Death is never far from my mind. That probably resonates with plenty of other widowed people, as well as some who have suffered the passing of someone close to them. This past month, a friend of mine died, far too young. But my mom’s friend died too, which was very sad and perhaps unnecessary given the particular circumstances. Another extended family member was also lost, and a family friend is entering hospice. And we have another new writer here at Widow’s Voice. While I am happy to welcome her to this wonderful organization, it is always a terrible thing too, to be here where we are.
Death has had a funny way of focusing my life differently. How am I spending my day; how many days do I have left, am I appreciating life and the people around me enough…am I finding any joy and happiness. How much of my day is spent missing Mike and feeling sad. How many thoughts that pass through my mind end up sitting on a memory of him, something he would say, something he might do. How often I end up right back there again, staring death in the face.
I find myself checking to be sure my musician boyfriend is still breathing, when he is sleeping, far too often. It’s scary. A part of me wonders why on earth I would put myself through something like that again, caring for someone knowing we all have our ends. I know that being alone just for that reason is not what life is about, but the whole thing is simply terrifying. I search for peace and happiness like everyone else, but some days, it is overshadowed by that knowing; that expectation that death is forever looming, and I can’t stop it. I’m forever scarred by grief. Nothing will ever be as it was before.
I try to spin death’s shadow into positive thoughts about how much I’ve learned about this life. Because being here, being alive, getting to experience this world, is amazing - but it also means we will experience death. Death of those we love, and our own deaths. So sometimes I think about how much wiser I am to it all. Then other times I think how much I’d rather not know all of that. Too often I just stare at the empty chairs around me. The missing people. And worse is the thought that so many more people I know will end up there too; how much more death I have to experience around me before I go to join them.
Will I ever find a way to find peace with death? Will it ever be something that seems natural and not devastating? Is there a way to think about those empty chairs without sadness? I sometimes read about how other cultures deal with death. Some of them have some pretty fascinating mindsets about it. But at the end of the day it doesn’t help much. I even have my own faith and belief in a higher power and a hereafter; that doesn’t really do much to soothe the empty spaces either, most of the time. Because my husband is dead. People I love are just not here anymore. And it just sucks.