Our lives were forever changed the day we lost Corey. He was an amazing man who loved the Lord and his family with all that he was. The pain of losing him is like no other. Our only comfort comes from knowing we will see him again someday.

I have moved the slideshow played at Corey's service to it's own post page above, titled "Corey's Memorial Service - August 10, 2010"

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Friday, August 5, 2011

One year out...still praising His name!

     My clock reads 10:10 pm. That is roughly the time last year that I got off the phone with my neighbor, Mark, after he told me he had to hang up to call 911. That was approximately the same time that Corey met Jesus face to face in Heaven. One year has now passed since Corey's death...and we made it! I feel like I've been running a marathon this past year, and while I will never reach the "finish line" until I reach Heaven, this leg of the journey feels to be coming to a close. The dawn is near. I can feel it.  I know my journey through my grief is not over yet. I guess I’d be naïve to think that. The average time for someone grieving the loss of a spouse is 3 to 4 years!! Add an unexpected suicide as the cause of the loss and that number is supposed to increase. I do, however, feel like I’m in a different place then I was even 2 months ago with my grief. I believe my weekend away in May was a turning point in my healing. My heart feels lighter these days and I've had people tell me I truly look happy again; that my smile seems genuine, not just an attempt to put on a happy face.  
     Today was a positive day. I won't say it was a good day but it definitely was positive. I had minimal expectations for how the day would unfold but believed God would lead me in the details...just as he has been doing throughout this past year. He is SO faithful and as I've said before, I owe him a life of gratitude...I owe Him my life. So in my long list of thanks, I first want to thank my Great God. As I said in my eulogy for Corey, "... God is awesome. He is pure goodness. He is holy and he is sovereign. He has authority over everything including life and death." He has been ever faithful to us this past year. I also want to clearly reiterate that any good that has come out of Corey's death has come from the hand of God. 
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows."(James 1:17) 
Any strength you have seen in me has been more than a positive attitude and it has not come from me. It is God's strength given through the gift of His Holy Spirit. And I have Jesus' sacrificial death on my behalf to thank for that! If you have never grabbed hold of God's love for you and the gift of his son Jesus, what are you waiting for? It will mean a life filled with purpose and true joy. Your life won't be free of suffering but it will be a life filled with great peace and hope. I was thinking today about the reflecting pool that is part of Corey's gravestone. I remember that when I was planning the engraving for it I had wanted to try to put a verse on the side about Christ being the living water. There wasn't going to be enough room on the stone, so I'll share Christ's words here: 
John 4:13-14 "Jesus answered...'whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'" 
Revelation 22: 17 "'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." 
     Consider this my invitation to you and also God's invitation to come. God is waiting with open arms to welcome you into a relationship with Him through his son, Jesus Christ. I would love the opportunity to "chat" with anyone who wants to know more about how to receive this free gift of grace. Feel free to email me at corjilly@gmail.com
      I also thought a lot today about the people in my life I am thankful for. There are so many. I always hesitate to mention specific names out of fear that I will forget someone but on this important day I will make an exception. 
     I want to thank my mom and dad who have never ceased to love and support the girls and I, especially over this past year. My mom was by my side that awful night one year ago when I was told the news that Corey had indeed passed. She cried with me and I told her there was no one I would have rather had with me at such a time. And my dad...He, along with his wife Peggy and my sister Jami, upon receiving my phone call with the news at almost midnight that night, got in the car and drove 4 hours in the dead of night to help us try to pick up the pieces. My sister was like my personal attendant as I planned the funeral in the days that followed. She practically followed me around with a notepad recording all the important details and making endless phone calls to get all the arrangements into place. After hanging up with Mark that night and dialing the Milton Police, my next call was to Corey's parents asking them to be praying for the situation. What an awful phone call to have to make...to tell my husband's parents that I didn't know if their son was dead or alive. It wouldn't be until 90 minutes later that I would call them back with the grave news. They immediately started trying to find a flight to get them up to NH as soon as possible. They left early that next morning and spent the next day...the entire day...in flight having to make at least 3 plane changes/connections to get here finally by that next evening. I can't imagine what that 24 hours must have been like for them. They blessed me with their full involvement and support in all my decisions relating to Corey's memorial service and burial. 
     I have many more thank you's to express, lots of photos from today to share with you all as well as details about how I spent the anniversary today. And most importantly I want to honor Corey's memory...not by focusing on his tragic death but by remembering how special he was to me and so many others. Unfortunately, all that will have to wait until tomorrow. It's almost midnight now and I need to get some rest. 
     One final thank you for the night...Thank you all for helping me feel SO loved and supported today...my inbox was filled with facebook messages from you all. I received several cards in the mail and had beautiful flowers delivered this morning too! I love you all! Can't wait to share more about how good God was to me today :))

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Corey!

     I had really hoped to get on here to get a post published on Corey’s birthday but being on vacation with limited internet access has made that a bit difficult. I drove around town trying to get connected to several wireless networks before finally giving up. So, here is a post I wrote late last night before bed.
     Today was a full day. It was hard which I expected would be the case, but I think overall the day was well spent. I wanted to do some fun things with the girls and try to make the day about celebrating Corey’s life and reminiscing over memories of fun times we had together as a family. As we were pulling away from the camp to leave for the morning, the song playing on the radio was Blessed Be the Name of the Lord which was one of the songs used as part of the slideshow of pictures that was shown at Corey’s memorial service. It wasn’t even 10 a.m. and I was already starting to tear up at the lyrics “You give and take away, you give and take away…but my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name.” The song that came on right after that was Healing Begins. I wrote about the significance of hearing that song in my recent post, Retreat into Heartache. I think I turned off the radio after that one.
     The girls and I drove to a spot we had enjoyed 2 years ago while here on vacation. It was a picnic spot that overlooks the ocean from the Camden Hills state park. Just a little ways off the trail that follows the shoreline is a steep trail that goes down over the bank leading to a rocky area with plenty of tide pools perfect for exploring. Corey and I had discovered it the last time we were here and probably spent a good hour, at least, looking at all kinds of little critters with the girls. We also were able to get some really nice pictures of all of us which I’m going to try to download to add to this post. Being that it was the second time around it wasn’t quite as much fun which was kind of disappointing. I was able to snap a few pictures and we headed back up the bank to have the picnic lunch that I had packed for us. After lunch we continued on the shoreline trail to where a swing set was located. Abigail had remembered enjoying the swings the last time but it was really hot in the midday sun so we didn’t stay too long.
     We headed home for our nap with plans to head back out for dinner in the late afternoon. We always celebrated Corey’s birthday when on vacation at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Dos Amigos. The last picture taken of the four of us was taken on his birthday at this colorful place. It’s the one I have posted on my home page for this blog. Corey and I have always enjoyed eating Mexican food, so for us it was a treat. The girls love Dos Amigos mainly because they have a sandy play area outside and they always get balloons and Wikki Stix (those colorful waxy sticks you can bend all kinds of ways to make different things). On several special days (at the cemetery on the day of Corey’s service, Valentine’s day, and on one other occasion I can’t recall the details of) the girls have released balloons up toward Heaven for their daddy, and so once again we made that part of celebrating him. The girls were each given a balloon at the restaurant and after they finished eating they spent a few minutes writing messages and drawing pictures for daddy on their balloons. We went to the beach after dinner and released the balloons there. Abi was eager to tell anyone who would listen about today being her daddy’s birthday and that her daddy had died. They got to hear all about the special birthday dinner and the balloon release. I think it must have really helped her to be able to talk about it and I’m glad she had the opportunity. 
     And I almost forgot…we bought Corey a present today; a red toy tractor that I plan to leave at his grave. I actually got the idea from my friend Kate who had tried to find a die cast model of the Kioti tractor Corey owned and loved so much. She wasn’t able to find one, however. I tried searching online as well but to no avail. Corey actually has a toy-sized version of his tractor, but I can’t bear to part with it at the thought of someone stealing it from his grave. I know it’s a little ridiculous but he had bought it for the girls a few years ago for Christmas. They never really played with it so he ended up taking it into work and putting it on display on his desk ;) It meant something to him so I just can’t get rid of it; maybe at some point but not yet. I managed to find a toy tractor in a gift shop right here in town. They didn’t have an orange one, so I bought a red one instead since his first tractor was red. The one I bought does, however, look a lot like his Kioti tractor…bucket loader and all.
     So, overall I think we did okay today. I was pretty frustrated about not being able to get onto my blog to do some posting, but I at least managed to get this post done and I was able to check my email at one point in the day. I really appreciated all the notes that many of you sent to me letting me know you were thinking of the girls and I today.  We have 2 more days left to our vacation. It has been a really nice time away for us this year, despite it just being the 3 of us. I'll tell you more about our time away in another post I'm working on. Here are some pics from today. 

