I don’t like dessert, so I will not be serving it with our Thanksgiving dinner.
I have never really liked dessert.
And, Mike didn’t like dessert either.
I wonder if that is a coincidence?
I think not.
I can tell you that I don’t think there are any coincidences in life,
even when it comes to dessert.
I almost always pass on dessert.
I’d rather have seconds than eat sweets.
Honestly, I’d rather eat more steak and crab (that's a story for another day).
I like savoury foods because that’s how I like my people too.
I like people who speak and act with a bit of tang.
I like people who are spicy, with a side of sweet.
Even though I don't like dessert, I do desire the sweet things in life.
Sweet things like a walk in the rain.
A good book.
A good conversation.
A laugh that fills the room.
A kiss that takes your breath away.
I like these things.
I crave these things.
I need these things.
I desperately miss all these sweet things I shared with Mike.
Things like sunshine gleaming off a wine glass as I shared a meal with him.
Things like slow dancing in the kitchen.
I miss looking across the room and knowing that he would smile
and wink at me because I was his.
I still wish I was his girl.
And, a piece of me always will wish this.
I miss him desperately everyday; and during the holidays
I miss him even more than usual.
Like I said, I don't like dessert; but I am a sucker for the sweet things in life.
I love a good love story.
And, I keep re-playing ours in my mind.
I don't think this will ever change.
As I was cook our holiday meals I know that I am loved
- even without him here telling me these words.
Love does not die, it actually becomes stronger and even deeper.
I'm thankful for this.
For almost two years, I have kept a small, hand picked assortment of condiments in my freezer. The content of these containers have long expired; but, still, I can not bring myself to throw them out because they are from the recent past - when Mike was alive.
These common containers are anything but ordinary. To me, they are stale, sticky, well used time capsules. These bottles cue me to remember the life we shared together. And, I am just not ready to throw out these visual reminders because they bring to life so many heartfelt memories.
Logically, I know that the bottles should be recycled.
But, they are not refuse to me. Instead, they are dreamy treasures from our past. Many times, these containers were casually set out on our kitchen table where they quietly witnessed our conversations. These simple bottles stood watch over us during many shared meals. These containers silently observed all the love and laughter in our home. And, I just don’t have the heart to part with them because they were present when the happiest days of my life unfolded.
To me, these simple bottles are sentries
who bore witness to my life with the man I love.
Mike is gone from here, so now our shared memories feel lopsided because the other person who was present,
is now absent. When the other rememberer dies, they can not share in the recall of our memories. It is a further loss.
Therefore, out of necessity,
I have developed a strange kinship with these stale condiments because they were present when Mike was alive.
These bottles have become somewhat holy to me
because they are inanimate bystanders who witnessed the love between us.
They were present in the past; and, unlike Mike,
they are still physically here.
I know that these partially used bottles of sauce are unlikely relics. But, nonetheless, these condiments have become sacred to me because the sight of them takes me back to another time - a time when Mike was still alive.
And, no, I’m not crazy.
How do I reenter life? The life I knew and loved has been radically changed. There is simply no returning to it. That life is over. I can not resume where he and I left off. I need to rebuild. But, where do I begin?
When he died I felt my foundation shift and collapse.
I buried Mike, but it was me
who was buried alive by the wreckage of our dilapitdated life.
For a long time I thought that maybe if I stood still he’d come for me. I thought he would somehow find me and save me from the ruins of our lost life. Then, after a while, I realized that Mike was not coming back - ever. I recognized that I was on my own. I knew that I had to rescue myself. But, I felt disoriented and far from battle ready.
Early on, Grief had the upper hand because my confidence and self identity were lost and buried deep in the rubble of our shattered life. Even now, I can barely process all the changes that have occurred in the last 23 months.
To soothe my Soul, I catch myself instinctively rocking and clutching my collarbone - as I choke for breathe. I do this more often than I care to admit. Daily. My life is not easy anymore. In fact, it is often so overwhelming that my breath is chaotic.
I'm tired of being out of breath.
I have to starting breathing life in, or it will pass me by. I know this. Yet, despite what I know, I am still standing on the sidelines waiting to catch my breath. I feel myself watching life unfold. And, I know that I need to get back in the game. I hate that I have benched myself because I am tired. I hate that I am sitting out rather than breaking a sweat in the game of life. I am growing impatient with myself and my lack of commitment. I can't just write about actioning change. I need to bring my ideas to life. And, to do this I have to leave the safety and predictability of the sidelines behind. When I start participating in the game, I will bring myself back to life. I know this. So, it's about time I do this.
