With hindsight, I know that there is no way I could have better prepared for what has been required of me since Mike died. Widowhood is something you have to live to fully understand. There is no way to adequately explain this life in words. It is something that has to be experienced first hand to be comprehended.
This being the case, there is a strong kinship among those in the widowed community because our hearts speak the same language. We speak in fairly simple, yet carefully chosen words. The dialect of this 'language' can not be learned or interpreted - because it is not understood unless you are one of us. The aching inside us, the emptiness within us, and the sadness in our eyes is spoken in Grief's mother tongue. Widowed people do not need an interpreter. In fact, we often have the exact same tone in our voices . We can easily recognize what is said by others who are fluent in grief. And, maybe, more importantly, we hear what is not spoken by those who have lost the one they love. In short, we understand one another without words because there really are no words to adequately explain widowhood and how gutting it is.
Grief itself has many shared characteristics no matter who you are. The feelings of grief do not discriminate by gender, race or socio-economics. I believe that the emotions of grief are somewhat universal. Yet, our own grief is unique to each of us. It's ours. No one person feels the exact same way about losing their person.
We widowed people understand one another without words or explanation because we have lived through those lonely nights that we thought would swallow us whole. We have nearly crawled out of our skin yearning for the touch of our person. We have gasped for breathe because of the permanence of our situation. Their absence is forever - for the rest of our lives - and this changes everything about our future. Hence, we have been brought to our knees. We have laid on the cold, hard floor sobbing and wishing this was not our reality. We each know exactly how these things feel because we have done these things many, many times since they died. Thankfully, grief is fluid. The rawness of grief changes with time; but surviving the initial months of grief is something that is etched into your Soul. Outliving the person you love is something that changes you forever...
As time goes on, my grief has softened around the edges; and, for the most part, I appear to be "okay" - except that I'm not. And, recently, I have accepted that this is the way life is for me right now. And, I am okay - that I'm not okay.
I think that this is part of grief - to just accept that you are changed and working towards a future that you can't yet imagine. In grief, one must just breathe and have faith that things will work out - eventually. I now know that there is nothing I can do to "heal" myself - other than just live. I have to live the best way I can, and I must learn to forgive myself when I exist poorly some moments. Ironically, whether I like it or not, Mike's death is teaching me about living. (It is what it is.)
Recently, I find that I am continuously lost in my own thoughts. I spend hours imagining the future that we wanted to live together. I spend far too much time wishing things were different. And, I also spend a lot of time convincing myself that this is actually real.
He is dead. He is dead. He is really dead.
And, nothing can change it.
I say these words to myself again and again,
Because, one year and seven months later,
Mike's death is still surreal to me.
Maybe it always will be...
I can not believe how drastically different my life is without him. All day long I ask myself "NOW WHAT?" ... What the hell am I supposed to do without him? I don't have the answer. I have more questions than answers and I think that's okay for right now. It has to be.
Mike dying has affected every part of my life. I have learned that in grief nothing is sacred. Every bit of me has been affected by his death. Nothing, not one, thing has been left untouched. The way I live is forever changed because he died. And, as I type this, I wonder how time will alter the affect his death has on me. I wonder how his death will feel to me in 5 years? 10 years? or even 20 years from now? I guess only time will tell...
Outliving your spouse affects every single part of your life. In short order, your whole existence must be rearranged. Since Mike died, I've had to become: a spider killer, a barbecuer, a moss killer, a plumber, and a bee killer to name just a few of my new jobs. I do not want to do these things, but I don't have a choice in the matter. Mike is dead and I am the one who is tasked with these things now. Formerly, I did not have to do any of these jobs, but because Mike has died these tasks now fall under my charge whether I know what I am fucking doing or not. When your spouse dies no one gives you a manual that outlines side-stepping all these new responsibilities or the darkness of grief. Grief, like these new "jobs" is something that just must be done. You need to rise to the challenge and learn new things because there is no other option.
My new life requires me to adapt and take on new responsibilities. And, concurrently, grief demands my time. I need to absorb the ache of my grief into my being. To be successful, I have to be an active participant in my life and in my grief. Time alone can not relieve my sadness. Yes, time has softened the edges of my emptiness. Yes, time has given me more experience living with his absence. But, time itself has not "healed" me.
As time goes on, I am rebuilding and restructuring my life. With time, I am gathering more momentum. I am creating joy around the emptiness inside me. And, slowly, the hole in my heart feels slightly less gaping. Yet, nothing - so far - can fill the emptiness. Eventually, I know that I will build a solid life around my loss. However, I think that there will always be a sense of him missing that is present. Again, it is what it is.
Recently, a widowed friend suggested that I build not around my emptiness, but around the LOVE that Mike gave me. I like this idea. I will build around all the love he gave me and I eventually I will create a new life worth living. I'm not there yet, not even close; but, this is the direction I am heading.
So far, I have concluded that there will always be a place in my heart where I keep Mike. His physical absence does not lessen the love between us. In fact, I think our love is even more profound. Our love has grown even stronger because it is reduced to it's purest form. Now, it is just LOVE. There is no longer anything physical to our love, it is simply love itself.
It was a beautiful love and it still is. But, in my heart, I know that I need a physical love in this dimension. A type of love that Mike can no longer give to me. I know that I can not live the rest of my life with the love of a dead man as my only source of love. I need a tangible love, and I feel awful admitting this out loud. I feel like I am not being loyal to Mike. And, I feel sad because I want his love to continue to be enough, but it isn't.
I need to love and live again.
And, I will build a new life - around his love.
And, I know that this will not be easy.
But, I know that it is possible.
As I move forward, I will continue to love Mike in his absence.
And, at the same time, I will continue to LIVE - without him.
Our Love is Eternal.
And, so is my grief.
It will remain with me, in some capacity,
forever as I continue to live without Mike in this world.
But, LOVE is stronger than sadness or grief, or anything else in this world.
And, this is why I know that one day I will truly be "okay".