Dealing with grief looks different for each and every person.
On July 12th, 2018 Delena Carol Johnston, Cody’s mother passed away. Now one year later we are revisiting the topic of grief as it has sifted through the sands of time. Dealing with grief is a process. It takes time to unpack all the emotions: anger, resentment, sorrow, and acceptance. It is normal and healthy to feel emotions. But what is not healthy is to bottle them up. This week, we are talking about how to find the beauty in the midst of sadness. This episode is a bit less structured. There was not any premeditated thought but rather raw feelings and emotion to be as honest and transparent as possible. People fear pain and death.
Obviously no one wants to experience negative emotions or loss. But even in the bad there is good that can spring forth from it. We give real life examples of this, as well as sharing a few take-aways we learned from our loss and how to embrace every moment this gift of life has. We hope that in this we can shed a bit of light on those dark parts of life to help out anyone who might be feeling lost. There are laughs and tears a-plenty so grab a tissue box and settle in. Let’s see what it means to start the process of dealing with grief.
Cody Johnston 1:28
And this is Episode 72. So this episode is going to be a little bit different than a lot of our episodes. It’s completely unscripted. We have not talked about what we’re talking about, we have a couple of questions that weren’t trying to answer. And that’s literally it. We’ve wrote down nothing for it at all. And the reason for that is because this is a follow up episode to an episode we had back in July of last year. And this is a follow up episode to my mom passing away. So a we’re going to be talking about just kind of what a family goes through what your faith goes through what what happens after losing an in an integral part of your family. And we’re going to get into that in just a second. But I just wanted to give a quick plug here for our group. nomads was previously known the reckless community we have changed that over to nomads a safe community for Christians who asked unsafe questions, and we would love to have you apart, the group has actually been going through a huge growth spurt right now. And there’s some really good conversation going over, and nomads. And we would love to have you a part to keep this conversation going. So if you go on there and click that link and asked to be a part we would love to have you. And so I’m just gonna cut out a lot of the other stuff. And let’s just get right into talking about this. And we don’t even have a title yet. We don’t have anything like that. We’re just going to share our heart on losing a family member and a year out. So let’s get right to it. So on July 13, technically, but really it was like the 12th right around midnight. Honestly, the 12th 13th. We got a phone call last year. And we got a call saying that my mom had passed away. It was not expected. It was completely off go. We were what were we doing here? Now? I’m trying to think back what we had going. I think we were in bed.
Elaine Johnston 3:34
Yeah, we had just gone to bed. It was after a game. Yeah. baseball game. And we had gone to bed early because we were really tired from the night before.
Cody Johnston 3:41
Right. So we had worked. And we got a phone call.
actually got a few phone calls.
Elaine Johnston 3:49
Yeah, I think I was in the shower. And you were just like reading a book or something. We got phone calls.
Cody Johnston 3:55
And finally one of them came through because my phone was on Do Not Disturb. And it was police saying hey, know, your mom liking you to come out here. And then I got another phone call. Like literally while we were in the driveway leaving that said she had passed away. And I remember my world was just spinning. Like I literally felt and I was trying to drive. And like I felt dizzy and nauseous and like completely overwhelmed. I had no idea what was going on. I couldn’t believe it. I was in this like false sense of reality, right? Like you’re, you’re separated from your cell phone was like an out of body experience. Like you just have no idea what what to do what to say we live like 30 minutes out. So I knew my dad was going to beat me there. I knew he was going to be a wreck. And I just remember, like all these thoughts flowing through my head. I can’t believe this has happened. I can’t believe this has happened. We had so much family drama that whole week as is and there was just so it was just such a mess. But this came out of such left field when a place when we were already emotionally wore down. This was like the thing that it’s just like, what do you do at this point? What What was going through your mind you I
Elaine Johnston 5:09
I was mostly worried for you. Um, you know, all the sadness, and all that didn’t really kick in until afterwards when everybody left. But that initial moment that we had this phone calls, we were in the driveway more specifically. And you were just like, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. I can’t believe this is happening. Like you kept repeating like my mom’s gone. My mom’s gone. And I was just really worried about you. And I remember like, you were driving and we had to pull over because we were calling a couple people and you said like you felt nauseous and everything. And like I thought we were going to get in a car wreck honestly, because just of how distraught you were and just the situation. So I was like, hey, like, let me take over you call who you need to call? Is this. Like you said it was around midnight. I told you like I’m taking over, do what you need to do it what you need, you need a call and just be okay. Like, just be in the passenger seat. Like I don’t want you worrying about having to get there. And so I remember speeding on the way to your mom’s house. And like, I just didn’t care if I got pulled over for speeding ticket. Like I think I went 80 miles an hour that 2030 minutes that it took to get there. And I was just like, dumbfounded that like we weren’t expecting anything, especially with all of the family drama that week. It was just like, really like this can be happening. Like, are you serious? Like did this really just happen? within the whole week that we just had?
