Most of the people in my life see me working, raising kids, and socializing.
They believe, that after this length of time, I'm "getting on with my life".
They think I've got this.
And, maybe, in many ways, I do.
However, what I feel like inside
Does not match what they see on the outside.
Things are not exactly as they appear to be.
The truth is, I am still out of sorts.
I am still constantly carrying on conversations with my dead fiancé
in my heart and in my head.
And, after nearly 2.5 years,
I am still trying to process
what has become of 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 my kids. I cook dinner. And, in the last year, I am attempting to live again.
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. And, I understand that most people around me can not comprehend my life. How could they? Honestly, most days, 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.
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. The depth and breadth of my loss is beyond anything I could have previously imagined. Widowhood must be lived to be understood.
Naturally, those in our lives want us to be better. They need us to return to who we were. They don't understand that this is not possible. Those outside of our community want to believe that the death of a spouse is manageable with time. But, time itself has no real bearing on our grief. Our spouse continues to be missing from our future forever; and this is why our grief continues - in some capacity- over the course of our lifetime.
It is often 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 a 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 because Mike died.
You can not see the damage on an X-ray,
But, I assure you, I can feel it with my heart.
When your person dies, the people around you want to make things better for you. They want to soothe you. They show up with well meaning platitudes and casseroles. 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. Maybe a lifetime.
Those in our proximity are full of good intentions and they want our brokenness to be over - quickly. They want to believe that we are back to normal. But, what they don't understand is that the "cure" for grief is to grieve. We must sit with our grief. It must be absorbed it into our Souls and this takes time.
Grief is painful to endure; and, undoubtedly, heartbreaking to witness. I wish we could all side step grief and magically be better. But, there is no miracle cure. Still, after almost 2.5 years, there is a heaviness in my heart that I can't wish away no matter how hard I try. And, believe me, I've tried.
So, what’s left for me to do? Well, I’m not entirely sure. I think all that I can do is build my life around the emptiness inside me until, eventually, the amount of joy in my heart takes up more space than the sorrow. And, I am fairly confident that I won't always feel the heaviness of my grief the way I do now because already I have experienced that grief gets different. With time, I've noticed that the depth of it varies. Grief changes and evolves - thankfully.
In closing, Mike's death has taught me a lot about life.
His death showed me that nothing in life stays the same.
Change is the only thing that is constant in life.
Nothing is permanent.
And, whether we like it or not,
And, every person, has their place in time.
And, likewise, sadness and grief is not unending.
Grief has it’s place in time.
And, for us, this time is now.
Clearly it is not the best of times, but we have to accept it for what it is. However, this does not mean that we should wallow in our own sadness. There are ways to grieve “well” and with purpose. For, instance, my own grief becomes a tiny bit less awful 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. These feelings of gratitude are 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. And, 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 engrained 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 hope filled heart,