? I need to lean into God’s protective arm more than ever today. I appreciate you so much for sharing in your vulnerability. You have given me a gift today. Thank you Bo.

December 8, 2015 - 11:08 am

Patty - Oh my word, this is *exactly* what happened to me yesterday….wrapping presents and the tag–from mom. Not mom and dad. Just mom. You are not crazy or maybe we are both crazy. My 12yr old was actually doing the wrapping–she brought me the pile and there were all the tags filled out “from mom”, and that pit in the stomach sets in. Now I have to finish the rest of the wrapping, she can’t wrap her own presents! I’m right there with you, Bo. Saying yes and clinging to the hope and truth we KNOW… whether I “feel” it at the moment or not I am saying yes.

December 8, 2015 - 5:17 pm

Kathy Dolyniuk - Oh Bo – this brought the tears.
The phrase “it made my kids look truly and honestly fatherless for the first time ever.” Yes – a whole new shadow land for them too.
I was 27 when I lost my mom and I look back and see that I was way to young and not ready for her to go so suddenly and violently (suicide). And we did not know God then. But now I know He does keep his promise to be a Father to the fatherless and I will be praying that over your kids and grand kids.

Kathy Dolyniuk

December 10, 2015 - 9:18 am

SCOTT M BARROW - HI BO STERN MY NAME IS SCOTT BARROW FROM A SMALL TOWN WASHINGTON NC. I ALSO HAVE ( ALS ) HAD IT SINCE 2013 AROUND 3 YEARS NOW YOUR STORY ABOUT STEVE WAS AMAZING. IT IS A DEVEASTATED DISEASE MY WIFE TAKES CARE OF ME ALSO . BUT I CAN STILL DO SOME THINGS IT HIT ME IN MY STOMACH AREA & WENT TO MY RIGHT LEG & NOW MY LEFT. MY UPPER PART IS OK BUT IS PROGRESSING. GOD WILL SEE US THREW IT. IM A STRONG MAN SOMETIMES I TELL PEOPLE IM HERE BUT GONE BECAUSE I AM BLESSED TO BE ALIVE BUT ALSO I HAVE ACCEPTED DEATH I FEEL LIKE IM HERE BUT GONE. I AM A CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF CHRIST & BLESSED TO HAVE SUCH A LOVING & CARING CHURCH FAMILY. JUST WANTED TO SAY HELLO & YOUR STORY IS AMAZING. GOD BLESS YOUR FAMILY. THANK U SCOTT

December 10, 2015 - 9:15 pm

Jeanne Boyd - Dear Bo,
I’d like to meet you someday, I think. Well, actually I will because we’re both headed–no, promised–to go where both your Steve and my Neil now are.

I can tell you love to express yourself thru writing, and you do it in a way that sounds effortless, but as we have both learned from caring for our husbands, nothing that is truly beautiful or meaningful comes without high cost. But thank you for writing the book about your struggle together. (If I read your story I might want to write mine.)

Neil died 10 years ago in Sept. Yours is fresh. It aleays helps me grieve a little more, to know someone else’s story. I don’t think that’s wallowing in it but getting deeper and longer perspective.

Wishing you a Christmas of tender & beautiful surprises.

Jeanne

December 12, 2015 - 9:02 pm

Sally - Oh Bo, yes the blindsides!! I find myself cruising along, moving on, not sad, just doing and wham. I see his favorite juice in the grocery store that I went out of my way to buy, or his misplaced sock behind the dryer, or his writing in a cookbook, his gym bag in the back corner of the closet. So unexpected and I’m not prepared for the flood of emotions. But once the tears are done I cherish the memories and begin again

December 15, 2015 - 8:08 am

Deb Pence - I lost my husband of 45 years to ALS on August 1st this year.I have been reading your posts and get encouragement from them. When I went to wrap first Christmas gift, I experienced the same wave of grief that you described. Thank-you for sharing your feelings.

December 18, 2015 - 11:06 am

Melanie - Hi Bo, I am also a mother of 4 and this is my second Christmas without my husband. I read your Beautiful Battlefields book last year and it was a tremendous help to me. My husband was 40 years old and he passed suddenly on Sept 11, 2014. Our boys are 14 down to 6 years old and they miss him terribly. I experienced similar things with the gift tags and Christmas cards. Last year I could not send any cards, but this year I managed a few. Then I question if I should have sent them because it looks like someone is missing. Sometimes when the feeling is right and your not being washed over in grief I have to tell myself, “I can do this” He will always be in our hearts and like you I rely on the hope of seeing him again. Merry Christmas to your family and be easy on yourself!

December 19, 2015 - 11:05 am

Victoria - When it comes to grieving, the little things really are the big things. Before our daughter died 23 months ago I wrote the names of our four children on all gifts and cards that we gave to others. Since she died I write ‘and family’ as I cannot bear to not write her name.

December 29, 2015 - 12:22 pm

Ashley - Dear Bo, I was reading your current post on the wedding week, when I saw the little link to “saying yes to darkness” at the bottom of your page. I knew it was the Lord because that is the only word that I’ve been able to use to describe where I’m at. My father has been in a Coma, slowly dying for a year..we hoped for a better outcome but we just weren’t that fortunate. I couldn’t quite put into words how this one year anniversary has made me feel, I couldn’t find a scripture, it was all just dark. Until I read this. Thank you for sharing, thank you for being broken with all of us, we ache with you, you bear a light for us, blaze a trail, and I can’t thank the Lord enough for it. – Ashley