Denise Day Spencer

October 15, 2010

A good ninety minutes

Filed under: Home Front,Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 5:53 pm

Last night we made a social worker smile–“we” being my grief support group and the social worker being Barb, our group leader. She asked us to share about changes that have taken place in us, in our homes and in our personal worlds since we lost our loved ones.

Not all of the changes were good. Some were neutral, while others, truth be told, were probably not so great. One member has noticed a lot more gray hair since she buried her husband. Several of us said we’re not at home as much as we used to be. Are we keeping productively busy? Yes. Avoiding the loneliness of the empty house? Probably that, too.

The good stuff, though, it was pretty darn good. I shared how I recently made a five-hour trek to my hometown all by myself, and did several things on my mini-vacation that I simply wouldn’t have done if Michael had been with me. Not that I couldn’t have; I just wouldn’t have. And everyone smiled as I told of going with Noel to the doctor just the day before and hearing my grandchild’s heartbeat for the very first time. Meanwhile, Dave has started on a home improvement project. He’s slowly moving from room to room, painting and laying new carpet. This is the first time he’s shown a real interest in anything since his wife died a year ago. Susan surprised us all by saying that she’d been on a road trip since our last meeting. Though she admitted she couldn’t wait to get back home, this was still a big step for her. The biggest news, however, came from Dorothy. She was positively glowing as she told us that she’s getting ready to go on a mission trip in the near future. And she’s already planning to enjoy it so much that she’ll want to go again.

Barb was absolutely elated. “When I was here last month,” she recalled, “you were the most depressed bunch of people I’d seen in a long time. I went to work the next day and said, ‘Hey, gals. We’ve got to pray for my support group!'” And they did. Barb went on to caution us that at the next meeting, “You may all be depressed again. It comes and it goes.” Yes, if we’ve learned anything so far, we’ve learned that. But for one lovely evening we shared more collective healing and joy than we had ever before known as a group.

And so we trudge on with our tiny steps. Sometimes it seems like three backward for every one in the right direction. Tonight I’m smiling, but a week ago I was sobbing over the six-month anniversary of Michael’s passing. Tomorrow I may be a basket case. But right now I’m glad to have a social worker who cares and prays. I’m thankful for God’s moment-by-moment grace. And I’m grateful for last evening’s ninety minutes of happiness and hope.



  1. I know this can’t always be easy for you to do, but I’m so glad you stop for a few minutes and blog about how you’re doing and giving us updates. I means a lot to hear about your journey and this process of grief and healing. I miss Michael too and my heart aches for you and the kids. Somehow hearing from time to time how things are going, it keeps me feeling connected and keeps his memory alive. Maybe that’s weird. It’s not really about me. I guess i just wanted to say that it’s meaningful to me and thank you for it.

    Comment by Ragamuffin — October 16, 2010 @ 11:23 am | Reply

  2. Thank you so much. It does my heart good to know and hear that others still miss Michael too, and are trying to keep his memory alive. Sometimes I think my little base of readers must get sick and tired of hearing about my grief. It’s good to know you can find my posts meaningful. Thank you again.

    Comment by Denise Spencer — October 16, 2010 @ 4:55 pm | Reply

  3. Thank you for sharing. I only knew Michael in his writing but grew to appreciate him so much that the loss has hit me harder than I thought it would. Having lost my mother before I was able to get married and have kids, I can understand some of what your kids are going through and I can’t even begin to know the pain you are working through. I will pray for you as often as I read older writings of Michael. Please know your postings as well are therapy for me as well and your real life struggles are appreciated.

    Peace to you.

    Comment by Matt Penney — October 16, 2010 @ 8:18 pm | Reply

    • Thank you, Matt. I appreciate your continued prayers.

