Artist. Writer. Creative Mentor.

Soaring Spirits has had an enormously positive impact on my own life as a widow as well as the lives of so many friends and others. This organization is doing incredible work to help people not only to cope with widowhood, but to learn how to rebuild themselves beautifully... with love, laughter, tears, and authenticity. Most of all, Soaring Spirits gives us hope. Hope that life can still be amazing even after we have lost the most important person in our world. Hope that a beautiful life - one that our partner is always a part of - can be created. 


Meeting Myself Where I Am

I’ve been thinking the past few days about Kelley’s Friday post. She talked about how people treat us when widowed, and the frustrations of often being treated like a five year old or misunderstood in some way.

Or how people begin to act differently again once you find new love. That one I can definitely attest to. I wrote to her, saying how it felt like when I met Mike and found love again, all the people who had coddled me and worried over me disappeared, as if to say “Oh thank God, we don’t have to WORRY about her anymore!”

And then the avoiders who had been too uncomfortable with my grief came out of the woodworks to suddenly be more present and express their joy… which really felt more like expressing how happy they were that they could be comfortable with my life again. It’s funny what grief does to those around us... and then to us as a result.

When I moved to Ohio in the name of new love, it felt like a slow exodus I had not intended. Gradually, everyone seemed to just sort of fade out. I got the same sort of story from people over and over again, "Oh I figured you're so busy enjoying your new life, I didn't want to bother you!" Excuse me for being blunt, but that is the stupidest thing to say to someone you care about. Because you think I’m happy you think I’m too busy? Huh?

What the hell does that even mean? And how did virtually no one stop to think that maybe, just maybe, this change was not JUST joyful, but incredibly painful and hard? How did no one see that? Leaving the only place I’ve ever called home… the place where my parents and my fiance are buried, to live 1400 miles away in a totally different culture from Texas. Not to mention how hard it's been for Mike knowing he was the catalyst for my leaving home and for a lot of pain I've experienced by making that choice. Really, truly, almost no one asked at any point “how are you really doing?”. Somehow they all decided that being united with my new love after having dated from far away for nearly a year was all I needed to be 100% happy with no sense of loss whatsoever.

This still annoys me...

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Fearing More Loss

Death has been on my mind a lot the past week, and I don’t even know why. There haven’t been any major milestones or triggers. No birthdays of people who are dead. No death anniversaries. No real explanation, yet I’ve been unable to shake these shadowy figures in my mind. The haunting things I know will one day happen to more people I love. And to me. And it just plain sucks.

It could be something as small as not getting good sleep lately, or the muscle strain I’ve had in my neck for the past 3 weeks that won’t seem to subside… or even just the lingering winter weather that will not seem to go away here in Ohio.

I suppose the one thing that has been a trigger was an email from my aunt - giving me some old lab results about cancers my aunt and grandmother had. It's information I needed for sure, but still hard to swallow. They both survived their breast cancer, unlike my mom. Still though, it makes it very likely that either my sister or I, or both of us, will one day be told we have cancer too. It’s quite possibly the most terrifying thing imaginable to me... facing this particular disease showing up in some way in my life again...

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  • commented on My Husband Died, And I Am Not A Child 2018-04-20 18:30:41 -0700
    I had to comment. I so get it. As you know, living with Drew’s folks for so long I constantly felt like a child. There is still a bit of that feeling now, because Mike takes care of making the money, that somehow people don’t think I can do that. As if I didnt do it for a decade before Drew died. It did get better when I met Mike, except for what you say.. everyone who never noticed any of the other shit suddenly was noticing lol.

    So yep, also a yes to that feeling that everyone either avoided me or coddled me until I met Mike, and once I met him… All the coddlers disappeared, thinking “finally we don’t have to worry anymore!” And all the avoiders crept out to express how happy they were (i.e. how they were finally comfortable again with my life lol). It’s tough. I’ve felt so alone since moving g to Ohio because everyone just thinks a new love solves it all and we can all go back to “normal”. Only I cant go back to normal. Not ever. I get it for sure.

    These days I dont have too many folks treating me like a child.. I really think it is partly you living back home as I felt it more then too. It’s annoying. They mean well, but they are annoying lol. What do you do about it? No idea, other than give me a call so we can laugh it off. Love you!!

