My Ball is Big….

Have you read Kalissa’s blog post about the box and a ball?  You can find it here on her blog.  It’s really a wonderful analogy to understand grief.  For you new readers, I lost my husband, Kramer, to lung cancer last year and today’s post is a little about how I’ve been handling the grief.

More or less Kalissa’s blog post says when grief is fresh the ball in the box is big.  Everytime the ball(grief) bumps you (the red rectangle),  you feel grief.

As time passes, the ball shrinks and therefore you aren’t bumped by the ball as often.  I can honestly say I’ve been moving towards the smaller ball on most days.


I don’t cry as easily.  I can see that there is life beyond this.  I can see that I have to make choices for myself and not stay stagnant.

But…every so often, my ball jumps back to the bigger size.  It often happens for a moment or a day but this time it’s bigger and has been for a week or so.  I’m okay.  Really I am.  But I really like to be honest about grief and how it has been working for me.  I know so many of you want to be helpful to friends going through grief and unless you hear how it sometimes works, it’s harder to be helpful to friends.

Seriously…do read Kalissa’s blog HERE.

Well what happened to make my ball big?  The calendar.

Last year the weekend after Easter we had big plans.  We were going to have all of my family at our house and we were going to have a “Meet the babies” party.  On my side of the family we don’t really have a baby shower.  After babies are born we have a family get together.  Everyone comes, guys and kids included,  they bring presents and “meet the baby”.  Well we had two babies to meet, Gannon and Georgia.

Two weeks before, a frustrated Kramer, said no…he wanted to cancel all of the plans.  He had spent the two previous weekends in the ER with complications with his lung cancer and didn’t want to be hosting family here and something go wrong and he’d have to go to the ER again.  To this point, we thought he might be okay.  When we had been doctoring, his main doctor said this was all curable.  In February they had tried to remove his tumor, but failed.  Even then, they said, this is all curable.  I was hopeful that he’d stay be with me and this was more or less a big bump in the road.

He had started to need oxygen but that was all explained away as normal.  He had started to be fatigued but again, he was going through chemo and radiation, considering that, he was normal.  He complained about headaches but again, we thought this was all just part of treatment.  Most everything could be explained away as part of treatment.

So on the weekend after Easter last year… I finally figured out that all of this was not normal.  It was the weekend that my hope died.  It was the weekend we found out the cancer moved to his bones.  It was the weekend we found out that cancer ate his C2 vertebrae in his neck and that his neck was broken.  If you want to read the account of Kramer breaking his neck and all that happened a year ago, you can find it HERE.

This was the weekend that Kramer slowly started drifting away from me.  This was the weekend I learned that I had to step up.  I had to make the decisions.  I had to let go of my belief that this was curable.  I had to hold on tighter than ever but I had to start to letting him go.  I knew cancer was going to take him away from me.  I didn’t know when, but I knew there was no hope that he was going to ever be his old self.

I remember the chair in the ER that I was sitting in.  I remember the look on Kramer’s  face.  I remember everything from the moment they told him his neck was broken.  I remember feeling like I was in a movie watching this happen to someone else.  It replays in slow motion.  There I was…there we were.  This couldn’t be happening to me.  Not me.  Not my husband.  Not the love of my life.  Not the father to my kids.  Not the mainstay of us all.  This just couldn’t be happening to him.  It couldn’t.  But, it was…and there wasn’t a thing I could do to stop it.

It was the weekend that I learned to fake being strong.  He had to see me as strong.  He had to see me as able to face life alone.  I had to start letting him see that I would be okay-even if I didn’t feel like I was going to be okay.

I can’t tell you how many times I hid my grief.  I can’t tell you how many times I cried in the shower toweled off and forged ahead.  I can’t tell you how many times I lied to Kramer and let him lie to me…saying we could do this when he was feeling better…or we could do that when he was feeling better.  I knew there was no feeling better.  I knew there might be a day…there might be a glimpse of better, but there was not better.

