By Angie Hanson
I write my feelings down and I share my stories because they matter. The people in my life who have died, they mattered and they still matter. My sole mission is to give hope to one person, to give hope to one million people. I want people to know that you can survive multiple losses in your lifetime, knowing it’s not an easy journey, but what a blessing to share your loved one’s journey of their life, to know how big of a soul they had and how they touched you; knowing these stories, shows you that a person like myself had a lot. I had a lot of blessings and several of my blessings I don’t get to live with anymore in person, only in faith and hope knowing I will see them again one day.
I didn’t get here today because I’m the strongest person in the world, I got here today because I was carried by my faith and the faith that I had of seeing my loved ones again someday. I was carried by our Father who held me in my darkest days and carried me to today with so much hope, faith, and love; I lean on these constantly.
Do you remember the first time you experienced a death that was pretty close to you? I can remember exactly when I was six or seven years old. My uncle died in a very tragic accident. He was on our local volunteer fire department and the squad that he was riding in was struck by a train. My uncle and two other members of the department were all killed, miraculously two survived the accident. I vividly remember my mother waking us up and telling us about my Uncle Sterling (he is my dad’s brother) and telling us about the accident (of course not detailed info).
I find this to be very significant in a journey of grief. Experiencing death at any age is very difficult, but dealing with death at an early age can really put you in motion to deal with deaths that you experience throughout your lifetime. During my childhood and teenage years, I experienced the death of a great-grandma, my grandpa (popo). Growing into my young adult life, my grandmother and a couple of school friends; I would probably categorize these deaths as maybe this is how life happens deaths or wow, I didn’t see that coming deaths. I don’t take away from one death or any human that I have been in touch with or have loved, but these deaths didn’t drop me to my knees, they didn’t freeze me in time to where I couldn’t function. I didn’t know at the young age of 34 years old that my experiences with death were going to become the catapult into my lifelong grief journey that I am on now.
My “grief” journey is all about a sweet little boy that stole his mama’s heart and then broke it into a million pieces, about a young man who melted a young girl’s heart and then she had to learn to practice her vows “in sickness and in health until death do us part” and then of an innocent young boy who gave his sister heck often but was also there for her always ending up leaving her with an emptiness that she will never find again. You will also meet and read about a special lady who had battles that many of us do and left me questioning a lot about the matters of life and depression.
My 34-year-old self started the journey of where I am today when I received the news on June 27, 2006, that my one-year-old son Garret had died. This is where my world changed forever. At the time I had one perfect year of my life with my husband Jack, my four-year-old daughter, and my son. My son Garret died peacefully in his sleep at his daycare provider’s house due to a rare heart defect that was undetected. Fast forward a year after our son’s death, my husband Jack was diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal Ocular Melanoma. Jack battled hard and he fought for 16 months before he won and was reunited with our son on February 9, 2009.
My brave 6’5” brother had battled a brain tumor for five years and was preparing to help his older sister with the farm and all that life had dealt her. Well, God had other plans and my brother had his third and final surgery in March 2009. He joined my boys in Heaven on April 7, 2009, just two months after my husband. My world would never be the same again.
Would it be better? Could it be better? I didn’t have the answers to those questions, but I knew that my emotions needed motion and that I needed to be present and raise my young daughter through all of this. We did good and we started navigating this journey of grief with determination and hope. Then, God opened my heart again and I married my now husband, Chantz. We have built a life of love, fun, play, and humbleness (with a lot of pre-grief mixed in). In June 2018, we were not prepared for the sudden death of my sister-in-law (from my first marriage); Brooke’s life ended because of alcoholism. She couldn’t grieve and she didn’t know how to move through the journey without having a drink. She was a beautiful and amazing young lady with so much life to give.
Here we are today and I am on the path of changing the narrative around grief. How do we show up for our friends when the worst has happened? How do we speak HOPE into the grieving heart? How do we disrupt the stigma that surrounds grief from shoving it way down to talking about it and showing all our feelings; we need to feel our feelings.
I started a grief stationery company that does just this. I’m hoping the cards I create and the words I write, will help guide friends to show up for others going through losses. My company is Butterflies + Halos and there are more than cards on this website; you can also read my blog where I try to provide knowledge and hope surrounding grief and loss. I recently started a podcast with a fellow widow sister called “From Loss to Light Podcast” where we touch base on all losses, not just death. Our mission is to share how so many others have found light after their losses and how they are living their lives to the fullest now. I have been a guest on many other podcasts and you can find my highlight reel of them all on my Instagram.
I do all this to share HOPE and to show people that through hard things, life can be beautiful in time. I always end my blog posts with “TOGETHER WE ARE ALL BETTER” (because honestly what other choice do we have)?
For more information about Angie, you can check out her website.