Journaling through Grief
Mother’s Day morning, 2022.
My ex-husband, Corey, and our son, Nolan had a 7:00 am tee-off time at a local golf course. I figured they’d be done by noonish, and then Corey would pull into my driveway on his way home to drop off Nolan.
He’d probably roll down his window and tease me about how Mother’s Day was my favourite day of the year (next to Christmas), or how Nolan (15 years old) was still a mamma’s boy.
But Corey never pulled up, because Nolan called me from the golf course saying that his dad had fallen, incoherent, on the greens and had been rushed to the ER by ambulance.
At that point, I figured the culprit was probably just heat exhaustion or maybe even fatigue from not eating breakfast. Surely, it couldn’t be anything serious …
I had NO idea what lay ahead.
It started with what felt like a scene from a movie: The ER doctor pulled us into a private room and said he wasn’t going to sugarcoat things …
Corey had a major brain bleed, and his odds of survival weren’t great.
Still, we held out hope.
After all, Corey was only 46. He was strong (a former bodybuilder) and had recently started working out again to get his health on track. If there was anyone who could handle a long and challenging recovery, it was him.
Over the next two weeks, I visited Corey daily in the ICU.
Although he was unconscious, I told him repeatedly how loved he was and what an amazing father he was to Nolan. I let him know that we were all so excited for him to get better and that he should prepare for GIANT hugs and lots of happy tears when he got out.
On day 2 of my hospital visits, I started bringing my This Beautiful Life journal with me.
I used it to write letters to Corey and then would read them aloud to him, so he’d know he wasn’t alone. I planned to give Corey the journal when he was back home, so he could read my entries himself and have a record of everything he overcame.
The title of the journal – This Beautiful Life – felt so fitting. I told Corey that he had SO much more of a beautiful life to live, and that he couldn’t give up now.
I’d like to say that this story has a happy ending … that Corey opened his eyes one day and said, “Ha! Tricked you guys! I’m totally fine.”
But sadly, on May 23rd, after two weeks of being unresponsive in the ICU, Corey passed away.
My heart feels broken in two ways.
The biggest, of course, is for my son. Nolan absolutely adored his dad (and vice versa), and it feels so unfair that he only got 15 years with him. I believe in God and that everything happens for a reason, but I don’t yet know what that reason is. It also hurts to know how much pain my son must be feeling. I wish I could wave a magic wand and erase it all.
Selfishly, I miss Corey too. We separated years ago and stayed so much closer than most exes do. We saw each other almost every day at Nolan’s activities, and texted frequently (“Hey, I just took Nolan to the hairdresser’s. Check out our cute kid!!”). It never, ever occurred to me that Corey wouldn’t be at Nolan’s college drop-off, wedding, first baby, and all the other milestones ahead.
But, back to This Beautiful Life.
Obviously, I wasn’t able to give my letters to Corey. But since he’s passed away, I’ve decided to keep writing to him occasionally. Here’s how it’s helping me grieve:
1. Recording Memories: I’m using the journal to recall and record fun/funny/special memories I have of Corey. This way, I know they’ll never be forgotten.
2. Feeling Like He’s Still Here: We never got a final conversation with Corey, but writing in the journal almost makes me feel like I’m sitting across the table from him, chatting over coffee.
3. Creating a Family Heirloom: Years from now, when Nolan is a grown man and the pain isn’t so raw, I imagine giving this book to him so he can share in my memories of Corey and know just how loved his dad was.
I’m certainly not a counsellor or a grief expert – I find myself crying at the most random times and in the most unexpected/public places! – but I would urge you to try journaling if you need an outlet for your feelings.
And remember that through it all, life truly is beautiful.
-- Written by Nicole Kepic
Nicole is a conversion copywriter for female business owners – specializing in website copy, sales page copy, and email sequence copy. Her style is human, heartfelt copy that sells without feeling sleazy. You can learn more at www.nicolekepic.com or connect with Nicole on Instagram @nkcopywriting.