A retreat into heartache - where light meets the dark

Note: This post was originally written at the end of May. 

     Last weekend I had the opportunity to go away for my church's annual women's retreat. I was psyched to be getting away for 2 nights. My mom came from out of town to watch the girls - thanks Mom! It was a good weekend away but unexpectedly very, very hard. I expected to enjoy time away from the girls which I did. I was looking forward to spending some time with friends. I also was eager to have some time to just be quiet before God and have uninterrupted thoughts. All of those things happened which was really cool. What I didn't expect was how hard my grief was going to hit me while I was gone. I was an emotional train wreck most of the weekend. I started crying after one of the sessions, and it was almost impossible for me to turn it off. I was like a leaky facet ;) and I was totally unprepared for it. I think because I didn't have my normal routine and my kids needing something from me constantly, it left me lots of time to be thinking about things. I also underestimated the sentimental significance of the location where the retreat was held. I had been to this camp before...with Corey...10 years ago! I can't believe it was that long ago. I hadn't been back since. We had spent five days there for "family camp" with the church we were attending at the time. It was in the summer of 2001. We had been married not quite 3 years, no kids yet, didn't have the responsibility of our house, just unadulterated marital bliss :)
     So, coming back to this place was harder than I expected. The grounds of the retreat center are beautiful. Lots of woods, a beautiful lake, stone walls...it all reminded me of Corey. I spent some time by myself Saturday afternoon (we had free time) just walking the grounds. I wanted to find the cabin where we had stayed. I had to take a trail through the woods to get there. There was a stream that flowed under a bridge with lots of moss covered rocks. It was peaceful. I spent time just taking in the surroundings. I remember how Corey used to do that. I would often find him just staring off into nature. I always wondered what he was thinking about. I don't usually talk to Corey. It just feels awkward to me. But on my walk around the grounds I did. I found some large boulders along the shoreline looking out of Chestnut Cove at Lake Winnipesaukee. Mostly I reminisced with Corey about the best years of our marriage. I told him how sad I was that our marriage had to end while at its lowest point in almost 12 years. Maybe if it had ended on a high note it just would have made it all the harder to adjust to life without him. But anyway you cut it, there just is no "easy" when it comes to grief and loss.
     The theme of the retreat was grace. I spent some time telling Corey the things I was sorry for; things I had said or done through the years that hurt him. Our closest and dearest loved ones are unfortunately blessed or maybe I should say cursed, to see the 'real' us including the ugliest parts of our sinful nature. So, I asked Corey to forgive me for all the times he saw my flaws standing out clearly through my words and actions. The comment of one of my counselors came to mind - Corey's love for me has been made perfect now that he is in Heaven, a completed masterpiece perfectly reflecting Christ and Christ's perfect love. I know Corey has forgiven me. God reminded me that I need to forgive myself too. We cast stones into the lake at the very end of the retreat...stones symbolizing the burdens we carry that we're letting go of. Regret doesn't plague me but I would be lying if I said it wasn't still present for me from time to time. You know...playing the would've, should've, could've, what if and if only game...I threw a stone for my regret...all the would've, should've, could've, what ifs and if onlys pertaining to Corey's illness and death. I just keep reminding myself that I couldn't have saved him. He wasn't mine to save. All my love wasn't enough.
     Another experience over the weekend really spoke loudly to me. It was Saturday night and I was pretty exhausted from all the crying I had done throughout the day; in fact, I still had a headache from it that I knew was only going to go away by sleeping it off.  The evening session had wrapped up. Hold on, I need to back up to make this story even better. The evening session was very powerful and it culminated with an invitation for prayer. Just a couple weeks or so after Corey's death one of the woman from my womens' Bible study group had organized a prayer vigil for myself and Stacy (who had found out one day prior to Corey's death that the baby girl she was pregnant with was not going to live). There were probably about 20 or so women from church and our women’s Bible study group who came to spend an hour in prayer for the two of us. It was a blessing to have my sisters in Christ surrounding both of us with their support through love and prayer. At the end of the evening’s session this particular night of the retreat they gave an invitation for anyone who wanted to be prayed for to come up to the front and then their close friends could come stand around them and pray together. I am a firm believer in the power of corporate prayer. God says in the Bible (Matthew 2:18) that “...wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” I have seen God answer prayers in some pretty cool ways when the body of Christ (his church, a group of believers) comes together seeking God’s will, and it has been a faith building experience for me personally to have my sisters in Christ help carry my burdens to the foot of God’s throne through prayer. Most of you who know me well know that I don’t usually like to be the center of attention. I was reluctant to go forward because over the last 9 months I’ve needed a lot of attention (in the form of lots of support), and I usually find myself hesitant to ask for more. However, I really wanted the blessing of having my friends pray for me. I could see God’s hand in how he was working in my heart throughout the weekend, and I felt like he was giving me a nudge out of my comfortable place of just keeping things to myself. A friend sitting near me looked over at me and said my name (indicating to me that she thought I should go up) and that was all it took for me to feel like I had the validation I needed to go forward. As soon as I got up there my leaky faucet of tears turned on full force and I pretty much fell apart. I just felt so broken hearted with my loss and the fact that Corey wasn’t ever going to be a part of my life here again…the finality of that was hitting me like a ton of bricks just as it had in the hours and days after his death. Earlier that day when I was sitting on the rocks at the edge of the water talking to Corey and God, the last thought I had that I expressed was, “How am I ever going to get over you Corey?  How am I ever going to get over him God? How?” I think the answer to my question is simply that I’m not going to get over him, at least never completely. He will always hold a piece of my heart and my loss is now a part of who I am. My life is not dominated by it and it does not define who I am, but it has most certainly changed me, my relationship with God, and my outlook on life. But I think the deeper question I was feeling was what do I do with my brokenness? It was later that night during the prayer time that I got an answer. I didn’t hear God audibly, but I clearly heard him speak to me in response to my question, “Ask me. Don’t forget to ask me to heal your heart.” Sounds pretty simple, but I realized that, up until that point, I hadn’t really been asking God to heal my broken heart. I had asked him for help with all kinds of other things over the last year; help with decisions I've had to make, help with knowing how to help the girls, all the practical kinds of things. God strengthened my faith in him that night and in His ability to fix what is broken. I just heard a song on the radio this morning after I had been working on finishing this post last night. It’s called Healing Begins and is by the band 10th Avenue North. The lyrics speak about the need to be broken in order to be fixed (duh, right?) and that allowing ourselves to let our walls down and admit that we are broken and need God is what is needed for Him to step in and heal us. One of the verses talks about our place of brokenness being the place where the light meets the dark. The light of Christ’s healing hands meeting the darkness of our human condition. I had made the comment at one of my grief group meetings weeks back that the message of the gospel is all about fixing what is broken, saving what is lost, bringing life out of death. I know I sound like a broken record, but the truth of this is continually encouraging and exciting to me. It's where I get my joy from, even in the midst of my sorrow. So that was what I asked my friends to pray for me that night at the retreat; that God would heal the brokenness in my heart over Corey’s death. And for Abi and Ali’s hearts too; that they would not be hardened toward God because of their hurt over losing their daddy. I know we will still go on missing Corey, at some times more than others, but I know God is going to continue to carry us as we grieve and move us toward healing. He uses our lowest points in life to draw us closer to Him, and I know for certain that I’m in a safe place with Him as my refuge. 
     So, this all gets even better…after the prayer time finished that night we had free time to spend time with each other. It was almost 9 o’clock and by that point I was just about ready to drop from emotional exhaustion. Some women were playing games, some were scrapbooking, some were just snacking and talking and others were watching a video that had been played earlier that day called, How Great is our God. I had really wanted to watch it earlier but it conflicted with my plans to walk the grounds and have some quiet time alone, so I was kind of excited at the thought that I had a second chance to see it. I debated for a few minutes between going back to the cabin to go to bed or checking out the film. I opted for the film and joined some others about 10 minutes into it. The film is a recording of Louie Giglio, a Christian motivational speaker, author and Passion conference founder who uses science topics to affirm the Christian faith and the message of the gospel. It was SO Corey. He loved factual stuff like that…part of his love for apologetics. Giglio is a powerful speaker and the things he shared were really fascinating. It was toward the end of the video that I got goose bumps and started to tear up again. I had thought for sure God was done with me that night, but He still had more! Louie talked about a molecule in our bodies called laminen. My explanation won’t do it justice, so I’ve put the youtube segment of it below for you to watch. You really have to watch parts 3, 4 and 5 to get it all in context.  

