podcast / Young & windowed / Losing A Spouse In A Road Traffic Accident

February 28, 2022

Losing A Spouse In A Road Traffic Accident | In Every Season

with Joanna Beatie

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ON THIS EPISODE OF IN EVERY SEASON
In this episode we speak with Joanna Beatie, who lost her husband in a motorcycle accident. She discusses how through her season of pain, she found her peace in nature and being gentle with herself and allowing the time to heal through her pain was the key to regaining her strength.
LISTEN TO THE "Losing A Spouse In A Road Traffic Accident"
ABOUT THE GUEST
Joanna Beatie

Hi I’m Joanna, a mum of 2 teenage children, Finlay and Darcy. We live in a small village in Co down N. Ireland with our newly acquired border terrier puppy Lenny. I’ve been widowed just over 6 years now, after my husband was killed suddenly in a motor bike accident. This trauma has led me down a path where I have developed huge empathy and compassion for the bereaved, the hurting, the lonely and oppressed in our society. 

I am part of a team at care for the family who run widowed Young events all over the UK. We are currently online, but hope to deliver these day and weekend events face to face once more in the not too distant future. www.careforthefamily.org.uk.

I am also a Careline advisor at care for the family, helping signpost and support people from all walks of life who are finding they are struggling for whatever reason. I’m passionate about helping people and ultimately empowering them to live productive, happy lives!

As a qualified Counselor, I also volunteer with a charity here in N. Ireland called Christian guidelines, delivering therapy on a donation basis. www.christianguidelines.org.uk 

I love the Lord and all He has done in mine and my children’s life. I can testify His rod and staff have comforted us. If I can be Christ’s hands and feet to those hurting and comfort others with the comfort I have been given then it is a privilege to do so.

Follow Joanna Beatie

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"Losing A Spouse In A Road Traffic Accident " TRANSCRIPT

Abi:

Hi Joanna.

Joanna:

Hi Abi.

Abi:    

How are you?

Joanna:

I am good, thank you.

Abi:    

Thank you for joining us on “In Every Season Podcast”. I’d just like you to introduce yourself and tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

Joanna:

Yes sure.

So, I am 45, and I live in Northern Ireland. I have got two children, Finlay, who is… 15, I had to think about that, and Darcy who is 12 and I have been widowed now just coming up to three and a half years. So, it’s just the three of us now.

Abi:

Great… so, tell us about your journey… about your husband and how you met and your journey from there on.

Joanna:

I was out with my best friend, just in the local town here in Cumber. We were having an Indian and decided to go for a couple of drinks afterwards, however, by the time we arrived at the pub for the drinks, they had stopped serving.

I don’t know the saying in England, but it’s like a ‘last orders’ sort of thing, so, we were pretty disgusted about that and I thought oh my goodness, I really fancied a glass of wine or whatever it was at the time.

I was twenty-five then. My husband-to-be; unbeknownst to me, was at the bar with two friends.

He was a really keen diver and for some strange reason he loved to dive at night- time in the pitch black, I don’t really get that… swimming in the depths of murky cold waters and you can see nothing!

They had just finished a big night dive and they decided to go for a couple of pints, they must have got into the pub about five minutes before we did, and they just about caught the last orders. They ordered two pints each so they could have a couple of drinks each as a night cap.

There were these six pints sitting on the counter and me and my friend were just trying to get the last orders… we had missed the last orders…. The bar man was like “Sorry”, and we thought we were going to have to go home, and then I spotted these six pints.

So, I went over and didn’t say anything… just audacious, 25, with confidence and lifted one of these pints and drank it in one, just showing off. Probably not the most ladylike thing to do, but somehow it really worked.

So, I could just see Ainsley; Ainsley Beattie was his name, he was just sitting at the bar with his mouth wide open, like he didn’t know what to say, but my little act obviously opened up room for conversation.

So, we had this great chat.

I worked from home at the time grooming dogs and also worked for a veterinary clinic, so he came up with this really great idea by mentioning that he had two dogs who needed some grooming, but they were two Labradors so there was really no grooming needed. So, he asked for my number and I played along and gave it to him.

