Photo credit: opticalillusionphotos.blogspot.ca
It's been almost fifteen months since Mike died and people around me presume that I am adjusting to life without him. With no experience to draw on, most people believed that the bereaved heal with time. As you know, this is not completely correct. Grief is an active process. With every breathe we take, we work towards finding peace and purpose in our new, changed lives. I believe that grief requires us to actively participate in our own re-birth.
The truth is, I have not "adjusted" to Mike's death. At this time, I exist in a life that I barely recognize. It feels like my old life was hijacked. And, now, I feel removed from my own existence. I sense that I am being forced to live a new life; and compared to my old life, this new existence is lack lustre. Most days, it feels like I am masquerading in someone else's life. I do not want to live this facade. I miss Mike and I want my former life back.
At this point, I can not accept that Mike is gone from the physical dimension where I exist. The permanence of his absence is overwhelming and it nauseates me. Mike's death is not something that I will easily get used to. Mike wasn't a gold fish. I can't just flush the toilet, forget about him and carry on. It is going to take a hell of a lot longer than fifteen months for me to adapt to Mike dying.
Acquaintances in my life see me working, raising kids, and socializing. They believe the illusion that I'm "getting on with my life". They think I've got this. I wish they were right. But,
What I feel like inside
Does not match what they see on the outside.
Things are not as they appear to be.
The truth is,
I am completely out of sorts.
I am lost in another place,
I am continually scrounging around - in my mind -
Trying to process
what is now my life.
I understand that those around me believe that I'm okay because I'm functioning the way most mothers do. I make breakfast. I go to work. I pay the mortgage. I raise the kids. I cook dinner. And, I even socialize with friends. But, there is way more to my life than one sees at first glance. My situation is complicated. I'm not 'only' a previously divorced mom raising kids alone. I am also a widowed mom who is grieving. My scenario is beyond anything I ever imagined. I understand that most people around me can not comprehend my life. How could they? Honestly, I can't even get my head around it myself.
An accurate description of my existence involves the bold type
I make breakfast -and drink my morning coffee by myself, in silence, because Mike is dead.
I go to work - with only a few hours sleep because every night grief keeps me awake.
I pay the mortgage - but my income is now reduced to 1/4 of what it was when Mike was alive.
I raise the kids - feeling guilty because I feel like a failed Mom who lacks enthusiasm and joy because of grief.
I cook dinner- with invisible tears streaming down my face so that my kids don't know how sad I really am.
I socialize with friends - but while in their company I still feel alone and empty inside.
I am broken.
I still miss him.
I feel hollow.
I am tired.
Widowed people's lives are often misread, because, unless you have outlived the person you are in love with, you can not possibly comprehend the emotional devastation and range of feelings that make up our tears. People want us to be better. They need to believe that death is something manageable with time. But, it's not that simple.
Photo credit: scarabussdeviantart.com
It is assumed that sadness is the hallmark of widowhood.
And, it's true, we are "sad".
But, there is more to it...
Yes, there is definitely a lack of joy in my heart,
But this is not your run of the mill sadness.
It is bigger.
My aching is not caused from an open wound that you can see with your eyes.
My gash is inside me.
What causes my pain lives within my Soul.
My Soul is shattered.
You can not see the damage on an X-ray,
But, I can feel it with my heart.
When your Soul is shattered people want to make things better for you. They want to soothe and heal you. But, what they don't understand is that there isn't anything than can be done to "fix" you. Grief is a process and it takes time.
But, still, well meaning people want our brokeness to be over. They want to believe that we are back to normal. What they don't understand is that the "cure" for grief is to grieve. To sit with it and absorb it into our Souls. Grief is painful to endure and heartbreaking to witness. But, it is necessary.
I wish I could side step grief and magically be better; but, there is no miracle solution or cure for grief. There is a heaviness in my heart that I can't wish away no matter how hard I try. All that I can do is build my life around this emptiness until eventually the amount of joy in my heart is more predominant than the sorrow. I am fairly confident that I won't always feel the heaviness of my grief the way I do now because I have already experienced that grief gets different. With time, I've noticed that the depth chart varies and grief changes.
Mike's death has taught me that nothing in life stays the same.
Change is the only thing that is constant in life.
Nothing is permanent.
And, this is okay.
Everything has it's place in time.
And, likewise, sadness and grief is not unending.
Grief is fluid, and it changes.
My grief becomes less of a burden when I re-approach how I think about Mike's death. It is helpful for me to choose to focus on how loving him and being loved by Mike changed my life. I have found that gratitude helps ease my sadness. When I remember what an honor it was for me to love him - I feel at ease. And, when I acknowledge that it was a privilege to be loved by him - I feel peace. How can I possibly be sad when I know that I was able to give Mike the best of my love. How can I stay in the clutches of deep grief when I know that I was the love of his life and gave him some of the happiest days of his life. I am so deeply grateful I was able to give Mike the joy of true love. This is how I slay my grief. This is how I am better, not worse. I recognize that I am better for knowing Mike and being loved by him. I honor our love by living how he showed me. This is how I move towards life - without him. I am keenly aware that Mike's death should not, and can not define my life.
That said, I do acknowledge that his death has created permanent changes in me. But, more than his death, Mike's LIFE and his enduring LOVE has made a rich and lasting impression on me. Together we made cherished memories and these are forever ingrained in my Soul. Some of the greatest treasures of my life are moments I shared with him. And, this is not a facade. It is pure and true just like Mike.
With a hopeful heart,