I think we all feel “lost” in some way, and sometimes in all ways.
But, understand, feeling lost after the person you love dies doesn’t mean you have to lose yourself forever.
I know that outliving the person you love isn’t easy. In truth, it’s easily the hardest thing I’ve ever been forced to do.
I remember many nights I stood in front of the stove and unconsciously rocked myself, in an effort to become ‘present’, as I half-heartedly cooked dinner for my kids -all the while hoping I wouldn’t die from the aching in my Soul.
The good news is that I didn’t die from Mike’s death. However, from his death, I’ve learned that nothing in life is constant. When he died everything about my life changed - quite literally overnight. I remember feeling completely and utterly disorientated. The days following his death are a blur. I remember feeling like I was having an out of body experience. I stood for hours surveying the mess that was left of my life. All our hopes and dreams were shattered into a million pieces - scattered all around me. I wanted to “fix” my brokenness, but I didn’t know where to begin. I had no clue how to move forward; but, instinctively I knew I couldn’t stay still forever...
Death forces change.
And, these changes are usually unexpected and always unwelcomed - at least initially.
For most of us, accepting change is hard at the best of times; and while grieving change is especially challenging
- albeit unavoidable.
In the early days, grief suspends you in a type of paralysis where your mind becomes frozen; and, all decisions, both big and small, feel overwhelming. I think this happens because death shatters everything we believe about the assumptive world; and, it takes a significant amount of time for the mind to recover from this.
However, I assure you, with time, and hard work you can and will steady yourself. And, once you reestablish your bearings it is possible to slowly regain your sense of self; and, with that, your self confidence...
As I type this, it has been twenty months since Mike suddenly and unexpectedly died. Most of the people in my life expect and assume that I am "okay" because a significant amount of time has passed and they see me 'surviving'. Others, may even accuse me of 'thriving' because I do not tell them what it's really like to live without Mike. I know that most people simply can not fathom the truth about widowhood and I am glad for this. I am grateful that they do not know the aching in my Soul. And, I am thankful that they do not recognize the sadness in my eyes. These people - who are in love with someone who is still alive - are in an enviable position. I fondly remember being like them. Once upon a time, I did not know the ugliness of living without Mike; and, it is my hope, that non-widowed people can maintain their innocence and happiness for as long as possible.
For the most part, outside of the widowed community,
I do not regularly share the difficulties of surviving Mike's death because
I appreciate that it is simply not possible to understand the depth and breadth of my loss -unless your spouse is also dead.
Unfortunately, this lack of understanding creates a sense of distance between myself and non-widowed people. I do not discuss how I genuinely feel because I feel the social pressure to be "okay". Most people around me now assume that I am doing well because I don't offer up the horrible details and terrible truths of widowhood. But, the truth is, I am not okay.
I have grown tired of sharing my real feelings because the pep talkers in the crowd will invariably tell me: I am "strong" and "I've got this" and "Mike wants me to be happy" and "Mike is always with me". I admit, they are speaking the truth. Yes, I am strong. Yes, I do have this -because what other option is there? Yes, of course Mike wants me to be happy - duh. And, yes, I do 'feel' him around me. I know he's "here". I KNOW all this. And, on a good day, I can easily agree with everything the peppy talkers say. But, some days are just f@cking hard. And, it sucks living without him. And, sometimes it is okay to be less than okay.
Fortunately, I am now beginning to feel more comfortable and confident in my new life. Daily, I remind myself that I was independent and capable before Mike came into my life; and, since he has died, I’ve remained so. I realize that I have retained much of my strength of character - in spite of - the trauma of his death. And, I’m glad for this.
After months of scrounging for direction, re-entering life has become possible and imperative for me.
Now, I know for certain, that I do not want to merely exist. I want to LIVE. I want to live fully and completely.
And, from where I’m standing, there is nothing particularly optional about it.
For me, living well - living with purpose - isn’t Option B.
Living a good life has always been the only option I have considered.
My Option B is Option BE.
When I finally chose to breathe life back into myself I recognized that I had the power, potential and capability to “BE” whoever I wanted. And, realizing this has made all the difference for me.
The beauty of rebuilding our broken selves is that we can BE who we want to become.
And, this is big, powerful stuff.