His Funeral was My Funeral

 

His funeral was my funeral in more ways than one.  It was my funeral because it was the end of my life as I knew it. It was also a glimpse at what my funeral would look like.

Steve died so suddenly that we didn’t have a chance to speak of his wishes around a funeral or celebration of life. I knew what he did for both his parents who pre-deceased him. And I knew the core and essence of Steve and who he was. So, choosing how to celebrate his life was easy. My wonderful sister was the project manager and dealt with all the details and delegated with the rest of the family and friends who were helping. His Celebration of Life was exactly how he would have wanted it to be.

But it was my funeral too. The life that I knew was over. A chapter was closing. One that I didn’t want to close at all. That I was extremely happy with.

It was like my world was a snow globe and someone shook it so hard that I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t walk straight and the snow storm flew all around me. When the snow settled, I didn’t recognize my world anymore.

However, one of the lovely things about his Celebration of Life was that it showed me how much love and support we have and I have. Our family, many of my friends, old camp friends, networking colleagues and supporters came out, quite of few of whom had never met Steve or only met him a couple of times.

It showed me how much I was loved. I could imagine what my Celebration of Life would look like with all of these amazing people.

So why do I share this with you? Because there are people around you who love you and support you. You are not alone even when you feel like you are. There are people who would do anything for you and show up for you. They believe the world is a better place because you are in it. So reach out. Ask for help. Ask for a hug. Ask for what you need. You’re worth it and the people who know the true you know you’re worth it too.

Dr. Whitney

For more about living our lives as while raising our kids, join me and other moms as we raise happy, healthy, & hearty kids without the Mommy Guilt in my private group called Guiltless Grace.

Our Future: Foggy but Hopeful

One of the things that makes me so sad is thinking about my family in the future.

All the dreams and plans we had for our family of 4 were shattered and scattered on the floor the day my husband, Steve, died a year and a half ago.

Just days before, we had celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary and we toasted and asked each other what we hoped for for the next 4 years. We talked of what we wished for each other and for our beautiful young daughters. We dreamed of vacation plans and a trip that Thursday to the local zoo. I couldn’t listen to the song “Mommy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow” for months.

Despite the ending to our story, our anniversary dinner by the lake was a beautiful moment in time and I’ll treasure it always.

Now, what makes my heart ache the most is what won’t be. The family trips, the walks to the park, the family bike rides or just movie nights all cuddled together. These will never be exactly as I had imagined. My world was turned upside down and for a long time, I couldn’t look more than 2 weeks into the future. It hurt too much and was too scary.

A friend recently brought something to my attention… now I can start to see a future for us again. I can look longer into the distance.

I’m learning that life is not the fairy tale I was lead to believe it was. That there are happy endings to chapters but then a new chapter begins. I didn’t want that chapter with Steve to end..

I also know that many people have lives that aren’t turning out the way they expected. That I’m not the only one who’s had suffering. Illness, divorce, infertility, and death can affect us all and change the way our family looks. It doesn’t matter if we are “good people” or “deserve” happiness.

I’m still saddened by the fact my girls’ Daddy won’t be there every step of the way in the little moments and the big ones.

But I’m not alone as we watch these young girls grow. I have amazing family and friends who love and support us and are thrilled to be there for those moments.

And now, through the fog I can start to dream that I may love again and this new person may walk with me and my girls as we go forward. However, if I love again, it won’t be my “happily ever after.” You need to have “happily now, in this moment, in this chapter.”

So I want to acknowledge all you moms out there who are making it work. Who are making memories with your children with the cards you’ve been dealt. Life may not be turning out exactly as you planned but we can still be hopeful through the fog while we are enjoying our kids right now.

Dr. Whitney

For more about living our lives while raising our kids, join me and other moms as we raise happy, healthy, & hearty kids without the Mommy Guilt in my private group called Guiltless Grace.