But, I suppose,
In fairness, it is hard to remain confident and self assured when your world implodes.
However, you do learn what you’re made of when your world collapses.
Everything you are is exposed.
I’ve spent almost two years on my hands and knees collecting the shards of myself that survived his death.
But, I’m over it now.
I’ve grown bored.
I’m tired of combing through the litter of my old life.
Now, I am ready to do something with the tattered pieces I salvaged from the rubble of what was.
I wish I had better guidance to give people early on when they tried to help me.
People were making heartfelt efforts to comfort me
- most armed without experience.
Two years later, these helpers have almost all disappeared.
And, I understand.
People have lives of their own
I understand that they simply can not understand my life.
I recognize that visiting me, while I sift through the wreckage of what was, is not overly enticing.
Truth be told, I don’t want to live here among the debris of my old life either.
I understand their absence.
I understand the difficult position we are all in.
I know that those who have not lost their Soul’s mate can not possibly know what to say to me.
In the beginning of this mess, I was not adequately equipped to educate anyone about what they should and could do.
I wish I could have helped you help me.
I want to thank you for being with me when I was brought to my knees.
I know that you did not know what to do.
I didn’t know what to do either.
But, I know that both of us had the best of intentions.
When Mike died I was not given a manual to follow. There were no instructions. No roadmap has been created for grief because it takes us along different paths. Yes, there are shared attractions and similar views along the way, but the road we travel is unique for all of us. When your spouse dies, you must go where you have not gone before. You are forced onto a road that is not well marked. There are countless ruts along the way. Some parts are bumpy and make for difficult travel. Other times, the road is smooth and there is blue sky overhead. Then, around the corner, the sky turns dark and it becomes hard to see where you are going. During these stretches, you may bump into things. On this journey, you will become lost. It's unavoidable. Along the way, you will be re-routed and sometimes you will travel down dead ends. And, through it all, you will learn. You will learn to rely on your instincts. You will learn to believe in yourself - in a way you never have before. Solo travel isn't easy, but it changes you in a lot of good ways.
At the start, even if I possessed all this knowledge about grief, I still would not have been able to teach you how to better handle me. Widowhood has to be lived to be understood. In the days and months following his death, I was completely disoriented. I was unable to guide you as you tried to help me. I wish I could have succinctly told what I needed. And, really, the only thing I needed was him. I needed him not to die. But, he did. And, his death is permanent. There is nothing anyone can do to make this better for me. It is what it is.
As the days turned into months, I learned to sit still in the horrific aching. I learned to lean into the ugliness of it. I learned to cry until I gasped for breath. I learned to pick myself up from the floor after I thought I would die from missing him. I learned that Grief is presumptuous and demands attention. And, I have learned to give Grief the attention it screams for.
Grief is brazen, dauntless and in your face. Grief pronounces everything in heavy, smashed strokes. Grief threw me into an out of body experience. And, I've learned that Grief rarely shows any mercy. Grief deprived me of many things I once took for granted.
I had to relearn basic things like breath and sleep.
For many months both eluded me.
Sometimes they still do.
Early on I could not communicate without confusion.
I could hear conversations around me, but the words did not make any sense to me because I had begun speaking in another dialect.
My heart was learning the language of grief.
I am now fluent in it.
With time, many people have drifted away from me because we no longer speak the same language.
There is nothing that needs to be said.
For the past two years I have been physically present,
but my mind is far away from here.
I have been unravelled.
I have come undone at the seams of my Soul.
Mike’s death has affected me to the depths of my psyche.
But, thankfully, with time,
I am making a slow, steady comeback.
In truth, comeback isn’t the correct word.
Death is a trauma.
And, after outliving your spouse,
You do not and can not come back to who you once were.
There is no returning.
I can not come back to what was.
Whatever “it” was,
It is all over.
I apologize if this sounds overly dramatic to ears that have not lived in the silence
I have existed in for nearly two years.
None of what I am saying is intended to be dramatic,
it is just the truth.
I am forever changed because he died.
But, even more,
I am a better woman because he lived.
Slowly, I am finding ways to adapt to my changed life.
Daily, I drape myself in Hope.
I want to do more than survive his death.
I want to live a full, happy life
Since Mike died I have spent hours lost in my thoughts.
I continually revisit the past.
I endlessly mourn the future we imagined.