      Comment by Denise Spencer — October 16, 2010 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

  4. […] Read “A Good Ninety Minutes” […]

    Pingback by Glimpse at a Grief Support Group | — October 17, 2010 @ 11:01 am | Reply

  5. Praying for you

    Comment by Patrick Lynch — October 17, 2010 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

  6. Dear One – thank you and bless you for your honesty and transparency. Loss is never easy, and if truth be told, sometimes the hardest thing to ‘deal’ with is the living (the rest of us) and our sometimes sincere but misguided ‘wisdom.’ Sometimes the “pains in the arse” are harder than the pain from the one who has died and passed on into ancestry and the kingdom. You are in my prayers. Grieve hard and often and celebrate fully and freely Michael’s blessed life, and yours as well. I have not experienced your loss, so I have no earthly idea what you personally are going through, but I have tasted the bittersweet reality of the death of my son in childbirth, my father’s death when I was 16 and my mother’s death back in the summer of 2008. I remember all that wells up within me, sometimes daily, sometimes not for weeks but it lingers, just beside and sometimes within, God’s comforting and disturbing grace. I pray His grace for you. My heart, my tears, my joy, and my prayers are yours!

    Comment by Niles Comer — October 18, 2010 @ 8:30 am | Reply

    • “God’s comforting and disturbing grace.” I like that. So true. Thank you for your words and your prayers.

      Comment by Denise Spencer — October 18, 2010 @ 3:52 pm | Reply

  7. I stumbled across Michael’s writings a few years ago, and the Holy Spirit has taught me much through it. For that I am very thankful and blessed. I hesitate to write anything really, because I don’t know you, Denise. But I know that you are my sister in Christ and that you are loved, by an entire community of believers, friends and strangers alike and I hope that you find encouragement through the family of God.

    Peace be with you, and joy and strength in all things!

    Comment by Christopher — October 18, 2010 @ 8:32 am | Reply

    • I continue to feel comforted and encouraged by that community, and I’m so grateful.

      Comment by Denise Spencer — October 18, 2010 @ 3:53 pm | Reply

  8. My experience with Michael was the same as Christopher’s, and I”m not sure I can add much to what has been said already. I’m encouraged for you for the moments of encouragement you’re experiencing, and for the precious memories you recall that also leave you weeping at times. And especially I’m encouraged to know that you have your support group walking with you as you process your grief. Blessings!

    Comment by Bones — October 18, 2010 @ 9:55 am | Reply

  9. Yes, I’d encourage anyone and everyone who’s experienced a serious loss to find a support group. Sometimes I look around the circle and think, “We’re all so pitiful.” But it helps beyond words to know I’m not alone. Thank you.

    Comment by Denise Spencer — October 18, 2010 @ 3:54 pm | Reply

  10. Hi Denise,
    I’ve prayed for you so often over the last 6 months. In December it will be 10 years since my husband died at 52. I’m glad to know your group is taking those steps toward creating a new kind of normalcy. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of roadmap for the journey we’re on… all we can do is hold onto Jesus’ hand.

    Comment by Fran — October 18, 2010 @ 9:15 pm | Reply

  11. Denise: I linked to your blog from Michael’s and was a faithful reader. I am glad to hear that you have the support group. Know that people do care about you…and I am always glad to read your blog whether it’s happy or sad. It’s just good to hear from you!

    Comment by Diane — October 19, 2010 @ 4:46 pm | Reply

  12. I was a faithful reader too and I always listened to his podcast when I ironed. My Mom just died and my Dad was married to her for 55 years. He is 80. He is devastated and nothing seems to help him. I sent him this entry to show him that if nothing else, what he is feeling is normal and he is not alone. Thanks for sharing your grief.

    Comment by joelmartin — October 20, 2010 @ 6:53 pm | Reply

  13. Dear Denise,
    I think of you often and pray for your journey of adjusting to life after loss. I don’t check in here often, but you are in my thoughts. We’ve never met. I scarcely knew of Michael (via the Phoenix Preacher), but I am one of the many,many people who care from a distance and keep you in prayer. God bless you, heal you, fill your life. Congratulations on the grandchild. Truly life’s best blessing, and a tremendous source of joy, hope, love and healing.
    Beaverton, Oregon

    Comment by paigemom — October 27, 2010 @ 7:58 pm | Reply

  14. I will remember Michael in my prayers along with you, especially this weekend. Peace to you and congrats on becoming a grandma.

    Comment by Jenny Bluett — October 28, 2010 @ 9:48 am | Reply

  15. I have often lit a prayer candle for you at home here. Know that I will continue to do so.

    Comment by Hope — October 28, 2010 @ 6:29 pm | Reply

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