Talking to Fear

Yesterday Mike and I booked the first big part of our honeymoon for next summer - a beautiful cabin set in between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. It's exciting for sure, but also, terrifying...

Why does something this simple have to be so scary for me? I spent entirely too much time online checking reviews and double checking other options and stretching everything out that I could last night. Instead of just finding a place, booking it, and moving on. As time stretched on, Mike grew mildly frustrated (understandably!) and just wanted me to book the thing. Sometimes, I really need his push. Sometimes, the thought of committing to a plan that is over 6 months away is so so hard. Sometimes, all I can think about is “But what if you die before then?”. 

Travel is always a specifically hard one for me, because Drew was halfway across the country when he died. And what’s worse, is that I had plane tickets fly from Dallas and see him three weeks after he arrived in Washington. He died a week before I was supposed to go up. Ever since then, I’ve had a hard time with actually committing to big travel expenses like plane tickets and hotel bookings. That part of me that was so traumatized by his sudden death is always in the background thinking “but what IF Sarah… what IF…” 

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Unbalanced or Balanced

Lately, I’ve been getting this urge to try to find balance in my life. What is the balance? Some people would say, it is to have a job, a family, stability, and security. All those things sound great, but life throws at us unexpected unimaginable things, and somehow someway we can still manage them. So by managing the unimaginable, does that mean we are balanced?

I feel my perspective on life has changed. I don’t see time the same way, relationships the same way, or even tangible items. I know I haven’t fully punched in my bad card, meaning I know more bad things can happen to me. And they have. I am not being pessimistic, but realistic. Just because a few bad things happen to you, doesn’t mean you are done with the bad in life.

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It's About Time

Yes. I know. I have a funny thing about time. And dates. I take time to reflect on time and what time is, or might be.

Linear? Circular? Fluid? Fixed? Conceptual? Real? Polychronic? Monochronic? Measurable? Full of meaning and emotion? Or void of emotion and meaning?

Time takes on such a different meaning, a different feel, post-loss.

People say “Time stops”. I don’t think that’s true. I think “Time hangs, and grows pregnant, fit to burst”.

People say, “Time heals”. I don’t think that’s true either. I think healing is a choice, and you can heal from day one. Or even before. But it’s a choice.

People say, “In time you will just remember the sweet stuff”. That may be, over a long long long time, but not within 5 months, or 2.5 years, or even 3.5 or 4+ years. Yes – perhaps the sweet memories can start to outweigh the hard memories, but again there’s a massive element of choice, of intentionality, at play. It takes no effort at all for me to remember the hard stuff, if I choose to. And it takes no effort at all for me to remember the good stuff, if I choose to. If I am in a funk, only the crappy stuff comes. And if I am in a good space, more good stuff comes. It all hurts though. It’s either sweeter, or more poignant. Both hurt.

People also say, “It will get better”. I ask back, “What is the ‘it?’” My body’s aching? My fragile, hurting, bashed up heart? My quality of sleep? My engagement with life? My incessant fear about having another child die before I do? My roller-coaster emotions? What exactly gets better?

It’s all such hollow talk. Such shallow reflections. And totally useless. An abhorrent waste of time.

Here are some deeper – to me – reflections about time, post-loss.

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Happy Birthday to Me

Today as I type this it is my fourth Birthday as a widow.  Since Mike died I have never celebrated my birthday and felt authentically happy.  I have always deeply felt his absence and my birthday has been difficult at best.  Really, birthdays have never been a big deal to me - even when Mike was alive.  And, I have to admit, he only lived to celebrate one birthday with me.  One.  *Sigh. 

I have lived most of my life absent from Mike so why does the lack of his presence still weigh on me four birthdays later?  Well, because it does.  Mike was my Heart, my Soul, my Love.  And, a big love like ours can not be measured in time.  A love like ours does not know time, nor space.  It is bigger than these constructs.

As Mike's widow, I have not looked forward my birthday because it just served to pronounce his absence.  But, this birthday was different.  For no particular reason my grief was lighter.  It was a gift.  Today, I celebrated my day.  I accepted and recognized that I did not die.   My life has not ended, only Mike's did.  And, of course I wish he was here celebrating me today.  But, wishes do not change reality.  Mike died.  He is not here today.  And, he will not be here tomorrow or any other day. 

