Faith, grief, Joy, Joyful Life

In The Beginning

Welcome to the Bloganuary challenge where WordPress bloggers are encouraged and challenged to post every day. Doing so gets us off to a good start in developing a writing habit, something my regular readers know I need.

Also, check out my photo blog OgleOhio, as I will also be publishing there too.

Since there are a lot of new readers, it is best to recap what happened and why my blog exists.

JoyReturns was never intended to be telling of the gory details of Joe’s final months, but an acknowledgement that the man I love, moved to heaven. While he is gone, I am still here. Therefore, my story has not ended. If you are a widow, neither does your story.

JoyReturns is where I share my adventures moving forward with life, so what I do or don’t do inspires other widows as they rebuild their life.

While this blog is written for widows, any grieving person can be inspired to move forward with life after loss. It is the best way to honor your loved one – take their love with you as you rebuild your life.


This post is a mashup (with some tweaks) of Why JoyReturns? and How My Journey Began, both of which can be found on my Start Here page.

It was March 2008 when my husband Joe died after suffering a stroke at the base of the brain.  It was totally unexpected.  He was in great spirits upon visiting him after work the night before. Then early the next morning the stroke occurred on both sides of the brain.

Thus began my journey through grief.

It was not a planned journey but once it began, I decided to do the work necessary to make it through to the end.

My Journey Ended…Or Did It?

About October or November 2009, it dawned on me I was maybe about 98 – 99% through my grief.  Now the grief might have left sooner, it just took me until late 2009 to realize it.

My moment of realization was wonderful.  It felt like the sun had burned off most of the fog in my head, leaving me feeling more alert, alive and ready to take on life. 

I will never make it completely through grief because it will re-surface, like a sea creature from the deep, to participate in special family moments.  But moments are all they will be and they will be successfully managed.  Joy and pain do co-exist and those moments are bittersweet.

While searching “widow’s website” on Google, I found websites were 3-D – dark, dreary and depressing. One site was designed with a dark look because the light had gone out of the widow’s life.

Xtreme mental anguish overcame me when Joe passed and common sense told me other widows were experiencing the same anguish, so how was a “woe is me” site going to help widows?

Also widows on these sites were telling all the details of their spouses passing and if I had printed their story, I would have ended up with a book thicker than Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. YUCK!  I do not have time to read their TMI stories either online or on paper nor do I want to know all the details of someone’s passing.

 I wanted to know how to recover from grief and move forward with life and so do other people.

Support Group’s Role

My church runs Church Initiative’s Griefshare program which I attended after Joe died and co-facilitated for several years. The program’s tagline is “From Mourning to Joy”. 

It is because of that tagline and the 3D websites that I decided to incorporate joy into my blog’s title. 

When people visit  I want them to see a cheery, optimistic site that lets them know joy does return to the lives of those who are grieving, but you need to decide you want joy to return (there are people who prefer to stay stuck in grief) and you have to work at it.

Joy returned to my life and it will to yours or your loved one’s too. Just like the crocus’ pushing through the winter-hardened ground. You too will push through grief and experience joy once again.

For his anger lasts only a moment,

    but his favor lasts a lifetime!

Weeping may last through the night,

    but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5
New Living Translation (NLT)

Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her adventures hoping to inspire widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. Michele is the amateur photographer behind the blog