Live Forward

In less than one month it will be three years since Mike died.  With time and a lot of processing, the truth of his death has slowly leached into every cell of my body.  And, despite my initial rebellion against his death, my heart is finally no longer resisting what my mind understands.  Mike is gone.  He died. 

Even now, it is unthinkable that I will never share another moment with him, but this is a fact whether I like it or not.  Early on, every fibre of my being fought to survive without him.  Still, despite my efforts, a part of me died with him.  But, further, a big part of me also survived Mike's death.  And, it is this part of me who is fighting to live forward.


I have come to realize that it is Mike's death.  Not mine.  I did not die. 


In the early months I thought I might die from sadness.  But, I didn't, and neither will you.  For the last 2.11 years, I have chosen to focus on the living part of me.  The part of me that was not buried with Mike.  Sure, absolutely, I miss the person I used to be, but the life in which that woman existed died with him. It's over.  It is gone.  All of it - everything we were together - simply vanished when Mike died. Our life was built on solid ground, but when he died, everything imploded and what was once solid quickly turned into a quagmire of uncertainty.  I lost Mike and my identity.  Everything that I thought was certain  disappeared. My life was no longer recognizable to me.  And, in truth, it still isn’t nearly three years later. 

I lost my footing when Mike died and I have been fighting to recover it ever since.  Every day, I struggle to stay grounded here in this reality.  It remains my instinct to retreat to a place in my mind where I keep Mike alive.  But, my sensibilities urge me to live forward without the man I love.  So, for nearly three long years, I have worked to  find order among the wreckage of my life. 

Without him, my axis is off kilter.  I feel like I am spinning and without a sense of direction.  It’s been a long, long  road - and this is understating it.  Grief has been my constant companion since the moment I heard “he’s dead”.  Those two small words changed my life completely.  However,  I try hard not to focus on Mike’s deadness,  Instead I try to be grateful for his life.  A life he chose to share part of with me.  For me, there is no point in perseverating about what has been lost.  It’s gone.  Nothing can reverse any of it.  He is dead.  He is gone and I am left here without him.  Blunt.  Maybe.  But, what other way is there to describe the situation? 



I have spent the better part of nearly three years crawling around on my hands and knees scouring the landscape of my old life.   Desperately, I searched for bits and pieces of myself and the life we shared.  I wildly sought to grasp anything that resembled our life.  I clutched the tangible things that could be saved in my arms.  Holding them tenderly.  Close to my heart.  And, the intangible items, I scooped up and stored in my mind and held in my memory.   In reality, there wasn’t a lot to be found.  Not much of me or our life survived Mike’s death.  However, I did find a handful of useful pieces, things that could be rescued; and,  I have used this assortment of traits and memories to build myself from the wreckage of what was once my beautiful life.

Whatever is left of me has been reclaimed.  I have been slowly and steadily undergoing a rebirth of sorts.  It has been painful and tedious.  But, I’m doing it.  I am steadily rebuilding myself from the wreckage because I have to. I have no other choice. I love life too much to just sit here and waste what I have left. I love him too much to never try to live my best life again. And, nothing, not one damn thing, will make Mike happier than if his girl can smile again. It might take everything I've got, but I am trying to find a way to live in a world that he is gone from.

So, now what?  What do I do?  I guess that it entirely up to me.  I can really do whatever I want.  So, what is it that I want?  I am not going to list all the things I wish to accomplish.  That’s my list.  Yours will be different.  It is enough to say that I have a running  list in my mind and this in and of itself is a good thing.  It means I am thinking about the future.  I am re-entering life.  I am engaging in the world again after 3.11 years of being Mike’s widow.



I you will be at Camp Widow in Toronto this November 2019 I will be there.   Please come find me, I'd love to meet you.



Showing 12 reactions

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  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2019-11-03 07:45:32 -0800
    Gailsnn, I appreciate your note. I’m sorry you understand. ~S.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2019-11-03 07:44:55 -0800
    Beth, It is a tedious balance isn’t it. Spending our lives “building a monument to (our) past” is not best practice; and, still as you said, the past must be acknowledged, honored, and revisited in order to move forward. Best to you as you do this. ~S.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2019-11-03 07:42:06 -0800
    Michele, No thanks needed. It is my privilege to write for this community. ~S.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2019-11-03 07:41:15 -0800
    Sue, All we can do is rebuild our lives around our loss. Doing this is necessary. I feel we are closest to Mark and Mike when we live our best lives. They wished us all the best in life when they shared their lives with us and they continue to have this wish for us now. ~S.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2019-11-03 07:38:19 -0800
    Natalie Those Mikes will always have our hearts. #longlivelove
  • gailsnne Molver
    commented 2019-10-31 05:32:38 -0700
    3 years in January for me.
    every word you write resonates in me….
  • Beth Ensign
    commented 2019-10-29 17:01:49 -0700
    It will be 3 years on Thanksgiving. And I will spend that day like I have spent it for most of the last 35 years: with my husband’s family. And then I will go back on the road again, to the memorial of an old friend who suddenly died recently. And then I’ll keep on traveling. In the limbo of my heart I have realized how important it is to reconnect if only briefly with people and places who mattered to me, in my life as part of a couple and in my life before. In this way I hope to gradually discover who it is I am becoming now. For I cannot live out the rest of my life building a monument to my past, much as I loved that past— but I somehow need to revisit in order to release. And maybe, by revisiting and reconnecting, new possibilities will arise. But I know that sitting still in the house where my husband and I spent 23 years, a lifetime, is not what I need to do right now—
  • Michele Klippert
    commented 2019-10-28 21:42:26 -0700
    Thank you for your writing. It makes such sense to me!!!
  • Sue Howard McAulay
    commented 2019-10-28 18:52:26 -0700
    Your words are spot on with how I feel. I hit 3 years last month. People tell me how strong I am, how well I’m doing, and how much I’ve accomplished. It’s only because I have no choice. The things I’ve accomplished would be so much sweeter if Mark were still here, but he’s not. He would want be to “get on with life” and be happy…so I try to honor that and make him proud. But I miss him immensely. 💜💔
  • Natalie Reeves
    commented 2019-10-28 18:00:25 -0700
    This could have been written by me about my “Mike”. I’m in my fifth year. Thank you for sharing how you are rebirthing from your wreckage.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2019-10-27 18:09:11 -0700
    Ellen, Three months is early days. And, I know these have been the longest days and loneliest nights of your life. Grief changes. It is not better or worse, it is jut different after a while. In Toronto come find me. My heart understands… ~S.
  • Ellen Langille
    commented 2019-10-24 13:49:10 -0700
    Staci –
    This is the very first time I have ever posted a response on this site. I read your blog post today, and it made me cry. I cried for all that we’ve lost, and I cried for the prospect of our continuing to count the days and weeks and months for the next 40 years of our lives. You are further ahead than I (at only 0.3), so I can only dream that someday I will have the hope that is underlying the sadness of your post. I will be in Toronto, and would be very pleased to meet you in person. Many thanks for sharing…