After nearly three years, my grief is different than before. It is what happens. As human beings we are made strong. From the beginning of this mess, my Soul has been striving to continually adapt to this alternate life. And, I have. I have managed to live without him - even when I was certain I could not. As people, we are hard wired to survive awful things. The human experience is not all good, and if you consider what people endure and survive it is pretty awe inspiring
Recently, my grief has evolved a lot. And, no I am not "better". I am just different. My grief has become somewhat easier to carry. I don't struggle to take it with me as much as I did before. Most days, I sling my grief over my shoulder and march out into the world. This is not some heroic feat, it is just what I do each day. It is what all grievers do. And, really, what else can we do? We carry on. We live forward because there is no other choice.
And, because we carry on, most people assume that we have somehow become "okay" because our eyes are not usually glistening with tears anymore. Well, it is kind of a facade. As widowed people we make something incredibly hard look easy. We live without the person we love and it is damn hard. Beyond hard actually. And, still, somehow, I am mostly "okay" without him. I have created a way to move through life more gracefully now, but my grief is still there. It underlies everything. It is part of who I am.
I started my blog by saying that my grief is different. And, it is. The changes in my grief that I am most happy about are not visible. The changes that have made the biggest impact on my grief can not be seen from the outside because these changes are changes of the heart. For the last 2.8 years, I have been working hard at processing my grief and I have made big gains. But, for the most part, I continued to feel out of sorts no matter what I figured out in my head. I felt restless and I lacked contentment. And, largely, I still feel restless, but I am more content now. A strong sense of peace has washed over me because I have finally begun to accept Mike's death in both my head and my Heart. I have had a change of heart and this is making all the difference.
I have begun to accept Mike's deadness in my heart. This is not easy, but it is necessary.
If I had stumbled across this blog early on I would have taken issue with the word acceptance. I absolutely hated the word acceptance in relation to Mike's death. Initially, I could not accept his death. I just couldn't. Mike died suddenly, without any warning. One day he was alive and the next he was dead. I went to bed his fiancee; I woke up his widow. I could not believe my reality, never mind accept it. I was completely dumbstruck (part of me still is). Sudden death has its own type of terrible shit to sort through. This type of mindfuck takes a lot of time to process. And, I spent the better part of two years shifting through the wreckage of my life. I tirelessly searched for traces of him and pieces of us that survived his death. Looking back, it wasn't Mike that I was searching for, it was me. I needed to unearth myself from under all that was lost when he died. I had to discover who I was without him. We buried Mike, but I was buried alive that day.
Since he died, I am undergoing a rebirth of sorts. I am happy to say that with grit and determination I am clawing my way back toward life. Accepting his death is giving me my life back. It has become essential for me to accept his death in both my head and my heart. Mike is dead. I have understood this for a long time, but my heart would not accept it. Now, I accept this in heart. Mike died. I did not.
These days, most people would not even know that I am grieving based on my outward appearance. Especially since I've returned from Europe, people assume that there has been some major shift. And, there has been; but it really has less to do with Europe than most people think. People on the periphery do and say the typical and expected things as they marvel about my trip. They are inspired by the places I have visited and I am glad for this. And, yes, all of it was as fabulous as it appeared, but that wasn't the big deal. Assuming that the best part of my trip was captured on film, would be to miss the point. It was not the things I saw or the places I went that were awe inspiring. It was that I went. That's the inspiring thing.
I chose to go to countries I have never been to and see new things. I ate croissants in France and I had cream tea in England. I drank whiskey on a train in Ireland and I accidentally went on a stag (or two) in Scotland. Epic shit happened as I visited iconic places around the world. But, it wasn't the things that happened that changed me.
I chose to go without him.
I chose to take this trip, even though Mike died.
I chose to LIVE.
I chose to be enough on my own.
This is the big change. This is what the trip was really about.
I have already forgotten many of the castles and cathedrals that I saw; but, I can still remember how I felt as I stood alone in all these far away places. I felt almost whole. I felt like I was going to be okay. I felt hope. And, I felt joy too. I have been seeking joy for such a long time... On this trip, I discovered that joy isn't found anywhere outside of me. I travelled thousands of miles and I learned what I suspected all along. Joy is inside me. It has always been there. Mike knew this about me. Mike told me that he loved that I was "so happy all the time"; and he noticed that I was "such a joyful person". Mike was right. I am. I am a fucking happy and joyful person and it has taken me a long time to remember this.
Grateful for a change of heart,