No expiration date

I wrote this post the middle of September.  It is now the middle of October. It is a challenge to complete a task without the onslaught of memories and visions of the past. I’m not editing this post because I think it captures the ways of my heart in this season of life and this month in particular:

Here it is almost October, 2016. I find that the change in seasons is always accompanied by a quiet sense of melancholy. Especially when summer turns to fall.  And September turns to October.  There are a lot of mental gymnastics that go on in my head daily. Memories of difficult times flood my mind when I least expect it.  On appearance, I am “doing well”. I am so fortunate to have jobs that I am passionate about and to work with people who show me kindness  This summer I had a wonderful trip to Lake Louise, Alberta with my daughters.  A “once in a  lifetime” trip surrounded by mountains and a lake that is like no other.august-2016-027I have wonderful family and friends. There is SO much that I am thankful for.

And yet.

And yet there is that place deep in my heart where sorrow lives.  I miss Mike.  I miss Keith. I miss Red. I miss Lucy. I miss my father in law. I miss my parents. it is easy for my mind to go global and to allow my mind to pile on sorrow upon sorrow.  My mind tells me not to go global; to just sit and feel the sorrow, my personal sorrow.  And that is not being selfish. I’m not used to this process but the more I deny the feelings, the heavier it all gets and the wrestling continues.  “But hasn’t it been long enough?”  Mike’s been gone for four years. Move on. Live life.  I know the outward perception is that Patty’s “back”. She’s doing so well! And I am. But in my mind I can live in the “what was” and the “what is next?!”.  There are days when I almost feel like a robot. I find sparks of joy in each day but I am not sure if I am really living.  Rather, I I feel as though I am surviving.  Another day.  And THAT, my friends, is no way to live.

Why do I want to write this? What am I getting at?  I am not even sure. Words are elusive. Perhaps I want to encourage those who are suffering loss, whether it is a recent loss or one that occurred long ago. You are not alone as you wrestle with the same but different you.  A wise woman recently told me that there is no expiration date on grief.    I’ve been thinking about that a lot.  The reality is that the sadness will be with  me always.  It is not as sharp as it once was to be sure.  But the sadness is still there.  It lives beneath the surface and sometimes I just need to recognize it and give myself permission to STOP. To reach out for help. I am learning to be more honest with others about my wrestling, to ask for and receive support, expecting the relief that comes from others who choose to come alongside me.  I am much better at receiving help in practical ways. But this challenge – to ask for and receive support emotionally, when I don’t even know what that looks like in this season: when time has passed and the scars are not as visible – this is something I am struggling with.

Are there others who can relate? I hope you will share your thoughts with me and help me grow.




For Mike




10 thoughts on “No expiration date

  1. Peggy McGowan says:

    I do not know this level of grief & sadness that you experience Patty but I DO know sadness and I DO know grief and missing someone you love–I want you to know that I know YOU and I really really understand how grief has no expiration date – the woman who told you that couldn’t have given you something any more honest, genuine and true. Keep writing your thoughts, Patty – it helps those of us who love you, know you, and want to be by your side as you go forward with your grief to understand how you feel INSIDE. You absolutely do seem like you are okay – but I always feel like…”how is it at all possible for her to go through so much loss and still manage to smile or even function?!” – I don’t look at the time passed – grief is grief – missing is missing – loss is loss – 2-4-6-50 years go by; it is still in your heart AND your mind. That woman is right – there really IS no expiration date on it. Others around you I am sure find comfort in knowing that you appear to be okay “now”; (what IS “ok”, anyway???). Patty, I wish I had the magic words – I know God & your tremendous faith helps you alot, your supportive friends help you alot too – new little Zander I’m sure will bring you spots of joy, as well as your grandchildren and your girls, who also share with your ongoing grief. BUT…….I ask you to keep writing, keep sharing – I know I don’t want grief to bring distance if you do not share. I’m here & I love ya, girl.

  2. A friend in town says:

    Thank you for posting. I saw you walking your dog the other night and wondered about where things stood. I was so happy to see you with a pup! When you share the rawness of your journey with us it helps us understand better the reality and difficulty of life this side of eternity, so thank you. We miss Mike too.

  3. George says:

    There is no expiration date. I have told you my sadness andmy joy, but Hannah puts it well here. This quote is from her blog about 2012, “The missing is no longer a tangible pain. Just a quiet, gentle remembrance. And a love that grows ever stronger with time.” And this from last May, “I believe she would be proud of me, that she would think that I am a good mama. A mother. I am a mother. Just like she was mine. We are suddenly, strangely equal. She was only ever a mother. A mother of still young children when she died. Now that I have a child, I cannot even fathom the heartbreak she must have experienced when she knew that she was going to die, and we would go on living, and she would not be there to see it. It makes my heart feel like splitting. I love being a mother. So. To my own mom– I love you. I miss you. And I will hold you in my heart extra close”

  4. Beth (Betsy) (Luchs) Sagar says:

    This is so spot on! I am 3 and almost 1/2 yrs in on my journey. Outward ok inside broken. Thanks to you for sharing. Can I share your post? Love u old friend.

  5. duuuuutch says:

    I’m thinking if you at this moment 9:29 PST and hoping you feel the warmth and comfort I’m praying you receive right now. Thanks for sharing your heart.


    Thank you for sharing this, as it describes the reality of my emotional existence, and hence, my existence in the physical life around me. The ache of loss robs me of my motivation to continue to create a new definition of what I envision to be my future. I am, therefore, stuck in the past. I am waiting for the moment when I can say “This is Okay”. But I know that it isn’t okay. Maybe tomorrow.

  7. Heidi says:

    Patti , thanks for sharing . I can only imagine how hard it is , Heidi

    Sent from my iPhone


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