Category Archives: grief

Lesson From A “Love Note”

Yes, you read the title right – I got a “love note.” It has been over a decade since my last one from Joe.

However, this is one I NEVER want to get again.

Last week I found a “love note” from my city taped to my door. The note stated I had 15 days to replace my broken sidewalk.

HUH!

I am not able to pull that kind of money out of thin air. Who do you think I am Jeff Bezos? Warren Buffet? President Trump?

My neighbor is a contractor and last evening we discussed the situation as they got a “love note” too. There’s is in better shape than mine and they still got a “love note.” He will fix theirs and the 3 broken spots on my sidewalk.

So all is under control.

The Lesson

Check with your city and see who is responsible for the sidewalk.

Your Homework

Then save up thousands of dollars in a sidewalk fund so if / when you have to replace it, the money is there – especially if you happen to be a one-income widow when a “love note” is taped to your front door.

Section replaced by gas company 16 years ago.

By the way, they even used red tape. 😀

Hey!, wait a minute…what’s my city doing using my hard-earned tax dollars to buy colored tape? Plain old grey duct tape should be sufficient and cheaper.

Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while managing call center teams, co-facilitating a grief support group, and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, and a lover of history, chocolate, red roses, and golden retrievers. She is also the amateur photographer behind the blog OgleOhio.com

My Story Is Featured On Widow’s Christian Place Today

Shortly after I first started blogging, I found Ferree Hardy’s website – Widows Christian Place. GriefShare was listed as a resource so I knew this was a good site. Ferree and I became friends and have corresponded with each other throughout the years.

Most recently she was writing about and sharing other widow’s butterfly stories, so I submitted my butterfly story and she published it today.

Here are the links to the other butterfly articles:

A Butterfly Story From Colorado

Butterflies and Beyond

Butterflies 2

Butterflies

Hopefully, these stories touch your heart as they did mine.

Also, check out Ferree’s site as it is a great resource for widows.

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Post #1,499 – 10 Years A Widow: Non Sum Qualis Eram

 

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Today is the 10th anniversary of becoming a new creation. Ten years ago this morning Joe suffered a stroke caused by a blood vessel rupturing at the base of his brain.

 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

 

I went kicking and screaming into this transformation. It is the day I came home from work, pressed the button on the answering machine and found out what Non Sum Qualis Eram truly means.

The History Behind Non 

My coworkers and I were sitting at our desks working crossword puzzles on a winter day when I worked for a savings and loan.  I do not remember the clue for the answer, but I looked up “Non Sum Qualis Eram” in the dictionary (this was BG – Before Google) and I discovered it meant

 

I am not what I used to be

 

I cracked up laughing. I told my coworker that is what I want on my tombstone – I am not what I used to be. It is true. When you die you are not what you used to be. You are a new creation.

Well, that is not what is on our marker out at the cemetery.

 

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Putting This Post Together

When I started putting this post together, I thought it would be how I summed up the last 10 years of being a widow instead of a wife.

 

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Instead, it begins a series of lessons, opinions, and observations based on my experiences during the past 10 years.  They are a mixture of good, bad, and ugly. They are intended to prepare you a teeny, tiny bit for what you may face if and when you become a widow. Because that is what I do best, educate, inspire, and train – just call me your Grief Cheerleader.

So come along with me on a journey of looking back and fondly remembering while moving forward with life as a new creation.

 

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Oh and if Non Sum Qualis Eram is not on our marker – what is? A line from Joe’s favorite song from The Phantom of the Opera:

 

Think of me, think of me fondly when we’ve said goodbye.

 

 

 

red-rose_signatureBio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of chocolate, red roses and golden retrievers and is an amateur photographer.

Remarriage: An Eye Opening Perspective

One of the books I’ve given grieving people is Healing After Loss; Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman. My copy was given to me by Joe’s Aunt at his wake. You read one page per day of this little book.