He kept up this whole charade about the dogs getting groomed, trying to find out when was I available, and I continued to play along and said that I could fit him in in the coming week, and he said he’d give me a call about that, still referring to the dog grooming.

And that’s how he got my number… very smooth.

{Abi: Yup, very smooth}

I was the one that was very smooth in the first place, but that’s how I met my husband to be.

But he had said to me that he’d saw me at Supervalue, (a supermarket over here) with my mum and I vaguely remembered when he shared that with me, he said that it was few weeks before.

I remembered this strange guy crossing the road staring at me and I remember saying to my mum to look where he’s going… but he obviously just thought ‘I’ve never seen the likes of her’, because I’m clearly this vision of beauty in the bar downing the pint!

Abi:

Thanks Joanna, that’s a lovely story… so, you guys got married, the kids came. Tell us about the timings, how many years after meeting did you get married, the kids, etc…

Joanna:

We were dating for about four years.

Ainsley was a bit older than me, so he would’ve been about seven years older than me.

I got married at about 29 and he was 36, so you know, it was about that time, you get to thinking that it’s not going to happen; the marriage, but very quickly after we got married we had Finlay; and then two and a half years later, we had Darcy and our lives changes dramatically.

We were no longer really going out to restaurants, we had to become responsible as we now had two dependants and raising a family is pretty hard work.

So, between working and raising a family, it was quite hard to get that quality time throughout the years.

Abi:

Yes, especially when the kids are young, it’s really hard, you have to be quite creative and then there’s babysitting and all of that.

Joanna:

Yes, exactly, part of you is just thinking… ‘oh, I’m just so tired’…

Abi:

Yes… ‘I’ll just go to bed’.

Joanna:

have an early night as the ideal type of night.

Abi:

Yes, that the idea of a perfect night, to just get some sleep.

Joanna:

Sleep… oh, that’s amazing!

Abi:

Okay, so then, widowhood!

I’ll just throw that statement out and you can take it from wherever you want to take it.

Joanna:

Hmm, yes, in the early days I wasn’t too pleased about that title.

It happened in the blink of an eye, very suddenly, I went from a wife to a widow within the space of minutes.

I went out to work one morning a wife and went home at lunch time a widow.

So, we had been married just over twelve years. Ainsley had just come into a different season where he had just retired, he had worked very long hours. He was a policeman, a cadet initially from when he was 16 and then went into the force at 18. He had done what we refer to over here as a full service, so he was able to retire at 48.

But there’s a huge sacrifice in that in which he worked pretty much non-stop and worked most weekends and long evenings, so the kids and I missed out on quite a lot of his presence. We were just entering into the summer of 2015, he had just done his full time, and I remember sitting and praying to God so many nights at any given opportunity, on the sofa, so many weekends, you know, creeping down the years,

A lot of people just assume when you’re married that you’re not lonely… you’re so happy and you’ve got it all together but actually that wasn’t the truth… and this was no fault of Ainsley and it was no fault of anybody, it also wasn’t that we had an unhappy marriage but I was quite lonely a lot of it, because when kids come along and work and just the daily grind, sometimes it’s hard work.

I suppose for years I was praying to God, and I really got a sense of him saying, ‘hang in there, couple more years he’ll be retired’. So, I really did hang in there…

And sometimes it was really tough, and it was quite lonely, and I felt like I was running the show by myself.

But really the reality was that he was working incredible hard to retire early, but sometimes we’re creating a different scenario in our heads from what it actually is. So, when he retired in August, it was a huge celebration, I’m thanking the Lord for another season after coming out of a very difficult season and now my children and I can celebrate.

So, we threw this huge party which was a massive celebration, and it felt like such a luxury that we sometimes take for granted. I was thinking, he was now going to have every weekend off… some women are used to having their husbands home most evenings, but to me I was thinking, what is this going to feel like, having my husband around constantly, it was different.

That was August 2015, and I was thanking God, no more lonely weekends, we would actually be able to plan things, and do things as a family as well as do things as a couple… and we we’re looking forward to the kids growing up a little bit, where they were independent and we could say to them… watch a movie, here’s some crisps and popcorn and goodnight!

