"By Now..."

Lately I’ve been feeling some sort of an emptiness. After Drew died, for a lot of years, I was doing a lot of creative work around my grief. I was finding visual ways to express this inner world and sharing it with others. There was something about that work that felt so purposeful. It felt like I was doing something important for myself, and indirectly for others a bit too. Mainly, I felt like I was expressing who I was and what I cared about in a really bold way, and it felt right. It felt like I was being myself more fully than I ever had before. Talking about the realities of grief and loss and pain and also courage and creativity and resiliency.

Fast forward now seven years, and I’m finding myself not the person I had hoped I’d be… “by now”. This emptiness almost feels like it comes out of the absence of the really deep pain I was in during those early years. Life has kept on going, and I have kept on living it in many bold and beautiful ways. My life now though is far less governed by my grief and my pain. As the years go on, the pain softens, and somehow I have struggled to know what to do with myself without the agony of fresh grief. I’ve struggled to have a voice without that central idea of pain and loss

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Fragile Confidence

  My daughter has a friend over for a playdate today and it has been a good introspective snapshot of where I am at.  I keep thinking that I have all of this new confidence, but some remnants of the old me remain, like persistent weeds that always finds new tunnels to the surface.

     

     

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Nobody Remembers (Repeat)

Kelley Lynn is out of town this week and is not able to post her weekly Friday blog, so we went back to a post she wrote 5 years ago about the weight that comes with making sure our loved ones are remembered.  Even five years later, we'll bet that many of you can relate to her words...

 

If you are widowed, and you are reading this, then you know that missing your person and the life you had together is as constant as breathing - it is a new fact in your new life that you didn't ask for, and it's just there, always and forever. The missing of what was never goes away.

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A Thousand Years Ago~

A thousand years ago

I leaned down

Placed my hands to each side of your sunken cheeks

Closed my eyes,

As yours were closed,

And so very gently kissed your lips that had gone completely white

As you took your last breath.

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Hiking Ahead

Shelby has now, quite literally, walked in her mother's shoes.  It's odd to me that, at the age of 12, she actually fits in them, but then again, she isn't stricken with the growth-impeding disease the Megan had.  

After buying her new hiking shoes and boots for years, we decided to have her try on Megan's last pair.  They fit her almost perfectly. Like that first time Shelby came down the stairs wearing her mom's t-shirt, I was taken aback, and Shelby thought nothing of it.

Credit goes to Megan for that trait.  She was very realistic and unemotional about her own death.  She accepted it and moved on to better things. It was rare for her to be scared or have deep thoughts about it, unlike me, who constantly dreaded it.  Shelby, like her mother, never worries over Megan's death. I have yet to see her show any sadness, since the funeral mass. It's honestly the best Megan could have hoped for.

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Does this ever get easier?

I had these exact same thoughts a year ago; and, tonight I wonder if any of this ever gets easier.

Am I a lousy widow?

Am I doing this wrong?

What the hell am I supposed to do?

What can I do to make any of this better?

Is this even possible.

Is it fair to assume that I will recover from Mike's death?

 

Still, 2.5 years later almost every thought still begins with him.

I am still unable to live in the moment because part of me lives in the past.

I struggle to be present because in my mind I am endlessly travelling to a better place in time.

Again and again I return to this place where he existed once upon a time.

Time has gone on without him and I am left here living in limbo...

 

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"Me Too"

I’ve felt abnormal my whole life. Ever since I became aware of how my own childhood with a single father who was an alcoholic was far different from the seemingly idyllic 2 parent households of all the other kids at my private school. I’ve never fit in. I’ve never felt like I fit in. Largely, because of death and grief.

When my mom died, I became consumed by death. I thought about people dying all the time. I obsessed over my dad dying and not knowing what would happen to me then. I was nine. No one talked about it, we just pretended it didn’t happen and tried to keep going. That’s how things were done back then.

That feeling of not being normal was further enforced in my teen years. Without a mom, I didn’t know how to be like other girls. I had no one teaching me how to do makeup or shave my legs or to talk to about boys. I just had to learn a lot of things on my own… and often painfully and embarrassingly failed at it. Those were the years my dad started drinking again too. So while other kids were busy being worried about tests at school or winning the big game or how their hair looked that day, I was walking beside them to class wondering if my dad would be too drunk to pick me up from school. Or if he would die in a car wreck because he was drinking and then I’d be totally alone and what the hell would happen then?

The only place I didn’t feel all those things, was when I was making art or spending time with the few close friends I did have. It was the only time I didn’t have to live in that reality. When I was making art especially… I could create a whole other world for myself that had nothing to do with my reality.

It’s ironic as I sit here now, looking back at those difficult early years. At my relationship to death and how it has changed over time. Death has altered my life so drastically since such a young age. For so long, I was alone with death. I never met other kids who had lost a parent. Literally, not a single kid I knew growing up had also lost a parent. I think that’s what made it worse. Even though I have siblings they were all grown and out of the house… so I just felt very alone with death.

Then, I lost my fiance in 2012 suddenly, and death showed up again to alter my entire world. This time though, death did something a little bit different. I still felt very alone in the world of my pain and my grief. We all do in some way. But now, I was an adult, and I could make my own choices about death. There were certain things I learned that I can control. And one of those turned out to be community.

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Defiantly Defined

So this blog is a bit different than I usually write. This week I’ve been obsessed with terminology. Have you ever stopped for a minute and thought about words? Where did they come from? How they got their meaning and if they fit? Well it hit me this week that I HATE the terms widow and widower. I think the definitions are ridiculous and need to be changed. Let’s look them over, shall we?

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Socializing While Grieving

     Seems like being a widower means adjusting my view of the world to an existence of being damaged, marred and/or scarred for the rest of my life.  Life is now about managing the constant reminders of love lost.  Maybe, just like my poor eyesight, my grief is becoming a deficit that I will have to carry forward as I am constantly reminded of the song, Motherless Children by Blind Willie Johnson and covered by Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and many others.

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Trauma Return

Yesterday something happened at a doctors office that sent me straight back into 23 years ago,

when I just barely lived through a traumatic event,

and joined the ranks in becoming the 2-words that I would grow to absolutely loathe

,and feel shame about for a very long time:

rape victim. 

 

After awhile, I began shifting from using the term "victim", and replacing it with "survivor,"

but this change in vocabulary did not do anything for my lifelong trauma and PTSD and massive bouts of anxiety and panic. 

Calling myself a survivor instead of a victim was supposed to make me feel more powerful somehow. 

But trauma has all the power, and when it wants to take you down a few notches, it makes itself known. 

 

Trauma is a funny thing.

Well, not "ha-ha funny", but more peculiar funny, I suppose. 

Trauma and PTSD lie dormant, and then come back.

They sit still for hours or days or months even, and then something happens to bring them out again,

roaring and screaming and pleading to be heard. 

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