And, I desperately hope to become present in the moment.
As surreal as it remains,
I know that he does not exist here anymore.
I accept that I must begin anew.
Mike’s death has forced me to be reborn.
And, though a piece of me will always wish for the life we shared and planned,
I am grateful for my chance at a new life.
Gratitude for what was,
And, what will be,
Has allowed me to survive without him.
My simple message below is intended to help everyone involved in this mess.
I only wish I had these words for you earlier when we both stood before grief without any guidance.
I ask myself again and again - What do I do? I whisper these words to myself as I walk out into the world and go about my life - without him. I've been asking this question for nearly two damn years... I am tired of this question. I want to fill my mind with other thoughts. But, since he died, I'm different than most women my age. The things that consume me are much more profound than they used to be. I don't give a shit about the changing seasons, or that pumpkin spice lattes are back. I care about things that live deeper in my heart. I care about my children's happiness, our life, and my life that is connected and also separate from my boys. I care. I care deeply. But, not about the shallow stuff that many people my age care about.
Mike's death changed me, a lot. I'm a very different person than I used to be. And, truth be told, I like the new me. I am becoming a woman I like to spend time with. And, this is a good thing because I spend a whole lot of time alone now. It is advantageous that I enjoy my own company - in a way I never have before.
In quiet solitude I think about the direction of my life. I ponder everything. The life we planned together died with him. This is a fact, whether I like it or not. And, now, I have to figure out what the hell to do with the life I have left. So, I think. And, I think. I endlessly question what it is that I want. I contemplate what to do with this alternate life. I must figure this out myself because no one can "fix" this or plan my life for me. It's up to me to decide what to do with the life I have left. I know all the decisions ultimately rest with me; therefore, the things I think about are heavy and profound. And, I realize that the answers will not just magically come because I ask the questions. Throughout this process, I am generally impatient with myself and my progress. I need to work on this.
My mind does not rest easy. I'm exhausted by my thoughts. But, at least I am engaged in life enough to be thinking and asking questions. At least I am curious. I think this counts for something. It has to because it is all I've got for the moment. And, this is okay - it has to be. At this point I don't know a whole lot, but I do KNOW the answers to all my questions live inside me. They are there for the finding.
There is so much I wonder about since Mike died. Big things and small things consume me and I wish like hell I could talk to him about this stuff like I used to. Since he died, I continually contemplate what I should do. What do I want to do with the rest of my life? I blogged about having a Makeshift Plan a few weeks ago. And, I am glad that I have created a "plan"; but, still, I am anxious about the life I am living without him. I know full well, that life does not always go according to plan. I am somewhat prepared for the curveballs that life will undoubtably throw at me. And, in some weird way, all of this change is kind of exciting. Going forward there is so much potential before me. My life can take any direction. And, so can yours.
Still, living solo doesn't feel comfortable to me, yet.
The life Mike and I imagined is the life I want, but it is not to be.
I have to adapt.
I have to go with the flow even if it is not the life I had planned. And, so do you.
Soon, Mike will be dead for 2 years and I would be lying if I said I know what to do with that. I have not accepted his death. I don't want to. And, part of me may never come to terms with it. I am okay with this. A part of me will always want him to be alive and I accept this. It is what it is.
I remain conscious of how long Mike has physically been gone from me; yet, I feel the need to make more forward progress without him. And, here is the tricky thing, I feel like I am going nowhere fast. I do not know where I am heading... I have a rough idea of what I want to accomplish in my life, but it still feels somewhat lack lustre without him beside me. Will this ever change? I think it will. In fact, I know it will. I just have to be patient. Mike has only been dead for 1 year, 10 months and 23 days... (I had to google this on an app.) As time has gone on, I have stopped knowing the numbers. And, really, it doesn't matter anymore. Maybe it never did. He is gone. He isn't coming back. The days keep coming. And, I am still here. I had better start acting alive. I need to live. We all do, because we did not die.
Since early on, I have had the desire to live life well. I have draped myself in hope. But, even with all the optimism in the world, when night falls, I am always alone. And, I feel the missingness and the emptiness. There is a profound sense of loss. Being lost fills me. My Soul aches for him with every breathe I take; yet, I take each breath as it comes and I keep going. I have to. For myself, for my children and for Mike. I did not die. I can not let his death define my life. The way Mike lived and loved me must be what I cling to as I move toward life again. Day by day I fight forward. And, I know that you do the same.
