Kevin Sikkema was a young, strong and healthy man. He was an amazing husband, active dad to our children, Mr. Fix It, busy at his job and served his community fearlessly as a firefighter.
May of 2014, our world was turned upside down and forever changed.
My husband fought a long and hard two-year battle with Glioblastoma; an extremely aggressive form of brain cancer. Seeing the deterioration of his physical body was devastating. It wasn’t until Kevin was lying lifeless in the hospital bed at hospice, struggling for every breath that I said, “It’s OK, go home.” I had no idea those same words of release and healing would bring devastating turmoil and complete change for those of us left behind. In my mind, Kevin’s healing would make us “OK” too. I thought that the knowledge of his healing and to know he wasn’t suffering anymore would make us OK. But, it didn’t.
I wish I would’ve known that there would be a second grief process to tackle after Kevin passed that would be deeply rooted in the cancer journey. For two years, the unknown of day to day life had to now become known. That hit like a ton of bricks. The fight-or-flight response would be triggered in even the most harmless of circumstances because our circumstances were nothing but harmless for so long. It takes a long time to recover from such an intense journey.
I wish I would’ve known how for months after Kevin’s death, time would literally seem to stand still.
I wish I would’ve known that the first few weeks, months, and even years would be solely focused on keeping my kids above grief’s murky water. As their mom, navigating their anger, hurt and pain was causing the greatest amount of grief to surface for myself. I had to make sure they were OK before I could begin to turn my attention to my own pain. In this, patience was key. Patience and knowing that I could not fill every lonely void on my own. That the God of Hope and Comfort would have to fill those voids and that He will be Father to my fatherless children.
I wish I would’ve known that grief and trauma look different on everyone. What looks like emotional outbursts or defiance, is deep-rooted hurt and trauma. Grief may usher in anger and loneliness left by a void that can no longer be fulfilled on this side of heaven. I wish I would’ve known that on those days where it felt like everything was going wrong and we were failing at every aspect of living life without my husband, it was just the strenuous adjustments that had to happen to move forward. It had to be sat in and it had to be felt in order to move through it. It was all part of the grief process and it was all going to be ok.
I wish I would’ve known there would be people (including myself) that wanted to talk very openly about my husband and without hesitation. While others found it too painful to reminisce. Those happy memories may bring deep joy during reflection to some, but to others, it can magnify the loss of a precious loved one and that is just too painful. The key is grace. Grace upon grace to each other and to yourself as you navigate this new life.
I wish I would’ve known that grief is all the love you have yet to give with no place for it to go.
I wish I would’ve known that grief may be the very least linear process of any. There is no timeline and there is no rule book.
I wish I would’ve known that friends and family will not understand the pain like others who have gone through the same type of loss. Widow to widow, bereaved parent to bereaved parent, etc. The friendship and understanding gained from connecting with others who have experienced the same earthly loss is not to be denied. No other person can understand the hurt and change like those who have been there. As these relationships form, you may find that they become some of your biggest cheerleaders as you begin to move forward.
I wish I would’ve known that even though there will always be a missing place in your heart, it really will be OK. With prayer, a constant support system, and grace, you will smile again. You will laugh again. You will feel and do life again.
I wish I would’ve known how having my husband in heaven, would make me feel like heaven is a little closer in my home.
Amy is a local writer and blogger and can be followed at Sikkemastrong. She has collaborated in two new works that will be especially helpful. See below for more information.
God can change the way we see our struggle. – Amy Sikkema
In this yearlong reading companion for the brokenhearted “A Few Words of Comfort for the Grieving”, Amy Sikkema co-authors this devotional and shares how God’s grace, love, and promises have guided and healed her broken heart in each grief stage. Amazon purchases available at this link starting today: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1949494020
Come see what The God Of Breakthroughs has done! FEW International publications is happy to bring you more than just another collection of tales. These are powerful women’s stories of breakthrough. Break through to a higher calling, a life transformation, or a new life free from struggle. Not only will readers experience true testimonies of impactful breakthroughs from seventeen women, ten of whom are #1 Bestselling authors, but these stories – about careers, families, personal identity, and overcoming struggles ranging from violent attacks to the loss of loved ones – will provide insights for achieving your own desired breakthroughs. Click here to view this book on Amazon.
For direct ordering through PayPal, you can email Amy at [email protected].