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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Innocence and Storytelling

05_03_09.JPGThis is my four year-old nephew Ethan posing with his beloved cousin Caitlin. Yesterday we celebrated several family events with a day at the park. In a quiet moment Ethan and I had a conversation that went like this....

E: Auntie Neechelle, where is your husband?

M: Well E, my husband was your Uncle Phil and he died when you were just a baby. You might not remember him, but here is a picture of him. (I show a photo)

 E: Was he sick?

M: (deep breath) Noooo....he was hit by a car. Remember how your mom tells you to look both ways when crossing the street? She does that because sometimes cars hit people and when that happens they might be hurt so badly that they die.

E: (thoughtfully) That is not good.

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The Fire

fire.jpgThe other night I was excited to be watching a new episode of "Grey's Anatomy". As odd as it sounds, I always know something in the show will make me tear up, whether I can relate to it or not. It's almost like watching "Extreme Home Makeovers"....I always end up crying at the reveal.

Well this episode of "Grey's" was no exception, and I sat on my couch in my quiet living room with a few tears streaming down my face. It was not a waterworks show at Sea world, but enough to make me wipe my cheek.

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Wonderful Widows, What are you choosing?

05_01_09.JPGDear Wonderful Widow.

For the next 3 weekends, three performances per weekend, Anneke, my 15 year-old, will be playing the part of Wendy Darling in Peter Pan. Anneke is afraid of heights. Flying across the stage requires that she put a great deal of trust in the backstage crew who orchestrate her flying. This is not easy for her. Anneke has chosen to face her fear of heights in order to be able to do what she loves. Anneke is an actress.

We who are widows also make choices, many choices.

Remember when your friends said to you, “I don’t know how you do it?” (show up, be a mother, make dinner, go to work, breathe…)

And you thought to yourself, “What choice do I have?”

I am not comparing being Wendy Darling to widowhood. But like Anneke, we choose to show up. You might think you don’t have a choice, but you do. Every time you make dinner, check homework, every time you get out of bed, you are choosing.

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Take My Hand

04_30_09.jpgI had sand all over my feet and the wind in my face. My eyes were closed as I stretched my arms out wide as I could and I balanced against the railing of the life guard tower. I held my palms up as if waiting... expecting David to take them, I almost felt as though he did. I took deep, careful breaths... I wanted David. I caught myself whispering, "Come get me... please... come get me." I meant those words with every cell in my body. Come get me. Rescue me. David. I let my mind dance around whatever memories volunteered themselves.

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