Part 3:  If you are pressed for time, you can start at 6:10 on the counter. 
Part 4: This is most of the part about the molecule called laminen. 
And finally, part 5: 

The part that really grabbed me was near where he talk about how in Christ we are held together. That God is intimately acquainted with all the circumstances in our lives. No matter what comes, God will hold on to us and literally hold us together in any and every circumstance that comes our way. In whatever storm we are in, Christ is the glue that is holding us together. Then he closed with the same verses that I had chosen to have read at Corey’s Memorial service. The ones from Isaiah 40:27, “Why do you say, O Jacob,and complain, oh Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 
   I couldn’t believe my ears…the coincidence of it being those verses in the context of what he had just shared on top of what I had already experienced earlier that evening touched me deeply. It was as if God had meant those words just for me, that he was reassuring me once again that He was holding me together through this storm of loss, and I was moved to tears (by this point it didn’t take much). God is SO good…all the time! I am in awe of His love for me. He is faithfully at work even when sometimes it seems like He is nowhere to be found. I would really encourage you to watch the entire video if you have the time. 

     This weekend away really helped me take some steps forward in my grief. Thank you to all the people who made it possible from my mom who watched my kids to the women who organized the retreat. God reminded me over the course of the weekend of my deep need for Him and for His grace, especially the grace that he offers me through the love and support of my sisters (and brothers) in Christ. I continue to realize that I need to work on accepting this beautiful gift that God freely gives. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day Corey! We love you!

