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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.

BE Hopeful.
BE Grateful.
BE Joyful.
BE Happy.
BE Kind.
BE Present.
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.

 

Go BE,

 

Staci

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Showing 10 reactions

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  • Antonella Totino
    commented 2018-08-08 05:59:55 -0700
    I am so sorry that you have experienced this sorrow. If I remember 9 months ago, I too was shocked, numb, disoriented, confused, scared. and the sadness, oh my. You know. We all know.
    I barely remember the events of those very, very early days.
    Take your time to grieve, to hurt, to cry. Ask God for guidance.
    I did. I had to bc I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t see beyond my grief and fear. He has taken my hand.
    Best Wishes.
    Antonella
  • Lynn McKee
    commented 2018-08-08 04:58:00 -0700
    I am still in a state of shock. It is only 2 months that my husband passed away suddenly and sometimes the ache is so bad I don’t know how I am going to get through this. I am 58 years old and we were married for 39 years. I love him so much, it is hard to think about the rest of my life without him.
  • Linda Poehler
    commented 2018-08-07 20:50:01 -0700
    It’s been 6 months and I’m just existing. I’m travelling and going out with friends so people believe I’m OK. I’m not. Not even close. Nothing matters. I’m a very independent business owner and so people say “thank God you’ve got your company to keep you going”. Lol. The point of my company always was a decision Paul and I made to invest in a future of travel and comfort. It was our vehicle to our destiny. Now it’s work. Unless I’m there doing what I know…I’m floundering. Aimlessly. I was widowed 25 years ago at 28 and was alone for the next 15 years until I met my love, my true soulmate. I did not take one moment of our life for granted..the sheer joy of it was magic and I revelled in it. I felt like all the heartache I had endured (young widowhood, single parenting, cancer) over all those years had led up to the happiness that I deserved. Then that was taken too. So it’s terrifying to even think about ever being hopeful again. I simply exist. Maybe someday I will choose life..But right now it’s pretty damn hard to think so.
  • Patricia Devenny
    commented 2018-08-07 17:50:36 -0700
    After 1 year I’m still baffled when I’m told “you’re strong”. I’m not; I’m living. I think most would do the same.
    I married later (is 32 later? It felt like it) so I’d sort of begun to plan my own life sans partner. And you know what? I’m starting to remember and it’s been a relief. I was going to do this before, I can do this now.
  • Antonella Totino
    commented 2018-08-02 06:51:58 -0700
    Thank you, Staci?,
    It helps to express myself to those who are in the same hole filled ship. But I’m hoping the life jacket is within reach.
    Thanks for responding.
    A.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2018-08-02 06:27:25 -0700
    Antonella
    8 months is early days.. you don’t need to BE anything right now.
    Of course you have responsibilities that you are duty bound to fill; and unfortunately the world doesn’t stop when our world is shattered. It’s damn hard.
    But it is possible to get to a place where you feel more content.

    Absorbing the death of your husband doesn’t just happen with time. It’s hard work. And, in the early days be patient with yourself.

    Sitting in our grief and feeling it’s ugliness is part of the process, and it isn’t easy. I don’t think you are stagnant, I think you are grieving and being still is part of it in the early days.

    And, most people can not understand the depth and breadth of ourbloss unless their spouse has also died.

    All the best to you and to us all,

    S.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2018-08-02 06:20:01 -0700
    Linda
    Thank you for your kind comment.
    S.
  • Antonella Totino
    commented 2018-07-18 10:23:05 -0700
    I’m not there yet.
    Don’t know how to live or BE.
    Trying to understand how to BE alone, without my other half. I was married for 29 years when my husband passed away. However, I am not living right now. I am coasting.
    It’s only been 8 months.
    I feel stagnant.
  • Antonella Totino
    commented 2018-07-18 08:09:08 -0700
    Loss of a spouse is a totally different ballgame. It is literally a life changer.
    The heartache and sadness!
    My husband passed away 8 months ago. I don’t know how I got this far and so people assume that I’m ok. “Stay strong” everyone tells me, " for your kids" they say.
    I’m not okay. I don’t have a choice but to get up each day but hell it hurts! I feel stuck.
    thanks for understanding.
    Antonella
  • Linda Tevebaugh Keeling
    commented 2018-07-16 20:34:08 -0700
    This is so right on and beautifully written!
    Thank you!