Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A blizzard of loss & grief February 11, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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A winter storm creates near white-out conditions along Minnesota State Highway 19 north of my hometown of Vesta in southwestern Minnesota in January 2013. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo January 2013)

LOSS STORMS INTO THIS WINTER of 2022 like an old-fashioned Minnesota blizzard. The snow just keeps falling. The wind keeps whipping. Powdery snow blows into rock hard drifts that edge roadways, fill ditches, encircle homes. Visibility is limited. Travel conditions poor. Bitter cold settles in and I feel as if this storm will never end.

Wind chimes from my friend Beth Ann in North Carolina honor my mom. Beth Ann lost her mom just over a year ago and has been a great support to me. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo February 2022)

Such has been the beginning of the new year, when deaths within my circle defined recent weeks. First, my mom died on January 13. Two days later, my cousin Randy, 50, died unexpectedly. Last week my cousin Kevin’s stepson, Dan, 43, also died unexpectedly. And then, on Tuesday, my friend Patty died.

Just like a winter storm, we must all deal with loss and grief. (Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo of Randy snowblowing our driveway)

It’s a lot at once—this loss, this grief.

Ruth, a friend from Pittsburgh, knit this beautiful prayer/comfort shawl from the softest acrylic yarn fittingly labeled CELESTIAL STRIPES. These are in hues my mom would have liked. Each time I wrap this shawl around my shoulders, I feel Ruth’s love in the warmth and texture. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo February 2022)

Anyone who’s experienced a Minnesota blizzard understands the analogy. Yet, blizzards always end. We shovel and snow-blow our way out of snow-clogged driveways. We clear the walks and steps. And we get on with life, despite the storm. Yet, we remember.

My friend Mandy colored this beautiful faith-based art for me. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo February 2022)

I am digging myself out of a blizzard now, working through the drifts of grief. But I’ve never felt alone in this storm. First, as a woman of faith, I’ve felt God’s presence, his strong hand upon the snow shovel. I’ve heard his encouraging voice in the comforting words of pastors shared at these recent funerals (my mom’s attended in-person, the others virtually).

I’ve appreciated the nearly 60 sympathy cards which have landed in my mailbox. I’ve read and reread the encouraging words and notes. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo February 2022)

I’ve experienced, too, the support of family and friends who’ve reached out with cards, personal notes, calls, emails, texts, memorials and other thoughtful gifts. My friend Ruth emailed a particularly touching poem, “We Remember Them” by Sylvan and Rabbi Jack Riemer. Each visually impactful line ends with “We remember them.” I’ve printed the poem and posted it on my fridge.

Assorted shovels used in clearing snow from our property. (Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo December 2021)

I feel incredibly loved, as if an entire neighborhood has showed up with shovels and snowblowers to unclog the driveway, to clear the walk and steps. To help me dig out from this blizzard of loss.

My friend Kathleen from Idaho crafted this beautiful mini altered book honoring my mom and her life. I will share more soon about this book, a comfort to me as I remember my mother. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo February 2022)

There will be days when I feel like hunkering down inside, watching the wind-driven snow pile up, sheltering within my grief. Just like during a blizzard, when going outdoors proves risky.

Inspirational garden art from my sister-in-law Cheryl and family uplifts. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo February 2022)

But winter storms are not forever. Rock hard drifts melt, replaced by the greening earth, new life. The wind calms, stirring peace in summertime breezes. Visibility clears to the window of memories. Roads take us back to places once shared with those we’ve lost. And the bitter cold of death lessens as time passes, as love endures.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

22 Responses to “A blizzard of loss & grief”

  1. Sending prayers, love and hugs – too much loss, too much loss. The beautiful gifts, the kindness of helping one another out, and most of all the love and support. I had to remind myself this week that I matter and my family matters and that they are number one in priority (especially when everything else gets crazy busy like work). To start everyday like it is a gift to be opened slowly and savored and to live it fully too. Take Care, Be Blessed My Friend 🙂

  2. Sending another virtual hug to you, Audrey. This has indeed been a rough time for you and the show of support you’ve received is something I hope holds you well until you can settle your grief into some sort of resting place. P.S. I finally found one of your comments that you tried to make on my blog in my comment spam file. I’ll check that more in the future!

    • Thank you, Kathleen. I truly do feel uplifted by all of the support I’ve received, including from you. What a wonderful circle of friends…I feel so loved.

      I’m glad you found one of my comments. I have the same issue with comments from a friend who is a regular reader and commenter here. Her comments always deposit in my junk file. I check it daily, otherwise keeping up with that would prove overwhelming.

  3. Laurine Jannusch Says:

    You are experiencing an unusual amount of loss within a very short time. I pray that our Lord will comfort you and those you love,and lead you to a serene acceptance of these blows as a part of life that we struggle to deal with. Thank s be to God that He is an everpresent help in all our earthlyl troubles.. L. Jannusch

  4. Valerie Says:

    I”m sorry to hear about your friend and other family members that passed away, so close to your mom’s death.
    You have had some incredible gifts given in support. I, too, received a prayer shawl when my mom died.

  5. I’m so sorry to hear that you have had a cluster of losses. It’s seems like they tend to happen that way. You just barley have time to catch your breath and find your footing on solid ground before another one hits. Blizzards are the perfect analogy. Grief is like scooping snow during a blizzard!

    Praying for you my dear friend!

  6. Sandra Says:

    What an appropriate analogy for the losses you and family have lived through recently. “Never rains but it pours” also comes to mind. Turning toward nature and our faith, things bigger than our mortal selves. We’re singing for a church choir’s husbands funeral this week, delayed months, will say an extra prayer for your family. After Jan. on hold for bad WA Cty. numbers, we joined together again Wed., only to hear prayer requests of a young son with a brain tumor and others I’m trying to sort through. The eternal prayer circle won’t be unbroken. Peace, Audrey.

  7. Norma Says:

    Audrey, I really don’t have the proper words to express my sincere condolences to you. Too many losses in such a short time. I feel for you, and anyone else that lose family and friends. I just don’t know how to express my feelings. God be with you.

    • Thank you, dear Paula. Of special note to you would be that my cousin’s son Dan served in Iraq. His PTSD contributed to his death. He experienced to much in major battles in Iraq. He’s an indirect casualty of war. I’m thankful you have found (and gotten) the support you need.

  8. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    I think of you often Audrey, the loss of so many in such a short time, it’s hard for ones heart to endure. I’m truly sorry for your loss’s

  9. Audrey, I am just now reading your post. I’m deeply sorry to read of the loss of your friend. You have had to hold so much loss and grief of late. Please be gentle with yourself. Sending love to you. Kathleen


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