     Another first to get through today and we made it. Our first Father's Day without Corey. I wanted it to be a special day of remembering him. The girls worked on some drawings yesterday and we made plans to head to the cemetery in the morning to place them at his grave. I got the girls loaded in the car and made my usual 3 or 4 trips back in the house for all the little items I had forgotten. Corey used to chuckle at me on Sunday mornings when we'd try to get out the door for church. I'd have my arms heaping full with stuff for the girls (snacks, water bottles, coloring pads) and my stuff which usually consisted of my breakfast that I hadn't had time to eat, my make-up that I hadn't yet applied, my Bible, water bottle and I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Anyhow, now that I always have to be the driver I usually end up at church without having had breakfast and don't worry, I don't put my make-up on while I drive ;)  Corey could just never figure out how I managed to need so much stuff.  Moms often get stuck carrying everyone's things - that's how.  Thankfully the girls are getting older and I can have them carry more!  So, back to my morning...I ran back into the house to get something else and the phone rang. It was my friend Kelly. She called to tell me she was thinking about the girls and I today, knowing that it would probably be a hard day for us.  She shared some sweet words with me and cheered me on, telling me what a good job I'm doing helping the girls remember their Dad and work through their own grief process.  It was a real encouragement to me and the timing was perfect since we were just heading off to the cemetery. I thank God for the good friends he has placed in my life.
     We finally pulled out of the driveway and Abigail had mentioned that we should bring Corey a Reese's peanut butter cup since that was one of his favorite candies. I agreed it was a great idea so we made a stop and bought a king sized package. Once at the cemetery the girls bolted from the car. We sat around Corey's stone and the girls laid out their drawings for him and told him about them. It broke my heart to see Abigail's. Being the little artist that she is, she drew 5 pictures. One was a picture of her standing next to Corey's casket with a sad face and tears. Another said, "I miss Dad so much." A third one read, "I love Dad so much." Another one had a big sad face and the last one made me smile and cry at the same time. She drew a picture of a snowman, Daddy and her, all in a row and all wearing big smiles. This is one of her favorite memories with Corey. We have some beautiful pictures of the 2 of them out in the snow making a big 'ole snowman. Their smiles are so bright. I think Abigail was 3 years old at the time. Allison's picture below is the one with the big happy face. She did it on orange paper because orange was one of Corey's favorite colors.
We all enjoyed a Reese's cup with one left for Corey.
I have some more pictures to add, but it is taking forever for them to upload...I'll try to get them on here tomorrow...it's getting kind of late and I'm wiped.
     We left the cemetery and headed to Newington to enjoy lunch at Newick's. This was one of Corey's favorite places to eat and we would often end up there for birthdays and Father's days in years past. Corey loved their fried haddock. Lunch was great...we had a table next to the window so we could look out on the water.  It was a gorgeous day today and the girls and I had some really good time spent together.
     When thinking about writing this post I was reminded of a blog post I read 4 years back. A woman named Kim had lost her husband suddenly in March of 2007. Many of you will probably recognize who I'm talking about. She was 9 months pregnant with her 8th child, due any day and having regular contractions (if I'm remembering correctly) when her husband became suddenly ill and was taken to the hospital. I don't believe he lived more than 24 hours after they arrived. An aneurysm cut his life short at just a few days shy of age 38 leaving his wife widowed with 7 children and an 8th on the way.  Can you imagine having to plan a funeral while 9 months pregnant and due any minute? The emotions she must have experienced had to have been intense...to say the least! Seven days after his death, their son was born. I was 8 months pregnant with Allison at that time and when I received the emails asking for prayer for the family I was shaken by the tragedy of their situation. I couldn't imagine being widowed at such a young age with a large family and having to give birth only days after such a horrendous loss. I followed Kim's blog for a while and a few months later I was catching up on her site. It was Father's Day 2007, June 15th. I cried as I read through her post and listened to a song that she had picked to dedicate to her late husband as a gift to him on that Father's Day. I was so sad for her at the loss of her soul mate and could not imagine experiencing the loss of my husband at such a young age. Our new baby girl had just arrived not quite a month before and we were in the best years of our lives, people told Corey and I. Four years later, I can do more than just imagine losing my soul mate...I'm where Kim was...a widow trying to get through that first Father's Day without my babies' Daddy. I didn't cry too much today until I listened again to the song Kim had on her blog.  It took me a while to find her blog and to figure out the song. All I could remember was that it was perfect. It's called Breakfast Table, by Chris Rice. (Disclaimer: I like this video but was bummed with the beach picture that got thrown in...you'll see...sorry ;)

This is my gift to you Corey. I love you always and dedicate this song to you...You were my taste of Heaven. We'll have forever.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Play ball!

     I've been meaning to get on here and let you all know about a special softball tournament that is coming up later this month. A friend of mine lost her baby girl, Rose Jacqueline Alix, to anencephaly in June of 2009. Despite being encouraged by doctors to terminate the pregnancy, she carried and delivered Rose who was born into Heaven on June 23, 2009. Anne, her mother is an amazing lady. Anne and her husband Chris established the RJA Memorial Fund following Rose's death. You can read more about Rose's life and her memorial fund by visiting the following web site:  http://www.wix.com/rosejalix/rja_fund#! Anne and Chris hold an annual softball tournament on the weekend closest to Rose's birthday as a way to honor her life and to raise money to help others through Rose's fund.
     Anne contacted me a couple of months back and told me that as part of the tournament they have T-shirts made for the event, and she asked if I would be interested in coming up with a design for the sleeve of the shirt in memory of Corey. All proceeds from the T-shirt sales will go towards the Abi and Ali fund set up through our church (Grace Community).  I felt so honored that she thought to do this and touched that she would want to help us remember Corey in this way. Corey loved playing softball through the Seacoast Softball League and had played the past 3 seasons. I know he would be pleased to be a part of Rose's softball tournament!
     My initial idea for the logo was to have Abigail draw a picture of her and Ali with their daddy. Here's what she came up with:
Unfortunately, the print shop informed us that Abigail's drawing would not show up clearly on the sleeve because of the small size once printed.

So next I came up with this one:

Corey's softball jersey number was 1 :)  The quality of the scan (pictured above) wasn't great so it's kind of dull looking but the one that went to print was darker and clearer.  Anyhow, this one isn't as "cute" as Abigail's but hopefully will look nice once printed on the T-shirt sleeves.

If you'd like to support our efforts to remember these two very special people, buy a T-shirt and come play ball (or just come cheer the teams on)! And again, check out Rose's story...http://www.wix.com/rosejalix/rja_fund#!

If you would like to order a T-shirt, they are $15 a piece. Please email me at: corjilly@gmail.com and let me know what size you would like and what color (men's sizes are in grey, women's sizes are in blue).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Moving on...a ball field update...

     I haven't been writing as frequently on my blog. I think a big part of the reason why is that I'm tired of feeling like my grief process is going nowhere fast. And also, add to that that I usually cry my way through writing each post. Sometimes it feels helpful to my grief and other times I just don't have the energy for the emotional roller coaster ride. I am finding along this journey through grief that what helped comfort me at one point doesn't necessarily bring me comfort now. I've also found it really fascinating how differently people grieve. What brings comfort to me might totally not help someone else. Grief is just plain weird.
    I had mentioned in one of my more recent posts that there were several things that happened back in April that were helping me to shift my focus. April was a hard month but by the beginning of May I was feeling some relief from my grief. I felt like I had made some progress in wrapping up the grief group, making it through Abigail's 7th birthday followed by my birthday and then Easter. Those were some hard weeks with a bunch of "firsts" to get through in a short period of time.
     In addition to those milestones on my grief journey I brought closure to the ball field project that I had been pursuing since Corey passed last August. Some of you have asked me where this was at. I haven't posted updates because the process really wasn't moving very fast and not much was really happening over the winter months. If you need a refresher you can check out my original proposal from last October here:  J.C. Memorial Ball Field proposal
Here's a quick recap:
     The idea to restore the ball field located on the grounds of the Milton Mills Cemetery originated a few days after my husband’s death.  The fact that there used to be a field in view of his grave site was one of the factors in my deciding that this was where he should be buried.  Corey played softball through the Seacoast Softball League for the past four seasons.  When I found out that the team he played for had used this field just a few years prior, I expressed to John Katwick my desire to see the field restored in my husband’s honor so that it could once again be used. 
     Following the first meeting with the cemetery board in October there were 2 more meetings held by the board. Following a meeting in March, the board had still not made a decision. The main issue holding the process up was a conflict over naming rights. For a variety of reasons, I felt strongly about not moving forward with the project if the field could not bear Corey's name. I reiterated my position at the meeting in March and was told the board would be taking a vote at the end of April. In the weeks between the meeting in March and the upcoming meeting in April I was pretty stressed out about the whole thing. Thoughts about having to raise all the funds to cover the materials, figuring out a water source for growing the grass, long term upkeep of the field, and liability issues all had my head spinning. I actually started to find myself hoping the board didn't approve my proposal...that was what made me realize this just wasn't the right thing, at least not right now. Each step of the way things just didn't seem to be coming together...after 3 board meetings I still couldn't even get a yes to move forward. It was a bit frustrating. So, a few days before the board's next meeting I let John know I was withdrawing my proposal and boy did that feel good! I felt such relief having made the decision. Once I let go of the project I couldn't help but feel like it had been holding me back in the place I was last September when I first tried to get things moving with the field. I was able to think about all the other things I was going to be able to focus more attention on...my kids, our house remodel project (finishing our upstairs), summer vacation...So, I was kind of on a high after making yet another hard decision. I only wish my "high" could have lasted longer than a week or two. Good grief!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Easter pictures