I miss our connection to one another. When your spouse dies, it feels like you are undergoing an amputation without any anesthetic. Their absence is felt on a Soul level. And, learning to live without them breaks you in places you didn’t know existed.
Over time, a natural, graceful interdependence developed between us. Together, we carefully crafted a secure, and easy comfortableness. Mike was able to read my body language like a well worn book. I miss being perused like this. Our daily exchanges were cozy and predictable. Our interactions were snug. We proceeded through life together performing well rehearsed rituals with ease and grace. I loved moving through life with him beside me. And, now, without him, I miss being so intimately connected to another human being. I miss my life partner to the depths of me.
Witnessing our Souls sync was magical;
And, even more, our connection was something extraordinary to be a part of.
Not surprisingly, it is something that isn’t easily unlearned or reestablished.
Clearly, creating a new relationship with my dead fiance will take time to craft.
All through the day, and long into the night Mike and I were connected - in both small and significant ways. As a couple, we were constantly attached mentally or physically; and at the best of times we were both. With time and repetition, our intimate and notable connections ran deep into our psyches. We were not necessarily separate and distinct from one another. Our Souls became entwined as we fell in love. The lines between us became increasingly blurred as we built our life together. And, now that Mike has died, I’ve had to learn how to become independent from him.
Physically, I’ve been forced to “uncouple” from him.
Emotionally and socially I’ve had to readjust my perspective and behaviour.
And, mentally, I’ve been required to redefine my identity.
I’ve spent hours questioning:
Who am I? Who am I without him? Who am I because of him?
None of these tasks are easy; nor have they been fully completed by me.
In truth, I will never completely disconnect from him.
And, that's okay with me.
I do not have it figured out yet. But, day by day I am getting closer to finding my way back to life. I have created a makeshift plan that I’m getting excited about. And, being even mildly excited is reason to celebrate because for nearly two years I’ve been completely underwhelmed by my life.
I know that my new life will be very different from the one I imagined sharing with him. I wish it wasn’t this way, but it is. The life of have now is completely unrecognizable compared to the life I shared with Mike. But, this is the life I have. I can not go back to what was because it’s gone. Our life together died with him.
Whether I like it or not, I have to live without him. It’s up to me to make something out of my own life. So, I’m attempting to do just that. And, the plan I’ve come up with is solid. But, it requires me to be patient because I have children under my roof. I can’t launch into big changes immediately, but I am preparing for what I’ve decided is inevitiable. Finally, I have a plan for my future; and, this plan and my desire to dig back into life makes me very happy.
For the first year, I simply survived his death. And, this took everything I had. I discovered that I was built strong; but, my grief broke me in places too. Now, I understand that breaking is a natural part of the process. It is necessary and unavoidable. When you fall to your knees - you will get bruised. And, when you are forced to crawl in the ruins of your shattered life, you bleed from the shards of what was. This is also necessary and unavoidable.
It’s an understatement to say that the first year was compiled of the hardest days,
and long nights of my life.
It was beyond awful.
But, with time, the bruising has healed.
And, see that my tears serve to cleansed me and ready me for what is ahead.
Somehow, I have survived his death.
And, now I am ready to do more than just survive.
I’ve grown restless.
I am no longer comfortable where I am.
I can no longer exist in this holding pattern.
I’ve outgrown this waiting place.
I need to move towards the future.
I’m thirsty for life again!
It's Sunday morning...
I should hear you happily humming as you walk down the stairs to start the coffee.
As I lay in our bed, I should notice the familiar sound of the beans grinding.
Soon, the smell of coffee should be thick in the air.
There should be music playing in the kitchen.
And, any moment now, my phone should ding and the screen should light up with
- your name.
Right now, you should be sending me my "Good Morning Beautiful" text message.
The familiar, heartfelt message you lovingly sent to me everyday
- whether you were on your way to work, or at home, in our kitchen.
You should be making coffee and texting me on this ordinary Sunday.
But, you're not here...
The only day you missed texting me "Good Morning Beautiful" was
November 15, 2016.
I knew something was wrong, and I was right.
And, nothing, not one thing, has really felt right since.
One of the most powerful things anyone can say to me is
“Yes, this is __________”.
*Insert: awful, terrible, horrible, sad, unfair, gutting...
Any word that acknowledges that Mike’s death sucks will complete this simple sentence.
