The questions about grief are also broken into 2 sections, we'll address the rest next - there were just so many questions to answer!
1. What you would choose if you could go back - to remain a family with Jeremy or to leave things as they are, with the lessons you've learned, or continue enjoying your family with Steve and his girls? Again, I realize this is probably an impossible question to answer.
You’re right; it is an impossible question to answer. I imagine these are the kinds of questions that plague every widow(er) once they find love again – or any sort of happiness after their loved one dies. The truth is, I can’t let myself sit with these kinds of things for very long because I would literally make myself crazy. And since I know it’s not a logical question that I will ever get the chance to answer, I try not to think about it. What I can say is that the woman who married Jeremy and the woman who married Steve are very different – so in some parts of my brain, I convince myself that I could have both.
2. My question is about grief: I just lost my only child, my son Jonathan Paul Daily in March when his apartment caught fire. After a long investigation, it was determined that is was a set of unfortunate incidents that led to him not being able to get out. My heart is so full of grief, I don't have room for any joy right now. I am so sad that this amazing young man is gone - I won't ever get to see him get married or get to be a grandparent :( I wanted to know if you could share any books or scriptures that helped you deal with the sudden loss of Jeremy. I know we have very different situations here - but the journey is the same. I find myself vacillating between anger and fear. Several books have been sent to me (Heaven is for Real was one of them). But I guess I am still searching for something to help me get thru this first hard year.
First of all, I am terribly sorry for the loss of your son’s life. Stories of death never cease to make me ill and ache for people, and continue to leave me speechless. Unfortunately, all of the grief books I read were very specific to spousal loss: Signs of Life, The Year of Magical Thinking, I’m Grieving As Fast As I Can, The Color of Rain – that’s not to say there wouldn’t be elements in those books you couldn’t relate to, but my suggestion would really be to get online and seek some out. That’s what I did. Find blogs, forums, and other books that might have something to say to move you to the next one. I stayed away from scripture right after Jeremy died, because I was too angry at first…but I discovered that what helped wasn’t specific scriptures, but stories of God working through pain and loss in the bible. People would send me different scriptures until slowly, my anger subsided and I was able to cling to some of those scriptures for hope.
3. You’re grieving in such a public way, what made you want to go public about your grief and sadness?
Grieving was never something I intended to do public. I’ve always needed to write to express myself, as well as help me remember life events, and emotion was just pouring out of me and I had to write it out. My blog was already established to keep up with my family and to give my relatives and close friends updates of life – I had no idea the impact it would have. Of course I realized people could read my words (which is why my angriest and most intimate writing was done in a journal) – but I didn’t put much thought into its affect. I just needed to let things out, say my piece, and feel like my grieving, and Jeremy’s life, mattered. As a result, hundreds of people started contacting me thanking me for expressing myself and putting words to their own hurt, or helping them understand a situation they might not have otherwise. Other people who had lost loved ones were referred to my blog as a reference of connection to someone who had been through tragedy. Soon I realized my blog had not just become my outlet of outpour, but also a ministry in which God was using me without my even knowing to bring light and insight on a very tough, intimate, and rarely talked about area of life.
4. Knowing how Jeremy had so many close guy friends who felt he was like a brother, have you felt any "judgment" or "ill feelings" from some of his closest guy friends... meaning- are his closest and dearest guy friends struggling with the fact that they may perceive that you "replaced" him? It's clear to all that you did not replace, but I guess I could see a friend dealing with grief/loss seeing it that way. Just wondering how his guy friends are connecting with you in light of your new path, new family and recent marriage. Do all of Jeremy's old friends still make the same effort around staying connected now that you're in a different stage of your grief?
I can’t lie and say that the transition has been easy for everyone. A lot has changed in a short amount of time, and all of it is confirmation that Jeremy is no longer with us. But I also can’t speak for these men or how they feel about things. I can say that Jeremy had impeccable judgment in character of others, and it shows in the people he cared most about – they are by far some of the best people on earth. I think most of these men understand that I am not replacing Jeremy, even if sometimes it can feel that way. I didn’t expect everyone to feel exactly the way I did, but for the most part, they’ve all reacted with grace and understanding. I can’t really compare ‘efforts’ to stay connected to the time when Jeremy died because that level has changed for everyone in my life, that’s how these things go. But I still talk to all of Jeremy’s friends, and they are all very dear to me, and still some of my closest friends as well. I don’t get to see his friends from Canada much, but I wish I did more. I hope that answers your question.
5. I remember reading a post about not wanting to take your ring off yet, and not knowing when you would be ready. I don't know if you've already written about this, but when did you take it off? And, do you still wear Jeremy's on a necklace?
I took my rings off the day Steve proposed to me. I now wear them around my neck with Jeremy’s ring. The day of the wedding, I wore my rings along with Jeremy’s on my right hand, because it didn’t look right as a necklace with my dress, but I couldn’t bare the thought of it not being close to me. Steve and I had discussed a lot of options about the rings: whether or not to just keep the ones I already had, to somehow combine Jeremy’s with his, or get a new one altogether, and Steve was comfortable with whatever option felt most comfortable for me. I came to the decision that I wanted to keep the rings Jeremy gave me as they are so that one day I could pass them down to Faith. And I didn’t feel right about being married to Steve and wearing a ring from someone else – so I feel at peace keeping them both close to me.
6. Sometimes when people experience the death of a loved one, there's an outpouring of support right away... but after the dust settles, and the funeral is over, the support dwindles. In your situation, did you have the outpouring of support at the beginning and notice that it tapered off? Or was the support consistent all the way along? Just wondering (based on the kind of support you rec'd from your friends, family, church, neighbors, etc) if a certain amount of support made your journey easier or harder. In your view- what's the best "action" any of us can take if we ever find ourselves trying to support someone who's grieving?
Honestly, I couldn’t even begin to describe or count for you the different levels of support I received – nor could I imagine anyone receiving more. Support and encouragement literally came from every corner of the world, in every avenue of my life, and from my closest friends to complete strangers! There were times when a room full of people or a constant flow of traffic in and out of the house was a bit much, but overall, the support was so helpful – I wouldn’t have survived by myself. Selfishly, I think that was the only way God was able to keep me from giving up. Of course, there is no way that level of support for someone could continue…people have lives, families, and other people who are in need of help to think about. I would never have expected that support to continue the same way. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard when it does start to taper off, but you just understand it. And it doesn’t mean that people don’t still support me now, it’s just in different ways.
My advice is that the best “action” you can take to support someone grieving is just that – action. Don’t ask, just do. A grieving person won’t ask for help or even know how to ask – I still don’t know how to do that. Find a need and fill it. If you can’t find one, make one. Send a card, donate, make a meal, clean their house, drop off groceries, pray for them, whatever you can think of. The most meaningful support to me now comes out of things that are in memory of Jeremy, because it means that people haven’t forgotten him. Whether it’s writing me on those tough anniversaries, or planning Jeremy’s birthday dinner, or telling stories to my children about their daddy, or supporting his parents and siblings, or finding a reason to get together in his honor. That kind of support is invaluable to me.