So, we were just looking forward to that season.

That was in August 2015, he was retired and as I said, we threw him that big party. So, he wasn’t working, he was home every day… planning to get a parttime job in January, but he gave himself a few months off to relax and see how it felt to not have to work such punishing hours.

I was still working, part time, I was working at a veterinary clinic at the time, and I still had my own dog grooming salon, so I just remembered one morning just heading out to work and the kids were off to school. It must have been exam time as my son had just started a new school, he was just first year in secondary school.

The next minute, I just remember being really agitated with him because I had this really unattractive dog grooming sick pants on, it was like elasticated waste, there was nothing attractive about it, and I just remember heading out the front door this morning, and he was grabbing at these elasticated pants and he was saying, ‘wait ‘til’ I see you later’, just being really sarcastic because I was just like… gross.

I remember feeling really agitated and saying ‘just get off me, you’re going to make me late’

…and I didn’t even enter into the fun of it, because I was just so stressed out trying to get everything done and to get out of the house.

So, he was having a bit of a laugh and a joke, thinking he’s hilarious and I just got agitated and telling him to stop messing about. I got in the car and we have a little square window in the front door, and he

would’ve always looked through that to give me a ‘wee wave and I just remembered being so annoyed…

I mean, it seems so petty now, but I didn’t even look back through the ‘wee square window to wave, I just thought I was going to blank him, and went off, so that was that. I went into work, it was 3rd December 2015, and there used to be an issue with me parking my van as it was a very residential area where the veterinary clinic was, and the residents used to say, ‘you can’t park your van over there’

and I tried to be as understanding as possible, but it still needed to be parked somewhere so I could go to work.

I remember this policeman coming into the veterinary clinic, and I just remember rolling my eyes thinking, here we go… there’s somebody complaining about the van again… and I just remember looking at him and I had this dog I was bathing at the time, and I said to him, ‘sorry, you’re going to have to come around the other side, I can’t turnaround to speak to you, I’m bathing a dog.

…he must have thought

‘oh, somebody help me, how am I going to break this news…’

Nobody can expect or anticipate what’s going to be said next. He came around to the other side and I was prepared for the whole speech that I was to move my van and I had my response ready, about having to finish bathing the dog.

I just remember these grainy blue eyes, he was an older guy, in his late fifties and

I just looked at them and thought… it’s not the van.

He just looked at me and I felt so small all of a sudden and even just looking back now, I felt like a child and he was a giant all of a sudden and I remember looking up at his face and he just said…

“Is your husband Ainsley Beattie”

and I said, “yeah” and he just said “look, he’s been in a motorbike accident”, and I went, “oh, my goodness, is he okay?”

…he said he had come to take me to the hospital, and I just remember my whole nervous system… and he just said, which is still quite unbelievable even now, “yeah, you don’t need to go to the hospital right away… he’s, he’s dead”

…and I just remember screaming, running into the corner of the salon, I was like one of the dogs in the salon, I was just like an animal.

I curled up into the tiniest little ball at the corner of the salon and I put my hands over my ears, and I could hear myself just screaming over and over again…

“no, no, No” …just was getting louder and I was rocking, and I felt these hands on me.

And I remember it was raining and I just all of a sudden disconnected from it and I got up and walked about the car park in the rain and the policeman followed me out in the rain and said, “listen, you’re going to have to follow me”

…and he brought me home.

On the journey home, I went through my phone book on my phone like a robot

and started… “Hello, yeah, hi mum, I’m with the police here, I’ve got a bit of bad news… so just letting you know that Ainsley was killed in a motorbike accident”

…and my mums life just like a grenade, boof… I just went onto the next one, phoning all these numbers, and having to tell people…

{Abi: Oh, my gosh}

but I didn’t feel like I was connected then, I think because of the shock and the disbelief, and then all of a sudden something else kicked in, it was just unbearable, and I couldn’t stay in that place… and all of a sudden it was quite matter of fact, or something and I was numb.

And then, I had to go to the kids’ schools. My poor mum had the task of driving me, as she loves her grandkids very much.

