a smartphone with the earbuds arranged into a heart

Tonight I was looking through my cell phone family text messages and noticed something I guess I always knew, but had never given much thought. There is not one message of any sort on my cell from my beloved Annie. It appears that I’m searching for memories from the past, a part of my life that will never be forgotten, but is gone forever.

Yes, there are pictures, and although it’s said that a picture speaks a thousand words, a griever knows the truth, it doesn’t say anything. It’s just a picture, a memory of our loved one from days gone by, that now becomes part of our past.

Some of us grievers have the ability to use our imagination, to go to a place where reality and logic doesn’t apply. It’s a world of make believe where anything and everything is possible. And of course, we dream big…We want it all, if only for one last time. Here’s how it works.

The make believe world

You’re busy going about your daily business, always battling your grief and getting by as best you can.

You’re startled by a sudden outburst of noise. “Oh, it’s just the phone.” “Shall I answer it.” “No.” “I don’t feel like talking to anyone at the moment.”

And then it happens. You hear this voice in your head, “wait a minute, it might be you loved one.” And as you race to the phone, not realizing it could not possibly be your loved one, the ringing stops.

Your thinking, “oh no!” “I missed the call.” In your bewilderment, perhaps you pour yourself a cup of coffee, a drink, or just sit down, staring into space thinking of what might have been if you’d answered the phone.

By now your imagination is in hyper drive, and that’s when you enter the pretend part of the make believe world.

You’re now excitedly dialing the phone, waiting in anticipation for your loved one to answer. Your internal voice is now shouting out, I can hear the phone ringing, and with a sigh you think, oh, I so hope my loved one answers. And all the while your mind is becoming more and more overloaded, as you feel the panic rushing through the blood in your veins… “What will I say to my loved one?”

Alas, you come back down to reality and realize it’s really over. Your life has changed forever and can never be the same. And now you’re trying to wrap your head around all that is going on at the moment, and all that has happened. Believe me, it’s no easy task.

When you find yourself lost and alone in a world of sorrow and sadness, and you’d much rather be sleeping than awake in your misery, that’s how it was for me. Even when asleep, I often dreamed. Some of the dreams were good and sometimes they were nightmares with an occasional night terror.

And it is hard. Grief will wear you out. But hang on, and don’t give in to all the deceptive illusions grief will throw your way. Become self aware, understanding that things aren’t always as they seem. Yes it’s bad, but it will get better in time and life will return to balance once again.

Here is a simple definition of grief: A deep sorrow, especially over the death of someone we love or hold dear.

Look at these words and see how many you can identify with. If you are identifying with them all, you are in the throngs of a very strong and probably aggressive grieving period. And as with me, it can last for a very long time.

As synonyms, these words by definition can piggy back off each other as they have nearly the same meaning .

But to a griever we can easily separate these words, each falling into its own unique category in, our own emotional puzzle we call “grief.”

The words describing grief

synonyms: sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, heartache, heartbreak, agony, torment, affliction, suffering, woe, desolation, dejection, and despair;

As I looked at the words defining grief, five years post Annie’s death I can remove all the words from the list, with the exception of sadness, heartache, and loneliness (which is a part of desolation). Although, I may feel the other words from time to time, they aren’t a problem anymore. Just a small bump in the road of life.

I’ve came a long ways since Annie died, but the healing process will most likely continue until I leave this mortal coil we call earth. I say this because I believe the, timeless statement that we don’t ever really get over our grief we, just get through it is, fundamentally true.

a smartphone on a table next to an empty cup of coffeeHonestly, if I’d looked at these words even a year ago, I could have capitalized them all. So it does get better and as we’ve all heard many times over, it just takes time to heal, being steady as we go, putting one foot in front of the other.

From my experience, when grief starts to dissipate it happens rather quickly. What I believe is likely to remain with you is, what remains with me as I’ve state above, sadness, heartache, and loneliness. It’s not nearly as overwhelming as the grief was, but it will be there to serve as a gentle reminder of your loss. When you feel that little ache in your heart, “Lest we forget.”

I wish you all the best.

Hear the whole story in Bob’s book, Because of Annie. All proceeds are donated to cancer charities.

Written by Bob Harrison
Bob Harrison was raised in the heart of the Redwoods in the far northwest comer of northern California. The little town of Crescent City, California was located near some of the world’s tallest trees, with the west shoreline being the Pacific Ocean. Bob spent most of his time fishing the two local rivers where some of the finest Steelhead and Salmon fishing is located. He was also well known up and down the north coast as an avid motorcycle racer, winning several hundred trophies, and one Oregon State title. Bob graduated from Del Norte High School with the class of 1966, then spent a one year stint at the College of the Redwoods, before having a strong sense of patriotism and joining the United States Air Force. After three years of service, Bob met Annie, the love of his life, and they got married in England in 1972. Bob’s love of country pushed him on to what turned out to be a very successful career, retiring in 1991. Bob’s last military assignment was Wichita, Kansas, a place he and Annie decided to call home. Together they developed and ran two very successful antique businesses until the stranger knocked on their door and changed their lives forever; “Because of Annie.”

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  1. When I see pictures of my youngest son, William, who committed suicide in 2012 due to mental illness, it almost kills me inside. Especially, his baby pictures. He is my pride and joy! I can still hear his voice tell me Happy Birthday Mom, Happy Mother’s Day Mom, Happy Anniversary Mom, Happy New Year Mom, and Merry Christmas Mom. He was such a special young man and so handsome. He was only 23yrs..


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