I've been meaning to get on here and post the pictures that my friend Jamie took of the girls and I at Easter. You might remember the beautiful Christmas pictures she took that I posted months back. It can be pretty tough to get both my girls willing to smile at the same time but Jamie managed to get some really nice shots. You may have already seen the two I put up on Facebook. Here are the rest...enjoy!  Thanks again Jamie!!
Easter pics April 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The End

is only the beginning...     
     It's going to take a bit for me to revisit the past month since my last post. Time has really gotten away from me. April was a hard month and I just didn't feel like writing about it at the time. Motivation has been a bit of an issue for me as well but that seems to be getting better. There were definitely some good parts here and there over the past month but grief-wise it was a bit messy in an emotional sense. I finished my grief group the week before last (it was 8-weeks) and I think the weekly meetings were "stirring the pot" of my grief, so to speak. I'm glad I participated in the group, but I'm ready to take a break from my "grief work." Some other things have happened over the last 2 weeks that have helped me to shift my focus as well.
     One of those things was my birthday on the 17th - my 35th birthday! I sure don't feel as old as that sounds! It was particularly hard because of course Corey wasn't here to help me celebrate it. In addition to that, his 35th birthday last July was the last one we got to celebrate with him, just 10 days before his death.  There were some small but very meaningful gifts from God in how we spent Corey's last birthday. One of them was the time he spent fishing with the girls. We've got some great video of that. I enjoyed watching the action from the shoreline while Corey and Abi casted their lines and Ali just wailed that she wanted Mommy. We ate dinner that night at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Northport, ME. The picture of the 4 of us on my home page was from that day. I knew Corey didn't want me to embarrass him by having the staff sing happy birthday to him, but I did it anyway :) Sombreros and all! It normally wouldn't have been my inclination to do this but this year felt different, and I'm glad I did it since it resulted in smiles on all of our faces. I pulled out all the stops and ordered a $10 dessert with 4 spoons for us to all enjoy together. I had a moment of hesitation as the waitress tried to convince me of how good their brownie sundae was. I didn't want to spend the extra money since we had a Reese's peanut butter ice cream cake waiting for us back at the camp in the freezer. God must have given me a nudge 'cause I said sure, why not? This kind of memory might sound silly, but it was one of the few times in my life where I undoubtedly was being taught the important lesson of how precious each moment of our lives is and to make them all count.
     When you get married your husband kind of becomes responsible for making sure your birthday is not forgotten. Corey did a good job with this year after year. This year was probably the first in a long time (maybe since college?) that I did something with friends for my birthday which made it special. My family and friends went out of their way to make sure I felt very loved this year. Some of my friends took me out for a scrumptious brunch the day before my b-day at a place called the Crepery...YUM! They have probably more than 2 dozen different kinds of fillings for the crepes they make.  We went to a movie after brunch. I haven't been to a movie since the last one I went to with Corey...which I think was Date Night with Steve Carell and Tina Fey. I remember when Corey and I had seen the preview for it before it came out...the couple in the movie was so 'us' in terms of the season of our life and marriage we were in. I'm pretty sure we went to see it for my birthday last year....man, a whole year without going to a movie...I'm sure I haven't missed much ;)  So the girls and I went to see the movie Soul Surfer. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it is based on the true story of Britney Hamilton who was an up and coming professional surfer who had her arm bitten off by a shark when she was 13. The movie follows her story of triumph through adversity as she looks to her faith in God to carry her through. Learning to surf again was a challenge after losing an arm (balance issues and all) but she persevered and not only got back up on her board but went on to become a professional surfing champion. It was an inspiring story with parts that were an encouragement to me in my own trials. The very last frame of the movie shows the ocean with a rainbow in the sky above as the backdrop to the words, "The End." Those 2 words disappear and are followed by the words "is only the beginning." It kind of gave me goose bumps and made me tear up. This line feels so true for Corey and myself. For Corey, the end of his life here on this earth is only the beginning of a new and more glorious chapter of the rest of his life to be spent in Heaven for eternity. For me, the painful end to our earthly relationship marks the beginning of a new chapter in my life here without him. I wouldn't have chosen it but God's promise to work all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28) is the truth that I stand on. I know he has a beautiful plan for the girls and me in the wake of Corey's departure and I'm waiting expectantly to see how this "chapter" unfolds. Most days lately it has been hard to stay focused on that promise, but the words of Pastor Bernie from his message shared at Corey's Memorial service comfort me. I was reminded of them as I sat in the dark theater reading those last words on the screen. Pastor Bernie said of my situation and Corey's death, "This story is yet to be finished. Do not despair. God is, as Jill says, still a good God and is at work even in the midst of this...to bring good out of the unthinkable."
     And who do I have to thank for this hope, for the promise that God will give me beauty for ashes and turn my mourning to joy? for His amazing promise of eternal life with Him and a sweet reunion with Corey? Only Jesus - for his suffering and death on the cross for me, for Corey, for all of us. Easter this year, in contrast to previous years, left me filled with an extra measure of gratitude as I remembered Christ's death and resurrection - His sacrificial and torturous death on the cross so that I could have life everlasting. He claimed victory over death through his resurrection so that we too could conquer death and be raised to a new life lived for Him and for God's glory!
      There is a song I have loved listening to this Easter season called, Christ is Risen, by Matt Maher. Here it is on youtube, since it's not on playlist :(  Enjoy...more to come...

A Love that Saves...celebrating Easter with Corey

     While walking around the cemetery last fall I came across a monument with an engraving that made me stop and think. It reads, "If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever."

I thought it was kind of a cool saying until I stopped to think about it for a minute and a revised version came to my mind; the good news that "because Christ's love saves, Corey will live forever." That's even cooler, don't you think?  :)  I made sure to include a "He is Risen" sign at Corey's grave when I decorated it for Easter. 

