Lately, Mike feels so far away. It is very hard to properly describe, but I will give it a try. He has taken on the feel of a memory. Now, Mike feels like more of a memory than my person. I feel lousy admitting this. It sort of feels like he is dying all over again.
In my head, Mike feels like someone who lived once upon a time - in another lifetime. Writing this and committing these thoughts to paper feels unsettling to me. It is completely jarring. I dislike that the man I love has taken on the feel of a familiar character in my favorite book. Once upon a time, Mike was real. He was flesh and blood not so long ago. And, now it seems like he lived in another place and another time. And, really, I guess he did.
Today, it does not feel like it was in my lifetime that he shared his life with me. This is the stuff that fills my head and breaks my heart. This is the stuff that widowhood is made of. Dammit. There is no happy ending I can possibly write to any of this.
The man I love now feels like a memory.
Read that again.
And, now read it another time.
The man I love now feels like a memory...
He feels so far away.
He feels like a lifetime ago.
He does not feel real anymore.
He doesn't feel real anymore because he is not.
He's not real anymore...
A while ago, Mike and I wrote this post together about some of the things that are harder about being two widowed people in a new relationship. In that post, we talked about how we aren’t ever able to really pull the widow card on one another, because essentially - it’s canceled out. We’ve both been through an equally hard pain.
We have also both been through an equally beautiful love. A love that was - and still is - with someone else. While it’s not fun to admit, we had a fight last night. As with most fights, it started with something small that became something not so small. As emotions calmed though and we talked through many layers of feelings - there was one subject that came up that is something we both feel and something that is always complex. And that something is because we are both widowed.
It is the feeling that we are each other’s “Second choice”. And it might surprise some people to know that even when you are both widowed, you still have this feeling, and it can still be hard. So we wanted to each share our side of this struggle:Read more
I have been more open-minded and openhearted to try and see signs from Tin. Some say that it is just circumstance but it helps me. It is really interesting how we have preset thoughts about certain things and “superstitions”. For my whole life I always heard that if you find a penny than it is a penny from Heaven -A small shiny token to tell you that there are others watching out for you.Read more
Grief is a bitch. As is insomnia. As am I, when I don't sleep.
Eh, that's not entirely true.
It just sounded catchy.
I hate when I can't shut my mind down though, and it fills with thoughts of death-grief-trauma related things.
Mostly; the thoughts always seem to come back to the simple heart aching fact that I will always miss Don , I hate that he doesn't get to live, and I wish like hell I had been a better wife and let him feel way more often, how much he meant to me. I also wish I had seen the ever so subtle warning signs that his heart was failing. The signs were very tiny, but now, years later - they slowly come into focus in pieces, to torture me.
Logically, I know its not my fault. I know that I couldnt control that he had a sudden hert attack. I know all of these things. But when Im laying here in the middle of the night and the insomnia comes and the thoughts invade, knowing all of that doesnt help. I just feel incredibly sad and I just wish like hell that I could have him here for 30 minutes or so, so I could let him know how much I love him and how he saved my life and made it better until the end of time. When I really stop and think about how short his life was, I just get so sad about it. I hate it. He was such an incredible person, and I miss knowing that he is out there in the world, making it better.
Recently, a widowed person told me I am a “Bad Ass”. She said this in relation to what she views as my bravery and courage. I assure you, I do not view myself as particularly brave or courageous. I feel like an ordinary, if not slightly disorientated and haggard, middle aged woman. Sure, I know that I am capable of tough stuff. Mike's death has assured me of this; but, all this aside, I am just a normal woman who has been forced to navigate some big challenges in her lifetime.
If the past is a predictor of the future, then I know that I should be okay. In my life, I have managed to be successful in most of my endeavours because of my hard work and consistent effort. Even prior to being Mike's widow, I had to exercise my tenacity. I've lived long enough that I have field tested my fortitude on several occasions and the results have usually been favorable. I know I can adapt to the curveballs life throws me. Still, none of this qualifies me as a Bad Ass. Or does it?
