Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Coping With Loss and the Holidays - Part I

Today, I'm happy to introduce a guest blogger, my sister Teresa Shewey. This is the first of a three-part blog on coping with loss of a loved one and the holidays. Welcome Teresa and thank you for sharing from your heart!

Christmas came four months after my husband Sal died. I believe I was so thankful he was no longer in pain that I did not begin to process his death until then. Christmas was his favorite time of year and those who knew him, knew he was very sentimental, emotional, and had a big heart. He was often referred to as a “Big Teddy Bear.” Sal loved surprises and was like a child on Christmas morning anxious to open the presents.

This is why the grief was so overwhelming that first Christmas. I felt like I was drowning. I couldn’t escape from the pain that had a grip on my heart. I decided one night during the week before Christmas that I would get in my car and just drive away. Then, rational thinking stepped in, and I amended the plan to drive 40 minutes away to O’leno State Park and visit the place that Sal and I had enjoyed so many times in the past. When I arrived I sat in my car for a long time, fearful to go by myself into the woods, but more fearful of what would happen to my state of mind if I did not. I wrestled with the fear and then set off to hike. I savored happy memories on this first of many trips to the woods. My brain stopped racing with the sadness, and I felt rejuvenated when I was through. The pain did not go away, but I began to work through it. I became angry any time I saw an elderly couple holding hands and the realization would come to me again—I would never grow old with this “Big Teddy Bear” of a man. All the dreams we had shared had been wiped away when he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer.

Throughout my life, I’ve had a strong faith, knowing that God was with me. There were times I would sit by the water in the woods having serious conversations with Him, asking the same questions over and over. “Why?” “Why does a loving God allow any human to suffer the pain that Sal did?” I had very profound thoughts during that time that scared me; thoughts about the life after. I believe it was part of the healing process and growing in my faith.

Music was another part my healing and I became familiar with YouTube and the availability of Christian Contemporary music. Casting Crowns “Praise You In This Storm” became my daily mantra.

Where was my family during this time? They were right there trying to console me. I appreciated their love and concern. But the pain was too great to share with them. I needed my God, the God who is so good to me, to walk me through it, sometimes holding my hand, sometimes carrying me in His arms.

Now, several years later, the pain has become less; perhaps more tolerable. When the Christmas season arrives with all its sights, sounds, and smells, I may always have those feelings of loss. But now they do not consume me. My faith continues to grow stronger. I know God is in the air I breathe, not just available during loss or crisis, but walking with me, daily.

My advice to others who are grieving during this Christmas season is to find some sort of activity you enjoy and take God with you on your journey. Take it from someone who has been there—He helped me walk through the pain!

~Teresa Lynn Shewey


  1. I didn't realize you had lost your husband. I'm sorry to hear that. However, I am very proud of how you learned to cope, and are still coping with his loss. A loss that profound will never go away, its like a wound that heals slowly and leaves a scar as remembrance. Once again, great story and I'm proud of you! BKLaird

  2. At times like these, GOD is most definitely who we need. We need HIM all the time! Your faith is strong. You are a wonderful example to others. An example that the world needs. Most would turn to drugs, or other things that are destructive. You turned to GOD! HE is the true healer!

  3. i am so very sorry for your loss. i loss my mom to the horrible pancreatic cancer. your statement on going into the woods and talking with God is something i recently discovered. i have started trying to find my o'leno state park which at this point is my car of all places. i have started not putting on the radio and turning off the cell phone and just asking God to talk to me. sometimes we just need time to talk to God and most of all to listen. God Bless and Merry Christmas. - betty maye

  4. That was beautiful Teresa. I remember that Christmas and trying to make it as normal as possible. When I remember Sal I think of his big jolly laughter. Our big teddy bear. He could always light up the room. I remember all the times he would just shake his head over our foolishness...or should I say yours. Such a big personality and great big hugs. I still miss him...sitting in his big chair...running out of the door taking your car for an oil change. He always wanted to take care of you but you where right there all those months taking care of him. I am so happy that you are finally at peace and have found happiness again. Thanks for sharing from the heart.