  • commented on Joy Seeker 2018-04-14 19:48:10 -0700
    I loved this post… it was so comforting, the idea of floating or drifting in the direction you are meant to go. Being where you’re meant to be. It made me feel a great big exhale. I think lately I’ve been trying to be somewhere else too much… further along in certain parts of my life. Thank you for this! Tomorrow I will try and just float and enjoy it. ;)

  • commented on New Directions Coming 2018-03-06 07:12:59 -0800
    Thank you Cathy and Beth! It does feel like a great fit, I’m hoping it works out well. :)

  • commented on This One isn't for You, if You're Offended by the F Word~ 2018-01-31 06:50:55 -0800
    Yes. Fucking yes to this. I might have to just print this out and keep it in my journal for those really fucking fuck kind of days. Thank you <3

  • commented on The Sky is Falling 2018-01-21 06:14:43 -0800
    Oh this reminded me of so many times when the topic of dying or an apocalypse would come up with my best friend present and I would so nonchalantly react. Her panic being me dying, or all of us dying, and me sitting calm and saying “fine by me!” lol she always hates when I do that. I so get it though, really.

  • commented on Galaxies within Us 2018-01-07 07:00:32 -0800
    Thank you Cet and Sharon for reading and being here to share. I’m wishing you much love and healing in this new year!

  • commented on Itching and Aching 2017-11-26 07:09:52 -0800
    Moving in with my Mike was very hard for me, mostly I had a ton of fear well up. If he died, I could not pay for the house and the cars and everything. It’s been about a year now, and I’m beginning to feel more settled. The fears are still there, I just tend not to give them much attention because it’s not like worrying is going to keep him from dying. I didn’t ever get to live with Drew, so we didn’t have a home filled with memories, but leaving Texas where all of our memories were was so so hard. I had no idea how much new grieving would come with that move… and am still working through it.

    I’m wishing you both the best with this new move! I know it will be very sad and so hard but also worthwhile and exciting and beautiful. Leave yourself ample room for grieving as you make the transition. It’s tough stuff, continuing to live life and have new milestones, but still beautiful.

  • commented on Revisiting the First Thanksgiving 2017-11-20 06:48:23 -0800
    I remember how hard Christmas was on you for years Kelley! I think the only good thing about it is how much more we enjoy and appreciate those holidays once we are finally able to feel joyful again. For me, it feels tenfold.

  • commented on Normal 2017-11-13 07:34:51 -0800
    I remember my first time going to Camp Widow, Tampa, 2014… Exactly what you said. I’ll never forget feeling “normal” for the first time in ages. And being able to talk about death and grief like it was a just an everyday topic, no one getting weird about it! So glad you had that experience.

  • commented on Three Divorces and a Funeral 2017-11-13 07:27:47 -0800
    Well said Gabe. I think we are all better off not trying to compare. I remember someone who’d been through divorce saying they envied me a few months after he died – it was the oddest thing I’d ever heard.

    Looking back, I know what they meant… In a way, I think they meant they envied that my love story was still beautiful, still devoted and pure. That part, I do get. Of course they envy that. Because in that one way, widowed people who were happy and in love will always have the purity of that love, and divorced people have to grapple with the dissolving of that. They have to grapple with a failure of love, a true ending of the love itself. It is the one thing we do not lose when we become widowed, the purity of our love to one another to the end, and that I think is what makes them feel their loss is worse. It’s not worse, of course, nor do I believe is ours, but entirely different kinds of loss.

    Really well said.

  • commented on Reality 2017-11-13 07:07:08 -0800
    I remember that feeling. It took what felt like an agony of time for it to begin to go away… I think a year maybe before it started to be less frequent. Your words are so honest and real, It reminded me of a very short poem I wrote the year he died…

    “Sometimes

    I just want to rip apart every synapse in my brain

    Because I am so tired

    Of the constant knowingness that you are gone."

    It was called “I don’t want to know this anymore”.

    Sending love, fellow writer.

  • commented on A New Dawn 2017-11-13 06:52:20 -0800
    Hi Candace. It’s so hard to hold onto hope in those early times of grief. You will no doubt continue to spread his love and legacy for all your days! Hold that hope close to your heart, and on the days you are too tired to swim, let it be your liferaft, keeping you afloat and letting you rest. :) All my love Candace, thank you for sharing this, it means so much to me.

  • commented on Knowing Them Deeper after Death 2017-10-30 08:11:45 -0700
    Thank you Cathy for your comment! What a meaningful journey you and your dad had in that shared grief experience – I am so glad you had that closeness with him. Much love my friend – today is actually the death anniversary of my mom, missing both of them much today. Indeed, hug the one you’re with <3

  • commented on X-ray Vision 2017-10-30 08:02:45 -0700
    Thank you for sharing this Teresa – you described it so well too, the flatness. It’s been about 5 1/5 years for me now, and I feel like the clarity started to come in a little bit better right around that year 4 for me too. It sure is a much longer process than we ever imagine, isn’t it? Much love to you!

