Posted in Personal, Sorrow

this is what the grief feels like

!Forewarning!  This is a long post about grief.  It might trigger some.  Please don’t feel you have to read!  Comments are closed.  xoxox







I am barely half myself. 

The one who finished my sentences is gone.  The one whose sentences I finished is gone.  I can barely string a coherent sentence together by myself.  The one who carried half my memories is gone.  I wonder if people struggling with dementia feel like this?  This is so much more than an amputation. 

There is a scene in the movie Bone Tomahawk that Dane and I watched a year or two ago.  I didn’t realize it was a horror movie.  I thought suspense, which I can handle.  You’d think I’d have learned by now to read the descriptions better.  I figured Western, Kurt Russell, kind of like Tombstone, right?  Not.  In the worst scene of the movie, the baddies killed one of the goodies by grabbing his ankles and ripping him in half.  I cringed and hid my face, of course, but I didn’t have enough hands to do that and cover my ears to not hear his screams.  I know, I know, it’s a movieActing.  One of the differences between me and Dane was that while he could not suspend disbelief when watching a movie, I could not not suspend it.  I feel everything, almost as if it’s happening to me.  It starts as a stabbing, burning, sensation in my tailbone and radiates throughout my body.  I despise horror movies and will not watch what I call “gorror.”  [gore+horror]  As a young woman I spent half a date sitting in the lobby of a movie theater because I could not stomach The Boogey Man.  I don’t care if you watch horror, knock yourself out!  Just don’t ask me to watch it with you. 

This feels like that.

In a divorce, you sever those ties by choice.  In your anger and pain you snip those ties, disconnect them as neatly as you can, and focus on your new life: you can rebuild it, you have the technology, you can rebuild it better than it was before, better, stronger, faster.  Often, before the divorce is finalized, you have made the choice to let go of the feelings you had for the one you are divorcing. 

It’s not like that in death.

It’s often sudden, you have no choice, no time to prepare, no anger to fuel you, no time to begin disconnecting your heart from their heart.  They just take most of it with them. 

It is horror, in real life.

It is hysteria.

Who am I now?   He had half my memories from the last few decades and I can’t find them anymore.  I took care of my husband and now that he is gone, I am lost, without the purpose that has defined these last twenty years of my life. 

A dear friend whom I love with all my heart, suggested I would marry again, and I confess, I felt almost feral in my anger.  It felt like she was suggesting I cheat on my Beloved.  I know she wasn’t, but that’s how it felt in my heart.   She was just trying to be supporting and encouraging, because she loves me. 

Someone on social media flirted with me a little and I felt so freaked out, so dirty, so, “Oh my gosh, I’m a married woman, you can’t talk to me like that!”  I felt almost violated, in a weird way.  I know that was not their intent, but that’s how it felt

It’s almost like there is this notion that widows need a man, any man.  It’s not true.  Widows need their husbands and can’t have them. 

Grief from death doesn’t quite work the same as sorrow from divorce.

After a divorce, you often feel, “I’m free now to do what I want, see who I want!”

After death, you might think the word is widow, but it’s more like, “Still married, husband is MIA.”

When am I now?  What about the future we were still planning?  I try to remember the memories, I can spend days re-reading his emails and blog posts, trying to relive the past, to recover those events lost to my brain.  At the same time, the future we were hoping to build is gone.  I think about all the things he will miss, perhaps our children marrying, perhaps grandchildren, the house we dreamt of, the plans we had.  Past/future/past/future in a whirl that is dizzying.  There is almost no now.  There is a huge sense of disconnect and sometimes I feel like I am outside myself, watching me, not really being me, if that makes sense. 

I know I have to keep my sh!t together, I still have two more to get up into the world, I still have to be rational and level headed and clear-thinking.  I still have to be strong; not just for them, but also because it’s what he would want me to do for them and for myself.  He used to “brag” on me that I was the strongest person he knew.  Ppbbfftt.  My strength came from him supporting and encouraging me, from his loving me.

Inside though, is a constant scream, echoing and reverberating through the years ahead.  My eyes may appear dry because I do my best not to cry in public [as I believe tears are precious and not to be paraded] but inside are oceans of them, a torrent that makes Niagara Falls look like a trickle.