I have witnessed the strength of the human spirit. I've stood in awe of ordinary people who have survived very difficult things because they simply must. These people were somehow able to shed their regular run of the mill "strongness" for something extraordinary. They adapted because their survival demanded it. These people traded ordinary for extraordinary because it was required of them. They cloaked themselves in superhuman strength because all human beings have a strong desire to live forward in spite of the awful things that can happen during the course of a lifetime.
Grief requires ordinary people like us to dig deep. And, when we are tired and think that we can not continue a moment longer, grief forces us to dig even deeper. Grief demands that we find our super power again and again and again. As widowed people, we flex our inner Bad Ass every day.
So many people in our modern society are not well versed in the ways of grief. When you have never lived a year, or five years, or 50 years with the death of someone you love, you just don’t know what that will mean or be like. I have both the fortune and misfortune of having lost people at a young age… and so while I still have relatively fresh grief from my fiance dying 7 years ago, I also have long term grief from my mom dying almost 30 years ago now.
Having lived so much of my 37 years with her death has given me time to go through a lot of different phases with her. In my early 20’s is when I truly began to grieve her death in a big way. Not really capable as a child, it took time to mature to a place to break that pain open. It was my first breakup from a serious relationship that broke my grief open for my mom. And so I learned, sometimes it is like that - sometimes one loss in your world will rip open the old wounds of another loss WIDE OPEN.
In my 20’s I also began to celebrate and build a relationship to my mom once more. My family was the type to not talk about dead people, or painful things, so I learned just to think she was gone and no longer existed. But I never believed that on the inside I don’t think. It was in my 20’s that I started to celebrate her birthday again, quietly on my own. I began writing a card to her on that day to talk about all the things in my world and thank her for all the lessons she continues to teach me.Read more
With time and hard, consistent work, grief does bear gifts for time served. Grief, like all things in life changes. The changes are not linear and they don’t come as quickly as we would like, but change does occur nonetheless.
This fourth year without Mike, my grief feels different. Now, my grief is well worn. It is softer and more “comfortable” if that is even possible. It still doesn’t quite fit right. But, I am wearing it just the same. I am learning to wear grief well; or, at least with more ease. With time, my grief fits better. Yours will too.
Rest assure, I never want to be entirely comfortable with grief. This is not where I want to settle. This is not where life is lived. It is a starting point at best. There is hope. Hope for a life that is not filled with sadness and desire only for days gone by. Others, who are further along than me in widowhood, have assured me that their grief has changed. I want to believe them, and I want this for myself too. But, early on, I did not know how this would ever become true. I worried my grief would be exceptional. It was not. And, your grief won’t be either.
I’m laying in bed and I’m only 4 days away from heading to Hawaii. I post on Facebook about the trip. In the post I ask who am I going to see there?
I’m sitting in a coffee shop that is brimming with hustle and bustle and holiday cheer. And, amid all the merriment and the hum of constant conversation I am realizing, for the thousandth time, how very detached I’ve become.
Sitting here alone at my table, I put in my earphones, then I cranked up my music because I just can’t listen to the idle conversations that are going on around me. I had to drown the sound of their voices out before the ridiculousness of it all swallowed me whole.
I don’t care.
I’m different now that I’ve had to outlive him. I won’t apologize for how I’ve put myself back together. I’ve survived. I’ve been forced to reinvented myself. And, I’m changed for better and worse.
A week ago I was given an opportunity at a big event to share with my essential oil community about inclusion, community and growth. It amazes me what has come into my life in the past year. Part of my oil journey is the loss of Tin. I share about him in every speech I give. I share about Soaring Spirits and I share about the widowed Facebook support group, A Widow’s Valor, that gives those in the Young Living oily community a place to be surrounded by other oilers. Talking about my loss isn’t easier, it’s just different. I’ll always be a work in progress and, as I practice reflection and present time, I can pull myself from the tough days to look at the big picture of my journey and rebuilding. When I stop and take time to look at my journey I can see that I have accomplished something amazing – I survived and now I’m beginning to thrive.Read more