Here I am 22 months (tomorrow) into my life without my husband. I'm doing okay, and I'm not sure how to feel about that. There is a certain amount of guilt that goes into moving on. I never want to forget how much we loved each other, and yet the passage of time is forcing me to heal and live without him. I suspect this is a normal part of the grieving process. Sometimes I am fine and don't think too much about it. Other times, it's as raw as July 18, 2009. But those times are getting fewer and farther between. I guess this is a good thing. I know he would want me to be happy, and I just have to get over the guilt that I might actually be able to live without him.
It can be said that there is a certain amount of wisdom that comes from the heart wrenching grief that you suffer after the loss of your spouse.This wisdom may not be obvious in the beginning, but a year or so down the line, you wake up one day and realize just how wise you are, not only about grief, but about many other aspects of your life.The question then presents itself – is this wisdom worth the price of what you have to lose to acquire it?
“He called them the day feeling and the night feeling.The day feeling caught up with him before lunch most days, a hot blanket of lethargy so suffocating it made his temples pound….The day feeling was bad, no question, but the night feeling was the real killer – a bleak sledgehammer to the soul, as if some stranger had whispered a terrible secret in his ear, and that secret was how death was senseless and inevitable.” From The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.
How many days I've felt this way in the last year and a half. In the beginning, it was all night feeling. Now it is mostly day feeling with some of the night feeling thrown in. How do you ever get over this? The answer is -- you don't. You learn to live with it, and that's what I'm trying to do. Some days are more successful than others. Today -- I'm having a particularly unsuccessful day.
I am always amazed at how people talk to me about my husband. From the very beginning, I've gotten comments like "what was it like to watch your husband die?" Really? You want to know that? That comment came on my first day back to work. And then you have someone call you and ask you if your husband is dead. That came in a phone call just three days after he died. Not, I'm sorry for your loss, but IS HE DEAD? Today, someone who knew that my husband was a video game fanatic, was talking to me about some new, fun toy that he had purchased, and he said, "I know your deceased husband loved to play games." No kidding! As if I didn't know that my husband was deceased. I am aware of that every single day of my life. He's still my husband, deceased or not. Sometimes you have to laugh...
It's been a year and a half since I started my journey. It has been hard. I won't kid anyone on that. It continues to be hard, and every day brings some new feeling or emotion that makes me realize the journey continues. A year and a half ago, I was feeling that drop-to-the-ground pain of my loss. Today, the pain is still pretty raw, but I am also looking forward, taking steps to restart my life, and I guess I can only say that life goes on.
We know little to nothing about death and grief in this country. We are totally sheltered from it, and because of that, I think we suffer more when we lose someone. I'm not certain that anyone can be told ahead of time how hard that journey is or whether it would make any difference. I only know that it is the hardest journey I have ever been on. In the last year and a half, there have been moments of sadness, joy, anger, laughter, and drop-to-the-floor agonizing pain and loneliness. And you never know from day to day what you will feel like. The first year was hard, but the second year has been worse. You wander through the first year pretty numb, getting through all of those "firsts" - first Christmas, first anniversary, first Father's Day - without him. Everyone is there to hold you up and help you -- which is amazing and for which I am forever grateful. But the second year, when everyone (rightfully so) has got to get on with their lives, the second year is worse. It is the year when I realized that "reality is real". The loss, loneliness, and pain just seems to wash over you in waves and it hurts - damn bad!
I mistakenly thought that after a year, I would have been through everything, all of those Grief Steps I've been told about, and could move on with my life. Well, that's a big, fat crock! How do you get over losing your best friend, your lover, you soulmate, your life? You don't. In the beginning, you just exist. Then you begin to exist without him. Then you begin to think about living again. That is where I am right now. I AM looking forward. Trying to figure out how to begin again having survived the loss of my life, life as I knew it, when he died.
I am better, and I am going to survive this. I can still laugh, I still enjoy my life, although greatly altered now, and I want happiness in my life. I don't want this blog to be so depressing that no one will want to be here. I just want people to know that there is life after death if you are willing to feel everything and go through all of the steps. I wrote the following just four months into my grief, but in many ways, it's more true now than then.
The Rise and Fall of Grief
Rise and fall, like your chest with each breath
Like the ocean waves cresting and breaking
The emotional peaks of depression and elation
rule your life and your dreams.
Time slows to a crawl while you pick up the
pieces of your heart, wrenched from your body
by the flatline of your lover’s life.
Unimaginable pain that must be endured.
And then one day, you smile or laugh and
you don’t feel guilty for staying behind.
Glimpses of your life return slowly and
time begins to move again.
What is this life without your lover?
The shrine you have built is not enough.
You must take a step forward and fall back
into the arms of those left behind.
Strength begins to return, and one day you say
I’m fine, and are surprised to hear yourself say it.
But you aren’t fine, and you know it.
Loneliness looms like a dark cloud threatening
to overtake you while you run home and hide
in your bed, welcoming that fetal stance you are
now so familiar with.
But you say NO, this is not my life and my
lover would not want this for me.
I do not want this for me!
But I’m confused and don’t know what I want for me.
I have been a widow since July 18, 2009, and that seems to take up a lot of my life right now. I am determined to go through every step of the grieving process - I don't ever want to have to go back and start over. I am a mother of five, grandmother of two and have worked all of my working career as a litigation assistant. I love to read and sew, and spent many years working in musical theater which is a passion my husband and I shared.