It’s been 7 shorts weeks since I lost my Partner of 4 yrs. – Clayton, or as my family calls him “Tin”. Right now I am sitting, ironically, at the Atlanta airport on a layover to go home to Boston for my cousin’s wedding. Tin and I met in Atlanta and left the city to move to the beach, get married and make a life. Everyone has been saying “Great! You get to see your family!” “You need a break!” “Have a great vacation!” They are right that I do need a break, but as I type these words I am deeply terrified. This visit will be a hurricane of emotional tests and trials.
Last year I lost my father at the end of this very month. I haven’t been home since. Shortly after, Tin was diagnosed with terminal liver failure. My mother was the only family member who could come down when Tin passed so I am about to walk into a tidal wave of in-person condolences that normally happen much sooner for others. Not having seen anyone else, the weak scars of seven weeks healing will undoubtedly be torn open. I feel like Dante beginning his journey through the Inferno. This plane is a ride on the boat crossing the river of the damned. I see the other side and along the banks are demons whispering dreaded questions that people ask to show support only to be used by my demons as worded weapons. Dante’s Inferno is my favorite book. I guess knowing that Dante eventually leaves Inferno provides me with a bit of hope that someday I too may reach Paradiso.
I had to consciously choose to go up three days before the wedding so I could get the “I’m so very sorrys” over before the wedding but there will be people I won’t get to see before hand. I’m preparing myself for the words “How are you?” “Are you angry, because it’s ok to be angry?” “Have you moved on?” The only answer I have:
I am utterly heartbroken and there is no other way to explain it.Read more
Usually I would write a blog post separate from my personal blog for Widows Voice. However this week has been a rough one, we all have them. Rather than write a totally new post I want to share a post I wrote earlier in the week that shows the dark side of grief. The side that most feel they need to hide.
I want to tell you, it’s ok to not be ok!
So today I am ok, but not that day.
That day emotions ran wild and it felt as though I was thrown back into December. To the month that shattered the world as I knew it. That day I was not ok, but that’s ok!
That day I hurled breakable possessions at walls, I screamed at the top of my lungs with no one around to hear. That day I tore the house apart, I stared at my broken reflection and watched tears fall from blood shot swollen eyes. That day I wanted to die.
That day I was angry that I have to be here, that day there was so much pain. Digging nails into my flesh and pulling at my hair, I screamed for him to take the pain away.Read more
I sat in the car alone, across the street from the vacant house we once called home. The house was the only one in the street without lights on. I hoped none of the neighbours would notice me parked and no one did. I sat in silence reminiscing on sweet memories of us taking evening walks under the stars. I imagined we were teenagers again, lying on the trampoline in the back yard while the rest of the street was asleep.
That evening the rest of the homes were all awake with life. Families cooking dinner and reading bedtime stories to their children. But our home sat lifeless and empty. I wondered where John and I would be living if he were here, what adventures we would be planning. I envied the families who were living out their happy lives. It isn’t fair! I cried as I sat alone grieving the happy life we lived so completely.Read more
You know the one. That wave of emotion that overcomes us, drowns us, in that rush of remembering all at once, what our reality is now…
When you lose your beautiful husband to sudden and shocking death at age 39, just four years into your happy and flourishing marriage, one of the biggest things you are left with is something that I call "the knowing." What is the knowing? It is having the knowledge about a whole host of things regarding life and death, that your previous self had no clue about. Sure, you can read books on these things or witness them through watching people close to you go through something, but until you experience the violent assault of sudden death pushing it's way into your life, you really just don't know. And then, one day, you do.Read more
We all arrive at that time after our loved one dies where we look around and see what remains. What remains of a person who filled our lives in one way or another or so completely that we look at their physical belongings and are struck with disbelief that this is it. The sum of their existence.
My husband and I specialized in not being attached to external things. In 2009 we sold our home in Jersey and most of our belongings. A few special things we put in storage while we figured out what direction our lives would take us. And then we decided to stay on the road, adventuring, and we donated more and more of what was in storage.
After Chuck died, I spent a day going through that storage unit. I held his clothes against my heart, inhaling, striving to find some remaining scent of the man who impacted my life so hugely. His scent was gone, of course, and, one by one, I placed his clothes in a bag for donation. Piece by piece, memory by memory. It wasn't easy, but with each article I thought well, if he were here, he'd want me to donate these rather than keep them in a storage unit. So I took a deep breath and gave them away.
Most people have heard about the so-called five stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance - modeled by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. Even then, she clarified that these are not the only emotions felt during the grieving process, nor do they always appear in this order. It is now widely recognized that grief, for any reason - as a result of a death, illness, break-up, etc - is experienced with a wide variety of emotions, depending on the personalities and situations involved.
People were quick to remind me that I shouldn't look for these particular stages of grief after Mike died. And I listened to them. I didn't require anything from myself; I allowed myself to feel what I felt. I was told that everyone grieves differently, and whatever I feel, and whenever I feel it, is ok.
I'm glad for that. But I have to admit that I did, and continue to, experience many of these so-called stages of grief. She wasn't too far off the mark, at least for me, and in fact, reading about them has helped me feel - well, more "normal" for how I've dealt with Mike's death. It's an ongoing process, and I understand it will not be over for a long time - in fact it will never be over on many levels. I will always carry the memory of my marriage to this man in my heart, and I will forever miss his presence in my life.Read more
It still shocks me how totally ignorant I was about the grieving process before having to go through it myself. I've been at this for ten months, as of today, and I still don't really understand it. All I know is one minute I can be laughing at a joke; or smiling at strangers as I walk down the street; or excitedly making plans for a holiday; or wrestling and giggling with my nephews ... and the next minute I can hardly breathe from the pain of missing him.
I honestly can't remember the last day I didn't cry. Sometimes it's only for two minutes, other days it takes two hours before I can pull myself together. I’m having a lot of those days again lately, which is so exhausting.Read more
Today I changed my relationship status on Facebook from "married" to "widowed". I have been staring at that line on the page for many long months now. For whatever strange reason, it has given me great comfort to see it posted this way. Facebook may be a silly, meaningless network in many respects, but that status was still not something I could give up easily. In my heart, I have felt married to him still, and perhaps in a way, I will always feel married to him; he will always be with me. Giving up that label just seemed so...final. But I realize in this bizarro world of social media that maybe it had become appropriate to make this change. No matter where my life may take me now, I am in fact widowed. That is the simple, heart-breaking truth.
I'm not married anymore, and it was no choice of mine.Read more
Chuck's first anniversary just passed. We had a remembrance for him and danced for the love he left behind for all of us. But I also needed, somehow, to mark this past year in a very personal way that was about me and who I am now and who I'm becoming. Who I want to be for the rest of my life. Thinking about it became a spiritual mediation for me and I wanted to translate that into something tangible.
I'm devastated to be without Chuck. He was my world, my universe, my heart, and I'm broken into pieces without him. But that isn't a bad thing. Broken pieces allow the light to shine forth and that's what I wanted to see into reality after this first year.