After Samantha, I found it hard to genuinely smile and laugh.  I could make myself do it, but my heart wasn’t in it.  In my mind I was thinking, I shouldn’t be laughing, shouldn’t be happy, shouldn’t smile because I am grieving.  Because I was grieving, if I did any sign of fun and happiness I thought it meant that Samantha didn’t matter any more and that I had moved on.

I remember Raun and I went out to dinner in the Springtime and we had a long conversation.  It was then that I heard some of the most helpful words.  He told me “it is okay to smile, to have fun, to be happy.  It doesn’t mean that you have forgotten or that you have moved on or that you aren’t still grieving.  Samantha is always a part of us and always will be.  We will move forward and she will go with us.  You can still grieve, yet feel happy and joyous.”  This combination was weird for me and took me a little while to be alright with the concept.  There are times when I am happy and sad at the same time.  Yes, I am still grieving and still healing, but right now I can see the joy in the moment and the blessing.

In one day I can go from having something trigger the tears to later seeing a moment of happiness.  As the past year has gone by, there have been fewer triggers in a day and more moments of happiness.  Are there still things now that make me end up shedding tears?  Of course!  But most days I can make it through with laughter, smiling, and remembering.  I feel like the grief comes and goes in waves.  Occasionally a tidal wave hits.  I have learned to expect the unexpected.  I don’t always know when a tidal wave will hit, but the best I can do is to take them when they come.

The best thing I can do is acknowledge how I feel.  No matter the feeling-good, bad, or ugly- I validate what I am feeling and move forward.  I am taking what I am feeling and hearing to learn and grow through this process.  I still take life day by day, one step at a time.  Sometimes I have go minute by the minute, other times I can go several hours.  I have made sure, especially more recently, to have the things that mean the most to me and bring me the most happiness surround me in my life.  That means I…

  • surround myself with people who are truly there and who want to have a relationship that will grow over time.  I surround myself with those who are supportive and allow me to be me.  I surround myself with family and friends.
  • have reinvested in my interests.  I enjoy being outdoors, so when I can do something outside I will.  I have a passion for photography and have decided this year to revamp my photography website.  I have been reading more and traveling more.

Can you smile?  Yes, you can.  It is okay.  Even though you are happy, doesn’t mean you aren’t still grieving.  Smile and laughter will do your heart good and help you heal.

 

My grandfather turned 95 years old this year.  Our family and a small group of friends helped to celebrate his birthday with a small party, good food, and lots of stories. 

95 years!  Can you imagine all that has been done, seen, and changed in the last 95 years?  Through it all, my grandfather has remained strong in his beliefs and values.  He has a zest for life, never misses a beat, and always has a story to share.  After 95 years, he also has a lot of advice and wisdom to share.  Not to mention a joke or two.  He has done so much throughout his life and hasn’t been afraid to step out of the box to try something new.  He has been a lawyer, to a World War II gunfighter, to being in the House of Represntatives, to starting his own business that is still running today.

Over the years I have learned a lot from my grandfather and I always look forward to my talks with him.   I have great memories from when I was little when we would have family dinners from Arby’s at their house, we would get to have sleep overs where we would play games into the night, and so many more.

Some of the most important things that I have learned I still carry with me today and try to keep them with me where ever my path leads.  First and foremost family comes first.  Even though I live in Minnesota now, my grandfather still checks in on me.  A smile goes a long ways, even towards a total stranger.  Passing a long a smile can make someone’s day, not to mention show a little bit of who you are.  Be a part of your community. It gives you an opportunity to expand your horizons, while providing a sense of accomplishment and value.

I am nearly 30 now, I can’t begin to imagine what the next 65 years will bring in my life.  What I do know is that…as long as I can carry God, my family, my friends, and things that bring true happiness with me always while holding strong to my values I will be headed in the right direction.  I also need to learn from my mistakes and the curve balls that life throws (sometimes hurls) at me, while also being honest with myself and admitting when I can’t go at it alone. 
What words of adivce are keeping you going?  Share your memories and stories below.  I look forward to hearing your story.

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