Today I’m writing about a different side of grief… about being the one sitting beside someone who is grieving. About those moments watching a partner who is widowed go through their own pain. It’s no secret that Thanksgiving is a hard holiday for Mike. His wife died just a week before this holiday 3 years ago. Hitting the 3 year mark is hard enough without it happening near the holidays.
So there we were, having a very different holiday than they would have ever had before she died. Before he met me. And at some point, it was inevitably going to come crashing down. Which it did. Late the evening after Thanksgiving, we were about to get in the hot tub with everyone when his emotions welled up. He snuck away to one of the bedrooms at my sister’s house and I soon followed. As I sat beside my new best friend, putting my arm around him, I didn’t say anything at all.Read more
Last week in my nutrition course we heard some amazing lectures about Blue Zones. If you don't know what Blue Zones are, they are communities in various places around the globe that share common lifestyle and environmental factors that contribute to their populations being among the longest-lived and healthiest on the planet. These areas were first identified and labeled by Dan Buettner of National Geographic magazine and was the featured cover story in November of 2005.
Sardinia, Italy. Okinawa, Japan. Loma Linda, California. Nicola Peninsula, Costa Rica. Icaria, Greece.
In these areas, people are found to eat a traditional, largely home grown and plant-based diet - but more important, stressed Mr. Buettner in our lecture, they share a sense of community and purpose. They have close-knit families and communities which create a strong social network of support and compassion, regular physical activity and positive and healthy lifestyles.
Hi all, I’m filling in for Kelley today since she is at Camp Widow Toronto. She’ll be back with us next week! Until then, I’m sitting down to write who-knows-what to you, on the fly. I suppose the first thing that comes to mind right now is community. It’s been on my mind all morning. Not only am I missing Camp Widow Toronto, and all the laughter and tears that are shared within this unique, incredible group of people, but I’ve also been missing my overall sense of community since moving to Ohio a year ago.
I will admit, I grossly underestimated how hard it would be to move so far from everything I’ve ever known back home in Texas. The culture itself is quite different. The people are. The restaurants and stores. The landscape and seasons. I suppose - as in grief - you really cannot grasp what it will be like, or how hard it will be, until you’re in it.Read more
For the past week, I have poured myself into the creation of my new grief workshop. It’s finally getting real now. Which is scary and exciting all at the same time. The fundraiser is over, and by the end, I raised $1700 to help with the creation of all of this. Amazingly, 95% of those donations were from widowed people. None of my close non-widow friends donated, or really have even bothered to ask about this whole endeavor. Only one of my family members really has. This fact is not lost on me. I have done my best not to get bogged down by who ISN’T supporting me, and instead have been focusing on who IS.
To have the support of any kind is awesome, but to have the support of people who are going through one of the darkest times in their life… that is something entirely different. It is deeper. It says that they not only believe in you, but they understand what you’re trying to do. It says that - even in their darkest time - they still have the heart to reach out and help you too. And that is one thing death does for us, isn’t it? It’s one of the gifts we’re given for living through this agony… our own broken hearts just want to help someone else.
I don’t even know how it is possible that when we are in our most broken and fragile state, that this is the time so many of us reach out to help others. Is it some instinct that takes over? Does our gut know that helping others will help us? That healing or supporting another will heal and support us too?Read more
The more I learn and understand about the grieving process, the more I also clearly see how deeply our culture is uninformed about it and how horribly damaging it can be to some of us already damaged by the loss itself. So be forewarned: this post is a bit of a rant.
Before Drew died, I was not the softest person. Sure I was kind and loving and generous, but mainly just with him – the one person I trusted above all others. I honestly rarely gave anyone else my heartfelt genuine love – because I did not trust people. I always kept everyone but him at arms length, but did I good job of disuising myself as kind and giving from the outside. My whole life this has been something I've struggled with. Something I haven't liked about myself. And something I have not known how to move past.
After he died, somehow, miraculously, I did the opposite of this. I didn't close off from others. I didn't mistrust or question or hold back. Instead, I opened up to everyone completely and in a way I never had before. I exposed every fear, every tear, and every irrational, over-the-top outburst, to anyone who would listen. In conversations and phonecalls and blog posts and artwork and hugs and embarassing crying fits. I didn't think about it - it was survival. It is what I had to do. It still amazes me today that being this broken was the thing that broke down lifelong walls inside me that I had been yearning to get past for years. It was oddly the best and worst year of my life.
It was the worst for obvious reasons. But it was the best because it was the first time in my life that I truly opened myself – not just to one person – but to everyone. His death softened my heart. After a lifetime of trying to protect myself from the world – I finally put down my armor, looked around, and saw that I hadn't been keeping myself safe from harm at all. I had been keeping away love and laughter and connection and support...Read more