Cody Johnston 6:38
Yeah, yeah, it was definitely overwhelming. To say the least. I remember riding in the passenger seat and I believe and I’m sorry. Like, I’m trying my best to recall these events because it was such a blur. But I believe I called my dad’s friend. Is that correct? And I was asking it, he lived close by and I was like, please, please, can you come up there? I think he was actually already there. I believe he my dad called him after talking to me. Okay, backtrack, the first phone call. Yeah, I was my father calling me saying something’s wrong. Something’s wrong come that’s literally just in a dead panic. The second phone call I got was from my neighbor. And then I ended up she handed the phone opposite police officer which told me my mom had passed.
Elaine Johnston 7:23
And then I also remember one of those calls, whenever you had called cousins that literally just left our house the night before and had just made themselves back to where they lived out of state. And then we call them they immediately turned around and came back.
Cody Johnston 7:38
Yeah, they were heading back to to Denver or not Denver to go anyways to Colorado Springs, Denver metropolitan area. And they were already almost there. Or they had just got
Elaine Johnston 7:49
there they were in bed.
Cody Johnston 7:50
Yeah, they just got like the hour before. Yeah. And they literally loaded the car right back up and turn around and came right back. And all this to say I know this sounds hectic is it is completely unscripted. We’re just sharing our heart. I think point number one would be when tragedy strikes, the brain behaves in different ways, like the onslaught of emotions that happen and thoughts. They’re so far outside of what you can imagine like you think of loss and using of grief and sorrow or acceptance. You think of these five stages of grief, or seven or nine or however many there is now think it’s seven or nine right now is what we’ve decided on as a society. But the truth is, there is no progression. It all just happens all at once.
Elaine Johnston 8:41
And there’s no specific cycle of like, Well, today, I’m angry tomorrow. I’m sad. Like it’s all at once. And repeatedly in some people that grieving process takes a week and they’ve grieved some people, it takes 10 years to grieve to fully having a range of emotions. And like Cody was saying all at once that happens it you know, whenever we got those phone calls were on the way we weren’t just sad. We weren’t just angry. We weren’t just shocked. We were just like,
Cody Johnston 9:09
everything we couldn’t,
Elaine Johnston 9:10
we couldn’t even put our emotions into words of how we felt. And I remember getting there and parking up the hill and just grabbing your hand and then running towards the house together. Yeah, that’s like what I just envisioned never really got there. You know, I saw the ambulance, ambulance lights. And I was just like, hey, and I we grabbed each other’s hands and then just ran to the scene
Cody Johnston 9:35
and see I don’t even remember that. Honestly, I remember vaguely seeing my dad and his friend. And that’s what I remember. I don’t I’m sorry, I just I don’t remember grabbing your hand. I don’t remember the drive there. I remember from the point of pulling over to let you take the wheel, which was like a block or two from our house, a country block which is actually like a mile. But it’s like just writing down the road whenever we swapped off because I was probably swerving radically. I’d imagine I was speeding and driving like a lunatic. But when you from the moment you took over to the point of me talking to my father, I don’t remember anything.
Elaine Johnston 10:14
Yeah, I remember, you know, we ran up the hill or down the hill and got to the scene and we both just immediately hugged your dad.
Cody Johnston 10:22
Yeah. And I just remember his words to me of this can’t be happening. This can’t be happening. And he was like, trembling to the point of like, I was nervous. He was gonna have a heart attack. And it was just this intense Trimble and this is like prevailing tremble. And he was just saying, This can’t be happening over and over and over again in my ear.
Elaine Johnston 10:48
And I remember your dad’s friend also came and hugged all of us, too. And like, there just wasn’t, nobody really said anything.
Cody Johnston 10:55
Yeah. And by the time we got there, mom, my mother was already loaded into ZM Millan’s, they had already stopped working on her, because like I said, the police actually, whenever I had, my neighbor had called me because she was actually, of course, we’re all older moved out now. But she was visiting her parents that day. And that’s when she had called me and was like, hey, like, you need to get down here. Something’s wrong. And literally, the police were standing next to her. And they asked for the phone and told me she had passed away over the phone, which they had told me because they didn’t want us to get haranguing or record anything on the way there. They’re like, take your time, breathe, let your wife drive. And he told me that on the phone, he’s like, I don’t mind telling people on the phone, but you need to know, like, because it’s, there’s nothing you can do. Yeah, so just come up here for your dad and be there. But I remember just the look on my dad’s friends face. And my dad is trembling and walking back and forth. And he would talk to the neighbor and talk to me and talk to you and talk to his friend in a circle. Because his brain was going all through the so many emotions and you know, just airing some family laundry, like if you listen to the show, anytime, you know, my mom was a terrible alcoholic, and she had heart problems as his and her drinking sure didn’t help it. And she you know, my dad is an amazing man who tried really, really hard to do everything he could. And it just that was one of those that was her vice and she wasn’t able to put it down. And I know he carried so much guilt. Because anytime you’re dealing with someone out of an addiction, the thing you ask yourself and I can say this firsthand, because later when I finally got to grieve, you know, is what I wanted. What What could I have done? What more could I have done? I want to do more I failed them. And it’s hard because we take on that baggage because that’s what addiction does is it removes the baggage from the the addict themselves and puts it on someone else. It’s always someone else’s fault. And so I remember the amulet where there wasn’t any going to the hospital. There’s nothing like that. We just loaded up in the car. I don’t think
Elaine Johnston 13:06
we actually hung out at your parents house for an hour and a half just
Cody Johnston 13:11
sitting there. That was hard.