The fact is Mike being dead is hard for me. And, yes, it still continues to be difficult almost 22 months later because, well, he still continues to be dead. Simply acknowledging that Mike dying is horrible, and awful and sucks helps me feel less isolated. I appreciate that it is not easy to bear witness to someone’s grief. But, your presence is really the best gesture. It’s what’s needed most.
Simply hold me in my brokenness and resist the urge to do anything more.
Sometimes people think they can encourage and support me by saying good things about my future. Well, in truth, don’t. Please don’t give me a pep talk. Grief isn’t something that you need to coach someone out of. There isn't a playbook that holds all the answers. It simply is what it is.
I assure you, I am keenly interested in my future. I am intimately invested in it because this is where my life lives. I assure you, I have given my future more thought than anyone else on Earth. In fact, I am consumed by thinking about it. And, this is not necessarily a good thing; because at best, the future is uncertain, for all of us. Not only is my future uncertain, it is radically changed from how I imagined it.
There is nothing anyone can say that will make my future better or necessarily brighter. If there was, trust me, I would have already told myself the words. It’s okay that no one can make all this better for me. This is going to take time and hard work. I’ve got a life to recreate and this isn’t going to happen overnight. And, please rest easy knowing that I am mildly excited about recreating a life for myself because there are so many possibilities.
This is the beginning of anything I want.
There is great opportunity in my future, this is not lost on me.
I get it. And, I look forward to the future unfolding.
No one needs to “fix” my broken life. This is my life to rebuild and no one can do it for me. I do not require sympathy or need pity, but it would be nice if those who love me could stand nearby as I go about my reconstruction. It is comforting to think someone might steady me or re-position me, ever so slightly, if I go too far off course. I am strong, but I would love for someone to help shine a light along the way because there are no markers on the dimly lit road I’ve been forced to travel.
I’d love for you to stand close enough to me so that our eyes can meet. This said, I am aware that I am not as social as I used to be. This is because I am preoccupied with trying to save myself. I’ve had to disconnect as I’ve focused on surviving. If I have withdrawn it was not by intention, but rather necessary. Rebirth of oneself is consuming and requires energy and attention.
I’ve spent nearly two years trying to find myself. I spend my days crawling around among the destruction of what was once a beautiful life. I pick up fragments of my former life, pieces of myself that I vaguely recognize. I quietly collect these shards of myself that can be salvaged. I scour the landscape of my old life for things that I can use to create the foundation on which to rebuild myself. This is hard work. It is tedious. I’m tired.
I've had to come undone in order to come forth. It's been a out of body experience. I’ve felt lost and displaced for so long now that I struggle to remember what it feels like to be comfortable in my own life. I have been stripped bare and the insides of my Soul are exposed. Surviving his death has been completely life altering for me. I am different now. I am better in many ways I can't even begin to explain. Mike dying has made me learn so very much about living, and at the same time I have never felt more detached from my life.
Continuing to love him in separation
doesn’t just seem obvious,
It FEELS like the natural thing to do.
Our Love didn’t die.
Our Love didn’t wane
when his body died.
Continuing our bond
is as necessary as breath for me.
I continue to love Mike in separation,
because it’s the only way
I know how to live.
But, lately I admit that I’m living half-heartedly. I’m disenchanted; and, in response to this, I’ve disengaged from all the life around me. Now, I just exist. I am skimming along through the day. And, I do not genuinely feel anything anymore.
I don’t feel like my life is authentic. It feels uncomfortable and forced.
I’m so completely underwhelmed by everything around me. And, I feel pretty guilty about being less than enthusiastic about my life because there is a fair bit for me to be grateful for.
I know that I can not thrive with my current mindset. Gratitude must exceed my lack of enthusiasm if I want to have a good life. I know this. Therefore, I feel a strong desire to sort myself out. But, I’m not entirely sure how to do this.
How do I lift this shawl of grief from my shoulders and reengage in life?
How do I accept the life I have without yearning for what was.
How do I gently breathe life back into myself without attempting to recreate a cheap imitation of my old life?
I endlessly think about how to go about saving myself; from myself. Instinctively, I have some idea how to begin thriving, but I do not have the courage to action these ideas - yet. For now, I’m playing it safe. Actually, I’m being too safe, and this is beginning to hurt me.
It’s become obvious to me - I need to take a chance on something. Anything really. At this point, I need to commit myself to some sort of change. What the change happens to be is not as important as I’ve lead myself to believe. What’s important is that I actually do something to alter my life - something beyond the makeshift attempts I’ve made so far.Read more