I remember going into the reception of Finlay’s school, he had just started in September, so he had only been in school about eight weeks. As I stood at the reception, I watched them all going about their day and just saying to the receptionist, “…excuse me, can somebody get Finlay Beattie out of class?”

And they looked up and said, “is everything alright?” And I said, “oh, you know, my husband’s just been killed in a motorbike accident and I have to tell my

son…”

I mean, you could just see the…

{Abi: shock, the horror}

they were thinking, ‘what did she just say… !?!’

And I could see them just scurrying about, asking if I was okay and I was just sort of standing there.

I remember watching my beautiful son walking down the corridor, and you could just tell that he knew something was wrong, he was taken out of history, and walking towards me, he was asking me,

‘what’s wrong? Mam what’s wrong?’

And I took him into a side room…

It’s just everything about it just stays with you, it was the trauma of the policeman, and then speaking to my son was just another trauma, so it was like multiple traumas of people just thinking you’ve lost, and that’s the trauma, but then there’s these multiple voids after that…

And I remember having to move the tables and chairs out of the way, because he was really going to hurt himself. He just fell to the ground and it was like he was nearly in a seizure… he just went rigid and he was kicking, and the chairs were going everywhere… just as a mum and just having to watch that, and I’m sure they could hear the screams throughout the school, but we just had to get up and get back to the car.

Then we had to go to my daughter’s school, and I had to get my daughter out and she sat in the backseat of the car and I told her there. The four of us just wailed the whole way home.

Just going into the living room of our house and the Christmas tree was up because it was three weeks until Christmas and all of a sudden, I was a widow, my children were fatherless, and Christmas was three weeks away.

Abi:

I can’t imagine what that Christmas looked like…

And how did you get through that?

Even that Christmas and the first few months after that, and the year… how did you get through those early days, both emotionally and physically… and the kids as well how did they get through it?

Joanna:

I think something happens where you just go into slow motion. I think the way I functioned before was that I was a planner, looked ahead, and I was always working towards something and that all just suddenly stopped.

The need to plan and to look ahead looked like… Am I gonna wash my hair today…

{Abi: I’m gonna shower today…}

I’m gonna plan to brush my teeth for 1pm… that kind of planning.

I reduced it down and to bare necessities. So, to me it became that those insignificant things that we do subconsciously, like brushing our teeth, all of a sudden became very challenging things and when you did them, that in itself became an accomplishment.

So, I think I just took the pressure off myself. I didn’t look too far ahead or give myself too many expectations and I let myself be held, and what I mean by that is that people called, they left food, they brought their kids around to play, the house was a kip, but I didn’t care, and I took all the help I could.

I slept a lot and I let the kids stay off school for a couple of weeks, and that was the very early days, and the Christmas came, and I slept…

I remember going to my brothers’ house and it was just to get through the meal, and I curled up with a blanket and sleep!

The kids were very resilient though, quite surprising to me. They still wanted to come down Christmas morning

{Abi: to open their presents}

…And I was thinking, are you totally sadistic!?!

Part of you resents that, but part of you, in hindsight is blessed and thankful for that because I still went through the motions on Christmas day and as strange as that sounds, the kids were still able to open their presents and feel a sense of joy, and you’re thinking, I just want to go back to bed and I want die!

Christmas can just burn up in flames right now.

But you just have to, you have to… so, for me, I had to go on, just for the sake of my kids, which as I say early on, I really, really resented that, I didn’t want to… and how dare they make me have to, how selfish are they? They’re making me do Christmas!

Kids… only think of themselves.

In hindsight, they are the reason I got up every day, the reason I washed myself, the reason I thought about what we were going to eat, and the reason why I didn’t just take my shoes off and leave them on the shore and go for a long swim with stones in my pocket.

So, the kids were a big factor in what got me through, and it did get easier then as the months went on.

The first year I was very much looked after by family, friends, but there’s just a lot to get your head around… I forgot what your question was actually…

Abi:

It was just how did you get through it emotionally and physically.