Elaine Johnston 13:13
And you had to make a couple more phone calls with other family involved. If I remember I
Cody Johnston 13:17
was actually kind of upset. I was kind of angry.
Elaine Johnston 13:19
Yeah, you were angry because of the people that were in, like
Cody Johnston 13:23
involved in a lot of family drama. And I was Yeah. Also mad because I found a bunch of liquor and yeah, in the house. Every room. Yeah, every room there were empty bottles of liquor stored and hidden. Yeah. Which it just saw happens when you grew up with an alcoholic, you know, where they hide things. And so I literally just walked through like I know, I’m gonna try to be real vulnerable here, guys. I went through and I knew right where to look at under the bed. I knew where to look at on top of the headboard. I knew where to look at behind certain doors behind in certain cabinets. Like I literally had a pile of them lightning.
Elaine Johnston 13:55
Yeah, we found what 832 ounces can beer small.
Cody Johnston 14:00
Yeah, I remember just being mad. I was mad at the situation. I was mad that my mom had done this. She got to the point where she wasn’t wanting to eat. She was retaining water. She wouldn’t go to the doctor.
Elaine Johnston 14:10
She is using her medicine that she was on.
Cody Johnston 14:12
Yes, she was misusing her prescription as match even had that medicine because we had tried to warn her doctors before but she was going to see a quack doctor out in the middle of like, you know, the worst part of town who literally is known as a pill popper doctor, like people go there just to get their fix. Like there’s just there were so so much that was going on in that and so many emotions. I remember at that point, I was angry. But we took care of what we need to take care of. And we loaded up was my dad with us. Yeah, he rolled with his friend, right. And we went back,
Elaine Johnston 14:47
I think I want to say either he went to your dad, your dad went to his friend’s house or his friends stayed with your dad, I don’t remember exactly which one. They were together that night,
Cody Johnston 14:58
we went back to, to our place of work. And we sat in the parking lot and just talk Yeah, until like three or 4am. And we just circles. I mean, and you can I emphasize this. And I know like this conversation in itself sounds like circles. But we were just talking circles, it was just this round of round and round of events,
Elaine Johnston 15:19
just staring at each other in silence as well. Like we were always saying stuff, it was just like just trying to express our emotions to each other.
Cody Johnston 15:27
Yeah. And it was just, it was brutal. Because you’re in shock. At that point you, you have all these emotions are hitting you all at once. And just like how the body shuts down, when it’s an extreme moments of pain, you literally your brain literally cuts off at there’s a threshold, your body will cut off pain, the same thing happens mentally, you will cut off at some point, you’re just going to stop like Enough is enough. And you feel all these things. But they’re muted, right? Like you don’t know what to feel anymore is kind of the best way to describe it. Because your body has stopped the ability a feeling for a minute. And it’s to keep you I can only assume to keep you from going into shock or to having a heart attack or something like that, like your body’s it’s self preservation.
Elaine Johnston 16:09
Psychological your brain is trying to protect itself because it knows that it’s overloaded. And it can’t physically process what it’s going through. And those initial moments because you can honestly die. Yes, because of just overwhelming not only just, you know, heartbreak, but just everything all at once your body mentally shuts down because it physically cannot handle all of that at once.
