Grieving with the Gospel

I was taking some flat lay photos when my dad called “Hey, how are ya” and I replied “I’m good, how are you” but I could already tell by the tone of his voice his reply “Not so good…JD died”. We only talked a couple minutes while I kept saying, “No, oh my goodness” and the crying started making me incoherent. JD was my stepbrother that I grew up with. A wonderful, hilarious man only a couple years younger than me. He died in a car crash in the morning of February 14th, 2018.

I ran upstairs to the bathroom to cry uncontrollably. I started crying so hard I started throwing up. I couldn’t believe it. I was in a state of utter shock. There had to be a mistake, he was younger than me.

The other time in my life I have lossed someone this close to me, was my grandma Janette. She was only in her 50s but she was sick and in the hospital. I thought she would get over it like she always did. But I got a call on my first day as a senior in highschool before my alarm went off from my dad that she had passed. He already got my plane ticket for later that day. Most of that time was a blur. She was one of my best friends, we went on tons of trips just her and I and sometimes my aunt tagged along. We could finish each other’s sentences and I am still not over losing her. I cry randomly sometimes that she didn’t get to meet my husband or my children.

A lot of things have changed since then. In high school I was an atheist. I was not good at communicating, I definitely bottled up any sadness I had and would let it out by myself. I didn’t like being touched so I was not a hugger. I remember not being able to sleep, I remember staying up crying all night. I would go out and sit on the porch and cry and be mad. My only solace was in the fact that my grandma didn’t have to feel pain anymore.

Now, I have a wonderful support system and the gospel. Back then I would never have shared on social media about a death in the family and definitely not written a blog post about what I am feeling.

The shock of JD’s passing is starting to wear off, little by little it sinks in that I will not see my brother again in this life. Driving and going to sleep are the hardest times for me-that is when I am alone with my thoughts and get so very sad. I have been coping in cycles-I look at photos or videos of JD and let it all out, then find something funny to cheer me up, then I do something to keep busy like cleaning or take photos then repeat. My mind is pretty numb so it has to be easy tasks. I cannot make any decisions as it feels like my body is on autopilot and my mind is somewhere else.

It is incredible how it physically hurts. I feel like I constantly have a lump at the back of my throat that at any moment I won’t be able to speak. I guess that is what is meant by the phrase “choked up”. My heart actually feels heavy, like it is sinking into my stomach; like me shoulders and back are caving into it and they become sore. I feel like I have fallen on my chest and the wind is knocked out of me. I have to take deep breaths every few minutes and sometimes I forget to breathe at all.

The amazing part about having the gospel now is that I can pray and instantly I can feel like I am surrounded by angels protecting me and lifting me up. I have felt so much peace. I pray before bed and am able to easily fall asleep.

I feel so very loved by everyone that has reached out to me. For those that asked what you can do, here are some suggestions for anyone grieving.

+text me/ message me because it really does lift me up to know you are thinking about me and love me. I don’t like calls because it feels like there is a lump in my throat and at any point I can start crying and be unable to speak

+Pray for me and my family to be safe

+Big Long Hugs-like over 60 seconds and more than one is fine. I just want to be held. And as awkward as it is for you, it is for me too so just give me a hug because neither of us know what to say

+Praise/it’s okay to do you-I know that sounds weird but I guess I am self-conscious about how I am coping. Like am I over dramatic about it or does it seem like I not care? Do I keep working or not? It is hard to let myself feel these emotions while taking care of my two little ones.

+All I want are pretty things, funny things and ice cream-I keep buying food I love and not eating it…I have lost my appetite and all I want is Half Baked.

+Don’t ask me about funeral arrangements-I will announce them on social media because we don’t have it all finalized yet. My parents have to move JD across states back to Utah.

I am so scared to drive to Utah because I know it will be even more real. Everything will remind me of him. But at the same time, my heart is so broken for my mom, dad, and sister there and I just want to hold them and let my kids cheer them up.

Thank you again. I love you so much! Also, I really hope you call up or meetup with your loved ones because you never know when something like this could happen to you. I feel so guilty it has been so long since I have seen my brother since we live in Arizona. I hope he knew how much I loved him and loved being with him.

PPS- plug to take more photos. I immediately rummaged through all my prints to find any that had JD in them. I so wish I had more, especially more of the whole family and me in them. I also wish I had more video. Photos are all you have left.

Kaci Lou