Within our first 9 months of marriage, Dex and I said “see you later” to 3 of our cherished family members. These weren’t just relatives– all three were major pillars in our family tree.
Our series of loss began with my 96-year-old great-grandmother. She was such a sweet soul. Dex had the opportunity to meet her and be around her twice before she passed; moments that we’ll be forever grateful for.
She was grateful and amazed to not only see me get married, but to also know that the world had progressed at least to the point where Dex and I could legally marry.
Two months later, Dex’s father who’d battled cancer for over a year, passed away just a couple weeks before Christmas. I’d gotten the chance to hang around and get to know Coach Reese over the course of two years and he was one of the most loving, knowledgeable, and engaging people I’ve known.
He worked in education for decades and to see the impact he had on students, parents, and faculty in and around their city was mind blowing and inspiring. At his memorial, we stood for over 2hrs as a non-stop stream of people poured in to come through our family receiving line and share their condolences, personal stories, and appreciation for Coach Reese’s life.
A short two days after Dex’s dad passed away, Dex’s grandfather (his dad’s dad) passed away at the age of 97. PopPop and I never met face-to-face but we did have a couple phone conversations. He’d seen pictures of our wedding and of us when we were dating so we knew each other’s faces and that makes me happy.
What I’m so grateful for is that our grandparents who were in their 90s, got a chance to see our marriage begin. They grew up before segregation and before interracial marriage was legal! To have their blessing and approval of our love and marriage is a gift we will cherish forever.
Walking Thru It
Within a two month time frame, in our first 9 months of marriage, Dex and I walked through all of this together. You can imagine how hard it was. Life is already changing so much with the new transition into marriage and now we’re having to adjust and figure out life without 3 loved ones who have literally been with us our entire lives.
Three Things That Helped Immediately
There are three things Dex & I did during the thick of this time of loss that I believe helped sustain us:
We prayed all the time. I didn’t know what else to do so I’d ask God what to do in every moment. Should I speak? Should I listen? Should I give space? Should I draw close? I needed guidance every single moment of these days.
2) Let It Out
If I needed to cry, I cried. If Dex needed to cry, he cried. If he needed to wail, I’d encourage him to let it out. We both freed ourselves of the expectation to “hold it together” for each other in order to get through this.
3) Asked For & Received Help
We had some immediate family needs physically and emotionally and we openly shared them with people we trusted. We created an opportunity for people to help encourage and love on us through this time by openly sharing those needs with people we knew and trusted.
We also designated a close friend to be the point person so that we didn’t get overwhelmed with managing the coordination & organization of people wanting to help meet those needs. It was a load off knowing that things were getting done and moving forward that would be helpful to our family without us having to text and talk and answer questions all the time. It afforded us room to grieve while still getting our family needs met.
As we know, after about a month or so of a loss, the phone calls stop coming, the food train ceases and everyone is back to their lives, often leaving those grieving left to figure out “what’s next.”
After The Calls & Visits Stop
Dex has created a great list of 13 actions that have and are still helping him with these losses. I’d encourage you to take some time to read them or share them with a friend or loved one who may have loss someone in the last couple years. We hope these ideas will be helpful for you or them, as you navigate your own losses in this lifetime.
We are praying with and for you. You are never alone and there is a God in heaven who can empathize with whatever pain you may be carrying.
Click to read “13 Ways to Grieve the Loss of a Loved One”