I wish I could post the meme here that had me snorting water through my nose I laughed so hard.
Alas! I keep getting an error note, so I'll have to describe it and you envision it for yourself, okay?
The meme was 3 shrouded in black figures, riding one of the old timey merry go rounds.
The kind made of metal, and you'd hang on desperately as someone standing next to it whisked it faster and faster.
The words in the meme said when you and all your friends are dead inside and hate life but still have fun together.
Seriously. It was frickin' hysterical.
I laugh like a lunatic every time I see it.
Which is frequently, because I printed it out and put it on the wall next to my desk.Read more
I’ve always felt that, 5 years after Megan’s death, I wouldn’t feel like a widow anymore. Not counting those first few months, when I swore up and down that my life was over and that I would never, ever move forward or be able to love again, I consider myself very realistic. I have a stable career. Shelby is and always has been well-adjusted, smart, and healthy. I’m not under mountains of crushing debt, or struggling to make ends meet.
By 3 months, my focus had already shifted from being “lost” to being “off track”, if that means anything different.
Most of the time, my premonition rings true. I don’t focus on the fact that Megan is dead on my day to day life. I do not identify myself as a widower anymore than I identify myself as a Marine, network engineer, or high school graduate. The titles are no more than a minor addition to the whole sum that is “me”.
Then again, with my sixth Camp Widow attendance, in Toronto next weekend, the title of “widower” gains greater significance. It becomes “who I am” for a few weeks.Read more
It seems that my imagination...what goes on in my mind to help me manage this life...has ramped up.
Almost any situation I encounter has a counterpart from various movies I've watched over the years.
The big picture of all of this is me in the middle of a romantic comedy.
I've always loved watching romcoms.
Chuck used to watch them with me.Read more
Being afraid and doing it anyway. That’s what they say courage is all about. I’m sure most people don’t see themselves as courageous. I think because the idea of being afraid and doing it anyway is often associated with enormous, heroic action.
In fact, I would pretty much consider myself the opposite of courageous and always have. I get all spazzed out if I’m late to things. I am endlessly nervous about missing a flight somehow, despite never once having had this occur. I’m paralyzed by moments of having to make choices and decisions… spending what most people would probably consider a ridiculous amount of time weighing the pros and cons and potential outcomes of each possible choice. I take too many things too seriously too much of the time. And of course, I’m constantly afraid people are going to die and I’ll regret some choice I made somehow...Read more
I’ve felt abnormal my whole life. Ever since I became aware of how my own childhood with a single father who was an alcoholic was far different from the seemingly idyllic 2 parent households of all the other kids at my private school. I’ve never fit in. I’ve never felt like I fit in. Largely, because of death and grief.
When my mom died, I became consumed by death. I thought about people dying all the time. I obsessed over my dad dying and not knowing what would happen to me then. I was nine. No one talked about it, we just pretended it didn’t happen and tried to keep going. That’s how things were done back then.
That feeling of not being normal was further enforced in my teen years. Without a mom, I didn’t know how to be like other girls. I had no one teaching me how to do makeup or shave my legs or to talk to about boys. I just had to learn a lot of things on my own… and often painfully and embarrassingly failed at it. Those were the years my dad started drinking again too. So while other kids were busy being worried about tests at school or winning the big game or how their hair looked that day, I was walking beside them to class wondering if my dad would be too drunk to pick me up from school. Or if he would die in a car wreck because he was drinking and then I’d be totally alone and what the hell would happen then?
The only place I didn’t feel all those things, was when I was making art or spending time with the few close friends I did have. It was the only time I didn’t have to live in that reality. When I was making art especially… I could create a whole other world for myself that had nothing to do with my reality.
It’s ironic as I sit here now, looking back at those difficult early years. At my relationship to death and how it has changed over time. Death has altered my life so drastically since such a young age. For so long, I was alone with death. I never met other kids who had lost a parent. Literally, not a single kid I knew growing up had also lost a parent. I think that’s what made it worse. Even though I have siblings they were all grown and out of the house… so I just felt very alone with death.
Then, I lost my fiance in 2012 suddenly, and death showed up again to alter my entire world. This time though, death did something a little bit different. I still felt very alone in the world of my pain and my grief. We all do in some way. But now, I was an adult, and I could make my own choices about death. There were certain things I learned that I can control. And one of those turned out to be community.Read more
I watched the first episode of a new show on Netflix this morning called Dead to Me. In the episode, two women meet at a grief group, both widows. They end up building a new friendship as late night phone buddies since neither of them are able to sleep. The show goes on to take a lot of unexpected twists and turns (and believe me you should so watch it!), but that one aspect had me remembering the early days of my widowhood… of building friendships with fellow widows in the wee hours of the night.
When I first connected with other widowed people, it was through a private Facebook group. Many of us ended up fairly often online, in the middle of the night. Effectively being late-night “phone” buddies for each other when we could not sleep. There was almost always someone there ready to listen, in the middle of the night or any other time of day that we just needed to feel heard and lay down our guard. And because we got each other, there was just this ease. A kind of comfort no one else could really provide. I ended up making a few of my closest friends from that initial group, people I now travel to see and talk on the phone with often.
I was fortunate to have found groups like that online, and to have since built friendships with people who will actually fulfill the words “Call me ANYTIME”. I have used that lifeline even now, seven years after my fiance died. Because new things do come up. You start dating again. You move in with someone new. You get engaged to someone new. You hit the 5 year mark or the 10 year mark from your person’s death. New stuff always comes.
So yes, I have been very fortunate to find places to spill out all my shit no matter the time of day. But I do remember for about the first 6 months, I didn’t have that.
This past week I started something new that I feel both a little bit nervous about but also really hopeful about. I finally signed on to be a regional Soaring Spirits group leader here in Northeast Ohio. I’ve been sitting on this idea for over a year now. In part, for my own reasons… I have very few friends nearby since moving to Ohio. Each year, going to Camp Widow in Toronto, I remember how wonderful that kind of community feels, and how much I’d like to have some piece of that community here locally. I also know, I’m not alone there. I know there’s plenty of other folks who could use the very same thing.
So I finally signed up to lead the regional group here, with hopes that we can grow a wonderful, kind, supportive, fun group. This is a new part of me… I’ve never really been one to be part of organizations or larger communities. I’ve certainly never been one to lead things. But widowhood has changed that some. It’s helped me to realize we all have the ability to lead each other, guide each other, and help each other - even if we don’t have all the answers. It’s helped me to see that we heal better when we heal together.
Being a part of the widowed community has helped me to become more confident and realize that we are all so capable of helping one another on this journey… simply by being there.
Since becoming an involentary widow almost 8 years ago, I have changed in many positive ways.
I am more empathetic.
I am more sympathetic.
I am less judgemental of people's lives and situations and circumstances.
I listen better.
I stop to talk with people more.
I find more meaning and beauty in very tiny things.
I exist in the moment more.
I love profoundly and deeply.Read more
Holy shit, is it a real thing.
Michele, thankfully, speaks about it each year, prior to Sunday morning breakfast.
Fair warning of gales ahead, campers.
Brace yourselves.Read more
I met Christina Rasmussen, from Second Firsts, early in my widowhood, on her first book tour.
She was in Boston and I was in NH, so I drove to the book store holding the event, and heard her speak for the first time.
It didn't change the emotions of my widowhood, but her words, her philosophy about life after loss touched me deeply.
It was my first true indication that I wasn't alone on this road.Read more