30 Comments
Jan 31Liked by John Onwuchekwa

Less that 3 years ago, I started my journey what I like to call the “gray area”. June 19, 2021 at 6:14pm, an intoxicated driver crossed over from the other side of the highway and hit our vehicle head on, killing my wife of 17 years, injuring myself and my 3 children. And there it was an abrupt end to something beautiful. I thank GOD for the 21 years we had together. I’m grateful that GOD loved me thru her.

But I did have a lot of “why” questions: I didn’t asked “why” but I asked “what?” GOD, what are doing with this? Maybe here was this resolve in me to GOD doesn’t take something like this and use it for HIS glory. But that was the hope I had was, “GOD, you take was messy and make it beautiful and I need you to show me the beauty while I’m in the messy.”

I’ve discovered that grief and joy are like dance partners on a dance floor and it’s an awkward dance every song. You spend the rest of your years trying to figure out how to get it right.

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“One of the most important lessons for His children to learn is that tragedy doesn’t ruin any one of us.

Hopelessness does.”

My daughter was born 28 days after I turned 21. Her mother and I were young. We met in college. Our relationship was always rocky, and we broke up shortly after our daughter was born. My vow was to be the best father I could be and always to be present. So every time a job offer or opportunity would come, that would mean I’d have to leave the state I declined it. My daughter is 14 now, and though we had a great relationship, her mother has done everything she possibly can to keep me from her. Lies. Accusations. Manipulation. All were found false, and still, the game persists because of an inept legal system with a bias towards fathers (no matter their societal standing).

I’ve been tempted to lose hope so many times. I’ve fought to be present and a father like the one I didn’t have, and yet, I ask God why. Why? Through His mercy, God continues to speak to me of pursuing my daughter with a love that goes beyond her youth. I’m loving her for now and the restorative work I’m believing God will do in our future. I’ve learned to hope again. I am grateful for the foundation we built, and I trust that nothing is wasted in God’s economy.

I honestly would have lost hope unless I believed that I would see the goodness of God in the land of the living.

A lesson I learned from a fellow traveler.

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Jan 31·edited Jan 31Liked by John Onwuchekwa

God's timing is never late, it's always Best. And that's what i'm hopeful of and awaiting.

This Sunday a year ago our family gathered to talk with our daughter, a sister, regarding her recent choice of lifestyle. Some of her siblings had very recently come to know and had questions to try to understand. It was a difficult day and if honest, 2023 was a difficult year. Loving someone who wants you to support their decision isn't easy and it seems as if we've lost the person we once knew.

This Sunday afternoon we're gathering for lunch and she won't be joining us. Her father and i have been asked to refrain from contact. No more coffees with," I love you" written on the napkin underneath dropped off at her workplace. Isaiah 59:1 reads: Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or His ear dull, that it cannot hear. He is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

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Bro. ♥️

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beautiful, simply. I appreciate your sharing, and your openess to invite us into your years of learning. I have much to learn about grief, up close anyway, so I salute and deeply thank everyone who offers me a look so generously at how they move through this part of life.

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Jan 31Liked by John Onwuchekwa

I always love reading your emails and resonate so much with your language of joy and grief. I am currently working on an EP (early stages) called Sorrowful Yet Always Rejoicing, and am revolving it around that beautiful, challenging, & mysterious tension. I'll be sure to share it down the road when it's ready. It will be a place to tell some of my story and hopefully spur others on to tell theirs. Thanks for telling yours.

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Jan 31Liked by John Onwuchekwa

I am a certified and experienced ELA and Reading teacher. I've written two self-help books and the thing about my story of hope is that I can't find the words to articulate what happened on February 21, 2021. Only that my life, our lives changed forever. On that day, my vocabulary was numbed. Almost three years later, it still is.

Life stole my voice. The only voice I've known for 42 years and the pain behind this silence is heartbreaking. Before then, I spoke about all things joyful, I found happiness in my writings, the pen was my pal, a safe place for me to heal.