Here are some pics:

the silk arrangement I put together for the top of his stone

     That first time back to the cemetery after all the snow had melted was a comforting visit. This didn't occur until sometime during the second week of April since we had a final snow storm on April 1st- not an April Fool's joke either...the girls even had a snow day home from school because of it. It was a long wait for the snow to melt from that storm. I can't quite explain the feeling I had as I turned into the cemetery and was able to see the bare ground and Corey's stone. It made my heart feel so good. With the now obvious changing of the seasons, I felt like I had been given permission to move out of the winter of my grief and into spring. It was really hard over those long winter months to not be able to go regularly to visit. The first few months after Corey died I would go to the cemetery every 1-2 weeks and enjoyed sitting on the grass and soaking up the sun. I love the place I chose to lay him to rest. It is such a beautiful and peaceful country setting. I was there again just last week and basked in the sun while listening to birds chirp and church bells coming from just beyond the river behind the cemetery. I even heard the clip cloppity sound of horse hoofs hitting the pavement as 2 horses pulling a carriage strolled by the cemetery. I thanked God for his guidance in leading me to pick this beautiful place. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Living life while waiting for someday

      Eight months today...It's funny I just realized that now as I'm writing this post. It's strange how it is usually the week leading up to a milestone, anniversary or holiday that is the most difficult time. This last week or so has been just that.The girls and I have been sick (just colds). Mine left me feeling drained physically and mentally.I was pretty emotional much of last week and have felt like the thin layer of dust that was starting to cover over my grief was suddenly kicked up and blown in my face. Grief is an ugly thing...mine feels unrelenting. I feel like I've stepped back by a few months in my progress. By Tuesday of last week I was in tears telling a friend that I was feeling so tired...so overwhelmed...so alone. I miss Corey. I miss having my soul mate. I miss having my best friend who I can talk with and live life with every day. I miss having someone I can talk to about whatever and whenever without feeling needy. I know I have friends and family (who are hugely supportive) that I can just pick up the phone and talk with, but there's an awkward feeling that goes with that. I can't quite explain it. If you're married you probably understand what I mean. I miss having someone who's always on my side, even if I'm wrong and even if we don't agree...Corey was always "on my side." I guess it is a level of intimacy that just can't be equaled in any other earthly relationship.
     I started a grief support group about a month back. We meet weekly. All of us have lost someone to suicide. I've never been in a support group before. I like going. It's 2 hours each week when I don't have to feel so alone in my grief. I can talk about it without it feeling "out of place." Now that it's been 8 months I feel like it's out of place to talk about it in everyday conversation (guess that's why I blog) unless I'm asked a direct question about it (and I don't ever mind questions or conversations about Corey- Saying his name actually brings me some relief from my grief). I can't say that anyone really makes me feel that way, but...life goes on right? Unfortunately the pain is still very much present. I worry about hitting the one year mark. People talk about it like it's a magic moment in time when mourning stops or at least eases up perhaps and you're "normal" again...whatever that is ;) When will I have to stop calling Corey my husband? What if I don't want to? I still haven't been able to change my Facebook status from married to widowed. Have I mentioned I'm not crazy about Facebook?  ;)
     One of the "homework" assignments for my grief group is to write a letter to grief. I haven't been good about doing my "homework." Those written pieces can be painful to complete! The only thing I could think to tell grief was, "I want a vacation! Go away."  Last Friday the kids went over to a friend's house for their first sleepover! There's a milestone for you! Abigail was especially excited for this rite of passage into big-girlhood. Sarah had offered up the idea because I was fried and really needed some time to myself. So I had the evening all to myself- here was my break - and I didn't have a clue what to do with myself. I was really too exhausted to do much of anything. I thought about doing some reading but the books I've been reading are pretty much all about grief and the like. Then I thought about doing some of my "homework" since I had the time without distractions. I had this annoying realization that I just can't escape my grief. My loss is part of my life and it's not going anywhere...it's not something I can just wish to go away. Yes, I can do my best to heal from it and keep living life but ignoring it isn't going to change it. Oh, what I wouldn't give for a day off...to be able to go through a day without any reminders of my loss. Today was a better day; however, as evening set in I was back to feeling tired and tearful...hence this blog entry is a bit melancholy.
     I wanted to add a new song called Someday. (once again, it's not on playlist.com...urrrr) Here's a link to a music video with the song on youtube:  Be sure to pause my music player at the bottom of the page first.

The song is off of a Nichole Nordeman album called Brave. There are several songs on it that really resonated with me in the first few weeks and months after Corey's death. Corey and I got to see Nichole in concert years back when she actually came and performed at our church (it wasn't our church way back then). It's appropriate the title of the album is Brave since this transition in my life has taken a lot of God-given courage. It's also a good thing we don't have cassette tapes anymore or I would have worn this one out.
Here are the lyrics:
I believe in the rest of the story
I believe there's still ink in the pen
I have wasted my very last day
Trying to change what happened way back when
I believe it's the human condition
We all need to have answers to why
More than ever, I'm ready to say that I
Will still sleep peacefully
With answers out of reach from me until…
Someday all that's crazy
All that's unexplained
Will fall into place
And someday all that's hazy
Through a clouded glass
Will be clear at last
And sometimes we're just waiting
For someday
We are born with a lingering hunger
We are born to be unsatisfied
We are strangers who can't help but wander
And dream about the other side of…
Every puzzle's missing piece
Every unsolved mystery
More than half of every whole
Rests in the Hands that hold you for someday…. 
     Now to end on a brighter note...Abi and Ali are one of my greatest joys and I dare think how lonely life would really be without them. I have to share a few stories that put a smile on my face over the last couple of days. Yesterday Abi came home from school telling me how one of the boys in her class shared for show-n-tell that he climbs walls in his house. She explained this to me in response to my question, "Abi, what are you doing with all that tape?" She was sitting on my bed rolling small pieces of scotch tape to apply to each of her fingers and toes. She said this was going to help her climb the walls :) The tape was her idea however, as she explained that her classmate hadn't done it this way but she thought it would help her. Abi made sure I took a picture of her successful debut as Spider-woman.  She didn't really climb the walls but the door frame...still pretty cool to a 6 year old. I love this picture because you can see Ali in the background to the right and Bella to the left (sitting calmly- like this is nothing out of the ordinary in the goings on of our home) - My 3 favorite girls :)

      So this evening Abi and Ali are playing on the carpet after dinner and Abi says to me, "Mom, do you cook with love?"  I assured Abi that I do cook with love because I really don't like to cook and if I didn't love her I probably wouldn't cook.  In response she says, "Next time try to cook without love - I want to see how it turns out." Oh honey, no you don't! Where do kids come up with this stuff?? We finished praying at bedtime tonight and she wants to tell me about a song she is learning to sing for a school concert next week. She commences to sing, "We're big bad squirrels..." The words she could remember were quite something. I can't wait to watch her and her classmates sing it up on stage so I can hear all the lyrics! I'll be sure to videotape it so you all can hear it too. Ali sat there listening to her sister singing and said, "Singing makes me dizzy and I'm dizzy right now." (even though she wasn't singing) :)) I love those girls! Well, I best get off the computer...I keep hearing Allison wake up crying. I already went in once to check on her and she was stuffing her blanket in her ear and told me it is hurting...off to get the ibuprofen...looks like we might have an ear infection on our hands...never a dull moment...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Corey's Memorial Service - Tuesday, August 10, 2010

     I'm excited to share that I have the video of Corey's Memorial Service uploaded to youtube! I was hoping this would be possible for those who weren't able to make it and were interested in viewing it. I am so thankful to have this video. That day was a bit of a blur for me and watching it later allowed me to notice things I didn't the first time around. Corey's service was a lengthy 90 minutes and in order to put it on youtube it had to be broken up into 11 segments. Thanks for doing this Tris!
You can follow this link to pull all of them up:   http://www.youtube.com/user/corjilly
Here's the first segment to get you started.
Don't forget: If you choose to view this here, be sure to scroll down and push pause on the music player otherwise you'll be hearing both the video and songs at the same time. 

