My Jake
Picture of Janet


A PSA on October 20, 2022

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This is a pubic service announcement about grief.

If anything in this world is true, it’s the reality of grief and that it’s a part of everyone’s life in one form of another. 

I have to remind you of my experience, which is sad, like all grief is, but I have something more than just the sadness to talk about.

My Jake’s heart stopped beating on the morning of October 20th, 2005. I say his heart, because I think who he was left earlier than that for paradise. I don’t understand the complexities of who a person is separate from their physical body. I do know that when I finally got to Jake’s bedside that morning, I kissed his cheek and put my hand on his arm which was warm and familiar, but my Jake, well he was no longer there. It was a strange juxtoposition that still haunts me a bit today. We count on the body of a person, to recognize who they are, you can know who they are from a distance just by their walk, you recognize the color of their eyes and how they smile, and yet in death’s stillness, that body so familiar, is no longer who you knew and loved. They are gone. And it leaves you wondering, where?

In the seventeen years since Jake died, there is nothing about that morning that has faded. The hole in my heart occupied by Jake’s presence here on earth is still there. It still the gapes and I constantly try to fill it with his memory and my memories of him, which turns out to be necessary and comforting and always, always insufficientSomeone a couple of weeks after Jake died, her own son having been gone for years, said to me, “It is just too raw for you now.” Yes, that is it. The rawness fades, but not the grief. 

Which is the point of this PSA.

There are all kinds of grief. There are literally thousands of scholarly articles on grief. If you haven’t experienced some kind of profound grief, you will. I am sorry for that truth. With all my heart, I am sorry. 

What follows is one woman’s experience on dealing with grief, her own and others. I pray it provides something for your heartache.

1. Do not judge how someone grieves. This includes yourself. We are all different, so is the way we grieve. This includes how soon someone goes back to work and someone else doesn’t. Or when someone gets rid of the ‘things’ that remind them of their grief and others keep them close. that’s just a few. You get the idea.

2. When grief is so profound, it is hard to do the basics of life, especially when the grief is so raw, you cannot control the tears or the waves of disbelief hit. Concentrate on trying to eat, sleep and work. If that’s all you do at that time, you are taking the first step. (Working does not have to be at work, it can be gardening or pain walking, folding clothes or changing your oil. Our family restored an old farm house.)

3. Do something for some one else. A person in deep grief will eventually have to find a way to step outside of that, if in the beginning for a short time only. The way to do that is to think about someone else, to do something for someone else, to give some of yourself to someone else.

4. Get help. Anywhere you can find it. A friend, a doctor, family, church, work, another grief survivor. We are not meant to walk alone. 

5. Surrender to a higher power. I use these words but I am talking about the one God, the creator of the universe and of this world. I freely admit that as a Christian, I wish things were different and that Jesus’ conquering death clearly doesn’t negate the suffering of this current one, which I don’ t like. But thinking that this life here is all there is, makes much less sense than a future, prepared by Jesus, where there are no tears.  Whether you call God by His name or for the time being must think of Him as a higher power, doesn’t affect who He is. But the real crux of this, the true and astonishing thing is this: the comfort of knowing Him, surrendering to Him, brings the only sure, constant peace that is impossible otherwise. Peace is the only thing that can surround and comfort any hole in your heart and the only time I have ever experienced that is in surrender to Him. The recipe that how this happens is in Phillipains 4:6. 

“The Lord is Near! Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation with prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Those are powerful words you must read carefully to understand the recipe and think about it without prejudice.

I love my Jake. I love my Silent Bob. Love never ends. God’s love never ends. How that all is true, I do not know. It’s yet another mystery of how who we are works in the here and the after. But it is indeed true. Concentrate on what is true. 

PS Jake and I used to have a lot of conversation about joy vs happiness. Unfortunately, he got the melancholy gene from me. Joy is possible, maybe not happiness, but joy. I promise. Even with heart holes. 


12 Responses

  1. I’ve experienced grief, but never the rawness of a child’s death. I am sad anyone has to find the hard faith when this occurs. Love to you, Sister Janet.

  2. So true. For me there’s a sort of grief in loss. My “griefs” are not as close and piercing as yours, Janet: not a child, not a spouse. Other than sadness in loss of extended family members and my dad, my losses are those of relationships, those of security, of finding a place of belonging.

    These days can be so very bewildering. I think, as you say, all have suffered grief, or will do so, but I know we’re all suffering losses and that’s a kind of grieving. We need to face that in order to deal—to grieve—with it. Your words also apply to all kinds of experienced losses.

    When ‘normal’ hot-foots it outa town, when lifelong-forever friendships suddenly end, when adult children stop speaking to you, these are times to grieve. To cry. To lament. And then to be lifted up by the only healer and love-giver who brings peace. (Phil. 4:6 my mantra too.)

    It is all a mystery but it’s real. The Mystery. The all-consuming passion of THE Great Story Arc.
    What’s not real is this life right now, not really. True reality can be tasted with joy here, but the great Reality and Joy is yet to come. 😀

  3. Thank you for sharing your heart Janet. Just recently losing my brother and now my dad, I have a greater understanding of what that grief feels like. You are right, some of the pain goes away slowly, but the grief and tears are still there.

    Love you sweet friend!

  4. Thanks for those comforting words. I know it’s true. That’s how I’ve dealt with the loss of our daughter in 2020. The love remains, and God can comfort.

  5. Janet, thank you for sharing! So great to talk about you and Jake! It’s been 14 months today since I lost my wife, Michelle. The grief continues to be there, but my family, friends, and faith have kept me moving forward!

  6. As always, your words and thoughts are far beyond the musings of ordinary people. I wish my daughter, Jennifer, could read this after I die, and could have your physical comfort. Since we are now 1,500 miles from you, that is no longer possible. I have the grief and sadness of no longer being in Houston and leaving behind special friends like you. I didn’t expect all that when I moved, but I had to be near my daughter. Thank you for being my friend; I will always love you.

  7. Thank you, Janet, for being a friend when we lost our son Brett. It was a great comfort to know we were not alone in this grief journey.
    Thank you for sharing. Beautifully written.
    Love never ends!

  8. I can’t believe it’s been this long. I can close my eyes still see Jake’s smile and hear him laughing while we played 42 around a folding table in Iraq. I miss him.

  9. Thank you for sharing these beautiful healing words, Janet. Praying with you for peaceful happiness and joy to return.

  10. Yes, Janet, your words are so true. We are all different. We should never judge anything about others, but especially their grief. Thank you for continuing to post your meaningful thoughts.

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