  • commented on Live Life 2017-10-06 10:40:07 -0700
    I loved this post. And good for you – it takes so much courage not only to choose the possibility of loss, but also to write about it all. I went skydiving in my mid twenties, and I recall telling my dad – who was quite ill in the hospital at the time (and died within a few months) that I was going skydiving with this guy friend of mine. His reaction was kind of awesome… he just said, a little bit surprised, “Well that doesn’t sound like you at ALL!” But he meant it in the best of ways. That friend turned out to be the love of my life, the one who died 5 years ago now. And skydiving truly did change my life. It sounds cheesy, but i let fear get in the way a lot when I was young… that one skydive showed me how powerful and amazing facing something scary could be. It was pivotal for me.

    Good for you for supporting your daughter in living life boldly! And in turn, living life boldly yourself, by choosing to support her! I hope you let her read this! <3

  • commented on Anxiety 2017-09-08 09:29:17 -0700
    Holy shit that was tough to read, and beautiful. I can feel that feeling right there with you. I’m having my own irrational fear today. For no reason at all. Everything about today is normal, yet I feel so keenly aware of the fragility of it all. And am holding fear tightly in my throat for the idea of Mike dying. I’m so sorry you had to endure the scare last night. It’s awful. But I’m so glad today is not that day, and I hope it doesn’t come for a long long time again.

    Love you.

  • commented on Aftermath 2017-08-28 07:35:26 -0700
    Thank you for sharing this Anonymous.
    I’m so very sorry to hear of everything your niece of going through. I truly cannot imagine the added trauma all this is bringing into her already chaotic world. Please know she is in my thoughts and prayers. I hope her business makes it through and that somehow, through the midst of the aftermath some good begins to come. I can completely understand her not wanting to leave during the storm. Let’s hope the worst is finally over for now.

    Your words about the past really resonated with me too. I suppose since my fiance died, I have been fighting the fact that parts of my life are simply in the past. In a way, it feels comforting to hear you say it so plainly, perhaps helps me feel a bit more acceptance for certain times in my life I can never go back to. Acceptance is a wonderful feeling.

    Sending my love, thank you again!
    Sarah

  • commented on Here I Stand 2017-08-13 04:43:33 -0700
    oH my goodness, I know exactly how you feel when you talk about an era passing you by. The years that Drew and I spent together in Dallas were the happiest of my life to date. The most carefree and full of ease. We had a close group of friends there that became like our family. We’d go out every Tuesday night to our regular bar and hang out and laugh till nightfall together. We were there for each other when the bad stuff happened. And while Drew’s death made us all in fact even closer… I left Dallas immediately. So my friends there lost both of us from their day to day lives. Then another from our group moved out to LA. Now, we are all worlds apart, and though we are still just as close, we are all painfully aware that an era has passed us by. Quite simply, nothing will ever be the same as those years in Dallas that we shared together. Almost every time we talk, one of us will mention how much we miss it. Five years later, none of us have stopped missing not just the person we lost – but the brief and beautiful chapter of our lives. I SO get this.

    I am so very sorry for this quite sudden loss, and all of the stuff it’s bringing up for you. I totally understand that feeling about the punctuation on the end of the sentence. So well put. I can’t imagine how hard it will be to move from there. Deep breaths. This journey has SO many different facets of grief and loss doesn’t it? Ugh.

  • commented on Eight Years and Crying 2017-06-10 11:33:41 -0700
    Thank you Linda, your comment made me feel a bit better and a little less alone with this one. Thank you for reading and for sharing with me.

  • commented on Its Not Easy 2017-05-20 18:27:27 -0700
    I really cannot imagine how difficult it must be to be raising her without him. As I’m becoming a mother figure to my new guy’s daughter, i’m terrified constantly by the thought of how i would do it on my own if he died. And I know now that thats always a possibility. It plagues me. I won’t throw any sunshine at you about things getting better and all that jazz. What do I know? All I can say is, this crap sucks, and I’m really really sorry you’re in this position. He should be here for both of you. But I am glad you’re there for her – what a difference you make.

    Its so so hard when we get to that timeline where everyone expects it to be “better”. As soon as I met Mike, everyone just put me into a different category it felt like. “Oh! She’s with someone new! She’s not widowed anymore, it’s all better and we can all breath a sigh of relief now!” was the total vibe. I’m still grieving. I’m still having hard days. And now, I talk less and less about them except maybe on here. No one asks me how I’m doing. No one wants to hear about grief anymore. It feels even lonelier. I journal a lot more now privately, since I don’t really feel like telling other people helps much anymore. That does help me still. Sending you love my friend.

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