Well I guess it’s time for me to share Happy First’s again! For those of you that are new to my email list or blog, I used to send a Happy First message on the first of every month (and also some other “first” days). It was something I have said for years to family and friends, for example, Happy December 1st! I founded Happy First in 2007 to celebrate new beginnings (my egg logo has many meanings- new beginnings, breaking out of your shell, whatever it represents to you!). Some of you may know I am a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Survivor– I shared my story years ago on my blog and through that blog post I have met some wonderful survivors and connections were made between people. Feel free to share it with anyone that may need an uplift.
Thank you all for your emails and comments after I posted my grief story. I was overwhelmed by the responses-didn’t expect the personal stories and words of encouragement some of you have sent me. And I want to answer each one of you back personally, it is just taking me a while! But thank you.
One of the first emails I received really struck me and is the reason you are getting this Happy First Day of Winter picture today-this is from Ashley, someone I don’t even know-she made me realize I must get out there and share happiness, even if on some days it is really hard-
“I am so very sorry for your loss. I know that there are no words that can be said to make things better, I wish there were. I just want you to know that I somehow stumbled upon Happy First during a particularly sad and low time in my life, and your words and ecards always brought light and happiness into my life. I would always look forward to your emails on the first of the month and would send your cards to family and friends. Thank you for that. I’m sure I’m not the only person you have never met who’s life you made better. Just wanted you to know 🙂 sending lots of love and light your way. ”
And another response I wanted to share is from a dear friend, Cyndy, who lost her son to suicide 7 years ago. I got permission from her to share this, hoping it will help others. She truly uplifts and inspires me.
“Thank you for sharing your journey of using art to heal. I do the same and know that it can be very therapeutic to “lose yourself” in creativity. I’m glad to hear that you are learning to get through the days of grief. The “why?” questions are so difficult and I’ve realized that it is the “how?” questions that move us forward. How do I live this day through the pain?, How do I move forward from this day?, or How do I help others by what I have been through? “Why” questions take us back to a place that cannot be changed, but “How” questions take us to wherever God is leading for the future. I have to remind myself of this on a regular basis.”
Today I just felt the need to share and uplift-the Holidays can be a really tough time for a lot of people.
Please pass this post on to those who may need it and feel free to comment.
Oh and now some fun stuff-you can get my snowman on notecards and notepads. Right now they are available on my Etsy shop, and eventually will be on my site too! And the Happy Flowers Coloring Book is available both on Amazon and Etsy.
Here’s some fun pics! Sorry about the placement, having some technical difficulties! Anyway, Happy First!
I’m finally sitting down to write as this Thanksgiving week comes to a close. We have been nonstop with our family and friends all week. Our son Nick and his wife Katie just left hours ago, back to their new home in Dallas. So now reality is setting in again. Many of you know what we have been through, but some of you don’t. I’ve wanted to reach out to my Happy First friends but I just haven’t been able to write about it. But I feel it is time now. I’ve been thinking about it for months, wanting to share my journey but not ready to go into all the details. It’s too much, still too raw and painful. But I have always seen myself as an encourager, wanting to be a light to others.
So here goes-we lost our younger son Dan at age 20 to suicide on July 25, 2015. It is still strange and unbelievable to say those words. We still can’t believe it happened. No one can. We thought everything was going well for him-he was in summer school at college, had many friends, was so bright. We didn’t see the clues along the way. We constantly are still asking ourselves WHY, trying to retrace everything we did as parents. We do feel good in knowing that he knew we loved him and would do anything for him.
There is so much that has happened in these past 16 months-I can’t write about it all now or this would be very long. We have been surrounded by incredible family and friends. We have a great support network. We have met new friends that have also had great loss. We now have strong bonds with these incredible people, I just wish we had met under different circumstances. But here we are. Sometimes it is hard knowing we will live the rest of our lives with this huge hole in our hearts. But I know God isn’t finished with us yet. I know I have been given a talent and purpose and that gets me going every day.
The first year was mostly a blur. I’m usually an energetic person but was flattened. I never really understood grief before. We had lost all of our 4 parents in recent years, but losing a child is like nothing else. It bothers me when I hear the word grief used almost flippantly. Some words I would use to describe grief-anxiety like I had never had before, physical pain-chest tension (one suicide survivor friend who lost her husband said her heart really did feel broken), lower back pain for over a year. Feeling vulnerable, different. Not being able to focus on anything. Not knowing how to respond when someone new asks how many kids you have. Sad. Mad. Hopeless. Broken.
I have done a lot of seeking to help ease the pain.One thing Randy, Nick, Katie, Lyn (Randy’s sister) and I did was join a Survivor of Suicide Group at the Tristesse Grief Center in Tulsa. Our new friends there understand exactly what we are going through. Another has been talking with a counselor. Yoga Therapy to help with my pain. Yoga classes. Golfing obsessively with great friends to escape and be outside. Bible Study Fellowship classes-don’t know what I would do without these women. And DRAWING. When I create, I am in a zone. Time flies. It’s energetic. I forget everything else. I just draw.
Many of you have been my biggest encouragers and cheerleaders. I would draw and doodle randomly and post on my artist facebook page or instagram. So many of you were so there for me-your encouraging comments just spurred me on. In the last few years I had already started making the switch from selling tee shirts to illustrating, and now it is really coming together. I am loving designing stationery, working on different commissioned works and just recently publishing my first adult coloring book- Happy Flowers Coloring Book. It’s now for sale on Amazon and in some local boutiques and florists. It gives me something to be excited about. Drawing has been my grief therapy-maybe coloring my books will be grief therapy for someone too. Or maybe it will be helpful for someone stressed, or just a great way for someone to express their creativity.
I’ve been waiting to write to you all after I got it all together. Well things will never be perfect. I might as well invite you along for the journey now. I want to make changes to the look of my website and blog and everything, but it’s just going to take time. If I wait until things are perfect, it won’t happen! I’m not even going to stress about how often I write or what my schedule will be. I just want to get myself back out there and reach people. I’m still ME, a really changed me, but I still have my positive essence that I can’t contain. Someone recently told me I need to live a good life, that is what our son would want, so I am trying. Thanks for listening, I hope I can help someone else.