It is exhausting keeping the inside-me inside, and making sure what’s left of me doesn’t get out.  I have to pause before every response, to make sure I don’t break that seal.  Only when I am alone, and sometimes not even then, do I allow myself the luxury of weeping.  Screaming is not permitted under any circumstances.  I do have neighbors, and kids. 

Out of habit, I still bookmark articles to share with him to read.  I still have the things he wanted me to get from Amazon in my “save for later” cart.  I have, very slowly, been trying to go through his clothes, his hair care stuff [oh my gosh the man loved his hair!], all his journals and art books and sketch books.  And I haven’t even started on his computer!  [I did find the original Ghost Hunters on one of our old shared drives, though!]  I don’t want to do these things – it feels like … discarding him, so I resist.  I hold on to as much as I can for as long as I can, as though he is coming back.  Rational me knows this is silly.  Emotional me wishes this were so.

There is no healing.  Please don’t think there is.  Healing means restoration to what was, and that will never happen.  An amputee’s limb will never regrow, and my other half will never return.  There is adapting to what is the current state of things, but that is not healing.  There’s only getting used to it. 

Will I ever re-marry?  Not today.  Tomorrow’s not looking good, either.  There are, perhaps, only three men in the world I might one day consider as a future husband, but I am no one’s cuppa and none of them would be interested in me, nor are any of them in a position to be interested in me even if they wanted or knew.  I don’t know what God has planned, I do know I have to be ready for whatever He has in store.  I know He is working on something.  It’s as though He is cooking something in the kitchen and I can smell the smells but I don’t know what the dish is.  [just please no oregano, Lord!]  Another relationship?  A ministry?  A business?  What is to become my focus once I am more distant from this one?  Will I ever even be distant from this one? 

I have been struggling for months [almost 10 now] to write.  It was always my go-to way of dealing with things but since he died, my pen has been mostly silent.  He took a lot of that with him, too.  This has been a little cathartic and I thank you for indulging me, if you have read this far. 

I am going to disable comments though.  Please know, if you are still reading, I know your heart, and I know you would do your best to try to comfort me, to support and encourage me.  I thank you, and love you for it.  But I just don’t think I am strong enough to respond right now, if that makes sense.  Opening my eyes every day takes effort, and the kids and I have been under the weather the last couple of days, too, so I am wiped. out.  Which is probably partly why I am writing – I’m too weak to hold it in right now.

Strength I have for you, though, if you need anything.  Not for myself, but for you.  I don’t know how I work that way, but I do.  It’s strange, like there are two separate reserves in my pack, one for me, one for others.  That other one is nearly always full.  You have my email or text if you need anything – let me know.  I mean that!  And we will not discuss this post. 

By the way, when I say I love you, I mean that, too.  I effing mean that.  See, here’s a secret, I know things about people.  I can often sense your feelings and sometimes your thoughts, and you are so precious to me.  I just hold back because I know the intensity of my feeling for you would be overwhelming and maybe a little creepy, and I don’t want to freak you out.  I’m not the tip of the iceberg, I’m the whole effing iceberg.  Just take my word for it, okay?  And we won’t discuss that little confession, either.  I’d much rather you think I was normal, anyway.

With much love,


May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from the other.  I’ll see you when my chores are through.  FYIEW



Posted in Memorials, Personal, Sorrow

The Memorial

Today weighs heavy on me.  Six months ago today, my husband died, happening even on the same day of the week.  My last Shabbat as a wife was Valentine’s Day.  Somehow that seems … appropriate, in a weird way.

  • 6 months is
  • 182 days is
  • 15,724,800 seconds is
  • 262,080 minutes is
  • 4368 hours is
  • 182 days is
  • 26 weeks is
  • 49.73% of 2020 is
  • Yesterday is
  • Forever

So I’m naturally a whirl of memories, about his death and the aftermath.  I don’t think I ever shared with you anything about the memorial we had for him in June, once the Corona “shelter-in” had mostly passed.  This six month “milestone” seemed like a good time to do that.

Thank you for listening.