Joanna:

It was a lot of things like-…

Actually, it wasn’t a lot of things, the huge thing was nature. Nature has a lot of peacefulness and quietness and being alone, and just being still. It’s like in the early days, when people were being really spiritual in the early days and it used to get on my nerves… don’t just throw a verse at me and leave me here, but if somebody had said to me in the early days, “just be still and know that he is God”. {Psalm 46:10}

It would have infuriated me, but because I had my own personal experience of that with God saying it to me… I felt like God spoke to me in nature, I was able to develop my own understanding.

I live just down the road from a sanctuary, so just seeing new life, and the new seasons, so like bugs coming through, or where things had withered and died, like trees or branches or vines, and then you go back a few months later, and I remember putting my hand on a vine that was dead and I said to God.

This is how I feel and I remembered God reminding me of that moment quite a few months later in a new season, and I went back to that place specifically and God saying to me, put you hand there and see where there is life, new life has sprung forth.

I felt like God really spoke to me when I was alone with him… so its like be still and know that I am God, but for me, that looked like being in nature and letting God speak to me through his creation.

So, there was nobody giving me platitudes there, nobody giving me spiritual bible verses there, it was just being still and allowing nature to do it’s marvellous therapeutic work.

To think that God gives us power and dominion over all of that, over all of nature and every being and creeping thing in it, was just quite a powerful feeling to sit in… at times very humbling.

So, yeah, the big thing for me was nature… also journaling. I loved to write when I was in nature and cry, a lot, and just pray and sit.

People didn’t really do it for me in the early days, it was more just being alone.

Abi:

I guess there are different types of people, some people prefer being around other people and some people may prefer to be alone and just spend that time with God.

Even the way you’re saying it, though it’s a bad situation, it sounds so beautiful and lovely to just be still and spend time with God. And also, what you said about being in nature, it sounds so lovely. Though the situation is not great, it sounded so lovely that you got to spend that time with God, and it sounded beautiful just listening to it.

What was your relationship like with God through the process?

So, the early stages and going through that up until now… you also mentioned your husband working a lot and when he retired and looking forward to spending that time together, how did you reconcile all of those feelings?

Joanna:

I don’t think I have reconciled those feelings, certainly not in the space of three and a half years and maybe not in a lifetime. My relationship with God in the early stages, which is quite strange, it’s very much a love-hate relationship.

One minute I was a clinging so hard to God and really surrendering to God and just journaling and praying and walking really close to God, to maybe a couple of months later to being very furious and angry with God and didn’t want anything to do with him, I couldn’t understand that his nature is compassionate and merciful but you’re suffering.

It’s trying to reconfigure all your emotions, especially if you have a faith, dealing with death, sudden death and reconfiguring all of that with God and his nature, especially when you’ve been through trauma so there’s a real struggle there.

And then to bring it back to the bible and all the characters in the bible, none of them have had it easy. There’s your time of testing and there are times of tribulations and there’s so much suffering in the bible and even Jesus, he was the ultimate man that suffered. I just think that in the early days I was very close to God, I could’ve worshiped him whole heartedly.

Then probably as the year or two went on; I suppose, what happened then was, I really worshipped God and then I was a bit like Job, I was expecting him to recompensate me tenfold, in the first year because I had these high expectations.

In the back of my head with God, what I had done there effectively was I was bartering with him in a way, where I praised and worshipped him, the more I praised and worshipped him, the more he would recompense me in some sub- conscious sort of way.

So, the second year for me, the reality set in, It was not like Job.

So, the longer you journey, this journey of grief and the more you get into the loneliness of it and the reality of it, the more disheartened you can become.

You begin to look or ask for God compensation, like, where is my beauty for ashes; when will you make the bitter water sweet; you begin to get a bit fed up then, but people continue to mention this thing of patience and you’re just thinking, you haven’t been what I have been through to talk to me about patience.

You’re looking to be recompensated now because this situation is horrendous and what you’re effectively saying is that you want a shortcut. I think with grief, there’s no short thing as a shortcut, I think its embedding in and digging in… and it’s a long… and I don’t mean this to sound negative… but it is a long hard road but in it.

There’s still joy, delight and there’s still beauty in that and there’s such a wealth and a depth in it that you’re living in a different way that in hindsight, you can still look and think in a strange way, there were some really quite beautiful moments.