Cody Johnston 16:33
Yeah, I remember at some point, my dad’s friends told, my friend told myself and Elaine, you don’t need to go home and you need to rest. And I remember about this time really it was about time I started getting angry, something in my brain shifted, and I did not grieve, I did not think about anything, but taking care of what was on the the plate on, you know, on my plate what I had to take care of. And so the process began, we start talking with the funeral directors and life insurance. And that’s a whole other thing. And I’ll just share that here to just trying to be transparent. I said my mom was a very sick individual. She was very bogged down with this. And she actually she had life insurance, but they dropped her because of her behaviors from the past. And we did not know this. And so what happened was they basically mailed her letter saying they had rejected her life insurance because of her reckless behavior. And I say reckless and the worst, since you can kind of get an idea from what I’m talking about, just by understanding her her past, but her reckless behavior that had dropped her life insurance, and they had issued her refund check. Well, we did not know these things, they did not call us they did not tell anyone other than just mailing a letter. And she’d actually taken the letter, shredded it, threw it out, took the check, cashed it and bought liquor with it. And this was just a few months prior, not even probably just a month or two prior to, to all of this happening. And so we found out she did not actually have life insurance. So we were scrambling to get together the thousands of dollars it takes to have a funeral. That was a whole other thing. And of course, at this point, my father feels victimized, right, like most people would have, like everything is is stacked against us. Even finances at this point is stacked against us. And it’s not even like we thought we had done the right thing. We thought we were covered. But we weren’t. Because she had not take told anyone of course, because she’s scared. She’s nervous. Like she had done things that had eliminated her ability to have that that buffer zone for her family. And let’s just be honest, addictions, very selfish, you know, it’s a selfish, selfish thing. And so all of that say like we went through the whole process. I had family there who my cousins are just fantastic. Family. Yes, friends of it. Yeah, I had friends driving in from out of state family. Yeah, we had so much food, so much food. And there was a couple select people, my cousins from Colorado, who, who were coming down, they were I couldn’t have done it. Without their help, honestly, because I had so much on my plate. As an only child, it’s really hard. Whenever you’re dealing with anything with your parents, because girl they have and it’s it’s very stressful. I know the A lot of times when people think of only child they think of like, Oh, they get what they want when they’re young, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, well, that comes full circle. Sooner or later. You You’re no longer on the receiving end, you’re on the giving end, right. And I, I’m all my parents had and my cousin stepped in really as a second son and that situation and it was just like, I mean, he was there. His his wife was there, they were just present. Their son brought joy into this situation. Like, because he’s young and fun, and he just has like the most adorable laugh ever. He’s comic relief. Yes. And he’s just, he’s such a sweetheart. And, and they were just present. And they, I mean, brought, I mean, they brought life and and the reason I’m I even mentioned that is I guess like the second point is surround yourself with people who care. Don’t close off people trying to help because the world’s not as bad as our minds want to make it out to be in that moment. And there are people who genuinely want to help, even if they’re people who you may not be the closest to there are people willing to try to help you. And it’s not a lone ranger dealing with tragedy is not a lone ranger thing. It is something that it takes a village to raise a child what takes a village to live, we have to depend on people community is vital. And in those moments, it shows how vital it is. It shows you who your true friends are
Elaine Johnston 21:08
when we had people coming out of the woodwork that either you didn’t even know but who knew your mom and your family or family that you hadn’t seen friends and all this stuff. People come out of the woodwork when there’s trauma and loss and tragedy, because people genuinely want to help you. We make bad decisions. we mess up we say stupid things. We hurt people, whether intentionally or unintentionally. But when it comes down to it coming together in the face of loss, and in the face of tragedy, that’s what community is all about. And people want to be there. Even if they can’t physically offer anything, people want to help you and play a part even if it’s just them telling you that and that’s all they tell you that that’s helpful. Just hearing that hearing that you’re loved, and that your family and friends are loved and love you and want to be there to help you whether it’s cooking a meal, whether it’s saying I’m so whether it’s not saying anything at all, like it takes those different people and their different offerings to help you.
Cody Johnston 22:07
Yeah, and I guess like, kind of like a, an add on to me like
point 2.3 or something like, you know, point two and a half is
I know firsthand how annoying it is and how annoying. It gets to have people asking you Are you okay? How can I help? And I’m sorry for your loss. Like those are three things you hear all the time.
Elaine Johnston 22:31
And even after a year. We still hear those pretty yesterday.
Cody Johnston 22:34
Yeah, yesterday, I had someone can actually the day before yesterday, literally the past two days in a row, I’ve had someone come apologizing for my loss. And you get kind of numb to that because it becomes this tound point really, it’s almost like, Oh, I don’t like you’re trying to I mean, both of these were our job too. And so I’m trying to work and someone’s like, Hey, I heard your mother passed away. I’m sorry. Hey, I heard your mother and your grandfather passed away. I’m sorry. Like you you hear this a lot. And you have to realize these people are saying this, they’re taking time to say this. And it’s hard, because loss is something we all deal with. But what can you say and I can accompany this or kind of encompasses the best. We have a friend in she was cooking us meals like so many meals and and i’m not grabbing like they were good meals. Like we ate for a month on the food that she cooked alone. And she was there like at our job site, making sure we were able to to follow a similar the next day we’re going after my mom passed away. We went to work
Elaine Johnston 23:41
we had worked for like three days after that.
