Do you find that dates trip you up? Like you are wading through the grief just fine until you look at a calendar or the season changes and you realize that time of year is rolling around again?
This time of year — mid-February through March — has been tough for me for a very long time. For starters the weather is so hit or miss, bouncing between sunshine and a snowy, muddy, dreary mess. Compound that with a list of hard events that have occurred at this time over many years and it becomes down right depressing.
Almost every day I am reminded by a photo that pops up, or a date on the calendar of the awful hardships I have witnessed during these dates. And it hurts, easily bringing tears to my eyes and leaving me feeling anxious.
Remembering the feelings of fear 14 years ago as I went into preterm labor with our firstborn while my husband was still deployed to Iraq. Then the news of my grandpa’s colon cancer diagnosis weighing down on my already troubled mind.
The uncertainty and inadequacy I felt six years ago as I watched my baby son fight for his life battling RSV on a ventilator.
The helplessness and urgency I felt three years ago watching my sister fight for her life against an abrupt cancer that was spreading like wild fire.
When this time of year comes around I often find myself mentally marking off the days, sometimes even hours or minutes that we received terrible news, that procedures were done, or when hard conversations happened. Trying to hold back tears while remembering the pain.
I know I’m not the only one. I know that for most people living through grief or a traumatic situation, dates are triggers. And it seems like many people react one of two ways: they re-live it making them absent minded and unable to function well during this time or they bury it so deep that they do not allow themselves to think about it. And as I am sitting here processing these dates on the calendar once again, I know I have coped both of these ways in the past and neither of them served me well.
I think it is valuable for us to step into that painful moment every once in a while. Reflect on how difficult it was, cry the tears, maybe even beat the tar out of an inanimate object. We were made to feel all these emotions, the pain, the sadness, the anger. There is value to remembering how hard that period was. It is a reminder of the strength we have inside and it renews our empathy for others.
But once we step into that moment and hash through it all, we then need to remember to step back out and open our eyes. Take a good look around you and inside you to recognize how far you have come. Recognize what God has done for you. The God Things He has placed on your path to remind you He was right there through it all, and still is. We were also made to fill the emotions of gratitude, grace, grit and joy that come with being present in today.
For me, I remind myself that the doctors were able to stop Aleigha’s preterm labor. That my husband made it home safely from Iraq and in time to see her birth. That my grandpa’s cancer was removed with surgery and he spent many years adoring his first great-grand daughter.
I remind myself that my son survived and overcame every single obstacle in front of him. That despite all the hard times and hospital stays during his first couple years of life, he is a smart, thriving kindergartener today.
And I am comforted by the thought that even though this time marks Angie’s diagnosis, it also marks the moment we quit taking life for granted. It marks the moment we became thankful for every minute we have with our loved ones. Ultimately, it marks my gratitude that my sister moved into Heaven, the home we all long for one day.
When these dates show up on the calendar, it is hard to pull your mind away from the scene of it all and refocus, but once you do, it provides peace and a healthy way to cope. It renews hope and strength.
These dates hurt. They will forever remind me of heartbreak and hardship. I will continue to honor the memory of the hard days because they made me stronger and helped mold me into the person I am today. But, I am making a choice not to live in those hard days forever. I will fight for my peace. I will fight to live in the present. And, I will fight every day to make joyful memories of these dates to balance out the hard ones.
Faith over Fear.
Hi! I'm Jessy, one of the co-owners of Purpose + Grit and co-authors of the book Faith Over Fear: Walking Angie Home. I share my life with my husband Kyle, our three kids, Ally, Charley and Rad and our German Shephard, Roxy. You will usually find me with coffee in my cup and paint on my clothes, tackling one of my many projects 15 minutes at at time.