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The devotions are not geared towards any religion. There are quotes from authors, scriptures from the Bible and proverbs from other religions. After each quote, there are thoughts from the author and then at the end a one-sentence thought/prayer. I enjoyed reading this book and my copy is now in 2 pieces. It fell apart at April 17th, which is the day I started reading it.

Time For A Re-Read 

Since this year is the 10th anniversary of his passing and our 25th wedding anniversary, I decided to read this book again. Now for some reason January – March is much neglected. I do not know why and I’m kind of wishing I did not have this brilliant idea to read through it again because God showed me a different perspective on remarriage.

Today’s devotional is very brief but powerful and deals with the hole left behind by a loved one’s passing.

The quote is:

It is the nature of grace always to fill spaces that have been empty.

Goethe

Whitmore-Hickman’s thought is:

Not that we can’t tell the difference. Not that we are being disloyal. But if life gives us something else to do with all those impulses toward the one no longer with us, how can we not be grateful? It’s like an extra inheritance -a blessing even- from the one we have lost, going to someone else who needs what we have to give. So we are refreshed by the memory of the loved one, and at the same time offering a gift, creating a new relationship.

The thought/prayer is:

Keep me on the lookout for someone who needs me now. 

Ouch! God.

So the love and commitment I gave Joe in our marriage, needs to be given to someone else, a new relationship, with a new man. I never thought of remarriage that way until today.

Remarriage scares me. I am afraid I would get hitched to a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde type of person. He is sweet and loving until we are pronounced husband and wife. Plus, blending two households is a lot of work. Houses would have to be sold and a new one bought. He would have to get along with Joe’s family as well as mine, then I would have to get along with his family.  UGH!  Too much work, too much stress.

Yes, I know if the right person came along, all the work would be worth it.

Other Relationships

This devotional can be applied to any relationship and not just the loss of a spouse. If you lost a daughter, as Whitmore-Hickman did, then you find an opportunity to “mother” another child. Whether it is through a mentoring program such as Kid’s Hope, teaching Sunday School, or spending more time with the single neighbor lady’s child.

But obviously, I see this from the perspective of a widow and remarriage.

Still Recommend? 

It’s almost 10 years since I first read this book. I loved it then and I still love it and still recommend it. My suggestion is when you give this to someone, keep a copy for yourself and read it together. You could email each other daily or meet weekly to discuss the devotions. I know the grieving person would appreciate having someone walk through the devotional journey with him/her.

 

red-rose_signatureBio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of red roses and golden retrievers and an amateur photographer.

 

 

Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely by Holley Gerth

Let’s be the HEROINES in our own wild, imperfect, glorious stories. Never the understudy for someone else’s. 

Holley Gerth

Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely

Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely is a collection of stories from Holley Gerth’s life packed with encouragement. This is Holley’s best book yet because of how vulnerable she is in sharing personal stories.

Every chapter beings with a powerful quote from other author’s such as Madeline L’Engle, Ann Voskamp, Kaitlyn Bouchillon and the late Kara Tippetts. Then Holley tells a story about a certain time in her life. Events from childhood to college to marriage through the present are told in a conversational tone with faith,  wisdom, and encouragement being woven throughout.

You will read stories about, a paddleboat, bone in a chicken, infertility, and depression among others.

Time Machine

Her stories transported me back in time to my childhood and while I didn’t have a paddleboat,  I had a saucer sled. My friends and I had plenty of fun with that saucer sled during the summer when using it with a piece of rope and a chestnut tree.

Holley’s words show you how you have already lived fully and love bravely, what you need to do now is figure out how to get back the fierceness you had that got lost in the business of everyday life.

Never Too Late

While all the quotes Holley chose to begin the chapters are excellent and contain their own wisdom, it is the quote at the beginning of the epilogue that spoke to me the most:

It’s never too late for a happily ever after.

Lovelle Gerth-Myers

Holley’s daughter

Lovelle is right. It really is never too late for a new beginning. The story Holley shares about Lovelle’s adoption proves it.

