I am in the midst of learning about Grief and Mourning, however, …. Denial…. I have that mastered.  I lived in denial for a good portion of my life, without even knowing it.  I was so focused on the “tip of the ice berg”, I had no awareness of the monumental heap below the surface.  In my opinion, there are two kinds of denial.  The kind I just mentioned, that we are oblivious to because we haven’t learned that it’s okay to feel, or even identified that we have a life worth of hurt to be healed through feeling, and the second…. The kind where you know dang well you are keeping yourself stupid busy so that you don’t have to feel.  This second type of denial is what I call being subconsciously aware, but running just out ahead of the scary monster you don’t want to acknowledge because you’ve learned to feel and you are sick and tired of it.  

            Raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about!  Haha…. Now enjoy the fact that you’re laughing at yourself while staring at your phone and look a little bit like a dork.  

            Now that we’ve got denial figured out, lets talk about grief.  Grief SUCKS… bad!  Grief is like a snowball placed at the top of a steep hill, and your job is to outrun it… downhill, knowing that it is gaining in momentum and size, while you are running out of endurance and the ability to get back up each time it crashes into you.  The only way to handle grief, is to do just that… you pick it up and be in charge of it, before it gets so big it has control of you.  I’m saying, while it’s still the size of a snowball, or even the size of Frosty’s head, pick it up, look at it, and either decide to carry it with you, take it apart, or put it somewhere safe so you can revisit it at a time of your choosing.  

            Now that we have denial and grief out of the way, lets discuss mourning.  Before one of my children graduated from this life to the next, I thought mourning and grief, were the same thing.  I’m learning that grief is a feeling, a very heavy feeling, that will be your companion forever once you lose someone you love.  The more you love, the more painful your grief will be.  It’s a double-edged sword.  

Mourning is how you choose to actively honor your loved one or a way to outwardly express your grief in a way that is both productive and healing.

            With all of that said, I will admit to being crushed and suffocated by yet another giant snowball yesterday.  I have admittedly been in denial for a few months, keeping myself stupid busy, so that I didn’t have to feel grief.  It blind-sided me.  I woke up feeling like I had a hang over and I know dang well I didn’t drink.  I spent a good portion of the morning trying to figure out what was wrong with me physically, and it wasn’t until I started physically moving my body that the stuck energy in my body started to converse with my spirit, saying, “Hey! Jackie!  You can’t outrun me anymore.  Your body is exhausted and your only option here is to sit in your grief and feel it.  I know your head, neck and face hurt from crying, but just breath and you’ll feel better tomorrow”, and so I did.  AND IT SUCKED!

            I reluctantly visited Riley’s grave, which I hate doing, because it’s all too fresh and I don’t like to think of his body being in the ground.  It is contradictory to what my spirit feels.  How can Riley be in the ground, and yet I feel him so strongly with me every day?  It’s complicated stuff and the pain and confusion of having a child leave here before you is impossible to explain.  

            I tend to get a bit wordy so I’ll cut right to the good stuff.  Four years ago, God lead me to a woman who had terminal cancer.  Her name is Dani Madsen and I love her.  She is an angel now, and sometimes I sense she visits me.  It was with her that Christmas for Cancer Families (CFCF) was born.  She expressed a desire to go away for Christmas with her family and Heavenly Father put all the ideas in my head and words in my mouth, and before I knew it I had gathered our amazing community in combining efforts to send Dani and her family to Bear Lake while providing them with a fun and exciting Christmas to remember.   The following two years we were lead to equally amazing families and with the help of so many generous contributors, have been able to do some miraculous things.  

            This is a tradition my family loves, Riley loves, and it has repeatedly made a very hard time of year for us, into something that fills our hearts with so much love, that we just can’t live without it. Gifts and presents mean nothing and bring little to no excitement when you are in the throws of cancer and facing the awareness that a member of your family is going to die.  Cancer doesn’t just affect the person with the diagnosis, it affects every single member of the family.  That is why we have chosen to do Christmas for Cancer FAMILIES, rather than just the person with the illness.  

            This year we will be carrying on our tradition and are excited to introduce to you a very special family who we were lead to through divine measures.   On November 1stwe will begin to pull together volunteers, donations and any form of service that can be donated to help this family in a variety of ways.  

            With all the divisiveness and chaos that satan is causing in this troubled world right now, I feel like this is a perfect opportunity for all of us to set distractions aside and serve and love as the Savior does. 

            Please let me know if this is something you have enjoyed being a part of in the past, or if it is something you’d like to be involved in this year.

            Thank you for mourning with me and holding space for the love I have for my child who always has to finish first.  Damn it Riley!