The other week I saw this meme on Instagram about dying and not wanting the person you’re with to be happy afterwards and about how they should get in the casket and die too. It was framed in a “funny” way and meant to be a joke but I didn’t find it funny at all. I felt defensive, like it was an attack on me and other widows who have fought so hard to find happiness again. I felt like I was being judged and that made me mad. Then I thought: That’s stupid to care about what others think and I don’t care. People who haven’t experienced that type of loss yet are very blissfully ignorant and very immature. People who liked that and tagged their partners (including people I follow and “friends”) are pretty much idiots and have no idea what it’s like. I almost pity them to have that outlook on life and the happiness of the person they apparently love should something happen to them. Which reality check: either you or your partner will end up in this position at some point unless you (very unlikely) have some kind of joint Notebook death.
The thought of others finding it funny made me think though. Was there a time I would have found this to be funny? I certainly couldn’t relate to the humour now but would I have before? Would Mike have related to it? Would I have been one of those people who “liked” it or tagged their partner? Was there truth in it? So much in such a silly, stupid meme.Read more
Over the last few weeks,
Something in my mindset has changed.
And, in the process,
I’ve rediscovered how to taste,
His memory on my lips.
-in this reality.
HOW is this done?
It’s actually pretty easy...
I AM FALLING OUT OF GRIEF,
And, I am falling in Love with Life
-all over again.Read more
A year ago, if someone told me that my life would fall into place again I would have hoped what they were telling me was right. The problem is that hope does not provide a sense of contentment because hope can only take you so far. It is just a starting point. There is a big difference between hoping and knowing. Now, finally, inside my heart, I know, without a doubt, that I will be okay. In truth, I know that I will be better than okay. And, let me be completely realistic, this peace of mind has been well earned. I have spent the better part of the last twenty months working hard to come to this place. The sense of peace I am feeling hasn't come easy, but it is well deserved.
I have come to believe that everything in my life is going according to plan. A plan that is much bigger than me or Mike. I do not know exactly what the plan is; but, I know that I am being lead in the right direction. Recently, my mindset has become different and I am better for the change. I am more content since I've acknowledged that the plan itself is none of my business. Sure, it's my life and I am obviously interested in the outcome; but, I mean it, what happens to me is really not for me to worry about. I am much more at peace now that I have loosened the reigns; and, I am confident that my future is in better hands than mine.
Since I have removed myself from the responsibility of leading me in the right direction, I no longer feel that it is necessary to plan every little detail about my life. I am so grateful that I am no longer endlessly strategizing and envisioning elaborate scenarios in my mind. Existing with this mindset was completely exhausting and unnecessary. It's ironic, now, I do less; and, this has made all the difference.
I now concede that whatever will be, will be - in spite of what I do, or do not do. It seems so simple, but for the longest time this concept was beyond me. After Mike died I thought I had to "fix" my life and my broken self. Now, I understand that my life is going to be exactly as it is intended to be and the best thing I can do is move aside and let things unfold. I know this might sounds lofty, or naive, or over simplistic. I assure you, I am just sharing what I've come to know. I really believe that by relinquishing the control I was desperately clinging to I am now heading in the right direction, in spite of myself.
In the past, when I was trying to steer my life, I was holding the wheel so tight that I wasn't enjoying the drive. I was missing the point. Now, I have stopped trying to control my destiny. I am no longer interfering in the direction of my life because I have faith that I am being lead towards the future I am intended to live.Read more
Widowhood does not come with a map. In the beginning, there are no familiar landmarks and the curves on the road are unfamiliar. As you set out on your way, you will spend a great deal of time bumping into things as you shimmy along, and that's okay. The important thing is that you are moving and forward momentum is always a good thing. It's likely that you will not know what direction you are headed in, and that is okay too. It is time to have faith that everything will be "okay", somehow.
There have been many new beginnings born from Mike's death. I have met new people and some of these new acquaintances have become friends. And, further, some of these friends speak in Grief's mother tongue. I easily understand them because I am now fluent in grief. These new friends understand the language my heart speaks and there is great comfort in this. However, widowhood is a long journey and it demands solo traveling at times. My friends can accompany me and offer me empowering advice and encourage me with their words; but, I must recreate a life for myself. I need to navigate my way through this "mess" - no one can do this for me.
Wading through the quagmire of grief isn't easy stuff.
But, in order to re-engage in life we must sort through the broken shards of the life we imagined.
This is tedious.
This is grueling.
Simply put, it is hard work.
My fingers are bloody and raw from clawing my way back towards life.
But, bloody fingers aside, I know that the life ahead of me is worth it.
Re-entering life, without Mike, is the most difficult thing I have attempted to do in my life. There is a lot of uncertainty in my future, but more importantly, there is potential. Before me are boundless opportunities.
Once again, I find myself on a ledge. I am paused because I am scared. But, even more significant, I am excited. I am actually somewhat enthusiastic about life again. I feel it - I am standing on the edge of something big. And, in time, I am going to leap towards the new life that is waiting for me. And, I KNOW that I will land on my feet - somehow.
After one year, six months, and six days,
Almost every thought still begins with you.
I am unable to live completely in the moment,
And, I struggle to be present,
In my mind,
I am endlessly travelling to a better place in time,
Again and again.
I return to this place,
Where you existed once upon a time.