I think pain and heartbreak in a way can be quite beautiful whenever you sit in with it and give it to God and be real and authentic and allow it to happen and to feel it… there’s something quite powerful and transformative in that, and there’s a new part of you that grows and develops out of that and you do become more resilient.

But yes, I think in the early first year my faith was pretty strong, perhaps there was a bit of denial in that. So, the reality sets in and it’s a bit tough and you get fed up.

So, three and a half years on, I am starting to come back into a different kind of relationship with God now. I think here in Northern Ireland, we can quite like the pharisees sometimes, where there’s a relationship, it has to look a certain way, it’s like a tick-boxing exercise… Not that I’m saying I’m living like a pharisee, I just think there’s a more authentic faith now where I am no longer judgemental of myself and therefore no longer judgemental of others.

I’m more loving, I’m more accepting, and I don’t really care, I actually love people’s flaws and their broken-ness, and I see it now as not a failure, but I see it as something quite precious, its their story.

I think that’s how Jesus, when he was ministering on the earth saw people whenever he went and spoke to all the broken people and the sinners, and I think that’s been the big change with me, where I’m more

accepting that there’s no one way of doing life and there’s no one way of having a relationship with God and it doesn’t have to look a certain way and it changes and adapts according to the season we’re in and I’m not as hard on myself about that.

I’m the best failure I know, what I mean is that I can see more now how I can never be perfect, I’m more dependant on God’s grace whereas sometimes, probably back them, I was more dependant on my good works. Now I know it’s all about God’s grace.

So, he’s brought me into more of a relationship of grace rather than works.

Abi:

You talk about your relationship with God being different now from a practical perspective, is your life different to the life that you had been living three and a half years ago, what does it look like? Is it same different or you’re in a new season in your life?

Joanna:

Yeah, it’s totally different now, I’m a lot more relaxed.

Abi:

It’s funny that you say that because, prior to being widowed and going through all these emotions, I would think someone who’s been through trauma would surely be more anxious… but now being through it myself, you just let go of a lot of things that’s not necessary and I think that’s what you make you more relaxed because you’re just not worried about the things that are not really dependant on

if its going to affect somebody’s life yes, no…

Joanna:

Yes, we’re all going to come out of this alive so it’s totally fine.

I think you hold on loosely to things more now, because you know how precarious things can be, and I think as well, I’m not really a big fan of planning things too far ahead, which is quite freeing actually, because planning ahead can put an awful burden or pressure on us, and that’s what I did. I don’t tend to do that anymore; I tend to just enjoy the week and I’m a lot more relaxed and …

What was the question again?

Abi:

The question was just how does your life look, is it different now?

Joanna:

Yeah, and as I said, my relationship with God is different now, and I experience God in a whole different level, a different way. He was very real to me in the early days, and then he went through… not that he did, I did; I went through a really different period…

{Abi: The time when you were angry?}

Yes, and I thought that maybe God was distant, but it was me just closing myself off, so I’ve learned that God is always there and it’s up to us to open ourselves up to that. So, for me, I just don’t put the pressure on myself now. It’s the same as a mother, with my kids, I just want them to be happy now.

I don’t put on this big pressure of expectation on them, whereas before I would have been like, you have to go to university, because that’s what you do, but now that doesn’t matter… it’s more a question of are your kids happy, are they healthy, are they thriving are they just generally well, and those sorts of things now are more important.

It might sound mad, but to me that’s okay, then the rest can fall into place, if and whenever.

Abi:

Exactly, that’s the same with me, I noticed that exactly as you said, you hold onto things a lot less tightly, and if it doesn’t affect life or death and if its not going to hurt anybody then it’s okay.

So then, the last question I have for you is, what advice would you give to a newly widowed person to help them in their healing process?

Joanna:

That’s a pretty big question because everybody is really unique in their stories of where they came from.

What I would say is for me, what helped, was just taking all the help I could get.

And I saw an amazing councillor who showed me that it was okay to feel really deep pain and really huge overwhelming emotions in the early days and still be okay, and that was actually part of healing and it was necessary for the bigger picture to get well and whole and heal again.