Holley’s book gives you the support and encouragement to get out there and live fully and love bravely. Whether you are widowed, divorced, or just feeling lost, this book is for you. Because you are already a fiercehearted woman, a heroine of your own God-ordained story,  you just don’t realize it yet.

Remember, your happily ever after is waiting.

Fiercehearted Manifesto

Here is what Holley wrote about fiercehearted women on a plane one day that became the inspiration for her book.

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Disclosure: It is a blessing to be on Holley’s book launch team and be a part of a wonderful team of women. You too will be blessed by reading Fiercehearted. After you do, go out and fully and bravely live and love so you too can say “it’s never too late for a happily ever after.”

FYI: I had a hard time writing this review because of all the words and phrases running through my head. I finally decided the words belong to several posts and not just one. So there will be more posts based on the subjects in Fiercehearted.

Widows: A Problem or A Calling?

 

My friend Ferree, from WidowsChristianPlace.com, posted One Widows Story: Widowhood Is Not A Mere Problem To Solve an article written by Lynda, one of Ferree’s Facebook friends.

The article tells the story about Lynda reading The Undistracted Widow, Living For God After Losing Your Husband by Carol W. Cornish. The book shed new light on being a widow – it is not a problem, but a calling. 

Wow! I understand that Joe’s timeline ended and mine did not, however I would have never used the word “calling” to describe being a widow. Calling is what happens to men and women who become pastors.

I was intrigued by the concept, and used my Amazon gift card from last Christmas to order the book. (Yes, it is mid-April and I still have an Amazon gift card from last Christmas.)

Appendix 2

Once it arrived I looked at the table of contents and was intrigued by Appendix 2 – The Local Church and Its Widows. Ms. Cornish nails the topic and opened my eyes to a different way of seeing churches (more on that later).

I’ve since started reading from the beginning and a full review of The Undistracted Widow will be published once I finish it.

A Nun Named Maria

Are you a nun named Maria?

Me neither.

Then we are not a problems to be solved.

For some reason we were called to be widows, called for such a time as this. Now how are we going to glorify God in this season of our lives?

And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14

(ESV)

 

 

 

31 DJFJS Day 2: Job Search is Harder than Grief

We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

I decided years ago that unemployment is harder to work through than grief.

Why?

Because there is not as much hope. 

Google hope and you will get the following definition:

a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

The Day I Had Hope

On April 17th, 2008 I had hope of getting through grief, thanks to the daily devotion in Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman.

Easter Frame

The devotion was about flowers and trees blooming, the sun shining and the birds singing. When I stepped out the door onto the front steps to go to work, I was filled with hope because it was as if I had stepped into the day the devotion described.

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It was warm, the birds were singing, trees were in bud and flowers were blooming. The grass was green and the sky a lovely shade of blue. There was nothing that could destroy my hope.

I knew then I would make it through grief even though there would be some rough days ahead.

The Day I Lost Most Of My Hope

Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained.

Seamus Heaney

A year later  I got laid off due to a departmental reorganization.  I not only had hope but was confident I would quickly find a new job.

Sure it was still a little scary losing a long term job but I had found it in the newspaper and was certain I would find another one the same way. Yes, it was 2009 and I expected to find a job in the newspaper want ads.

However, hope faded the day I went to the outplacement company for career counseling. I left there with 4 books to use as a road map to job searching – 4 books! Each book covered a different phase like creating a marketing plan – huh?  I am a human being not a can of soup!

That day was a rude awakening.

Sustaining Hope

We really feel happier when things look bleak. Hope is endurance. Hope is holding on and going on and trusting in the Lord.

Michael Novak

Being unemployed or even underemployed requires the ability to sustain hope for long periods of time, which drains me.

Even though there are days I am drained either because of my negative self talk or other people’s criticism and condemnation, I must find a way to hold on to hope and to trust God will answer my prayers for a job which will enable me to pay the bills and get ahead financially.

The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die.

Edward Kennedy

Thankful

Thankful for hope still living, even on the days when it is a little flicker.

Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of chocolate, red roses and golden retrievers and is an amateur photographer.

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