I found Soaring Spirits the day after my husband died from depression. I googled the term 'suicide widow' - reeling from shock that these strange words were now something I needed to make sense of.
One of the links that I clicked contained the heart-felt words from a young widow named Melinda who had also lost her darling husband Sean to depression and was sharing her story to help others, like me.
Melinda's words connected me to a community that would save me from losing my mind. I sat for hours, reading back through her past entires, devouring the words that I so needed to hear.
Every night, for well over a year, I would read this daily blog before going to bed, to remind myself that I wasn't alone. There were other brave men and women who had walked this path before me and, like them, I too would find my way. One day, the relentless ache would ease. The sadness that sat in my stomach would lift and I'd start to enjoy living again, rather than feeling lost in the fog of grief.
Tomorrow is my husband's third anniversary. And, like so much of this third year, the lead up has felt very different to the previous two. So much so, in fact, that it started to scare me as I've been wondering if something is wrong with me, or if I'd slipped back into some kind of state of shock.
Even now, I'm struggling to find the words to explain how this feels different and how I've been trying to make sense of what this means to me. I've had some moments of sadness this week, along with the tears that choke their way to the surface and can't be held back.
The sadness has come on during times when I've thought about what my husband was going through in these days leading up to his death. When I think about the darkness of his depression and the torment he must have been struggling with. It hurts my heart to know that someone I love was battling with something so catastrophic - to know he will lose that fight and miss out on the full life that was ahead of him.
I feel sadness that the world lost such a beautiful soul. That his friends and family are missing out on sharing their lives with this wonderful man. He was a special person and so very loved.Read more
It was my birthday yesterday. My third since Dan died. Next Sunday will be his third anniversary. This period from our wedding anniversary five weeks ago to his death anniversary is my hardest time of the year.
This birthday felt a bit different. My last two were very difficult, over-shadowed by the looming death anniversary and full of memories of the last birthday I had with Dan. His depression was bad, much worse than I saw at the time. I didn't know how much he was struggling and had no idea what was about to come. The frustration at how naive I was on my birthday three years ago haunts me.
I can't tell you the number of times I have wished and prayed I could turn back the clock to that birthday in 2013 so I could grab hold of him, really look into his eyes and see the darkness he was hiding. I'd get him help, I'd change his course, I'd grip him tight and stop him from moving forward towards that horrible day where he'd felt all his options had abandoned him. I've hated my birthday because I've been unable to escape what I know is coming.Read more
Sometimes I take for granted how much Dan's death affected me psychologically. I coast along, feeling like I'm doing ok and am happy, healthy and in control. Until, like a booby trap, something blows up and the trust issues, abandonment issues and general fear of getting close to people or losing control detonate and wreak havoc in my mind.
I have no reason to feel insecure in my new relationship. I trust the guy, he's wonderful, I honestly believe he'd never do anything to hurt me but of course that doesn't mean I won't get hurt.
Life is great, so why do I have these sporadic moments of feeling like I'm going to lose it all again. It can make me crazy.Read more
I'm batting jet-lag to write my blog today, so I apologise in advance for any typos (or any more than usual!) and if I ramble on a bit. I got home to Brisbane, Australia on a red-eye flight from the USA this morning, after three weeks away. It was a wonderful holiday, with the highlight being Camp Widow West in San Diego, however I reeeeeally missed my boyfriend.
We'd been in constant contact while I was away, counting down the days, and then hours, until we would be reunited. He was waiting for me at the airport this morning and when I dragged my tired ass through the arrivals gate and into his arms, I hadn't realised I'd been holding my breath in fear that I'd never get that moment with him.
You see, I haven't missed someone like that since Dan died and it reminded me of that feeling I had almost every day for the first year or so after - that sensation of aching to hold him and touch his face. However, unlike missing my dead husband who I would never get to hold again - I was missing someone very much alive and waiting to hold me too. The excitement of that was such a stark contrast to the agony of missing Dan, it was a very strange and confusing feeling.Read more
I'm writing this from an AirBNB apartment in the heart of New York City, a loooong way from my home in Brisbane, Australia.