     I've mentioned before that planning this event felt much like planning my wedding (except for sorrow instead of excitement) with the added challenge of having only a few days to get it all done...there were SO many details! In addition to creating a service that would honor Corey's memory and life, I wanted it to bring glory to God. I wanted it to be an experience for people that brought them comfort and peace following the tragedy of Corey's death.  I wanted people to leave having heard the message that God is good and worthy of our praise no matter what the circumstances. Singing praises to God was a big part of our time.
     As I said, there were so many details and decisions to make; what songs to sing, what verses to have read, who would give a eulogy, and so on and so forth. God gave me confidence in making these decisions as I leaned on Him. I just kept hearing myself say, God will tell me what I'm supposed to choose (for all the decisions).
     I'd like to share some of the amazing ways God spoke to me as he helped me put together a Memorial service for Corey that would be a moving tribute to his life.
     I'll share just one for right now and more in future posts. At the beginning of the service we had a slide show playing of pictures of Corey and the girls and I. My friend Stacy had put it together and she needed to know what songs I wanted playing as the background music. I found one song by looking through Corey's drumming notebook from when he played drums during worship at the Journey Church. I picked a song that I remembered Corey really enjoyed playing. I felt "stuck" trying to come up with another song (the length of the slide show required 2 songs). I knew God would give it to me. I went to lie down for a rest the Saturday afternoon following Corey's death. In the midst of all the planning (and hardly any sleep) I was exhausted. Once again, I couldn't sleep...too many details flying around in my head...it was a whirlwind. Stacy was out in my living room while I rested. I had given her Corey's MP3 player to try to see if she could find a song that he might have liked that would work with the slide show. As I was lying in bed she was listening to his tunes (I had no idea). Like I said, I couldn't sleep. All of a sudden it came to me...U2...a U2 song would be perfect. Corey and I had gone to see them in concert less than a year earlier. We used to listen to their music all the time together back when we were teenagers dating in high school. I thought for another minute and their song "All I want is You" came to mind. I was so excited that I had my answer that I wanted to tell Stacy right away. Plus, she needed to know sooner than later so she could finish putting it all together. I went out into the living room where she was standing and said, "I've got the song..." and we both in unison said "U2". She at that same moment was listening to one of U2s songs on Corey's MP3 player. I proceeded to tell her the specific song I was thinking of by the band. I'm not sure about Stacy but I got goosebumps in that moment. I know you naysayers are thinking that was just a "coincidence," right? Well, over the course of the few days following Corey's death, there were too many similar situations such as that one (from which funeral home to use to where to lay Corey to rest) to simply chalk them all up as mere "coincidences." God continued to lead me as I moved ahead with all the rest of the decisions, and I was grateful yet again for his faithfulness.
     More to come...stay tuned :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Clinging to God...clinging to hope-Part 1

     I had the unique opportunity to be a part of a discussion panel at a MOPS (Mothers of preschoolers) meeting last Wednesday. The topic was depression, and myself and 2 good friends were asked to share our own personal experience with the illness. I shared briefly about my own struggle with depression since college and what that has looked like for me. As I was the only person on the panel who has had a spouse with depression, I went on to spend the majority of my time sharing about Corey's battle with the illness and what brought him to his place of desperation. 
     I had talked with a friend a couple of days before the meeting because I was struggling with knowing what to share, how much to share and how to leave people with hope after hearing about how Corey had lost site of hope for his own life. I didn't want anyone to hear our story, and, God forbid, be in a similar place of desperation and think that suicide was the solution for Corey and therefore might be the solution for them. Corey is free from all suffering now and, better yet, in Heaven. That sounds like a pretty good solution, but how could I express that it certainly wasn't the right one. Below, is a letter I wrote to Corey. I am sharing it so that people will see the ramifications in the aftermath of a suicide. If you are ever in the position of helping someone who is suicidal to see another way out, or if, God forbid, you yourself are ever considering suicide, it is my hope that these words will stay with you. Your loved ones' lives will not be better without you! I really think Corey had convinced himself that the girls and I would be better off without him. It certainly was not the truth.
     I will tell you that it was an emotional but healing process preparing this material. I did a lot of crying. That said, some of this might be hard to read. I also want to stress that I did not write this letter out of anger or bitterness towards Corey, but out of my love for him. 

     I wish that in the hours and days before your death you could have seen into the future to know fully the gravity of your decision and what the reality of your death would look like in our lives. 
     I wish you could have seen that life without you would not be better. Yes, your depression brought many challenges into our lives but the girls and I are facing many challenges now in the aftermath of your death…they’re just different ones.
     I wish you could have known the grief your daughters would have to come to terms with. I wish you could have known the dread I would feel in having to share the news with them that you had died and then see our oldest daughter sob uncontrollably in response. I wish you could have seen all the tears they would shed over your decision to leave us. No more Daddy to play horsey with on the carpet. No more Daddy to cover them with kisses at bedtime.  
     I wish you could have known how lonely my days and nights as a single parent would get. How much I would miss having my partner and confidant. A widow and single mom at age 34 was never what I dreamed about as a young girl, and it was never what I wanted for our daughters. Life in this fallen world can be so cruel.  
     I wish you could have known how many others in your life would miss you too. Your parents and brother, your extended family, your friends and co-workers. They miss your smile, your humor, and your kindness and compassion toward them, amongst many other things.
     I wish you could have known just how many people it would take to help the girls and I recover from losing you. Three therapists, 5 pastors, the prayer support of more than a few church communities, and too many friends to count. All these individuals combined cannot replace the value of you in our lives. I wish you could have realized that this side of heaven we will never fully heal from losing you.
      I wish you could have seen that your life had value – to God and to your family. That even in your darkest places and deepest valleys you mattered to us.
      I am thankful I had the chance to tell you minutes before you died that the girls and I would be devastated without you. That was the truth. I only wish you could have seen the impact that losing you would have on us and just how important you were in our lives. Maybe this reality would have helped you choose a different path; however, I know that in your illness your thoughts were not your own. I have no anger towards you, just sadness that you weren’t able to grab hold of the truth.  
     I pray that your story, that our story, will bring life to others; that through our tragedy and loss, others will hear a message of hope and know that God’s love is deeper than any valley they might find themselves in.  
 Suicide has been described as a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  I know Corey’s life had great value both to God and to all of those who loved him.  His decision to end his life was not the right solution.  Corey may have lost sight of hope but that does not mean that there was no hope to be found.  We will never know how God might have otherwise lifted Corey from his valley. I’m certain that Corey’s decision broke not only our hearts but God’s heart as well. 
     I closed with an exert from the book A Path Through Suffering, by Elisabeth Elliot: 
He [God] wants to transform every human suffering into something glorious. He can redeem it. He can bring life out of death. Every event of our lives provides opportunity to learn the deepest lesson anyone can learn on earth, "My present life is not that of the old 'I,' but the living Christ within me" (Galatians 2:20, JBP). When our souls lie barren in a winter which seems hopeless and endless, God has not abandoned us. His work goes on. He asks our acceptance of the painful process and our trust that He will indeed give resurrection life. 
           "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" ~ Jesus, John 10:10

