I have found that one of the most important ways for me to heal from and exist in grief is to honor the person I have lost. I truly believe that the spirits of our lost loved ones are positively impacted by the ways we honor their life, but regardless of one’s views on that, in my experience, honoring our lost loved ones nurtures the mourner as well.
Caleb and I were set to marry on August 28th, 2021. It was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. All I wanted for my future was to be Caleb’s wife. But March 8th, 2021 changed everything. Never in my wildest imaginations did I expect that on our wedding day I would have an urn on my shelf and an unused white dress hanging limply in my closet; a dress Caleb never even got to see. In anticipation of the nightmarish reality of not having my groom on our wedding day, I decided I couldn’t let that day just pass by like any other. So, the weekend of August 28th, I gathered our bridal party together for a memorial campout to be together as Caleb’s closest community; each of us bringing a unique aspect of Caleb that he had left imprinted on our hearts, sharing stories about him around the campfire. He would be so happy that we were all together.
The following weekend I had these photos taken of me in my wedding dress, holding Caleb’s picture, both our wedding rings on my fingers, and wearing his suit jacket. This moment was both heavy and powerful. My heart was full of deep sadness and disbelief, but also joy and satisfaction; it felt very significant for me to be able to do this for him.
Caleb E Leupold, I will forever love you and I will always be your partner. I am wholeheartedly dedicated to you for eternity. I carry your name with reverence and responsibility. Every fiber of your being is wholly and completely loved.