So, I suppose in the early days, it’s okay to feel terrified and overwhelmed, because it’s necessary to fell those things in order to equip yourself, with resilience and you will… the more you feel those things, the more resilient you will become, the more equipped you will become and the more healed and whole you will become.

And it will feel less severe because of the equipping, you will eventually be able to cope.

In the early days, I loved a quote by C.S. Lewis, who said “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning” – C.S. Lewis

I just remembered when those feelings of grief came along, you’re terrified deep down inside and it’s so frightening, but it’s grief and they feel so alike and it’s a scary place but it’s just to remind myself that it’s the past and I will get through it and the next day.

It’s like that verse again, that God’s mercies are new every morning, but if somebody had given that to me in church, I would have probably bit the head off them.

But remembering that the next day just feels different, and the day after that and its taking it step by step and day by day and if you do brush your teeth and wash your hair as well, celebrate it in the early days, and be kind and gentle with yourself. {Lamentations 3:22-23}

I wasn’t a really big fan of being kind and gentle with myself, I was a bit harsh and judgemental of myself I was a bit of a hard task master, so and learning self- compassion I that really helped as well.

Abi:

I spoke about that as well, having that self-love, and for me that was having that cheesecake, or buying that thing or just taking that time to yourself because it strengthens you and it gives you that bit strength to go on another day…

So, with that, can you that after three and a half years of this journey, can life be good again for those who are on the early path of this journey… because I know myself, when my husband died I just thought this is it, life is over, it can never be good again.

Yeah, so three and a half years down the line, can life be good again?

Joanna:

Of course!

Yeah, absolutely. I’m so proud of myself, I’m so proud of the kids.

I think hindsight is a lovely thing and I think its good to remember where we are all at, so in the middle of the next storm, and you can’t really see what’s going on around you, and it’s not like I’ve ever stepped out of the storm, it comes and goes, but you get more of a perspective outside of it as time goes on.

I look back and think in the early days, it was a celebration to brush your teeth, or wash your hair, or to get out for the day… the little, small things, and I just look now, and I think, grief doesn’t become smaller, but your life starts to grow around the grief.

So, my life has grown around that and I’ve set up new dreams and hopes again that were shattered, which is really difficult, I’m not saying that lightly, but you do it because the human spirit is just absolutely superhuman.

We are just made to thrive and it’s so surreal, but we are, there’s something innate that is just made to get back up and dust ourselves off and get going with the new hopes and new dreams whatever that may look like…

Abi:

A friend of my calls that the “audacity of hope” how dare hope come but eventually it just comes.

Joanna:

And you just notice it, like when we were chatting during the week and you just said, “I feel happy”, and you were like, “I don’t believe I just said that”, that’s so surreal and it’s just testimony to the beautiful human spirit that is just able to thrive and rise above all of that, but it can get back down pretty quickly,

but whenever you’ve experienced a rise, you know it will come again and we hope that those days will get longer.

I look at my kids and Darcey is coming in and she text me, ‘Mum, I got 89% in my maths’, and you’re like you’re so honestly studious, you must take after dad, and your kids are thriving. She got a medal in school for excelling under arduous circumstances, and everybody is clapping and she’s looking around going I haven’t a clue… but they thrive, the kids are thriving.

Don’t get me wrong, the early days were surreal, horrendous, but they’re necessary to get to another place on the journey, but I can honestly say I have great nights out with friends, I look forward to new love… if somebody had said that to be in the early days, I would’ve been outraged, like no, Ainsley was my one and only… and he will be.

{Abi: Yes, always}

And he will be irreplaceable and I’m not just saying that I think we have the capacity to go on loving and we are made in the image of God, which is of course love, and we are made for relationships, so I have hope of watching my kids grow and making me proud and having me round for Sunday dinner and finding a life of my own.

Maybe one day being able to relax and take it easy.

Abi:

That sounds great.

Thank you so much Joanna, it’s been a joy as ever speaking to you. I appreciate you for taking the time out to speak to me and us today.

Your words have just been so insightful and given us new hope and I know that it will help someone going through the same journey and it will just give them something to cling onto and some hope, so thank you.

Joanna:

Thank you too.

[Discussion Ends]

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