Clinging to God...clinging to hope-Part 2

     As part of the MOPS panel discussion on depression, all of us who shared put together a handout with information on the topic. Below are suggestions I shared on how to help a loved one who is struggling with this illness. I'm certainly no 'expert' on this subject. I was not a perfect wife, that's for sure. All I could do was my best and ask God for lots of help. Some of these suggestions are, therefore, things that in hindsight I wish I had done (or done more of). Above all, I've learned that I couldn't save Corey; only God could have done that.

Suggestions for helping a loved one who is struggling with depression:
·         Recognize that it is not your responsibility to fix the person
·         Pray for your loved one and get prayer support from others for you and your loved one. It is important to be cautious with the who (who to tell as well as how many people to share with) and how much to share about the situation. You don’t want your loved one losing their trust in your relationship.
·         Be persistent in letting the depressed individual know you care about how they are doing. Give them opportunities to share not just their struggles but whatever is important to them and be available to listen without judging their thoughts and feelings. It can be extremely hard for the depressed to open up.
·         Encourage activity/exercise but don’t heap guilt on the person if they are non-participatory.
·         Offer ideas while being careful not to “parent” the individual (particularly if the depressed is your husband). Don’t mother him. Help him keep his dignity as he tries to find solutions for himself (with your help of course).  Remember, what works for one person might not be effective for someone else. 
·         Be your husband’s help meet particularly by being his biggest supporter (this doesn’t mean enabling bad behavior).
·         Encourage the depressed that it is okay to share their struggles with others they feel they can trust. This can give others the opportunity to help in ways you might not be able to.
·         Get support for yourself. Sharing daily life with someone who is suffering from depression can be very challenging. Getting support early on can help prevent the situation from worsening. 

A song

I had wanted to share the following song with my last post titled, Many thanks...But, the song isn't available on playlist.com   Here it is through youtube:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Many thanks!

      I am so happy spring is on its way. Along with the somewhat warmer temps comes the melting. I needed help getting my sump pump up and running last weekend. I mentioned to my friend Kathy over the phone  last Sunday evening that I wasn't sure what I was going to do to remedy the situation and we were in the midst of getting heavy rains. I was worried. An hour later she showed up at my house (as is usual for Sunday evenings) but she wasn't alone.  She had brought a friend from church who was ready to lend a hand to get my pump working. With a few adjustments he was able to get it functioning within 15 minutes! I was SO relieved and knew I would be able to sleep well that night not having to fear the torrents of rain coming in the basement while I slept. Thank you Lee!! This was yet another one of those situations where I tried to figure things out myself but the las few pieces of the puzzle just weren't fitting together right.  In talking with Lee about the pump's setup we were able to determine that there was an unnecessary part attached (2 check valves instead of just one, in case you're really interested ;)) and without the extra part, everything fit together perfectly. And then, since I had someone handy in the house, I asked Lee to take a look at my dryer vent. The dryer hose was continually coming off the back of the machine so the hot air was blowing into the insulation on the wall.  I had tried to tighten the screw to the clamp that was around the opening but it just kept coming off. He explained that because of the temperature changes to the metal connector piece, the resulting expansion and contracting was causing it to keep coming off. It made perfect sense. I hadn't thought of that! I know, I sound a little too excited about these projects, right? Generators, sump pumps, dryer vents...what next? I can feel myself getting smarter...I must be growing new brain cells through this process!  :)
     Then I got a call last week from Doug who works with the youth group at church. He told me they were going to be doing some service projects on Friday and wanted to know if I needed help with anything. It took me a bit to figure out what I could have a group of teens work on. Taking help means being organized in order to coordinate a number of people and that takes time and planning.  I managed to put together a list thinking that I might not have enough to keep them busy for the 4 hours. Boy was I wrong!  The night went awesomely well. There were 5 teens and 2 adults (Ron and Mitch- you guys are handy!). All in all they got a ton done and far exceeded my expectations! They got one of my cars vacuumed out and wiped down since I was going to be trading it at the dealer's the next day. I have this awful habit of saving boxes from things we buy and things we've had shipped to us. My box hoarding was out of control until they stepped in and broke down probably at least 30 boxes. They almost filled the back of a pickup truck with these. I had them take some electronics away as well...a TV, broken air conditioner and various computer pieces. This purging felt SO good! Then, in preparation for construction to finish the upstairs, I had them work on moving a bunch of items that were up on the second floor (it's like attic space currently) down to the basement.  They probably moved 2/3rds of what was up there down 2 flights of stairs. One of the teens cleaned and organized Corey's work bench which was pretty out of order (mostly from me not putting things away since he died). Let's see...am I forgetting anything? Mitch had brought his tool belt with him and must have been itching to do some hammering because he got busy fixing one of the doors in the basement that wouldn't close right. They found things to do that weren't even on my list! Great job guys! You're welcome back any time ;))
     I also have been meaning to put a thank you out there to an anonymous someone who paid for 3 weeks of babysitting for me. I have a fabulous sitter, Hannah, who comes over every Thursday evening for a few hours so I can have a break and get out of the house and not have to do bedtime. I look forward to this time each week and so was pleasantly surprised when Hannah told me that someone had already paid her for the next few weeks! That was a cool blessing!
     I certainly have no shortage of things to be thankful for. I can't say enough good things about my church family. They are absolutely amazing. I have never known a church to have such a heart for people in need, and their compassion extends out into the community on such a consistent basis. I don't think there has been a time when I have said hello in a quick exchange with Pastor Bernie and he hasn't asked me how everything is going and is there anything I need? I feel very loved and am so appreciative! The funeral director for Corey's service and burial made the comment that he works with a lot of churches in the area and has been very impressed with all that goes on at Grace. He likened the people at Grace to ants working away busily. I have been blessed to be a recipient of this church's love in action!