A Lighter Shade of Grey ....

05_13_09.JPGToday's post is really for all of the "newer" women who are on this path ...... the one we didn't want to be on, the club we didn't want to join.

I was trying to think of what to say to a new friend whose husband died a few months ago.  She is in the middle of what I call the "black".  I am not a veteran in this process, by any stretch of the imagination.  But I can see that I'm slowly moving forward.  And so I wanted to encourage her, and those of you who are in the "black".

My heart is so heavy for each one of you.  I wish there was something I could say, something I could do to take some of the pain off of you.  But I can't, can I? 

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Grateful (me, mom, and grandma in the pic)

05_12_09.JPGThis past weekend was my fourth Mother's Day without Daniel. The last three have been very difficult for me, and had I had time to think about it, I would have dreaded this one too. Oddly enough I was too busy to think about whether the weekend would be hard or not.

It was hard in a different way this year. I missed him, as I usually do, but it was so much less of a bitter feeling that it surprised me. No pity party this year, no envy of other mom's with adoring husbands to wait on them hand and foot (or not, as the case may be). I wished Daniel could be there to enjoy it and his absence was noticeable as it usually is. I wished he could have spent some quality time with me and with Grayson making me breakfast or whatever they might have done. I missed him of course, but the overall feeling I had for the weekend wasn't bitter or angry or envious, it was grateful.

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My Inner Voice

05_11_09.JPGDecision making has never been difficult for me. If asked to choose between one thing and another I pick one, and stick with my decision. When facing a challenging task I determine a course of action and get moving. When a problem appears unsolvable...I go for a run, and nine times out of ten come back with an answer. And then came widowhood.

One of the most disturbing aspects of widowhood for me was the very new experience of constantly questioning every decision I made. Was I doing this or that right? Should I choose one thing or the other. One minute option A seemed best, the next minute I was more inclined to go with option B. I called people and asked their opinions often...and I let myself be swayed toward their way of thinking regardless of what my gut was telling me. Buy a new fence or fix the old? Sell Phil's truck or keep it? Get a gardener or teach the kids how to mow the lawn? Vacation or no vacation? 

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Celebrating Moms

05_10_09.JPGSports practices, music lessons, school meetings, homework, school projects, dinner every night, getting multiple children to different locations at the same start time, crying for daddy, asking where he went, consoling, advising, figuring out what the best solution to the problem is when you only have one opinion to consider....any of this sound familiar? The list of the duties of a single, widowed, mom is so long I haven't even scratched the surface here. Not only is the list very long, but there is not another person with whom you can split the list. Remember those days? You take son here, I will take daughter there. Would you please go into his bedroom...I went in last time he called! What should we do with this problem? What do you mean I am overreacting?! Oh, the things I miss about having a parenting partner.

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Help is Better with Self

05_09_09.JPGI believe for me, that a huge part of figuring out one's grief, one most know themselves. Now I know some could say this goes without saying, but after the loss of your soul mate it's difficult finding out who this new you is, or in my case, who this new me is.

It is has been through meeting others in like situations, reflecting on my own thoughts and actions, and lastly, making myself aware of auditory and visual things out there that may help in describing things that may not be able to put into words, that I have grown leaps and bounds.

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Widows and Dating (Only for those who are ready to think about it...)

05_08_09.jpgDear Wonderful Widows,

Last night was the first evening of this month's ‘Widows Dating Again Class’. It was fun and I know we all learned a lot.

What struck me after the class was how truly vulnerable widows are. I don’t mean that we are vulnerable to unscrupulous men.

We are vulnerable to our own need to connect, to touch, to be touched, and to our desire to rid ourselves of the devastating loneliness of loss.

If we expected our husband to die or if he died suddenly, the loneliness of loss is always sudden. There is no way to prepare for being alone and no way to anticipate and prepare for the unremitting loneliness that follows. It is this loneliness that makes widowhood so long and so arduous. And it is this loneliness that has us make mistakes.

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Indifferent

05_07_09.JPGIndifferent: Lack of feeling. Being neither too much nor too little. Neither good nor bad. Neither right nor wrong.

Journal entry this week: I wish I was upset, but I'm not. I wish I felt sad, but I don't. Depressed?...don't think so. I want to cry, but I can't. Scream... but I won't. I feel so out of place. Maybe this is it. I've finally snapped. I lost it to the point where I feel nothing. No ache. No agony. No burn. No malaise. Might this be the calm before the ruthless storm blindsides me once more? Or the end to my most vivid nightmare? The silence is eerie... unsettling... yet, not out of place. Still, this is wrong... I feel neither torture nor exuberance. Where's my drive? Motivation? Passion? Is there any of that left within me?

Purgatory.  Emotional purgatory... that's what this is. As much as I want to feel something... I'm can't. No pain, no energy... no David.

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Sometimes I talk to him ....

05_06_09.jpgYes ..... sometimes I talk to Jim.  This is a new experience for me.  I've been a widow for over 16 months and I've never really "talked" to him .... until recently.

I couldn't do it before.  I couldn't believe that he could see and hear me.  After all, I have no doubt that he is in Heaven .... no doubt at all.  And I have no doubt that there are no tears .... or sadness in Heaven.  And so I believed that there was no way he could see or hear me ...... or he would be terribly, terribly sad.

He would hate to see what his death has done to me.

And so I couldn't talk to him.

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The Roadless Traveler

me_and_my_shadow.jpgI woke up Sunday morning, made the coffee, walked out on the back porch and listened to the birds. It was so peaceful outside and for about 30 seconds I enjoyed it. My brain wouldn't be quiet though and the peaceful moment disappeared. I was feeling very anxious, melancholy, and uncertain, but couldn't pinpoint the cause.

I tried to quiet my mind and just be, but it wasn't cooperating, and the question that kept running through my mind was "where are you going?" At first I sort of listed to myself the activities of the day, checked off the plans for the week etc. My mind responded "where are you going?" Obviously my quick list of upcoming activities was the incorrect response: "where are you going?" I sat and thought about it on a larger scale. The only answer I could come up with was "I have no freakin idea." End of conversation with unruly and annoying inner voice.

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Whose Life Is This?

05_04_09.jpgThe last couple of weeks have consisted of a whirlwind of new experiences, new people, new opportunities, and new challenges. Generally, I drop into bed exhausted and with little time to reflect due to my constant need to plan for the next day...not a new problem for me. When I do stop to look at the path my life has taken over the last 44 months, I sometimes find myself wondering whose life I am leading. How did I get to this place? In what universe did I ever see myself speaking to rooms full of people about loss, grief and recovery? And where is Phil? Oh yes, he is dead.

And that is the one fact that centers me, odd as that may sound. Knowing that the best way to honor my love for Phil is to live the fullest life I can pushes me to do things I wouldn't have attempted before. The certainty that meeting other widows changed my life provides motivation to spread the word about the work my foundation does. Having the honor of hearing other people's stories of love and loss provides the on-going desire to create a community that people who have lost a spouse can call home. Because death has changed our definition of home, and we have to find a different safe place. I have watched what happens when random strangers share the common bond of loss, and I am always astounded by the results of these meetings. Watching this kind of interaction is like viewing hope dawn like the sun--to be understood is priceless.

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