The Goal of the Stroll

The house we grew up in backed onto this amazing park with a soccer field and my elementary school. We had this secret door through the big gate that would open up into a world of imagination, play and adventure. I have so many childhood memories that involve friends and cousins and running out through the gate to the park.

The parks and the mature trees and the friendly neighbours are what I love so much about living in my neck of the woods. I love asking my daughters about which park they want to go to and they yell “the purple park!”

What’s even better is that there are amazing health benefits from getting outside and connecting with your neighbours. As a naturopathic doctor who works with moms, babies and kids, I love sharing about all the great reasons why it’s great to get outside and chat with your neighbours.

Park Perks

Being outside in nature just makes us feel good and this is a huge area of new research because of how much time we spend indoors and in front of tech toys like iPads, phones and TV.

Being surrounded by trees, forests and outdoor spaces has numerous health benefits for you and your kids. These include:

  • Improved short-term memory
  • Restored mental energy
  • Stress-relief
  • Lower levels of inflammation
  • Better vision
  • Improved concentration
  • Sharper thinking and creativity
  • Immune system boosts
  • Improved mental health

So, just being outside among the trees of your neighbourhood can really make you feel good.

Neighbourhood Networking

The number of neighbours who we actually know has changed over the years. We spend more time indoors and the nightly news gives us lots of reasons why we should hide out at home.

However, being with others is extremely important to our health. Having a social network helps with longevity. There was a Harvard study of graduates throughout their lifespans and they found that strong relationships are the strongest predictor of life satisfaction.

A lack of social ties is associated with depression and later-life cognitive decline as well as increased mortality. This increase in mortality risk is roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. So having strong relationships is really important!

Connecting with others relieves harmful levels of stress, which can negatively affect coronary arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and your immune system.

So, let’s get outside more, let’s start talking to our neighbours and forming those relationships with each other, we’ll feel better for it.

Dr. Whitney Young, ND

Dr. Whitney is a Naturopathic Doctor and Super Baby Coach who has a special focus on fertility, pregnancy and children’s health. She is the founder of Guiltless Grace – an online community for moms who want to ditch the Mommy Guilt!

Daddy Duties

Daddy Duties

The first time my windshield fluid went dry in my minivan, I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. Dread came over me. This was the first time in so many years that I was going to have to do this on my own.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m an accomplished, feminist type of woman. I used to check my own oil, put air in my leaking tire and put windshield washer fluid in my car. You know, the relatively easy stuff.

But I hadn’t had to do that in years. Steve always took care of this for me and topped it up for me.

There are countless other mundane chores at home that he thoughtfully took care of and now it all falls to me.

That dread of oh…THIS…THIS is something I’m going to have to do ON MY OWN again. And it’s not a big deal, right? Buying a jug of fluid, opening my hood and pouring it in while trying not to spill the whole thing. Not a big deal.

But it was just another reminder that he’s not here. He’s not here to take care of me anymore.

Last week it was the propane tank. I used to buy propane in university for our BBQ that I shared with my friends. But that was almost 10 years ago.

So, here’s 3 steps to hating those Daddy Duties then Conquering Them. You can do it. I believe in you.

  1. Feel Sad. Feel sad for a moment. For what you lost. For him not being here any more.
  2. Be Thankful. Thank him for all the wonderful things he did for you. Count them. Say them out loud or just remember a couple.
  3. Be Bold and Conquer. Now, you can be powerful. You can amaze yourself and others with this tiny thing that now you can do! Wow! You are amazing. Gold star!

I know it’s tough. I’m with you. I get it. But you can do it. Try something small. If you can’t do it and it’s too hard, ask for help. Your family and friends want to help and they are just waiting for you to give them a specific job.

If you want to join me and a group of others who are mothering through loss, come on over to our Facebook group called Guiltless Grace. Click here to find us.

Hugs,

Whitney

Survival Guide Specialist

The Monopoly on Missing Him

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The Monopoly on Missing Him

I’ve been so focused on myself and my own grieving. I’ve come to believe that no one else can truly be suffering and missing Steve like I can. Like I get to win the prize of Best Griever. Yay me!

