Rebuilding

Today we are so grateful to hear from Heather Chatfield. She shares insight into how she has navigated her grief journey after her husband Matt passed away.

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My husband and I had what we considered the “perfect” life. A teacher and police officer, with three kids, involved in many activities keeping us busy loving each other fiercely along the way.

 

All of the sudden, 22 months ago my life was forever changed. My husband, Matt, passed away after a 13 month battle with colon cancer on Thanksgiving Day. He was so brave and so strong every step of the battle. Even as we were told he was dying, I just couldn’t believe it was true. There I was left with a 14 year old, 10 year old and 7 year old, trying to figure out how to rebuild and create a new “normal” for us. Everything we knew life to be was suddenly different.

 

One of the biggest struggles was learning how to allow myself to grieve the loss of my best friend while supporting my children through their grief. I knew they were depending on me. Slowly, we began figuring out the day-to-day aspects of life. I had to accept the help of many friends and family, even though that was really hard for me. There was just no way I could do everything on my own and do it well. We attended support groups through Starlight Ministries that were invaluable. Our first family dinner without Matt took my breath away. Staring at the empty seat across from me, deciding who was going to say the prayer, not hearing his high and low of the day, and not having him to sit a few extra minutes at the table after the kids finished eating, left me sitting alone with an ache in my heart.

 

You see, it is the little daily things that were harder than the big events. I had prepared my kids and myself for those moments, as best as I could. Having a plan for the days I knew would be tough was crucial. Eventually, new traditions were formed, marrying gently with the old ones. Finding the balance of knowing life will, and has to, move on but not wanting to let go of the past that was sliding further and further behind us, was challenging.

 

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This journey called grief is so unpredictable. All four of us have difficult days, weeks, or months, but we know the support we need is never far away. One day at a time has become our motto. We have made it 22 months without him. I can honestly say, I wasn’t sure I would get to where I am today. Thankfully, God has been so present in our lives and provided so much direction. My husband had a servant’s heart and warrior spirit. Honoring that legacy by sharing a piece of our journey to help others continues to help our hearts heal as well.

 

If you would like to follow Heather’s journey further, click here for her Chatty’s Cheerleaders Facebook page.

 

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Helping Families Heal Through the Benefits of Technology

By Ron Cook II

Without the benefits of technology, my family’s journey would have been somewhat different. Two times in the last four years, my wife, Erin, and I have received pictures via email from Korea that changed our lives forever. Along with our son, Greyson, we were eagerly looking forward to expanding our family through adoption. The visual of our soon-to-be sons’ faces allowed us to have something tangible to sustain us until their homecoming.

 

sawyer homecoming blog 2Photo Courtesy of Jillian VanZytveld Photography

 

As much as technology and those two emailed photos of our sons impacted our family, the moment we laid eyes on them, we were in love. As quickly as they melted our hearts in the pictures, it didn’t even come close to the first time we got to meet them in their foster homes in Korea. Those in-person moments and introducing our new sons to family and friends at the airport are cherished parts of our life as a family. We often hear stories from older adoptive parents who share that they were matched and then showed up at an airport and received their new baby right there in the terminal! The emailed photos were a wonderful benefit of technology.

 

So while we embrace the benefits of technology, remember there is something incredibly important about being physically present with family and friends when you or they experience the death of someone important to them or any life-changing event. Those vulnerable moments shared face-to-face or side-by-side strengthen the bonds of family and friendship. Engage through technology when appropriate, and whenever possible support someone in person. Make the effort – it is the difference between an emailed photo and holding your baby for the first time.

 

At Cook, we serve families whose loved ones are spread around the globe. They are used to communicating via Facetime and Skype, so we utilize those types of services for their visitation and/or service when the serviceman or missionary cannot make the trip home for their loved one’s funeral. People sign guest books, watch memorial videos, and send flowers, all on our website. Facebook has become an important way for people to connect related to funerals, whether it is sharing an obituary, connecting in a grief group, or following an inspirational feed.

 

Technology has opened wonderful opportunities for support, communication and sharing. The heart of our business is “Helping Families Heal.” With the help of technology we are no longer limited to only helping those within a certain proximity to our chapels. This new blog by Cook will help make our families, their stories and their need for healing front and center.

 

We’ll help families heal with educational pieces covering:

  • Grief journey topics
  • Guest entries by bereaved people we’ve served
  • Stories highlighting lives that we’ve honored and celebrated that were particularly meaningful to us.

 

With great anticipation, we are pleased to announce next Friday, September 15, we will have our first guest blogpost by Heather Chatfield, wife of Officer Matt Chatfield, who Cook served almost two years ago. Heather has used her Facebook page “Chatty’s Cheerleaders” to talk about her journey during Matt’s cancer battle and how she and her children live life and honor Matt’s legacy. She writes with honesty, transparency and hope. She will talk about this new season in her life, and how she has worked hard to create a healthy, new normal for her family as they remember Matt.

 

 

See you next week!