Thursday, March 14, 2013


The grieving process is so vast.  I have never experienced such huge swings in emotion before losing Chris.  At forty-six I've lived through a lot of happiness and also some sadness, but this has been a brand new set of circumstances.

As I've heard, as I'm sure you have too - grief doesn't have a set pattern.  It runs its own course on terms of its own.  Each of us is processing the passing of Chris in our own way. My handling of it is sure to be different than yours. I'm sure this tragic event has even triggered other things in your life to surface that you may or may not have been dealing with.
I can't talk about how it's been affecting you but I can share that what I've experienced so far has run the gamut from panic to joy.  I'm really glad for the joyful moments.  I'd like some more of those.  I'm told I will have plenty more as time passes and that one day they will outweigh the sadness and anger.  For that I'm thankful.
In my daily chats with God I ask him to help me find peace.  He does, but I have to keep praying for it because it doesn't always last.  Sometimes I find myself spiraling down into a dreary place where I throw myself a nice pity party.  But there are times when I feel profound joy.  Moments in time when right smack in the middle of my heart I feel tremendous happiness.  I revel in that when it happens and thank God I feel it.  I know he allows it because he knows my life plan and it's already in place, but each minute in time is new for me and I'm grateful when he helps me experience joy to uplift me and put me back on track.
I love looking at pictures of Chris when he's laughing and being goofy.  They put a smile on my face.  I have had countless notes, texts and e-mails from his classmates reiterating what a happy and funny kid Chris was.  How can I not thank God for such a son?  He was mine to nurture for seventeen years on earth and I will continue to nurture and love him in death. I know his friends and family will too.  We have been blessed by Chris through his actions and good nature.  It's easy to crack a smile thinking of the many things he did to make us laugh.  They create joyful moments.
I've been training my brain to be joyful rather than sad or angry when something reminds me of Chris.  I recently went to the grocery store and saw the huge display of cereal that I no longer need to buy.  Chris loved cereal; it was a snack, a meal or a filler when he needed instant fuel to stave off the grum-bellies.  He ate it with or without milk.  He'd drag the whole bag to his room sometimes and eat it by the handful.  I got teary eyed as I stood in the aisle and took this picture with my phone.  At first I thought I'd have a meltdown right there and start loading bag after bag in my cart just because... Then I pulled myself together, stood staring at the rows of cereal and instead of lingering there upset I changed my attitude and started looking over each bag deciding if it was one Chris liked or not.  He did have his favorites; Reece Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Crispix.  I bought the huge generic bags though because he ate it so damn fast and to him it was mainly just fuel.
I'm working hard at creating more joy when I think of Chris.  I make a conscious effort to find the good.  Some days it's really tough and others are not too difficult.  The emotional swings are quite something!
I hope you're able to catch yourself and turn the tables at times when you're feeling at a loss too.  A change in the way you view things can make all the difference.  It can make a rough moment bright so your outlook is positive.  I don't do it all the time as I'm sure you won't either, we are human, but I pray it happens for you more often than not.  It definitely works!

Thank you for reading.


  1. Mrs. Stewart,
    My mission now: have joy and really be thankful for it, just like you do.

    Chris has the absolute most beautiful smile. I've never seen something more amazing. It breaks my heart for such beauty to be taken, but it warms my heart to know he's still here, just a little differently.

    God Bless You.


  2. Tonight I want to snuggle my kids and just love them and remeber the moment.......HUGS Regina <3

  3. Prayer of Saint Francis

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen

  4. Good Morning Regina,

    What to say to an amazing post and an amazing person who seems to always see the brighter side of things? You never cease to amaze me!
    I would have probably had myself a good pity party right there in the middle of the grocery isle. I'm going to draw strength from this post when something tries to bring me to a dark place.. I'll remember that if Regina can do this.. I can certainly find the joy in my situation . We all have our moments.. As you know it's easier to talk to the talk but hard to actually walk the walk. It does take practice to re-train the brain..
    Thanks again for reminding us that life can be hard but doesn't mean that we can't experience joy if we look for it and allow it.

  5. Regina,

    Yesterday's post was so deeply moving. There was almost nothing more to say than just "be with" you where you were.

    Today's post is so deeply moving. There is almost nothing more to say than just be with you in your unique blend of deep joy, deep pain, deep peace... all seeking to co-exist in that being which is YOU.

    I thank you each and every day for sharing your journey with me. My own stress of life, relationships, responsibility is put in perspective each day with the clear expression of your daily truth.

    So much love,

  6. Regina,
    Just looking at the pictures and the smile on Chris's face you can't help but smile. It put a big smile on my face. I will definitely try to put more joy in my life and not to dwell on the negative things in my life. Thank you and God bless

  7. Regina,
    How wonderful for you to be in this place today! Whenever I'm grumpy or having a pity party, I take a break to go give myself an "attitude adjustment". I think after such a deeply sad post yesterday, you must have found some great joy to write this today. And I think that not a single day will go by that you don't find something to be joyful about, big or small. Because that is the essence of the son you raised.
    My husband is exactly the same way about cereal! If I don't have time to make a real dinner, he would rather eat cereal than some boxed meal or something frozen. If I ever run into you in the cereal aisle, you'll get a hug from me!
    I wish you more joy to you today. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Regina-
    Your words always make me, and pretty much everyone else, feel so much better. There will always be moments consisting of bittersweet joy when you come across something that brought such joy to your child. But the way you handle those moments is key as you have already realized. You are an amazing woman who has found such strength through this entire time. I wish I could tell you honestly that the pain that circles around would minimize in some manner, shape or form... but it really doesn't. You just find new ways to take those emotions and turn them into an action that would make your child so very proud of you. Keep on the path you have found and you will do amazing things.. and remember that Chris is so very proud of you!