Cody Johnston 23:43
Yeah, like we were right in the middle of a home. Same we work at a baseball field. If you haven’t, you know, listen back, if you don’t know that much about us yet. You know, we work at a baseball field. We’ve run a concessionaire business and we had to work. And we had talked about asking off we had are not asking off where we set our own job. But we had talked about like bringing people show and Yeah, but you know, my father works there, too. Like my father has worked there his whole life. And I’m like, Well, I’m going to be wherever he’s at, he doesn’t have a choice. Like he’s got to come to work. And I don’t want to just be sitting at the house, like
Elaine Johnston 24:15
you wanted to be around people, we wanted to be around our friends and family. And at that point work was the best place to do that. Even if we weren’t physically doing work, just being there, watching the game, enjoying each other’s company, or even whenever we sat in the kitchen on buckets, and ate lasagna, with friends, like that was one of the more memorable moments. And no, it wasn’t, quote, fun when nobody wanted to be there. You know, but people wanted to be there, it was fun to just be able to just sit and talk in the kitchen and catch up and just and friends you hadn’t seen in a few months, even coming down just for you and just for that. And, you know, just eating and in the filthy kitchen. I’m like pickle buckets. And, and not even having seen and just like how many people can be crammed into a kitchen just to say, I love you. And I’m sorry for your loss. And just to be with you.
Cody Johnston 25:07
Yeah. And, you know, just there’s people all around that want to do that. And some stand out more than others, of course, but everyone wants to try to help. But there’s no, there’s nothing you can say. And just kind of going back to what I was saying is like this friend that did all the community was just there constantly, just helping us in offering love and offering her service. She said something to me, it still sticks with me to this day when it comes to loss and grief. And she’s like, I know you’ve heard this 1000 times, but what can I do to help? And she said in Cody, I don’t want you to just brush me aside. Because when you’re dealing with loss, everyone’s asking, What can I do? What can I do? And you don’t have the ability to even think through that. And I understand. So here’s some things I can do. But realize when I say it, I’m not just being passive. I mean it, like don’t try to do all this alone. And that was groundbreaking to me. Because I realized in that moment way it pulled me out of my my mind that’s got a million thoughts and was kind of like the fly on the wall in the room realizing Wait, these people have emotions too, and they genuinely care about what we’re going through. And that was just that was life giving to me in them
Elaine Johnston 26:25
even down to just taking Doppler out to the bathroom when we weren’t at home. Yeah, like just little things like that they they showed up, took our dog out and then left. But that was like enough for us. That’s what we needed in those moments. We didn’t necessarily need them to stick around. We just need them to take care of something that we couldn’t take care of in the moment.
Cody Johnston 26:45
And so fast forward, of course, I spoke at my mother’s funeral. I gave the eulogy and all that share patch funeral, tons of people there so many people, I don’t even my mom never met a stranger. So it blew both of our minds because we need no most like there’s a lot of people we had no idea who they were. But she just had a packed funeral.
I somehow gave the eulogy. And I just I couldn’t live with myself, if I didn’t. Like it was one of those things where people are like, you don’t need to do this. And I’m like, No, you’re understand this is how I grieve. I’m the spirit. Yeah, like I all I know is speaking and being in front of people like that’s my life since I was a teenager, I’ve got to do this. And this is how I grieve. And I remember giving that and feeling some finally a little bit of peace in the moment. And that’s kind of you know, after that all the family and friends start tapering off. And sooner or later, you’re left with just you again. And that’s kind of fast forwarding here is kind of point number three maybe is, there comes a point, when you’re going to have to face your emotions, you have to deal with it, you have to get in, it’s kind of like, you have to fill up the ground, and get all the weeds out and figure out what’s truly going process through stuff. Because if you don’t, then it’s going to take over you like weeds, it grows and grows and chokes the life out of you like come find us to a tree. And the reason I can say this firsthand is because that’s what happened to my mom, my mom, my mom’s mother passed away. Whenever I was three, she died at the age of 55. And my mother became resentful toward her mother for dying, she felt like she left her and she suppressed her emotions through her drinking, which led to my mother passing away at 53. And I had a choice, I can either face it and rise above it. Or I could have let it destroy me and ended up in the same position that my mom ended up and putting my kids through the same hell that I went through. And it’s using call it a generational curse, whatever you want to call it. But at some point, I had to make the decision say enough is enough. This has no authority over my family any more. And so I’m telling this to you. Yes, tragedy is terrible. I do not want to think about going through tragedy I do not want to ever imagine. even for a moment, I don’t want to even have to put myself in my father’s shoes, which I know I’ve had to do. But I don’t want to imagine having a spouse who is an addict or losing a spouse at such a young age, or anything like that, like this is my mom. Yes, I was young when I lost her. But you expect to lose your parents, like there’s so many other situations that you can start imagining and you get obsessed with that and it can drive you down as someone who has struggled with anxiety, the fear of death, the fear of loss, the idea of hurting can become a driving factor in how you live your life. And you can’t allow that to happen. And now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying anxiety is something like, Oh, you’ve just got to pray about and get over you. We have episodes on that you. