One year ago tonight I was in Columbus, GA, shopping for something comfortable to wear home the next day because I was going to be going straight to the hospital after catching the first flight home. I had an idea that this might be serious, but despite the obvious signs of declining health, I really had no idea that in three days time my dad would no longer be with us.

It's hard to believe it's been a year.

I've been doing really good, but now I'm not. I had planned to go and meet dad's closest friends and our family for dinner tomorrow night. I had thought about how to mark the occasion and the idea of sharing stories, and being with people who loved him brought me great comfort. It has given me something to look forward to.

But now it's going to snow. A lot. I'm afraid we may not be able to go.

Grief is such a mean bully.

I had decided earlier in the week that I was just going to shut down my blog. I had spent a lot of the last few months just slowly spiraling. I have missed personal deadlines and delayed getting pictures edited that I needed to finish. I just started feeling a malaise of sorts over everything I touched. Nothing seemed of value. I've thought I should just put away my keyboard, and my camera, and curl up within myself.

And then just yesterday I went to talk with my therapist that I had started going to this year for grief therapy. After 30 minutes or so we kind of uncovered the fact that these feelings of dissatisfaction was, in fact, my grief. This was my way of taking the hurt and turning it into things I could talk about and maybe do something about. It's tricky remembering that you are sad about something that you cannot fix. Far easier to be sad about things you can fix. I'm glad to know that, but knowing something and feeling something are two very different somethings.

Bad roads. Another thing I cannot fix that is keeping me from the one thing I had came up with to deal with the other thing I cannot fix. What a fix.


What's my point in writing this down? What is my point…

I don't know. I'm not sure who reads this (you should have heard how my inside voice just answered THAT little intro) but I just wanted to tell the interweb that I'm sad.

I want to shout into the ether: Losing people you love really sucks all the time, but Christmas, with it's memories…extra bad. And, I don't know why we can't figure out how to add something into pavement that causes snow to melt and keeps roads from freezing.

I'm too tired to yell into the ether.

Obviously, if you read my facebook, I'm also very happy. I have some great kids and a kick-butt husband. I have a fantastic mom and step-dad. Great brothers and sisters. Precious friends. Lots of goodness. I love them and I can't wait to spend time with them over the holidays. But none of that makes the sadness go away completely.

So if you are with me. If you are both incredibly sad and incredibly joy-filled this Christmas, I just want you to know that I get it. I understand how you can both anticipate and dread something in equal measure, all at the same time. I get how you can mentally know that your life is good while also feeling like it's not. I cannot confirm that you are not crazy, but I can confirm that you are not alone.

I'm going to sit here now, in front of our Christmas tree, and read with a warm cup of apple cider. And I'm going to try and remember that I'm ok. And if things don't work out tomorrow, I'm just going to reschedule it for another night over the holidays and I'm going to remember that I'm ok.

But part of me is not ok, and that is ok.


  • laurabowman

    Praying for you! Know hat your talking about, been having lists if leaking eyes myself these days.

    • jgaustin

      Thank you, Laura. I can’t imagine losing Greg – I know it must be so hard. You have a great group of boys who love you! Well, I only know one of them, but I’m sure they are all just as great as the one! 🙂 Greg and I are glad to have you in our lives.

  • kat

    Don’t stop…..You just expressed what I’ve been feeling but couldn’t put into words….What is the point you asked….. Well, listen up and i’ll tell you… The point is that we keep going … the point is that we keep loving…. the point is that we keep planning our plans and learn not to plan the outcomes…..The point is that no matter what, we have FAITH that it’s all going to turn out ok…..Maybe not the way we planned or the way we had hoped but ok just the same….
    Love the picture….That smile…. I see it in Elijah sometimes…. touches my soul…
    Love you

    • jgaustin

      Oh, thank you so much. So, so much. You are a balm to my spirit. I will see you soon – if not tomorrow, then soon.

  • Butch

    Thank you Julie for sharing your thoughts and feelings through your blog and with words which make us think “yeah, what she said”. Don’t stop. P.s. We miss him too.

    • jgaustin

      Thank you. You really don’t have any idea what it means to get some encouragement to continue. It means everything. This blog means a lot to me, but sometimes I wonder if it means much to anyone else. Thank you.

  • Stephanie Walter

    I feel your sadness, my precious friend. I love you so much and wish grief were an easier road to travel sometimes. Hugs, hugs and more hugs…and always praying.

    • jgaustin

      Thank you, Steph. I know you do :). Hugs to you, too.

  • Sonja Salmeron

    Beautifully said Julie……thank you for putting into words what I am feeling now with the death of my Grandpa over Thanksgiving. I struggle with being ok with grief because I know where he is, who he is with and how happy I am Grandpa is healed and whole. Feeling empty sucks when you are also thankful for so much. Love you and sending hugs your way……

  • Dolores Wilkes

    Sweetie, I am so sorry. Christmas, with all of its joy and beauty, will now forevermore be equally sad and melancholy for you. Our feelings of loss and loneliness for someone we have lost will never be stronger than at Christmas. When it is a parent, comforting traditions and rituals from all the years past change and will never be the same. This pain is an isolating feeling because it is not easily shared. But once it is shared, we find that we are not alone. And it always helps know we are not alone. You have a gift for expressing your thoughts and feelings so eloquently, feelings that many of us have but cannot find the words for. Keep writing! Your keyboard and your camera bring beauty, communion, and reflection.


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