Love, Vanessa ❤


The Rabbi asked my son if he would like to speak at his father’s memorial.  I expected him to say, “No.”  He’s just 18, and that’s a pretty overwhelming thing – for anyone, but especially for a young man.  To my surprise he nodded and said, “Yeah, I think I would.”

The Rabbi and I encouraged him, strongly, to take notes on what he wanted to speak about.  Every few days I’d ask if he’d written anything and he’d tell me he hadn’t.  I didn’t want to nag, but this felt like too important an occasion to not prepare speech notes.  At some point my son said to me, “I’m just going to wing-it, mom.”  I didn’t want to add to any pressure so I decided to trust him and didn’t mention it again.

When it was time, he went to the mic and told a story.

He began [and I’m paraphrasing], “At the men’s retreat recently, we were talking about fathers and sons, and the way that fathers can sometimes wound their sons without meaning to, and how it can be hard for sons to overcome those wounds as they become men themselves.  Everyone seemed to have a story and then it was my turn and I thought a lot about that, and realized …  I don’t have any wounds from my dad.  My dad was a great dad.  We were friends, as well as father and son.  He never wounded me.  He just loved me.”

I could only weep.  Is there a better epitaph a son could make for his father?  I suspect most of us have a wound or scar from our parents, things and memories we struggle with, that can often impact our very identities.  I also suspect most of us parents worry about the scars we may leave on our own children.  I know my husband worried about that.  He’d have been blown away if he could have heard our son say what he did at the memorial.

My daughter didn’t speak, but she did sing.  She led a trio and sang “It Is Well With My Soul.”  My husband would be so flipping proud of her!  He’d be thrilled that she’s singing.

This was my contribution, which Mrs Rabbi graciously read for me.  This was printed up for the bulletins.

From an email he sent to us a couple years ago:
”Good Morning, Ultrepically Ultrepic Ones!

I’m thankful to the Lord our God today (Adonai Eloheinu) for you, and the rich blessings you are to me. I’ve never known such joy, such love, so much wonder, as I have now that you’re all in my life. I have so many reasons to give thanks and praise to Yeshua and the Father and Ruach HaKodesh! Praise to the Most High God, blessed be His name! Glory, honor, power, dominion, and might are His forever and ever, amen!

And because of you, I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter His courts with praise! You fill me with the love and joy of the Holy Spirit every day, and I will never cease to be amazed by, and give thanks to Him for, you. All of you.”
I was asked, “Can you write a paragraph or two about your husband … ?”

My husband loved to write.  He wrote books, blog posts, journals, and emails.  Hundreds of emails.  I must have read, literally, millions of his words.  And over the last twenty years, we talked.  All. The. Time.  The two of us were never at a loss for words and we could while away hours chatting like magpies – from silly things to things of eternal import.  I believe I knew him better than anyone else on the planet.

But my pen goes blank at the notion of writing a few words about my husband.  My mind explodes with memories and they scatter to and fro and I can’t seem to catch one to focus on.

He loved to draw.  He considered drawing almost part of his identity.  All of his journals and notebooks are filled with little pictures scattered throughout.

He loved to laugh, and he loved making people laugh.  He loved scaring people by sneaking up on them.  As a writer, he was absolutely thrilled if someone said, “Oh, your book gave me nightmares!”  The written form of a “scare-cam,” you see.  That gave him near-endless giggles.

He adored his children and loved spending time with them.  They could hang out for hours, just talking or playing games.  He loved them for who they were and not just because they were his children.

And because of my husband, I finally understood what it felt like to be loved and wanted.  He was my guy and I was his girl and that’s just how it was for us.

The Asperger’s made it hard for him to connect with people on a lot of levels, but I think in some ways, it also made it simpler for him to just be who he was.  He didn’t know how to “fake it” with people.  In many ways, he wore his heart on his sleeve.

He loved the Lord with all his heart.  While he often struggled in his relationship with God, he only struggled, I believe, because he loved God so much.  He wanted to be closer, to understand more, and those things can sometimes to be difficult to achieve on this side of the divide.  I am confident he no longer sees through a glass darkly, but is now face to face with the One he loved most of all.