I flew out here for a holiday with a good friend (and fellow widow) after attending Camp Widow in San Diego last weekend, and we've been having a wonderful time.
This was my third Camp Widow and while Kelly Lynn spoke about the concept of 'Camp Crash' yesterday, I've found that for me, the crash has typically been delayed until after I've returned home, as the holiday element of my trip has provided a distraction from the return to every-day life. So I'm still waiting for the reality to kick in... but in the mean time, just going with the distraction.
I'm sorry for the late post, I'm at Camp Widow in San Diego this weekend and while I usually post by 5pm Saturday when I'm in Australian but I forget that with the time difference here in the US, my deadline is midnight Friday!
It's been a very different Camp Widow experience for me so far. For the first time, I'm here with four of my Aussie widow friends, compared to my previous two camps where I came from Australia on my own. It's been a lot of fun to travel as a group and see them experience the Soaring Spirits family for themselves. I think I've been so focussed on my friends and excited about their first Camp Widow that I almost forgot that there is something here for me, as a third-time camper, too.
Coming to Camp as a widowed person who is a new relationships has also affected me. I'm still very much learning about love after loss and what it means to be a widow and a girlfriend at the same time. I'm really missing my new guy, who is back in Australia. We've been talking on the phone regularly throughout the day and sending messages and while it's nice to be missing him (knowing I'll actually see him again in a couple of weeks, which is different to missing a dead husband!!) it's been a big distraction.
Thursday was my third wedding anniversary. This one felt slightly different to the previous two, however it was still as sad.
The night before, I stayed at my boyfriend's place and when we went to bed it all caught up with me. I couldn't believe that this time three years ago I was spending the night with my bridesmaids, getting ready to marry Dan in the morning... and now, he's gone and I'm lying in the arms of another man.
He was great about it, very understanding and sweet and just let me cry while he held me. It's such a wonderful but strange dynamic, loving in the 'after'. I'd heard these stories about widows finding these incredible, thoughtful, sensitive men who accepted that their grief was part of them but almost thought it was an illusive myth or only happened to the very lucky few.Read more
I'm at a strange and new phase in my grief. My third wedding anniversary is looming on Thursday (all of which I've had to mark without Dan, because he died before we had the chance to celebrate one together).
This is a time that is usually difficult and emotional. However... my whole compass for what is 'normal' in this world without him has been thrown off its axis due to a new relationship. My first real relationship in the 'after'.
When Dan died, I thought that was it. I couldn't imagine reaching a point where I would be able to even consider giving my heart to anyone else. It was tattered, bruised and broken. For a start, I didn't think anyone else would even want it, let alone that I'd have the ability to still feel anything for someone.
So to experience the kind of happiness and security that being in a relationship brings has been nothing short of breath-taking. I don't mean security as in financial or in a safety sense. But the security that comes when someone really sees you, in all your vulnerability, and doesn't run away. This man has slowly and steadily helped me bring down the walls I've built to protect myself and rather than been repelled by what he's found within, he's instead helped me believe that there is still value and beauty in what I have to offer someone.
I spent last weekend in Melbourne with about a dozen very dear friends. These women have only been in my life for a couple of years now, however it feels like I’ve known them my whole life. They see my soul, in its most bare and vulnerable state, a way that people who have known my most of my life will never understand.
These are my widow sisters. Women who I found when I was thrown into the deepest pain I could imagine, who were battling the storm beside me, trying not to drown. We clung to each other, lifting each other up for air at a time when we were all so close to sinking into the darkness.
We have spent countless sleepless nights sharing thoughts and emotions that our other family and friends could never fully understand. We have shared tears of sadness on the difficult days and celebrated each other’s successes when we’ve taken positive steps forward. The conversation is always easy and open. We have no need to hide or wear a mask with each other.Read more