I needed to know what to expect for the final times of his life.  He didn’t want to know.  He never asked.   I had Kalissa pull the doctor aside one day without Kramer knowing and had her ask what kind of life expectancy he had.  The doctor said they had a algorithm that gave a suggested time.  At the time, they said 11 months….I told the kids.  I never told Kramer.  He didn’t ask and it was his right to not know.  I asked each of the kids if they wanted to know.  They did…things didn’t last 11 months. It was only 33 days later and he was gone.

In a way, I’m thankful he didn’t last 11 months.  Kramer’s overwhelming wish was that he not be a burden to us.  He never was.  He would have hated being in a hospital bed in our home.  He would have hated that our last memories of him be long and labored breathing.  He would have hated looking weak.  He was strong to the very end.

…and so here I am today.  The grief ball in my box is really big and has been for a few days.  It’s okay.  I know it will shrink.  For me, today is a day to mourn.  Today is a day to remember.  Today is a day to let go.  Today is a day to remember my innocence in cancer.  It’s a day to remember that this is anniversary day of the first day, I took one step forward into world knowing he wouldn’t always be with me.  It was the day I learned to “fake it until I make it”.  No, it wasn’t the day he died…but it was the day I realized he would and I’d be left without him.  It is the anniversary of the day my innocence died.

25 thoughts on “My Ball is Big….

  1. June

    It’s a feeling I can comprehend from the experience we have had. It’s never easy when that truth hits you.
    Sending hugs

  2. brenda

    your journey has helped me see some of the challenges my daughter is going through since her husband passed 11/21/19. He went through some chemo,radiation,heart surgery(chemo after effects)But he was able to pace himself to be able to do a somewhat normal life and he never looked ill. So, we were lulled into the idea that it was being beaten. His passing caught us all unaware.Finding your blog and the way you so selflessly share your journey has been a Godsend. Thank you so much.

  3. Carla

    Every self absorbed person should read your blog. This post especially. You have a perspective that is so honest and real. I’m a better person for “knowing” you. God bless

  4. JACKIE GOOSEN

    I said good-bye to my sister 5 years ago over Easter weekend. She passed away that May. Spring continues to be difficult and often I don’t know it until I pause and ask myself why am I so down? And, then I look at the calendar and think, ahhh… Once you know where the grief is coming from, then you can take it with you as your friend, comfort it and eventually it goes away. Other times it sucker punches you in the gut. My mom passed in October. I haven’t been home since her funeral. There will be a dread to going home (I now live 8 hours away). She won’t be at the door to greet us as she has done the past 25 years. It is difficult to call my dad regularly because she always answered the phone. I have to force myself to work through these feelings and I openly discuss them with my girls. Grief is different for everyone.

  5. Edna Gerrans

    Jo, Your honesty in sharing your grief journey encourages me in mine. Your courage in sharing validates the rest of us who put on the brave face and keep on keeping on, while we have an huge empty spot in our hearts and lives. It must have been hard to write this post, but I for one am thankful that you did.

  6. Susan Stringfellow

    This post struck me as none of your others- thank you for laying your heart bare for us all to see.

  7. Hedy

    On July 3, 1997, my husband had an MRI because we believed he had a minor stroke. By noon we were told he had terminal brain tumors and would maybe have 4-6 months left to live. He died September 9, 1997. For several years afterward, I would get tense around those dates and relive everything. Eventually I was able to think more of our love than of my grief. I’ve always been a person who doesn’t dwell in sadness, I have always moved on. Moved on crippled in pain and grief, but taking steps forward. People who have never had a deeply loved person die has no clue what it’s like to live without them. My whole life revolved around and with my husband and when he died, my old life died too. I went on to make a new life and I’m so glad I did. It’s certainly not easy, but my husband talked to me and wanted so much for me to be happy. These first few years are going to be hard Jo, no getting around it. But eventually that horrible grief will change and although you can and will have moments of sadness, it won’t be as bad as it is now. I didn’t have people to talk about it much and it helps to get it out. I’m glad you can write about your feelings in this blog.