  9. first time commenting. just letting you know that ive been a lurker on your blog since you started. im just a young parent that never knew your son. maybe its your writing, or maybe its just Chris's aura that makes me feel as if im part of an extended family. your son was a beautiful person and i thank you for writing this blog. even though you make a grown man cry at work sometimes, i still enjoy reading about your son. thanks again regina.

  10. Regina,

    The strength you find to carry you through the days and moments like this are just so awe-inspiring. My heart sings when I feel your joy and happiness, and it hurts when I feel your pain. Either way, I find myself thinking and reflecting on your post through out the day. You are in my thoughts and prayers constantly. All 3 families are, especially the Rivers now with school softball in full swing...I have thought about Deanna even more every day these past two weeks knowing this would be Deanna's senior season, and it just wrenches my heart!

    I know time will help. There will always be tough moments, but have hope that joyful times will one day out-weigh sorrowful ones. This is just so raw right now, but better days/times are coming. Hang in there.

    God Bless, XO

  11. Regina one of the things that I have come across, and actually want to purchase when I have time, is Paul Bennett’s book, Loving Grief. The description of the book seems to be very close to what you are describing in today's blog. I'm not suggesting you read it, because I truly believe you are already living a lot of the experiences and feelings that seem to be a a big part of the book.

    What I mean is "throughout 'Loving Grief', Paul Bennett shares tender and useful insights from his experience. He discusses how the griever can help her/himself. His heartfelt images of the gifts that come from grief helped him befriend his sorrow..." “Maybe the gift of rituals is the gift of simple presence: A ritual makes you completely and honestly here, right now. That can bring deep relief from all the stirring around and talking and wrestling that we do with our emotions. If you give yourself the right ritual—something simple like standing on a bridge with water running under you, or sitting in front of a candle with a picture of that beloved person whom you are never going to see again—it is so simple." OR IN YOUR SITUATION the ritual of writing this blog and starting the scholarship and the fundraiser!!" You are embracing your new, deeper relationship with Chris and your love for him. You are wise beyond your short 46 years, and your 3 months of dealing with grieving and I don't know if you have even realized that yet. From where I sit, outside looking in on your grieving and experiencing it on a distanced level with you, you are already growing and living your new routine so powerfully and sharing it with so many. To be able to convey your messages with so much impact, shows the inner strength and faith you have. It is just so intense for me that I'm having trouble finding the right words, because I'm trying to believe that I could be the same, if I needed to be. Is it weird to think that I'm getting a jump start on learning how I would want to grieve? You have showed us so much in such a short, but long time.

    Another quote that I read from the book, that you are already grasping is “I can choose to accept or resist my grief, but I cannot end it, and I would not want to, because grieving is the other face of love; it is the inevitable consequence of change…of life.” (p. 74) And so it is. You have shown us that. You have shown us that grieving is the other face of love.

    Grief is described as how loving feels. Grief is, in fact, nothing more or less than our love for our departed loved one.

    We have witnessed, for 104 days now that you didn’t want to run from your experience with grieving, but have learned from it and have been transformed. For that, I pray for you continually and sit witness to your amazing strength and wisdom.

    I have been able to catch myself and turn my "stinkin' thinking" when I'm feeling at a loss. I continually work at changing the way I look at things. I continually try to find the positive at the hardest of times, just to find that silver lining. You are correct, it definitely works! I started that way of thinking back in 2006 and it's changed who I am.

    I saw a quote on my friend's facebook, right after I read your blog this morning and it could have been said by Chris, his face is the first thing I saw when I read it... "Believe you can and you're halfway there." -- Theodore Roosevelt

    God bless you Regina. Thank you for your strength, insight and clarity that you share with us.

    Maybe this is a book that could help Hannah, as I know she is struggling with a lot of the same issues.

    1. Justine, you simply rock. No other words needed.

  12. Thank you again for reminding us how to find the joy in life even when going thru a rough time. Every time I see a picture of Chris smiling it puts a smile on my face. You can't help but smiling not matter what your mood when you see that smile. I can see why those pictures bring you joy. I pray that you start to have more joyful days than not.
    God Bless

  13. Regina,

    Love the blog today. I am happy that you are starting to find joy in your life again. I have always been a positive person but since I've started reading your blog I know that I have found even more peace and happiness in my life. I truly am trying not to sweat the small stuff with my kids. Some days they make it difficult but I realize in most cases it's not worth getting upset with them!

    Thanks for sharing. Thank you for spreading joy with your blog.
    hugs and peace

  14. Just wanted to say thank you! You are a true inspiration!