Last night, I finally threw Jeff's toothbrush in the trash. 3 years, 7 months and 22 days, since he used it to scrub his teeth clean.
This action was precipitated a few days ago when I had spoken to a dear friend who is known for being outspoken and blunt. She doesn't mean harm at all but is very Northern European in the delivery of her very strong beliefs and feelings.
During our visit, she told me that I had to "get over" Jeff. She said it was time to stop grieving and that I needed to get rid of the active reminders of, not only his death, but his life as well. Photos, personal effects, etc. All these should be removed.
She told me that I was teaching the kids to grow up grieving. That they would never "get over it" if I didn't move on. My lovely friend told me that she had lost grandparents who she had been close to and favourite friends and that she had had to move on.
Although I told her that I didn't agree that I was stuck in my grieving process and defended my beliefs and action; the confidence that I have grown in the last three years in my abilities, my intuition and strength took a bit of a bruising.
For the last few days, I have intensely analyzed all my post-Jeff actions. I have wondered if they are "normal" and "appropriate". I have scrutinized my grief and that of my children.
I find it interesting that to someone outside our home, it looks as if I am still struggling horribly in my grief. But inside our home, Jeff's life is celebrated and because of this, ours is so much richer. We have lost so much but manage to laugh and share a closeness that many other families do not. Death is not a taboo subject in our home. Neither is joy, anger, frustration or love. All types of emotions are wrapped into the learning experience we have all had due to Jeff's death...and we don't hide them. Just as we have these thoughts/feelings due to Jeff's death, we have a truly rich life that has nothing to do with our loss. Three lives that are celebrated everyday for the mere fact that we still live and will do so, richly and happily, until each of our time comes.
Ultimately, I have come to the conclusion that grief, specifically the loss of a spouse, is something that you have to live through to truly "get". I feel that just as everyone is the best parent they will ever be and know exactly how to parent BEFORE they ever even have their own children, everyone is the best widow/er before they have lost a spouse to death. I, too, have lost my beloved grandfather, very close friends, even an ex-boyfriend, but nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could have prepared me for this.
So this morning, I fished that old toothbrush out of the garbage bin.....and put it in my sock drawer. No one has to see it any more, but it is still there, marking his place. Marking his existence until I am ready to remove it from our home.