For When You Start to Dream Again
I woke up January 1, 2016 – almost exactly one year after my husband died – thinking about the word ‘hope.’ What did it mean to hope when everything about life had already gone topsy turvy? I had already seen how hopes could get smashed, ground to a pulp, and dumped off a cliff – was there any sense in trying to hope again?
My mom, sister, and I had gone away for a quiet New Year’s celebration, an attempt to make some new memories, but also to give me the opportunity to look forward to something since I was dreading the first anniversary of my husband’s death in a few days. They were still sleeping so I snuck out of the hotel room to do some journaling in the hotel lobby. As I opened the door, a small pewter coin fell onto the floor. I looked around but no other rooms had coins on their handles and it was early enough that everyone else was still cozy in their beds.
I turned the coin over and over in my hands and laughed. One side was engraved with an angel and the other had one word etched into it: hope.
Here we are seven years later and I am still amazed.
That day I began to learn what I know now: hope after loss requires new dreams. Even just imagining what could be is like turning the handle on the door toward hope. Curiosity opens it just a crack.
At the beginning of 2016, I let myself be curious for the first time. I wished I could travel more. I wanted to write. Just as I started becoming aware of what was possible, I thought of all the reasons why my dreams were impractical.
I had a one-year-old and a three-year-old. Who was I to think I could travel when they required so much of me? Planning a trip and childcare required mental energy I didn’t have. And who did I think I was to call myself a writer? I had never had aspirations of writing a book and had no formal training outside of my college job as a writing tutor. Sure, I kept up with my blog and processed my grief through writing, but being “a writer” was a path, a profession, a career. I was a hobbyist at best.
It took including my mom and a few other people in my support circle to figure out a lot of the logistics. That might have been the hardest part of dreaming again – admitting that I could not figure out all of the possibilities on my own.
I could not overcome all of the obstacles on my own, but that didn’t mean the obstacles were too great to overcome.
Starting to dream again after my husband died didn’t prove my fears wrong — I knew I would face disappointment again — but it did teach me to view dreams as what might be, not what is practical or even plausible.
And that’s what’s so scary. Life has been turned upside down in the worst ways possible, so it feels impossible to believe there could be wonderful surprises, too.
Here are two books about grief I think you might appreciate: Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief by David Kessler and The AfterGrief by Hope Edelman. There are so many more books I’d like to recommend, so I’ve listed and linked them all at BeckyLMcCoy.com/GriefLibrary.
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Thanks for this post, Becky. It certainly is a process and God is with us through it all.
Here’s a book that I just finished reading and would recommend on this subject:
What if it’s Wonderful by Nicole Zasowski.
She actually lives in your state.
Thanks, Judy! Nicole and I have been in touch, but we haven’t met yet. I’m so glad her book was so encouraging!