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is you give authority to the thoughts you have. And the more you think about something, the more authority you give it, you know, you can say, say it this way that the devil is only as big as you allow him to be will the devil being your thoughts right? There, they’re only allowed to grow as big, those negative thoughts can only get as big as you allow them to grow. And I’m saying this firsthand, I’ve done this, but I had to realize like I cannot let this control me. And you have to face it. I remember sitting in this office that we’re filming in right now I’ll be it It looked completely different. But I was sitting right over there across from us where the couch used to set, I had all the lights off. And I literally think I had like just a sound generator on my phone playing just some like calm, almost like rain sounds, I think was the my droning music, which that’s I love that kind of stuff. So you know, don’t judge me. But I had that kind of playing. And I think there’s actually a thunderstorm going on outside. And it was night. And I was sitting there. And I literally remember all the sudden something went and it clicked. And I just started crying. And this was like a month after all that. And I think something Finally, it was like I had to carry the weight of all of that for so long. Because I had to like I had to be the one there was no way my dad can do it. Like it’s not his place to do it. Someone argue it wasn’t my place. But I felt in my spirit it was I’m not saying you have to do that. When you lose someone that close to him saying, I felt in my spirit through my prayer through my time with God, God was like Cody, I want you to do this, because this is going to be healing for you. And maybe that’s another kind of point three and a half is listen to God, listen to God when you’re in these moments, because he’s going to reveal things even when it hurts, like hell praise Him to throw a whole song reference out there, you know, like, there is beauty in loss. And that’s not something any of us want to ever think about. But there is there is a lessons of life to be learned. Because life is the most valuable thing we have. It’s the biggest gift we could ever be given. And all that to say I remember just sitting there and it was like somebody opened the box, the box of things that I had had to pack up for the moment to deal with what was a hand, someone cut the tape and opened it up. And I was allowed to just kind of start pulling them out and sorting through them. What was that like for you really
Elaine Johnston 32:27
like the initial initial moment of those weeks or time after that
Cody Johnston 32:31
the time after? How did you start? Start the grieving process, I guess for you?
Elaine Johnston 32:36
Well, for me, I agree more in the process. It was kind of flipped for me, because you know, she was my mother in law, but she wasn’t my mom. And she wasn’t my mother in law for long, it had only been a couple years since we had been married, that she was in my life. And so ever since our first day, you know, I’ve seen literally firsthand what all of addiction and trauma all that stuff looks like. And especially in those latter years, they were worse, you know, whenever I became whenever I got into the picture, so I was able to go through that with you. But I went through that with you differently. And in the moment, almost as an outsider who had seen things firsthand, most of my grieving was within those couple of days. And you know, you were saying that for you. That wasn’t until a month later, you know, you you had your grieving and a couple of days within but then like with the funeral and all that stuff like you You had strength that you only comes from God. Yeah, absolutely. So help us not to give you know that you would die and be there for your family and do those things for your dad and everything. But I’m over here on the back end, seeing everything. And you know, I’m a very emotional feeling type person. And especially as a four on Instagram, you know, I kind of taking motion, three fold. Like it’s, it’s, I feel things more deeply. And whenever the next day, literally the next day, whenever you went to record the episode of what happened for the podcast, you know, I if you hadn’t listened to that I highly advise you go listen to it. It’s just Cody. And it’s just all the raw emotion literally the day after all of that happened.
Cody Johnston 34:19
Yeah, we’ll link to it in the show notes.
Elaine Johnston 34:20
But while you were recording, I can hear a couple of things. But I wasn’t like listening in. And I just had a bunch of guilt in those moments of, I should have been a better daughter in law, I should have invited your mom to go shopping, I should have done things, these things I shouldn’t have been angry, I shouldn’t have told you to push away you know earlier of things that happened that year, whenever we had to distance ourselves from your mom. And I just, I felt like a bad person, honestly. And while you were recording the podcast, I was texting. Some of the friends that we had mentioned, was just like, I feel like a crappy person. I feel like there’s things that I should have done. But the thing that everyone kept saying was there was nothing you could have done. Yeah, you did the right thing. You she she knew that you loved her, you know?
Cody Johnston 35:15
Yeah, it’s never enough. And maybe that’s another point. point for is don’t let the I should have keep you from doing the I wills, especially dealing with a tragedy of this type of of magnitude where you have multiple family dramas involved, you have an addict involved all this kind of stuff. It’s it’s the gut reaction you have is I should have done this. If I would have done that. You know, the last conversation I had with my mom on the phone was her finding out stuff about our family, and just some of their their baggage. And she was crying to me on the phone saying I had no idea. I had no idea. Like, this is terrible. This is disgusting to me. I had no idea. I had no idea. And she was crying because she did not know. And then yesterday she drank herself to death.