  8. Debbie B

    Thank you for sharing what and how you are dealing with grief. Hugs to you and the family.

  9. Sheila

    We, your reader family, are grieving right along side of you Jo. Always remember that God also is grieving with you but rejoicing with Kramer.

  10. Ellie

    I have no words this morning. My heart goes out to you. Hugs and sitting down down with someone for coffee and might help but that’s not possible now. I’m glad you are able to write about your feelings and at least reach out to your readers to hear your grief. You have had a horrid year. I Growing into a new way of life is never easy. I’m amazed at how far you’ve come. You will get through this as you know. I’m happy you can let us share this journey .

  11. Linda lewis

    As a widow of 2+ years, I think you’ve put into words what survivors experience. It’s not always the day they died but what you and they went through up until that day. I’m glad my husband is not in pain or incapacitated, that’s not what he would have wanted, but it is hard to start a new path without them. I ask for Gods help when I reach that time on the calendar to help me to live in the present. Blessings to you Jo,

  12. Mary Ann Mettler

    Jo – thanks for sharing and putting words to feelings. Such a sad time indeed. One step at a time with the help of the Lord. Prayers.

  13. Jill Klop

    Thanks for sharing this difficult part of your journey. I wish I had the words that the other commenter, Carla, said. Sending hugs!

  14. Sheila Otte

    Thank you for sharing this morning. This post came at a perfect time. I have friends who are going through “the how much longer stage” right now. This will help me to know how to pray for them and help them. Thank you! Prayers for you too as you go through this moment.

  15. Elle

    The ball/box is a wonderful tool to explain grief. God Bless you and hold you in HIS hands as you are experiencing a BIG ball time in your life.

    Bless you for sharing so that others may learn how to understand a wife’s grief.

    Hugs to you.

  16. Sheila

    Know you are so loved by your readers! Thank you for sharing with us how you are doing and know we care for you deeply. (((Hugs)))

  17. Kim LeMere

    Than you for sharing your honesty on the subject of loss and the grief. Life is filled with so many emotions and grief is certainly one of them. Hugs to you Jo

  18. Joan

    In many ways, the ball thing makes sense. I have 9 children. The youngest only lived a few minutes once born. The grief was pushed away for years because I had my other 8 children at home (ages 12 down to 1). But years later it hit like a tidal wave. I think about her for a few moments every day. Not lingering thoughts, but fleeting ones. But some days, that ball (which is now the size of a paintball) hits when I least expect it. And it hurts. Like getting shot by a paintball instead of a beach ball. Smaller sometimes means more pain. It has been 20 years since she was born. It gets “easier”, but it never goes away.

  19. Judith Fairchild

    Jo your honesty about how you dealt with the blow of learning that your husband was not going to get better rings aloud clear Bell in me. It was about this time of year 29 years ago that my husband looked at me when I saw some daffodils and said oh honey aren’t they beautiful and he said. “I hurt so bad I don’t care . ” I knew he was giving up the fight with his illnesses. I had to step up and take care of things. I still get hit with the ball of grief we do learn to live with it and let it go back into hiding till next time. Praying for you all.

  20. Wendy P

    Virtual hugs to you, Jo from Canada. The firsts are hard. Trust me things will get better. You will always remember – but it takes on a different feeling. Some days just need to be dealt with a minute at a time., others by the hour. Think of the good times / a favorite memory. Hugs.

  21. Pat

    I cried with you today when I read this blog. I started reading your blog over a year and followed along with you during Kramer’s illness and death. I cried then also. We lost our younger two children nearly twenty and nearly 28 years ago. I don’t think we ever stop grieving the ones we love. We learn to live again with our new normal and weave our losses into the tapestry of our lives. I have been humbled by your strength in what you have endured. And I must say God has blessed with the most wonderful children.

  22. Vanessa

    Jo you really are an incredible writer. I’ve never been where you are, yet you make me experience it right along with you. You have an incredible gift of expression. I’m so sorry for what you’ve gone through.

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