Healing feels different now. It actually doesn't feel like healing at all. Pain speaks louder. Shame, embarrassment, and fraud are all words that scream in this season.

So, my grief has taken on a different meaning than the way I've defined it over the years. Grief struck not by human death, but buried my dreams, writings, and was so very close to killing my marriage.

BUT today, maybe just maybe, writing this comment and standing up to vulnerability is a glimpse of hope stepping out of the shadows into what looks like a little bit of light.

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My dad passed away on October 10th of 2007. Each year the anniversary rolls around is an ordinary day, where I am responsible to keep going. On those days, I become something like a dam, stopping the flow of all emotion and tears from seeping out, creating a reservoir of grief within me that I've slowly learned to swim in. This past year was different. I couldn't quite keep all the emotions to myself, and I realized I didn't have to. People are allowed to swim with you. God will put the right people in your life who aren't scared to get their feet wet, that know a little something of their own about navigating the waters.

This year was different for other reasons as well. My cousin, who I've never met because she lives on the other side of the country just so happened to be in town, and we had the chance to meet up. Like you described, this felt like the moment where the roads of grief and joy intersect. She is the same age as me, and one of the few other believers in my family, so getting to spend time with her was really special. She had also lost her grandmother a week prior, and I know getting to see a familiar face in the midst of her own grief was a blessing. I'm so glad that grief can have friends, it doesn't always have to live alone, nor does it want to.

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I’ve had cancer for 5 years, I’ve seen the results it’s had on my body. Hope hasn’t been easy. Anger against the Lord has, not always, I started this journey full of hope and little by little I saw it (almost) disappear. I just wanted to thank you, for sharing your story & for letting me grapple at what hope really is. And how the Lord is always here.

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February of 2021 I spent a week alone in a hospital room praying that my 31 week baby would stay inside my body to see another week of growth. It was peak covid time, so everyone wore a mask and due to risk, not even my husband was allowed to visit me until I was in “active labor.” That hospital room held so much grief, crippling anxiety and crushing isolation for me including some of the last beautiful and heart-wrenching conversations I would have with my grandpa (over FaceTime) as he started hospice and would eventually pass a month later. I worked through much of that grief and trauma through EMDR therapy for the rest of that year.

Fast forward to October of 2023, and my third baby has just been born. They wheel me out of labor and delivery to our postpartum room and as soon as we get to the door, I know. This is the SAME ROOM I was in 2.5 years earlier waiting in isolation for my baby to be born. The same room that my doctor came into at 32 weeks pregnant to say, “your baby is not doing well. We’re taking you in for an emergency c-section. How soon can your husband get here?”

Upon entering the room, I instantly get teary and start to panic, and then my husband gently reminds me that this is what we prayed for. We prayed for redemption in all things with our third babies birth. We prayed for my trauma to be redeemed and my faith to be restored, and here we are. Me being able to stay in the same room and not be alone. Not be in a state of anxiety over my or my babies health and know that I was going home to my two older babies the next day.

A gift I didn’t know to even ask for!

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This is not a story of hope (yet) but a story of grief from a mother and wife who needed to hear these words today. My young daughter has suffered terribly from a not yet named chronic illness that has robbed her of joy and life experience for the past ten years. She is currently at her lowest on a feeding tube with no end in sight. Two years ago my husband was neurologically injured by a controversial "shot" that has brought a great divide to our nation - he can no longer function or support our family. Taking care of the both of them, I cannot financially support the family either. I woke up today feeling hopeless and much lower than I have felt in a long time. Your story has added a glimmer of hope to my life today. Thank you.