These are the songs that were played at the memorial.  The 1st was a song my husband loved.  He had me watch it with him sometime a year or two ago, and I fell in love with it, too.  It just captured how we feel about our faith, about our relationship with God.

This song, if you don’t know the story of the man who wrote it, Spafford, you might be interested in checking it out.  He wrote the words, actually, as a poem, at a major point of grief and sorrow in his life.  Someone later put the words to music and now we have a classic hymn.  I love how this guy did all the harmonies for it.

This last one, my husband and I heard it either while we were dating, or newly married.  We both said this was one of our songs, a song that defined and described us.


Posted in Personal

March 18, 2020

I had a dream that he popped out of the kids’ closet, kind of like for a scare-cam.  He was doing like a “jazz hands” kind of move and making a silly face so that I’d be laughing too hard to be mad at him.  This was one of his typical moves, in real life, to make me laugh when he’d scare-cam me.  In the dream, I gasped as soon as I saw him, and threw my arms around him, and then I woke up.

I told the kids the other day that I bet he was planning on doing some kind of scare-cam thing for when I got to Heaven, and I wouldn’t put it past him to do just that, try to make me think he didn’t make it there and then jump out at me. 

Then I had another dream in which we were having this conversation about being introverts.  The conversation happened some time ago in real life, but replaying it in the dream made me kind of laugh again.  We’d been talking about how the Lord is all about people, the body of Christ, reaching out to and ministering to others.  He said once, “Heaven is going to suck!  It’s all about how extroverted can you be and I’m not!  I’m going to hate it, I just know it!”

I replied, “What, do you think you’re going to get your own private cloud or something?”

“That’s what I want!” he said in a bit of a pout, “My own private cloud.”

I told him, “Well, I think there’s a verse in there where Y’shua said there were many mansions and if He’s preparing a place for you, He knows how introverted you are, I mean, He did make you after all, so I wouldn’t worry too much about peopling or clouds.  I’m just sayin’.”

He retorted, “With my luck, I’ll get the dorm mansion.”

He always had to have a comeback, that man!

In the dream, he floated past me on his own private cloud and called out, “We DO get our own space, Babe!”  He gave me a victory fist pump  gesture and I laughed.  That’s where I woke up.

A couple weeks ago, I dozed off at my desk, and had a dream that he came over and was tickling me to make me laugh. 

We put a lot of stock in dreams, my husband and I.  As to whether or not my current ones have any meaning, I’m not going there.  I will just say I’m so happy to see him again, even if it’s only in dreams right now.


Posted in Personal

Rest in Peace, My Beloved

I don’t even know how to begin to tell you.  I have news.  It is not good. 

My husband,, passed away in the wee hours this morning.  It looks like probably a heart attack but I won’t know for sure until I hear back from the coroner. 

The kids and I are trying to process.  They went to bed shortly after we got back from the hospital, and really, I need to go to bed, too, but … yeah.

Please pray for us.

So please be patient with me while I try to process this.  Not sure when I’ll be online.  Thank you for understanding.

Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince.  And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.


Posted in Friends, Memorials, Soap, Sorrow


People inspire me.  A lot of soapers find amazing inspiration in nature, and lots of other things, but I’ve found that for me, it’s people. 

imageOne of the people I knew was Minaxi.  Maybe you had the good fortune of knowing her too.  She knew a lot of people!  We didn’t talk as much as I would have liked.  She ended up gravitating toward Instagram and wasn’t blogging as much anymore.  (Her family has taken down her blog but her IG is still up if you’d like to see her pictures.)  I miss her.  More than I can say. 

Minaxi exuded a lot of joy, no matter what might be going on for her.  One of her favorite tags was #PinkPositiveLight, because pink was her favorite color and she believed in being a positive light.  It suited her.  🙂

I made a soap in her honor.  I scented it with Pink Magnolia Blossom.  I was going to look for a cotton candy fragrance but when I saw that Pink Magnolia, I knew that was the perfect choice for a soap for Minaxi.  It’s light and sweet and delicate. 

I didn’t get to put in the swirls like I was hoping as the soap started setting up on me much sooner than I expected, but I think it turned out okay.  I hope she would have liked it. 


Minaxi and her husband Vishnu left the world way too soon, but they will always remain in my heart. 

