Today was a good day.

It’s the 18-month mark in this race we could call the life-after. It’s not the after-life. Although, we do look forward to ultimate joy in the promise of some someday. For us right now, it’s the life-after losing Mike. Many people are living in their own life-after, and maybe you can fill in the blank — life-after _________.

Seasons of too-much-happiness ram against unexpected, unplanned, uninvited loss. And it’s shocking how shocking.

But here we are, living exactly a year and a half in the aftershocks; and tonight, I’ll mention just a few things I’ve come to know about grief.

It feels as though the sorrow should diminish, yet like waves, the sorrow rolls back, in an ebb-and-flow of visitation. Some days, the visits hurt more than others, exactly as the ocean waves change according to the present weather conditions. The only difference? I have yet to identify an Emotional Weather Service to bring announcements and updated inclement preparations to my soul.

So, the changes … well… change.

The storms and I have a strange relationship. I hate them. Yet I love them because I’ve come to need them. Not every day; for I would drown. But it’s a form of mercy when they arise enough to wash over me the deepest remembrances of the finest and most beautiful of loves.

There is comfort in the storm.

Then I bawl my eyes out with anger that I cannot do any one thing to make this as if it hadn’t happened. That’s when I hate the storm. Because it reminds me that loss is the new normal and it’s sucky that we can’t change anything except ourselves.

I had a difficult time with the 18-months-closer. Mike somehow feels further and far more distant. The feeling of distance scares me. Which is why the stormy waves bring a wash of comfort again. Oh tidings of comfort… and … crap! [Just kidding! Sort of.]

I think we can all agree; grief is weird.

I’ve used the phrase “good grief” for 18 months because grief is simultaneously exasperating while it is also healthy and soothing. Necessary.

So, if you know someone suffering loss, know that even though they may shine today more than they cry, and even though they may smile in new experiences more than they lament the yesterdays… they are secretly and quietly living with constant conversations that most will not ever hear or fully understand.

I chose this photo to share today. It is a light with 3 bulbs in a circle together. This represents our transition into the new life of being the Shroyer 3.

I’m rather amazed at the grace that smothered and covered us, and all of the things we’ve gotten up out of bed to face each day! [I do think that keeping busy with some overachieving expectations was a coping-not-crashing, healing-not-collapsing mechanism. And I’m thankful for the Truth that we heal by giving of ourselves, and progress helps.]

So back to the picture: we hold onto each other. We circle one another. And we encourage each other to light up. Over these 18 months, it has not been easy, but I can say honestly that there has not been one day without light.

The Light shines brightest from the darkest darkness.

I’m proud of my kids for keeping things real, for being who they are, and for lighting up every day. It has shown a true strength and depth of character. And our conversations have been life.

Aspects of this lousy and lovely thing called grief become harder and harder as more time goes by. Yet, we breathe deeply and it keeps hope lit.

It only takes a spark, right?

And there is always at least a spark.

If you are grieving, I’m so sorry.
I mean, I’m so so so so sorry.
I know those days and those nights when the darkness is heaviest.

So I pray you into a circle. I pray you find those who light around you, that your light will not go out, and that you will learn to love the waves of grief, and take comfort when each wave visits. In spite of the unexpected soul weather.

I think the light of empathy has been ignited deeply in our souls, and together, we will know its goodness. Empathy.
Maybe that’s the goodest good of grief.

Leaving a light on,

Goodnight.
Good grief.
And good light.