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Last year I got an unexpected phone call from my mom’s phone. I thought it was her because I had just called her. It was my brother- “Julie, mom’s dead.” I’m still wrapping my head around that moment. Within 5 months I got another phone call from my brother’s girlfriend “Julie? Jon died.” My mom and my brother both gone. Just Two years after my dad’s death. To say life has been difficult is an understatement. I’m still trying to find the voice to articulate it all because I feel like people want to hear about the hope at the end of the sad story. But the truth is I still want to tell my sad story. My sad story that has had hope woven in the midst of it. I’m just tripping over the words to say it all out loud. But thank you for sharing this. It helps. 🙏🏻

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Thank you for your words. I remember it was late April 2021 when I collapsed in the church parking lot after learning that my 28 year old cousin had been shot and died. My chest still gets tight when I think of it. I think about how the last time I saw him was on a family COVID 2020 Christmas Zoom.

I mourn for all the moments we lost and for the tragic way he left this earth. My brother was with him that night and I feel equal parts immense gratitude that my brother is still here and pain that my cousin didn’t make it.

A few months later, I came across a picture from my wedding of him and his mom dancing. I’d never noticed it before. They were both beaming. I think of that picture often.

Thanks for holding space for us all so share and wade through grief in all its forms.

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In 2020 my best friend, my favorite person in the whole world my big sister Gera died from cancer. We had battled it together for 12 years and I believe that she just finally got tired and decided to go home and be with Jesus. But I found myself asking. What do I do with myself now God? What am I supposed to do with the rest of my life after I’ve spent 12 years pouring into her, focusing everything in me on making sure she had everything she needed to get better? Even though I knew that she was going to leave me, it didn’t help with the grief that came afterwards. But just like you said in this article, we have to give God time to finish the story. Because I wanted to make sure I was grieving properly and not just suppressing my feelings. I started researching grief and I came across the Grief Recovery Institute. I used their program to help me heal and eventually became a Grief Recovery Coach. It is my passion, and I always tell people my pain led me to discover my purpose. But as I write this today I am grieving again, because my baby brother died unexpectedly. With all my training and having helped others through this, I feel Im going through this grief as if I know nothing. But God is faithful and I’m sure there’s going to be a purpose that will come out of this pain. Tthank you for all you do to help people that are grieving. I use so much of your content when helping others (I give you your credit) 😁 I especially want to thank you for this article because it came just at the right time for me. God bless you and your family.

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Thank you for your words, this week is the 6-month anniversary losing our daughter, leaving behind 2 very young children in our care. I pray Psalm 27: 13&14 daily.

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I have experienced some grief of my own, but everyone’s road tastes a little different. I am tasked often with leading strangers to grief's door and making introductions. All is well, until it isn’t. Never do I see these strangers on the other side, after they have stumbled upon the parallel streets you so eloquently referred to. While it is difficult to only participate at the scene of the crash, there is one thing that makes it worthwhile; I get the privilege of working on holy ground.

Early this morning, while sitting at her bedside, I heard the unmistakable sound. Decelerating feet bludgeoning the pavement, the sudden slowing down from a sprint. It was Time trying to enter her room nonchalantly, pretending to be something it wasn’t, but I knew. After restraining the loud-mouthed television, I quickly uttered the following in her ear: ”I don’t know what you believe in (proper female’s name), but I do know that before the foundation of the earth, He knew your name. I also have read that He alone is the redeemer of all things… He is the redeemer of time itself. I don’t know how long time will remain, because it’s waiting at your door. But if you listen, I believe you will hear Him whispering your name.” I spoke a quick prayer for her family and returned the volume to the television only to hear Lionel Richie in his prime, “I Just Called To Say I Love You”. With tears in my eyes, I whispered “I told you.” Moments later: still, pale, at peace, with what could have been perceived as a faint smirk in the left corner of her mouth. I hope to see her again. Then it was my time, once again, for me to make the introduction. Daughter enters the room hysterically weeping, "I missed the call… I MISSED THE CALL!” I put my hand on her shoulder and introduced her without a word. As she looked in my eyes, I silently asked that my previous prayer would linger in the room for a while.

Thank you for sharing your wounds. I can feel a foundation of healing in your words.

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