Requiescat in Pace.

Love, Vanessa

Posted in Personal, Relationships, Sorrow

Happy Birthday, Brother

Time heals all wounds, they say. 

October is always kind of difficult for me now, although some years are worse than others.  It took me a bit to figure out why this one seemed a little more difficult than years past, and then I remembered, this year is the 25th year. 

Ah.  Yes.  A “milestone.”  That explains why it’s so much more on my mind than … normal. 

But really, it’s not normal to remember your brother is dead.   None of us should have dead brothers, or sisters …

Death is a part of life only because we can’t escape it, but if we could, we sure as hell would.  Grief sucks.  And as a believer, I know death was never part of God’s plan. 

The whole month is draped in its own mourning cloth that has nothing to do with Halloween.  I got the news on the 1st – although he’d been dead several days by that point but he’d only just then been discovered.  His birthday was the 25th, and the memorial service was on the 30th, but I couldn’t go.  I couldn’t afford plane tickets and my ex … well.  Let’s just say my ex’s behavior regarding my brother’s death is part of the reason he’s an ex, and leave it at that.

I don’t write this looking for sympathy, because I’m not.  I’m not comfortable with that.  I’ve come to a place where I don’t share too many personal things on the blog anymore.  A sort of contracting, I suppose, a pulling-in, circling the wagons.  I’m not even exactly sure why I am sharing this now, although I do feel this sense that I need to honor my brother.  I need to wish him a Happy Birthday, even if God is the only One Who can pass the message along. 

He was so much older than me, starting high school when I was born, and embarrassed about his mother having a baby at his age.  He moved out when I was three, then eventually married and became a father himself.  We weren’t close – how could we be?  I figured he was just waiting for me to acquire some adult life under my belt so we could have more things in common.  I was so happy when he started calling me, and we spent quite a bit of time on the phone during that last year. 

Finally!  I thought we were finally saying “hello” to a great sibling relationship and that we would go forward as friends.

I didn’t realize he was saying goodbye.  Not until later.  Not until after.  He knew he was saying goodbye, he’d been planning it all along, and I confess, that makes me angry.  I am so kicking his ass when I see him again in Heaven.  After I hug him of course. 

I no longer believe that time heals all wounds.  I believe our grief muscles get stronger from use and so grief becomes a little easier to carry, but it never really goes away.  It’s always there.  Lurking.  Behind a picture, behind a memory, a smell, behind a certain date.  Sometimes you know it’s there, just waiting for you.  Other days it pulls a “scare cam” and then you can only cry out. 

Next year I’ll be ready.  Next year will be one of his milestone birthdays.  He didn’t have enough of those. 

Some days, I really miss my brother.

All rights reserved by Vanessence

Posted in Personal, Sorrow


Why is it that when we grieve the loss of someone, it seems like not just the anniversary day of their birth or death is hard, but the entire month/s in which those events occurred?

And this morning I got news that a lady from the church I used to attend passed away last night.  She reminded me of bubbles – shimmery, floaty, swirly, filled with light and joy.  I can’t believe she’s gone.

I’m going to miss you, S.  It hurts knowing you’re not here being your beautiful self.  Please tell my brother I said Happy Birthday when you see him!

Posted in FYI

10 Ways to

Work Through Grief Triggers During the Holidays

A year after losing her sister, it’s time to face another holiday. Here’s how one woman is dealing with the loss and finding joy again

10 Ways to Work Through Grief Triggers During the Holidays

I know this is not a typical or “pleasant” topic just before Christmas, but I think it’s necessary.  Lots and lots of people are really hurting right now, their hurt is magnified during the Christmas Season and often it’s hard for them to talk about it.  I think it’s so easy to be dismissive and want to just encourage people to cheer up because after all, ‘Tis the Season and all that, but it’s not so easy.  No one wants to be hurting or grieving or struggling with depression or whatever else it is that’s painful for them.  Sometimes life is hard, sometimes it just sucks.  For those we can’t help, we can pray for.  And if you’re one such person, perhaps the article linked above might offer you some suggestions for coping. 

In the meantime, know that I am praying for you. 

All rights reserved by Vanessence