Elaine Johnston 36:04
And then a similar conversation with your dad before that conversation. Yeah,
Cody Johnston 36:07
I mean, like, literally, that’s the last memory I have of her. And that’s hard.
Elaine Johnston 36:13
And for me, we had a bunch of family in town before all of this happened. just happenstance just be hanging out and stuff. And so all the girls are some of the girls had made a plan to go get their nails done. And a bunch of drama happened right before that, that we kind of found out throughout that week. It just kept escalating and escalating. And so the day of half the girls kind of dropped out of getting their nails and it was me and your cousin. And I think that was it, who actually went and got their nails done. And I remember seeing your mom and seeing your family, the family that was causing the drama, walk in and the nail salon and sit there and ask like your mom came up and asked me she was like, oh, what color? Are you getting? You know, just acting like nothing was wrong. But at that time, she didn’t know any, any everything that we knew. And so she was just blindly like, hey, like, how are you doing? Like, what color? Are you getting? Like, just you know, your mom was such a friendly person. And I just remember trying to ignore your mom. Honestly. Yeah, I was just angry at everything that happened. I was hurt. I was hurt for you with all of the family drama. And I was like, Oh, yeah, well, I’m just going to get this purple. And then that was it. Like I told her what color I was getting. But I kind of just shut her down. And then she kind of walked away. I don’t know if she realized, if I if I was being called her not I don’t know, because there’s other people involved. But I remember being with your cousin. And we were just like so bitter about like, Why did she try to come and act like everything’s normal when everything’s not and all this stuff. And then two days later, she passes away. And like we didn’t see her. And I remember a couple days before that even she was over. And we were angry about something she did that day. She was asking questions of, you know, we don’t have kids, but we have a dog who she loved. And she asked, you know, like, Why? Why don’t you let me come to the dog anymore. And just all this stuff.
Cody Johnston 38:11
Yeah, cuz I had just got off of a two month hiatus of not even speaking to her. Yeah, because of just when she had the wreck and like she could have hit us and like she up in the ditch and all that crap, what’s up.
Elaine Johnston 38:24
And so like, my mind just kept thinking of all of these things of like, being bitter with her and then not seeing her. And then that happened and then never seen her again. But one of this is gonna sound very weird. But one of the things that helped me mourn and grieve was for the funeral, whenever or the viewing the day before was whenever they asked me to do her eyeliner, and that sounds so morbid, morbid and creepy, and weird. And, you know, both me, you both myself and your mom are crazy. But we have different styles of eyeliner, tried to copy, she always trying to copy my cat eyeliner. And so that was like a big deal. That was something that was like a big connection between us was just our eyeliner. And so they did her makeup. But they left out the island. And we were like, well, if we’re going to show her body, this doesn’t look like your mom, this doesn’t look like her people are going to think oh, she’s not wearing her eyeliner. Like that’s very normal. And they asked everyone kind of looked at me whenever we were, you know, examining the body and all that stuff for before the viewing. And everyone kind of looked at me. And I remember, your dad walked out of the room. And it was just me, you and then the role coordinator. And both of you had said you don’t have to do this. But it would mean a lot if you can. And so I said yeah, I can do it better. I don’t I can’t have anybody in here, if I do this, and I’m not a mortician. I’m not trained, I don’t do this, I’m not blind to it anymore. This isn’t something that I just normally do. But there’s something that very, almost humbling about being able to do our eyeliner. And like this is very morbid and hard to talk about. But doing her eyeliner and doing makeup on anybody’s dead body, but my mother in law, and knowing what killed her, and just all of the stuff that was kind of my grieving process in that. And if I was going to do, or eyeliner, if I was going to make her look like herself look normal, that I was going to do with a good job at doing or eyeliner, I was going to make it look really good. And wow, I did it. I didn’t cry. Like when you had the strength. When Cody had the strength of doing the eulogy, that was the strength that I add to it or make up. I didn’t cry. I wasn’t upset. I was brave. I was bold, you know doing that. And going to the viewing later that afternoon, when all of these family and friends and acquaintances and strangers coming together and viewing her body. I felt proud that I was able
Cody Johnston 41:34
