Friday, December 4, 2020

Stop the Ride!

One Summer years ago, when my grandson Christian was just maybe three or four, my daughter Jasmine and I took him to his very first outing to Great Adventure Amusement Park. 

We had a lot of interesting experiences that day with him.  To begin, the sprinklers at the park were on, and kids were running around playing in the water.  When we encouraged Christian to get in, he quickly shied away from it.  It was something about the water splashing in his face that he just did not like.  I suppose it was anything really getting in his face.  I remember times when my husband and I had him in the car with us and we had to keep the windows rolled up, because Christian did not like the air blowing in his face.  It was the funniest thing watching how dramatic he was, gasping for air as if he couldn’t breathe whenever the  windows were open. 

Jasmine and I continued walking in the park, exploring, and stopping at times for Christian to enjoy the park.  We came to somewhat of a train ride and he dared not venture on, until I told him I would get on it with him.  And so I did, although I am not one for rides of any kind, either.  It turned out to be a smooth and a simple ride, no bumps, no curves, no spins.  Christian enjoyed it and so did I.

As we continued our stroll, we came across a tunnel slide.  Christian didn’t like that either.  Although Jasmine had climbed in before him to show him how much fun it was,  Chris simply wasn’t having it.  Moving on.

It was a few other things that day we got a kick out of for “Christian’s Day Out”.  We chuckled when he was leery about going near employees dressed up as Daffy Duck and Tweety Bird.  Christian was like, nope, I’m not doing that either.  But I suppose the best and most memorable part of our day, was when Christian went on this ride, somewhat of a rollercoaster, all by himself.  We figured since he “conquered” the other ride, this one looked okay to him.

Anyway, he got on the ride.  It went around, once, and then all of a sudden it sort of went up on a curve, just slightly (this was kiddie ride) and that’s when Jas and I, the ride operator and anyone in standing distance, heard the words, loud and clear, “STOP THE RIDE!”

STOP THE RIDE!  Christian yelled from the top of his lungs.  Stop the ride!  That was it, he had enough.   Quickly the operator turned to us as I remember signaling to him to stop the ride.  Christian had to get off.  After slowing it down, the operator stopped the ride and allowed Christian to exit.  After that, it was nearly impossible to get him to do anything else in that park that day.  Christian had enough of that ride and enough of that park.  He wouldn’t even go into the bouncy house.  That was it.  Christian’s Day Out was over and so was ours.

This is how I sort of feel over the last few days.  Since Joseph’s death I have been riding on a rollercoaster.  A rollercoaster of emotions, of ups, of downs.  Of highs and lows.  Of tears.  Of joy.   And I want to stop the ride!  I want this rollercoaster of a ride that I seem to be on to come to an end.

Coming out of Thanksgiving this year, quiet and different as it was, and now entering into my winter season of sadness… Thanksgiving, Christmas and Joe’s birthday, my emotions are all over the place.  I am joyful one moment and later on, become the total opposite as I experience these grief triggers.  And this brings tears to my eyes.  This time of year, I find myself more stressed than at any other time (except for my spring season of sadness, May-June) and my rollercoaster ride continues.

As Christian felt and did not like the wind being in his face, I feel the same way, with things that somehow trigger my grief. That those triggers sort of take my breath away, and I actually have to remember to breathe.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Just yesterday in fact, my hubby Jeff and I went and picked up a tree for Christmas.  I was happy and relieved we got a nice one and so early for us in the season.  But once we got home and actually set it up, it set me on a different course.  Seeing that tree standing, caused me to remember the time when I was decorating our tree and it fell on top of me.  It had to be a 9ft tree.  I wasn’t hurt, but I was hurting and I couldn’t even get to my phone.  It was then that Joseph came home from work and he found me on the floor with a giant Christmas tree on top of me.  We laughed after he helped me up. 

It was a grief trigger that struck me from nowhere.  Like those curves on that rollercoaster ride Christian was on, I did not see it coming.  And it made me sad that Joseph was no longer here.  I was in the middle of rejoicing and appreciating our tree, and then wham, all of a sudden, remembered Joseph and that incident.  Realizing that he could never “save” me again.  Emotional rollercoaster.  Stop the ride, I want to get off.

Many of us may like rollercoaster rides, old and young.  For those that do, you can recognize and appreciate where it goes, what happens, the curves, the ups, the downs, the spins and turns, and are just thrilled at the prospect.  Screaming at the top of your lungs, with cries of joy and excitement.  But when you’re a kid like Christian was, or even someone who is on this grief journey, you don’t know where the ride is going.  You do not get to see the twists, or the spins, or the going up or down, before they happen.  You simply  have to believe that the ride will be smoother than it’s been.  You may be able to handle the slight curve, like that on a kiddie ride, but those other ones you don’t see coming, will trigger something in you to want to get off the ride.   To want to stop the ride.

This grief journey is a ride that will never stop.  As much as I want to stop the ride, I know I can’t.  I cannot yell stop the ride, like Christian did and expect the operator to stop it.  But that does not stop me from not wanting to be on a rollercoaster of emotions.  It doesn’t stop the tsunami of tears  and the great sadness that follows, it doesn’t stop the grief triggers.  But I yet want the ride to end.  At least for a little while so I can catch my breath.