While there is some truth to that, Steve was my husband and we truly knew each other inside and out. He was my best friend in the whole wide world. We shared 10 wonderful years together.

But he wasn’t only mine. He didn’t belong to me. He belonged to the world.

He shared his light, love and joy with everyone. He lived many years without me. Came from a loving family, made lifelong friends with his buddies and shared his joy with countless loved ones and strangers alike.

Steve had a way of making you feel like you were the only one in the room. That everything you said mattered, was important and was exciting! He was thrilled for you for every little success.

I’m just realizing bit by bit that the ripples he made in this world were not just in my world but everywhere.

I felt like I had the monopoly on missing him. But I’m not an island. We are all connected and he was and still is connected to us all. Even as you read this and if you’ve never met him, you are still affected by him.

Steve made every person feel important no matter what they were doing. Every server at a restaurant, teller at a bank, receptionist or service person. He learned their name, used it, and became a loyal fan.

So, can we still miss our loved ones and wallow in our grief? Sometimes.

But, we can remember we’re not alone. There are others who miss them too and are suffering too. And if we can focus on the joy, love and lessons, we will be so much happier.

I find great joy in sharing all I know about Steve with my daughters. They are still so young but I can tell them about Daddy’s favourite things, his values and how he appreciated life. This way he will still live on and I don’t have to be as sad.

Sharing with them and our family and friends helps me to feel more joy. In our culture it seems taboo to talk about someone who has died. No one wants to really talk about Steve probably for fear of making me sad. I can’t speak for everyone going through loss but for me I like talking about him and his life and our life together. It’s important, he matters and he will for a long time.

So my wish for you today is to:

  1. Remember your loved ones with joy
  2. Talk about them with others who loved them
  3. Remember that you are never alone

Love Whitney

 

 

Do I Live Happily Ever After?

Do I Live Happily Ever After?

Do I Live Happily Ever After?

I have always loved a happy ending. Growing up, I loved the Disney movies with the princesses who found their prince and lived happily ever after.

Who doesn’t want to “live happily ever after?”

But what does “happily ever after” mean? When is the after? To what point? The whole time? For the rest of their lives?

Dictionary.com defines it to “spend the rest of one’s life in happiness.”

Did Steve live “happily ever after?” Was he happy during his life? Yes. He was very happy. Were there bad times, sad times, stressed out times, and difficult times? Yes. Those too. But that’s normal.

The Urban Dictionary defines it as “to find your one and only and live happily with them for the rest of your life. To be constantly happy with no end.”

So, according to this definition did Steve live happily ever after? The first part yes. He found his one and only – me – and lived happily with me for the rest of his life.

But was he constantly happy with no end? No, that’s impossible. It’s not realistic for anyone. There are going to be crappy times. You are going to have bad moods. There are going to be really sad things that happen. It can’t be avoided. But can we live happily every after anyway?

What about me? Do I live “happily ever after?”

I found my one and only and lived happily with him but now he’s gone. But he will stay with me, in my heart and I will live happily ever after with him there.

To live happily ever after is a choice.

Am I heartbroken still? Yes. But I could choose to be unhappy all the time, but that wouldn’t honour him or be much fun at all.

In so many of the Disney movies, the princesses are orphans or have lost a parent. I suppose my girls are those princesses. They’ve been dealt a bad hand but they deserve to live happily ever after too.

Will I be “constantly happy with no end?” Nope. None of us will. There will be ups and downs, good times and bad times. Happiness will have endings and beginnings again.

To live happily every after is too long of a concept anyway. I can only focus on now and a short time from now. It’s all I can handle. For now, I choose to live happily in the moments that feel right and feel the all the other emotions in the moments that feel right for those. That’s all we can do.

Honour how you feel each moment and know that it’s ok but don’t stay in the darkness. You deserve to live happily ever after too, whatever that looks like for you.

Love and hugs

Whitney