Saturday, December 17, 2016

Jealous of John Lennon (grief @ 6 months)

Grief at six months.
Sad and tired much of the time.
Grief comes in waves and all forecasts predict I need to brace for a big one.
Not at all looking forward to the two weeks off for the holidays. It means time away from my fulfilling and distracting job with students and people I love. It means facing head on Christmas, our 10th wedding anniversary, my 34th birthday and New Year’s without Shar.

Grief can physically hurt.
I have been prone to ear infections my entire life, specifically in my right ear. I recently had an extremely rough one and when I did some self analysis to figure out what may have caused it, I had to laugh at the ridiculousness, sadness and stupidity of it all. Often grief knocks most poignantly at night right before bed. Until recently I would sometimes lay in bed, reading, writing and/or praying/lamenting to God and Shar with tears running down my face and pooling in my ears.
Lesson learned. Do not let grief and gravity team up.

Grief can scare you with a smile in your dreams.
The other night I dreamt JJ died of SIDS. I was crushed, defeated, life (or death) had won. I found a tall cliff made of red rocks and jumped off. As I fell through the air I had a giant smile on my face because I just knew Shar, JJ and I (the BD3) were going to be together again. I woke up with a large grin that immediately collapsed into a fearful sadness with the thought of losing JJ in anyway.

Grief can strike from unexpected places.
I recently was visiting the cemetery at night as I am prone to do (I like going at night because I get it all to myself), talking to Shar about random musings about the “spirit world” when I asked her if she had met some of her favorite dead people. For whatever reason I was specifically curious about John Lennon. Sharry and I used to weirdly joke that she was John Lennon reincarnated and I was Janis Joplin. So I was asking Shar if she had had the opportunity to hang out with a real life Beatle (or two) and I was imagining this happening, Sharry hanging out with John Lennon playing heavenly music together. At first I was comforted by this idea. But then I became intensely and emotionally jealous. Not that Sharry got to meet Mr Lennon, but rather that he got to hang out with her. I became angry with tears running down my face thinking bitterly to myself (but not believing) that “George is better anyway”.

Visiting the Johns Lennon memorial in Central Park 3 years ago
Grief at six months is less numbing and less constant yet like a new friend it is something I've grown accustomed to. Some of the by-products of my new companion include being less happy go lucky, joyful, optimistic and carefree; yet more contemplative, prayerful and compassionate. It's not all bad, just mostly. I still ache daily for Shar...and maybe that will never change.

Thank God (sincerely) for family and compassionate people. If you are somebody that has reached out with kind words or generous actions. Thank you. My family and I’m sure Sharry thank you. I am very fortunate to have JJ, the Deckers and Buhanans. They will help me survive the holidays even though I don’t feel like I quite “fit in” this life anymore. I imagine next year will be a bit easier as JJ will somewhat be able to appreciate santa, presents, tinsel and lights.

Cold walk and Christmas lights


  1. Grief just flat out SUCKS. You can't escape it. It is hard work that you have to do. You have to do it for JJ. For your family, her family, your friends, students, God, and Shar. When you want to just lay down and sleep and not wake up because it is so, so painful to endure this ugly, sad grief, you can't. You have to keep climbing that mountain and suffer like no one else you know.

    Grief and loss also, as you have seen, give way to anxiety. That sucks, too. Things you never worried about or thought about can become a new fear that seems so real. I think your form of anxiety has come by way of a dream (nightmare) that you lost JJ. Waking from that dream was probably bittersweet. JJ was there. Breathing and fine. But Sharry was still gone and so you just get through another day and another night.

    Next year WILL be better. JJ will be walking and doing funnier things than he is now. He will go on your hikes with you and talk and point and amaze you with the wonder he has at what he sees. And you will laugh, then smile and then have a wave of sadness and regret and hope that sweet Shar was looking down to witness such a beautiful moment. The hurt will still be there, just not as constant and strong as it is now. And one day, you will be going along and laughing and having a great day and BAM, the hurt and grief will rise up out of nowhere and crush you again. Spring will be hard. The weather will be getting warmer and you will long for LAST spring. Last spring when Sharry's belly was big and she was singing so sweetly and life was filled with so much hope and anticipation. It will make you feel so sad and desperate to have that time back, when life was so, so good.

    You just have to keep swimming. You have to keep climbing that mountain. You have to SEE that there is a teeny tiny light waaayyyyy down that tunnel. Because one day, one day you will hurt less. It will not be so hard.

    I know I just stated the obvious and things you already know. Just try to hold on to that in the darkest moments. And enjoy that beautiful baby boy and his dynamic little smile! I still need to mail your package.

    Big hug to you...

    1. Thank you Heather. I appreciate your on going sincere words and kindnesses. And I WILL keep swimming and climbing. (o:

  2. Jared,

    I found your blog after reading about you and your wife in The Spectrum. I'm not married myself, and don't know even the smallest bit of what you feel, but as you approach (from what I gather from your writings) fearfully yet humbly this holiday season I just want to let you know that you're loved and people are praying for you, even though they don't even know you.

    I've had the blessing of being born with an inclination towards anxiety and depression, so I've had opportunities to face real emotional darkness for no reason at all. I can definitely feel you when you talk about how difficult nights are. There's something about nights that bring out the worst of our emotional baggage, that make them super painful.

    I have a sincere respect for you and your faith. Through all of this you still believe and talk to God, which deserves commending. You are building a foundation of faith from which your son can one day build off of, that will affect generations to come. You will leave a legacy for your posterity of the one who faced hell itself and didn't lose his faith. I know there have definitely been days in which I've felt in my own lowest times an anger at God for abandoning me, but then at the end of the day I find myself kneeling before him and saying, "though I don't have much of a reason to be talking to You, I am, and I always will be. I'm not going anywhere." God is real and He is our Father, He is involved even in those times it feels as if He is gone.

    I know as you turn to Him He will bless you to not only get through this dark season of your life but He will open up to your eyes wonderful beauties and joys. Love you man! Praying for you.

    1. Daniel,
      Thanks for your words and prayers. I appreciate your words of faith and solidarity in anxiety and depression. Life IS tough! But it is helpful to have people with whom we can share our worries, concerns and tough times. Thank you!

  3. Thinking of you and praying that you will feel Sharry by your side during this difficult holiday season. Sending love, prayers and peace your way and thank you for sharing your grief journey! Keep writing- it helps and lifts all of us.

  4. Jared,

    We continue to think about you often and pray for you, JJ, and both your and Sharry's family every day. I am sure the holidays will be hard. Hold on extra tight to that beautiful, beautiful, beautiful baby boy (I figured you would appreciate the Lennon reference; even though you are right, George IS better) and your family and loved ones. Peace and Love. Phil Lundberg

  5. I am one of the many many members of a healthcare team that has cared for JJ. I began reading your blog after first reading your story as we prepared to see JJ and were reviewing his medical records. Your love story inspires me. That you're grieving to the depths that you are just proves how much you truly loved each other. Thank you so much for sharing.