So far, year three of widowhood has felt restless. After the initial shock of Mike's death wore thin, I began to feel restless and I have remained this way ever since. Early on, I naively sought to "fix" my brokenness. Now, after almost two and a half years, I know that there is no fixing this. I simply must build around the grief that exists inside me. And, as you know, there is nothing simple about this. It takes dedication and commitment in order to rebuild a full life after your previous life implodes.
I am grateful that with time and consistent hard work, the hollowness is becoming less prominent because the life I am recreating around it is becoming fuller. And, it is my hope that my life continues to become more fulfilling as I work to create my new identity. Yet, with this said, essentially, my grief has not changed a lot over the last year. The most notable difference is that I am more tired now. I am tired of feeling sad and lonely. The fatigue of grief has set in.
Thankfully, my grief is less raw now; but, the emptiness inside me remains present. There is no getting around it. There is no "cure" for it. Someone I was in love with died and this isn't going to magically be okay - ever. Grief changes and evolves, but this doesn't mean that I will ever not miss him. I will always wish he was still here sharing my life with me.
I miss Mike.
And, I will continue to miss him as the months turn into years;
and, then as the years turn into decades.
This is life as a widowed person.
There is a profound sense of missing that is always present.
I have now accepted that I will miss him for my entire life. I miss him all day long no matter where I am or what I am doing. I know for certain that no amount of busy work alleviates my grief. At the end of the day, it is there. It is part of me. I can't hide from it. And, the good thing is I don't want to. I am not trying to out run my grief. I see others try to quiet their grief with various things and I intimately understand their desire to seek relief from grief. I want grief to cut me some slack too. I'm tired of it. But, me being tired has no affect on grief. Grief does not grant breaks for time earned. Grief is relentless and demands your attention whether you are exhausted or not.
I learned early on that in order to "successfully" grieve, you can not push it down. You can not ignore it. Eventually, you must look grief in the eye. So, in an effort to grieve well, I have been very generous with the time and attention I have given my grief. To be clear, I am not advocating wallowing in grief; but, rather walking toward it. I believe in leaning into it. This is what works best for me.
I am better for listening to my grief and acknowledging the aching in my Soul. In the process of doing this difficult work I have learned a lot about myself. When Mike died I was forced to stand in the wreckage of my old life. And, here among the rubble, my foundation was exposed. I could not hide from myself. And, in the years that have followed, I have taken advantage of this lucidity and I have carefully and purposefully searched the landscape of my Soul.
Finally, after many hours of sitting in the sadness and brokenness I am in a good place. I know my grief well and, more importantly, I've come to know myself. I know what I need to do to successfully reenter life because I took the time to carefully consider the direction of my alternate life. I have painstakingly thought about who I was, who I am, and who I want to be. I have a true sense of myself; and, now, all that is left is to action what I've come to know.
This work of self discovery has consumed me for over two years. And, I am better for settling into my grief and allowing it to painfully absorb into me. I did not distract myself with people or things that would dull my pain. Well, in the spirit of full disclosure, there have been many nights over the last couple years that I have drowned my loneliness and sadness in wine. And, in truth, I don't feel bad about this. Grief is f@cking hard. Wine doesn't fix it or make it less difficult; but if a glass of Malbec is the worse thing I have indulged in since Mike died I can live with this.
I don’t know if it’s the glimmer of hope for being thru the worst of the cold, cloudy days or just that I am trying to be mindful to reconnect with my sillier side lately. Either way, I’ve been watching funny movies more, making my loved ones laugh more, and even just being sillier when I’m home all alone. I’ve started working on a photography project that is very new and fun too. It’s unlike the fine art type of work I usually create - and I’m finding there is a lightness to the fact that it is so opposite of what I’m used to. It feels more like play than work.
Creating fine art photography honestly has begun to feel more like work these days. Or at least I feel too much internal pressure to do my fine art a certain way and then it starts to feel heavy. And I start to overthink things and question myself. That leads no where good. And it’s something I’ve struggled with when I try and put all of my attention on my art.
This little side project is a nice break from that so far. A nice exploration of how else I can enjoy taking photos. And with any luck, I might be able to really build it into a nice little side job. Either way, it feels nice to be doing something new and not be putting a bunch of pressure on myself to do it any certain way. It feels good to be stretching new creative muscles and trying new things and just saying “Hey, let’s see where this goes!”
I think in life and in grief, it’s so important to have things like that to lighten the load - or maybe help us put that load down for just a few moments or hours each week.
Why do you let my grief scare you?
Why can’t I just talk about Natasha how ever I want? She was MY wife, not yours!
Why can’t you just listen and try not to fix me? “You just need to focus on your daughter’s smile, and everything will be alright.”
Why do you give me an arbitrary timeline and act as if it is the word of some God? “So, how long has it been since your wife died?”
Why do you try to insist on measuring the severity of my grief by saying, “So, have you been dating?”
Why do you need to suggest that a man needs a woman to raise a girl, “Girls need a mother, it’s just good for them.”?
Wow, you really are an expert on grief! So have you ever lost a spouse, no? How about a parent, sibling, or good friend, no? I guess you haven’t had much experience with grief, yet you are so wise when it comes to my grief.
I know, I should relax, you are a good person and you are just trying to help, and, maybe I am being too sensitive.
All I ask, please let my grief be just the way it is.