My son, Joseph Malik Fannell, 22, was killed by a driver who ran a red light. This blog was created to chronicle the emotions and stages of my grief following his death.
Grief is a state of being. It never ends. We never get over it or through it. We just find ways to endure.
"If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there; if you're kicked in the gut, He will help you catch your breathe." Psalm 34:18
In the shadow of your grief, remember to breathe.
Friday, September 7, 2018
Been meditating on a few things for the last couple of weeks since my sister’s death. Her memorial service is scheduled for tomorrow evening at sunset. We will gather together on a boat and go out to sea, where we will get to share our goodbyes, before the captain tosses her ashes. A lot has been going on. It’s a strange thing about planning events. Weddings, birthday parties and other celebrations are one thing, but there is something awkwardly strange in planning a funeral. Though I helped as much as I could with what was in my hands, there is no planning or preparation for what happens before, during or after or the emotions that go with it.
While I have certainly, as my family has, had my share and then some of funerals, in the last three years, it seems that with each one, death teaches even the more. The physical and mental toll it takes, goes beyond what you see. Death has taught me many things, especially the death of my own dear son, Joseph. One, to value the time you have with people.
While they are alive, tell them that you love them. Celebrate them, their accomplishments, their achievements, their birthdays, their life, even their failures. Hug them, frequently and often, whenever you have the chance. (I soooo miss my Joe’s bear hugs). Go out of your way once in a while, to show them that you’re thinking of them, without broadcasting it. Just do it. Even if you have to do it alone. Call them. Texts are good, but nothing compares to hearing a voice. Visit, for no other reason, but simply to let them know you care, that they are appreciated and most of all, they are loved.
Death has taught me not to hold grudges. To forgive, to release, to let go, and to move on. Time… life... is not promised to anyone. The only thing we are guaranteed in this life is to die.
God says, there is an appointed day for each one of us to die, no matter how invincible we think we are. We are not even guaranteed our next breath. When someone dies there will be no further opportunities to make up for the time we have lost. Nor to say I’m sorry. We have to ask ourselves, “What’s really more important, our grudge or the possibility that I may never get to see that person again?”
Death has also showed me both, what I am capable of AND guilty of doing. Capable of loving and sacrificing. Capable of giving of myself in spite of my insecurities, my shortcomings, my wants and desires. Guilty of being a bit more clingy than what my children (and grandson) wants or needs. Guilty of being a bit overbearing when it comes to my loved ones whereabouts. Guilty of forgiving (yes). Someone once told me I was a fool for forgiving so much. That I’m too forgiving. And all I can hear God say is, “If you don’t forgive others, NEITHER WILL I forgive you.” I don’t need that in my life. Unforgiveness is not an option. For me. Or death.
Death has shown me that I don’t have the strength or the wherewithal to do what I want to do, or know that I should be doing. I no longer eat on a regular basis and I’ve lost more pounds and gained back more weight than I care to discuss. It has shown me that when after long days and when days become mentally (and physically) exhausting, I NEED to rest. That for my own sanity, I MUST pull back. Otherwise I will find myself in a state of depression for days on end, unable to or struggling to escape.
But death has also taught me to live life on purpose. To wake up each day truly desiring to love and to accept people (flaws and all). To move on past hurt, disappointment, rejection and betrayal. It has taught that if we purpose to live loving people, we will find that when someone dies, we will have no regrets, because we know have given all that we could (or they allowed) while they were here.
In the last three years, I have lost four loved ones. My Joe; my mother-in-law, Bev; my brother, Tabu; and now my sister, Deb. I miss them, the relationships I had (or didn’t) and will continue to do so. Not a moment (really) goes by I don’t think about my Joseph. He is always in the shadow of everything that happens in my life. Death does that. But so does love.
Death has taught that if love is the motivation, pure and honest behind everything we do, it will be in the shadow of everything that happens in our lives. And we will honor people while they are alive.
Death has also shown me that while my relationships with each one of my loved ones was not perfect, they were mine. We had an unforced and genuine love and respect for each other. I believe with all my heart that each one knew not only that I loved them, but I valued them. And not just because I told them, I showed them. I have loved with no regrets.
The last thing death has shown me is “Don’t wait to celebrate people when they’re dead.” They can’t see it. They can’t feel it. They can’t hear it. Love them NOW while you have the chance. Death might just snatch it away from you and all you will be left with is your regrets.
In this shadow of grief I’m purposing to live my life without regrets, as death continues to teach me.
“Oh, Lord, teach us to number our days that we might apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)