Time. It goes on...
When his heart stopped, the hands of time were unaffected. I thought I felt time stand still when I saw his lifeless body; but, time itself callously marched on when he died. Time did not stop. Not even for a moment - in spite of my circumstance. The world just carried on without Mike. But, my world was left in ruin when the life I knew ended. However, from the wreckage, something bigger than me, dragged me out from the rubble created by my shattered Soul. I was rescued because my heart is still beating. My life didn't end when Mike's did. Life is for the living; and, now, I'm left to figure out how to do just that...
Almost immediately after his death, life demanded things of me. On a surface level, I was forced to participate in life because children need raising. Work needs to be completed. Bills need to be paid. Dishes need doing. Laundry needs folding. Lawns need mowing. Things need to be said. I need to show up. There are people to meet and obligations to attend to. Life has not stopped because Mike no longer exists here in this dimension. Time has gone on and I've carried along with it.
Life demands participation - even after your person dies. Life is unavoidable. And, in truth, this is a good thing. At this point, there is no part of me that intentionally wishes to escape living. I think this is why my heart feels so heavy. I want to breathe life in again. I absolutely want to feel alive again; but, re-entering life is much more difficult than I imagined it would be.
I often get told, “you’re always smiling” or “you smile a lot.” It’s meant in a positive way of course but I can’t help but reflect on it. A year ago, I might have felt guilty for being told I’m smiling. I had questioned whether I was allowed to feel happy after such a loss and if I was happy, just how happy I was allowed to be. I wanted to look up in a rule book: how often is a “good” widow supposed to smile or feel happy? I didn’t want to be disrespectful to Mike or for others to think I wasn’t sad anymore. I was sad but there was room for happiness too.
I don’t feel that way anymore about smiling. Part of it is I really don’t care what others think of me and my happy/sad balance. The bigger part and more important realization is that it is only because I have been so incredibly sad that I can genuinely appreciate when I feel happy. You see, when I smile and laugh I am so aware of it. I’m so conscious of feeling happy. I don’t think there has been a time since Mike died that I smiled or felt happy for a prolonged period of time without internally acknowledging that, “hey, I’m feeling happy right now and this is really nice.”Read more
Photo source: mapofthenight
Grief takes us to a secluded, dark place.
We resist settling into this lonely realm.
But, in order to slowly breathe life back into ourselves,
We have to temporarily take residence in this muted, mysterious environment,
I resisted this shadowy, hidden place for a long, long time.
I ran from it whenever possible.
Because, I was scared to be alone in the "nothingness" of this place.
I had the notion that my fears would swallow me alive.
I thought I would drown in the silence.
Maybe you feel like this today.
If you feel lonely,
Displaced and rootless,
You are not alone...
If you are drifting in a place of "nothingness"
Does it comfort you to know,
I am here - in this abyss - with you.
Take my hand,
Let's find our way...
We need to turn to our hearts for direction.
If you listen, in the stillness, past your heartbeat, you can faintly hear the breeze.
The Winds of Change are here...
"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek" - Joseph Campbell
I am starting to have a realization that my choice to restart pretty much ALL areas of my life since Drew died means that there is still a hell of a lot to rebuild and build anew. Probably way more than I even can understand right now. When he died, I quit my job and moved out of the city we called home to live with family for support. Not only did my heart have a major change, but my city, and home, and support system changed too. Looking back, it is astonishing how much change I endured all at once. No wonder it seemed like I was floundering for at least a year or two.
Even during those first few years of aimlessness - which I think are vital after a major trauma like this - I was always trying to create a new direction for my “after” life. Though most of that ended up in my hopping around from one thing to another or just wandering about. I learned that, though I felt like I had no sense of direction, there was in fact a direction slowly taking hold.
Over time, one failed direction after another, I kept trying to find a new direction I could to pour my heart and soul and guts and sweat into that would one day hopefully, be able to sustain me financially too. A direction that - even though he was not standing beside me for - he would somehow be the core of. That was it. Something that would give purpose and meaning to his death happening.Read more
Photo: Circus skills class
As this pregnancy draws closer to the end, I’ve found myself thinking about how different John’s early childhood’s been from what Ian and I had wanted – particularly what I’ve done and how I’ve engaged with John as a mother.
We all have grand plans of the childhood we hope to give our kids. Play dates, sports activities, educational outings, visits to library readings, heading to the playground all sit in on the plan – whatever falls within our means financially and time availability. And often our wishes don’t fit our means.
In hindsight, widowhood has also had an impact. In some ways, it’s given me the means to provide John with these activities than I possibly would have had. I put some of Ian’s estate aside to pay for activities, and by studying part time rather than working, have had the time to give him.
But simply getting out of the house. Socialising with other parents.
That’s been much tougher.
And it doesn’t help I wasn’t the most social creature before Ian died, let alone after.Read more
I’m naturally a person who likes to have a few things on the go at once. Hence I’m currently combining solo parenting and John’s various activities, studying and a pregnancy, plus involvement at the leadership level of a community organisation.
I’d not say I’m making a success of being busy (2 finals this week and I am WAAAAY under-prepared), but I like idea of having things that need to be done and places to be. It stops me from feeling unproductive and lazy.
You’d have thought the crash-and-burn of trying to maintain a similar load in the first 9 months after Ian died would have taught me a lesson in moderation.