In the shadow of my grief,

Joseph's mom

Copyright ©2020 EvelynFannell



Friday, November 20, 2020


Thanksgiving is upon us… just one week away and most of the country has gone back to lockdown.  Quarantined.  Eight months into the year and COVID-19 still has us out of whack, alone and separated from one another.

This time of the year is already usually hard for so many.  Especially those who are grieving the lost of a loved one, in particular, the anniversary of  a death that happened during this season.  For myself (and my husband) this would be the first year, the first time ever, in the 40 plus years we’ve been together, that we will be spending Thanksgiving alone.

For us, like others I’m sure, this will be a major adjustment, not being able to at the very least spend time with our daughters and our grandson.  And most of all, missing Joseph, yet another holiday, yet another year.  I suppose we should be somewhat used to being alone, after all we’ve been on lockdown for months.  He kept his office closed and I was already home.  So we’ve been here alone together already.  But this time, THIS holiday season, is like no other.

For others, those who’ve lost children,  those who lost loved ones to COVID or anything else, those who are generally alone, and even those who have been struggling to make ends meet, this Thanksgiving certainly presents a whole new and different challenge on so many levels that I could not even and don’t even know where to start to address.  I don’t claim to know everything or even want to know everything.  But I do know that this is an extremely complicated time and season we are in.  Trying to find words to satisfy or comfort someone, even myself is a struggle.

But if I could offer one piece of advice for anyone who might be grieving loss this year, of any kind, financial, job, personal, death, or even activity, I would say as God has been telling me, “Focus on what you have.”

I know this might be hard, for some.  As it was for me.  For a moment.  But as I begin to dwell on those things that I do not have, that I won’t have, that I could have, God simply spoke and said, “But what about the things you have.  Focus on those.”

It might not be much.  You may not be able to visit with people in your life or change  your surroundings, but you can focus on the things that you do have.  The things that you can do.  The people you still have.  Even if it’s only you, I suspect that if you know God, you have at least three more. 

Focus on what you have.  Celebrate and appreciate and give thanks for what you have in your life.  For whom you have in your life. 

When we take the time to appreciate what we have, what we don’t have becomes less important.  It doesn’t mean that a loved one is less important or that their life did not matter, I would never say that.  My Joseph mattered.  All your loved ones matter.  But if we focus on our losses, we will miss the blessing in what we have.  What we have right now. 

When we focus on things we don’t have or don’t like or whatever lack we may be missing… we can cause ourselves to lose hope.  We can become depressed and lonely and sad and dejected and so much more.  But if we focus on what we do have, we’ll see the hope.  We’ll see the promise.  We’ll see the tomorrow.  We’ll see that this too shall pass.

So while I do not have my girls and my grandson, and extended family physically here with me; while I don’t have my Joseph… we will yet have each other.  I’m thankful that we have phones, we can communicate, we can see one another.  We can eat together if we want to.  No, I cannot do that with Joseph, but I can remember him and continue to honor him, by living and appreciating others who are still here.

And right now, in this season, that is reason enough to be thankful.  In spite of my grief.

Once I start there, I can think of plenty of other reasons as well.  I have my life. I have my strength.  I have the ability to move, to speak, to hear.  I have a roof over my head.  I have my health.  I still have my mom.  I have people who love me.  I have my husband.  So we’ll be alone, but at least we’ll be TOGETHER.

In the midst of my grief, in the midst of grieving, for whatever reason it may be, I can and you can get through this season, although it may be difficult, if we focus on what we have.

Focus on what you have.  You will find that you will also have HOPE for tomorrow.

Because God is real, I am thankful, even in the shadow of my grief.

Evelyn Fannell



Copyright ©2020 EvelynFannell

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

I'm Still Angry


I’m still angry
Don’t want to be
It’s made me into this person
That I don’t recognize
And suppose that others don’t either
My Joe was stripped of his life
Taken and returned
Back to the Master
The One whose hands I entrusted him
Still wonder
Was it part of His plan
All along
To give me a son to love
And to watch grow up
And grow through
So many growing pains
And life altering procedures
Only to die before his
Next phase of life
Was just beginning
Leaving me with only the memories
And the thoughts of what
Woulda been
I’m still angry
Even find myself bitter
If I’m honest
As I look at who I am
And remember who I was
The smile, the joy,
The hope I so readily had
The encouragement so ready to share,
to give
Now replaced with
Unchartered feelings
And misinterpreted intentions
Leaving me in tears
I’m still angry
Because of relationships that were so familiar
That have become past
People, friends, who I once knew
And once knew me
Seemingly forgotten
My address,
my name,
my number
My existence.
Yep, I’m still angry
But not at the man who
killed my son-
The God that let him.
I know
you say
Wasn’t His fault
It was Joe’s time.
Each one of us are given a set time
On this thing called earth
A time for everything
The Psalmist said
A time to be born.
To plant.
To cry.
To laugh.
To speak.
To be silent.
To flourish.
To die.
Death has no name
Has no age
Seeks no appointment
It just comes
Yet I still can’t seem to wrap my head around it
As much as You try to explain it to me
Share with me
So I’m still angry.
But this,
This too shall pass
Because You said
There shall be glory
EVEN after this.
And in spite of my anger
I believe You

In the shadow of my grief,
Sis. E and Joe’s mom

Copyright 2020 ©EvelynFannell