Before I was Mike's widow I did not know the depth and breadth of grief.
I had no idea that grief lasts forever.
I never considered secondary losses.
I did not think about how the dead are missing from our futures.
The day Mike died, I did not know that my grief would stay with me throughout my lifetime.
I just didn't know.
I couldn't know.
Now, I intimately understand that grief profoundly changes who you are and how you see the world. From the outside, people in my proximity, think that I am moving forward and getting my shit together.
Well, I am a work in progress at best. In nineteen days, I will have been widowed for three years. What does that even mean? Am I good at this now? Am I used to living without Mike? Am I thriving in this alternate life? Am I okay?
The truth is, I am not okay. And, I still don't know how to live fully without him. Yes, I survived his death, but am I thriving? Not yet. Maybe not for another year, or two or ten. Who knows. Nothing is simple anymore, even three years later.
Early on people told me that I was "so strong". Others told me that I "had to be strong for my kids and Mike". And, these same people also told me that they "could not imagine how I did it". Well, my reply is that I have no choice. I still feel the same. I do not feel strong. And, with three years under my belt, I still do not feel proficient at widowhood. The truth is, I never want to be good at this. I hate it. This is nothing I ever wanted to become good at. In my second year of widowhood, I wrote a blog called "Average Widow". And, this is exactly what I am. I do not ever hope to be comfortable with widowhood. This isn't the life I chose or want.
As time moves on and the seasons come and go without Mike, I am coming to accept the permanence of his death. I get it. This is forever. I am no longer under any illusion. This is real. Mike died. He's gone from here and I am going to have to live the rest of my life without the man I love. So, now what? What do I do?
Well, I am not entirely sure. I am slowly and carefully rebuilding my life around my grief. This is the best plan I have come up with. I know that my grief is not going anywhere. Grief is not something that can be out run or side-stepped. Grief is part of who I am. The only thing I can do is feel my way through my grief and build a solid and good life around it. This is my plan as I enter year four of widowhood...
When you read this you might accuse me of being strong. I assure you, I am not strong. And, at the same time, I know that I am not weak. I am doing this. All of it. Every last thing. And, I am doing this, whatever this is, because the human spirit is strong.
I have come to know that I do NOT have to be "strong" for my kids or for Mike. This is ridiculous. My grief brought me to my knees and that is okay. It is okay to feel terrible. I do not need to be rainbows and sunshine. My person died. This is f@cking awful. It sucks. And, I am never going to be okay with it. I will always rebel against Mike's deadness. It nauseates me.
My strength is that I have learned that being strong is
allowing yourself to fall into your grief.
Strength is crying.
Strength is wondering how the hell you are going to do this life without them
- and getting up and doing it.
Strength is wondering at night if you will die from sadness
- and then, in the morning, making your coffee.
Strength is trying again even when your Soul is beyond tired.
Strength is knowing that your shattered heart still beats.
Strength is acknowledging that you didn't die, only they did.
Strength is living forward when all you want is your old life back.
Strength is all the things I see widowed people doing day after day,