 

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Thanks-Grieving

Last year I could barely walk through the grocery store during the holidays. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite and the thought of even buying ingredients was too much. This year, I told myself that it wasn’t right to stop celebrating. Tin wouldn’t want that at all. So I took a deep breath, swallowed what felt like a rock in my throat and grabbed a turkey. My eyes welled up and I told myself to go checkout. I had to go to the store three separate times to buy what I needed because I would hit a breaking point each time. Seasonings, cider, wine, apple pie, butter – God did Tin love butter. Those tears started in the dairy aisle and I had to go check out.

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Remembering, Honoring, and Trying to Live on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be tough if you are living with the death of someone you love. One thing I have learned during this 8-year long (so far) grief tsunami, is that talking about the person I love who died and sharing stories about them helps greatly. Remembering them with love , acknowledging that they lived and they matter, is not only important, but healthy. If you can find ways to include those you have lost to death into your current holiday plans, it really does make them seem less far away and less unreachable.

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The Roller Coaster of Grief

Grief is like a roller-coaster, sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down. There is no actual manual on how to navigate all this. There are resources to help you with it, but everyone deals with things differently.

I feel like this roller-coaster of grief is tricky. I feel like I have made great progress in moving forward with my grief, but I still feel stuck. Before my husband passed away, I always knew what I wanted. I had a good career, I married the man of my dreams, I was blessed with a child, and things seem to be in order in my life. Everything I strived for, I got through hard work and dedication. Then my life blew up, and I just don’t know what direction to take. 

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Raise Your Hand~

I thought about reposting my WV blog from 2015 for this week.

Because I pretty much feel the same way, regarding the holidays.

Except worse.

As a 6 1/2 year veteran of this wid life, I kind of hate owning up to how difficult this all is for me still.

I don't want to scare those of you who are just stepping out onto the road.

But I also feel the need to be honest.

I've never yet, in all these years, not spoken/written the truth of how this is for me, and I'm not going to start now.

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Mourning Glories

One of my favourite widbuds is Charlotte, who I met last year at the Soaring Spirits Camp Widow event in Toronto 2018. She is beautiful and strong and capable and clever and funny. And she’s grieving. And despite her grieving, she attended my daughter’s funeral, “just because she happened to be in Europe at the time”. We are both in a WhatsApp group of five widbuds, all of whom were at Camp Widow. Our Whatsapp name is Mourning Glories, which I love and think is rather brilliant. That was Pamela’s idea.

Despite there being just five of us, we rarely go quiet on one another as a group. I am sure that once a week “something happens” to one of us. Something of a trigger. Something hard. A challenge outside of the normal challenge of grieving. A challenge where we just wish our partner were there with us to pick up and carry the blanket of weight for a while. Or at least a corner of it. Or failing that, just witness it being carried.

Like Pamela attending the funeral of a dear, way-too-young friend, and witnessing the left-behind wife, and 7- and 9-year old kids.

Like Charlotte packing up a holiday home in the mountains, putting belongings in boxes, crying out past memories and future dreams, then driving home alone, for hours, to an empty home.

Like me packing up my youngest child’s bedroom this week, two hours a day over five separate days, this time wisely accompanied by friends who care.

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Wonderful Life

I often think about life with Mike.  I want the life and love he shared with me back.  A part of me will always want to slip back into that wonderful life with him.  I know that this is not possible, but I do not know how to stop myself from wishing for my old life to return to me.  I know that none of these desires are realistic.  And, I know that I can’t live in my reverie where Mike still exists.  I know all of this, so why can't I stop myself from travelling to our past in my mind.  Why can't I stop imagining a future that will never be?

I have spent three years in limbo.  I am not present in my own life.  Most days, I do not actively engage in my life because I am lost in some place that exists beyond time and space.  I feel sad for my children. When Mike died, they lost the Mom they had grown accustom to.  I wonder if I can get my act together before they grow up.  Raising them is my responsibility and I don't take it lightly.  I have to be present for my kids; but, as a widow, I have not found a way to successfully do this. Death robbed Mike from me and it unfairly took my children's mother from them too.

I wish I could snap my fingers and neatly compose myself.  I wish I could rearrange my grief so that my mind would remain focussed rather than filled with frazzled thoughts and scattered ideas.  I wish this life without Mike was easier.  As a widow, I wish so many things I've lost count.  Mostly, I spend my time wishing that Mike was still alive sharing his life with me.  I wish he was still here having a wonderful life with us.

 

 

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