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Abby as a bridesmaid

We recently had the privilege of attending a wedding. Our friends' daughter was getting married and had asked our daughter, Abby, to be one of her bridesmaids. This picture is Abby on stage at the wedding. We were so excited for her to be a part of the wedding and honored to be in attendance. Watching Abby's excitement made us excited. But, when she put on that bridesmaid's dress and came walking down the aisle, I was surprised at how emotional it made me. "Who is this beautiful young woman and where did my little girl go?"

There are so many things in life that you can't prepare for. Most often you are in the midst of those defining moments before you realize they are coming. With all of the beauty of this wedding around us I couldn't help but think this is one of the many things that we lost in October of 2016. When Ella took her final breath, I lost the chance to walk her down the aisle. Though we danced nearly every day in our living room together, our daddy/daughter dance on her wedding day will never come.

Let me stop right here and clarify something before I continue. I know that I have 2 other daughters and an amazing son. I know that I will experience these moments with each of them and that life continues and is beautiful. I know. However, this blog is from the heart of a grieving family and is meant to relate to others who may be grieving, as well. Not everyone who is grieving is huddled alone in the corner of a dark room. We are your neighbor next door. We are the family at the local pizza parlor. And sometimes we are sitting at a table in a wedding reception, trying to catch our breath and appear that all is well.

If you are walking through grief, you will walk through moments when you can't understand how everyone else can smile and be happy when you feel so devastated. Moments of celebration for others may be reminders of what will never be for you and your family. But, you are not alone. Countless others are walking a very similar road. Though sitting through that wedding was very emotional for us, we found the joy in celebrating this sweet young couple, melting over how beautiful Abby was and how amazing she did as a bridesmaid, all while honoring Ella. I wore a green tie (Ella's favorite color), Jody had a green bracelet on, and when Jody and I danced together we danced for our baby girl. Even the bride, who knew and loved Ella very much, had charms on her bouquet for Ella.

What I've just described are ways to honor your loss. Find ways. Whatever it takes to make that happen, do it. Find those things that remind you of your loved one and represent them in these moments. It helps to feel that they are a part of your life moving forward. While we can't make every moment about them, and shouldn't, we can know that we are honoring who they were, what we miss, and who we are holding out hope to one day see again.