I was proud of you. I was very proud of you. Because I couldn’t hardly look. And my grieving took place in my nightmares, because I agree when I sleep and I had nightmares even up till recently, I I dealt with nightmares thinking about about my mother and the trauma and some of them are not even nightmares. Some of them are good. Some of them are whoo graphics, even chair on this show. And just is not intimate enough. I need to see someone’s face to be able to tell them that. But all that to say is point number I think we’re on five or whatever it is. Allow yourself to grieve. Allow yourself to express and give yourself that time. Because if you don’t, it will spend the rest of your life running from it. I’m not saying go do anything stupid. I’m saying give yourself the time. However it is if you grieve if you have to give a speech about it if you have to do that makeup. If you have to sit in your room and quietly meditate and cry, talk with people. If you have to laugh about it. If you have to whatever you have to do to grieve, allow yourself to do it. Because if you don’t pluck the weeds, they will take root. And that is not beneficial Vishal because his heart his loss is we know that life is the most precious gift and it is to be celebrated. And now fast forward a year later. What does it look like? We still have conversations like this. We still every now and then it’s it’s less than less. But I still wake up in a cold sweat some nights remembering how my mother looked laying there. You know how she looked at the funeral. I still have nightmares of her telling me Cody I’m already dead Cody. I’m dead or walking the streets as a ghost. I have those kinds of dreams, those nightmares. We still have conversations just like this, have the regrets. And we just have to say you know what we did. Instead of talking about the regrets, let’s talk about the time that we finally got to spend Mother’s Day with her just a few months before a month before we finally got to spare two months before we finally got to spend Mother’s Day with her after her standing us up for three, three years in a row. We finally got to take her out and had a great dinner. And for the comfort with getting to shoot fireworks with her and her being around and getting to play with Doppler the last time Christmas was a huge one, we finally had a normal Christmas she got to spend. That was our first Christmas Christmas was my family’s biggest holidays, always their favorite holiday, the one that we did the biggest celebrations. And it got really, really hairy. Whenever I got older. And some of the saddest times of my life or anything back were actually some Christmas mornings where there was just trauma in my family. But this was such an important holiday. And we were actually able to have my mom and my dad over an open presence and being normal. Despite all the drama, things were normal for that day. And it was beautiful. And you have to take those good and realize our tendency, our nature, our our sin nature is to say, Hey, here’s what we could have done. Here’s the bad, here’s what I did wrong. But get rid of all that and realize the good and realize everyone’s in charge of their own decisions. Everyone has their own relationship with God. Everyone has their own journey of living and you cannot change what someone else does. All you can do is try to better the environment you’re in and try to spread the love of Christ, wherever you are.
Elaine Johnston 45:21
And one of my favorite things that has happened since a year ago of her passing, was this last Christmas that we had so beautiful when all of her family, her family.
Cody Johnston 45:33
Yeah, her family was over the cousins. We were talking about Grover little what we call him, my nephew, but because these cousins aren’t cousins, they’re they’re my they’re my brother. And they’re my brother and sister. Yeah, you know, but so my nephew is just running around and he got this train said he was playing with all. And he was running around with the biggest, most joyful thing because it was new life. And I remember, this is going to sound so strange. But every Christmas for as long as I can remember in my adult life, my dad and I have ended Christmas crying, we would literally sit outside wherever we were, however we were spending after dinner, whatever it was, and we would just hold each other and cry because of the dysfunction in our family and how we longed for things to be normal. And for the first time, there weren’t any tears. And I don’t get it because my mom wasn’t there. But it was like she was there spiritually, it was like that she was there in her truest sense. And we knew she wasn’t suffering any longer for the torment that she went through on earth. And we were there with her family, which was life giving, because normally we spent it with my father’s family on Christmas. And so it was completely different. It was in our house. It was peaceful. It was joyous. And it was just another. And it was the first Christmas where there were no tears. And what I mean by that is maybe this is the final point of with each destiny life begins, no matter whatever we go through, it may change, but there is still life. And that’s to be celebrated. When a seed falls to the earth and looks dead, but it springs forth, unfathomable life. And I don’t want to think about losing anyone, I don’t want to think about losing ever my wife, or my father, my grandmother or any of these things. That’s not something any sane person wants to sit around and think about. And I can say sadly, as someone who has dealt with anxiety, I’ve spent too much time thinking about that anyway. And the reason I even say that is don’t spend your time wallowing in what could be but enjoy every moment. And there’s this adage that is a live in or plan is if you’ll live forever live as if you’ll die tomorrow.
Unknown Speaker 47:57
And that’s life that is God
Cody Johnston 48:00
that is in essence exactly what we are to do. Because if we don’t plan, if we don’t strive, we have no purpose. But if we don’t act out on those things, we don’t give our purpose life. And life is the ultimate gift from the creator to us. And it’s the ultimate gift we can give. We’re in your corner. We’re here for you.
Listen here to the episode Cody recorded the day after his mother’s passing: https://therecklesspursuit.com/episode022/
There comes a point when you have to face your emotions. You have to till up the ground and get the weeds out. If you don’t they will choke the life out of you like a vine does a tree. - Cody Click To Tweet
There is no specific cycle of emotion. In some people it takes a week, others it takes 10 years. - Elaine Click To Tweet
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