I won't lie, I've cried quite a lot the past few days. It may just be that time of the month making me extra emotional… but it’s also a lot more. It will be my anniversary in a few days… eight years ago next week is when I went on my first date with Drew. The following week, just seven days later, will be the 5th anniversary of his death.
It’s hard to imagine he has been gone 5 years, but surprisingly, this fact isn’t the one getting to me. Perhaps because I spent the first few months of this year already processing the “5 year mark” being here, I almost feel as if that has already passed. The one that is getting me though, is the other milestone.
We would have been together for 8 years now. Instead, we only got three. THREE. And I know, no time is ever enough. Not three, or ten, or fifty. But I do feel like there is a specific kind of heartbreak for young couples that had so very much unfinished life to live. We hadn’t even moved in together yet, much less gotten married or started a family. And so much of that was slated to unfold in that very year when he died. So much was already in the plans to be happening. It will haunt me forever, the unfinished stuff, I know that. And I know it’s normal for it to be worse as I get closer to this day. It just sucks I guess, there’s not much else to say there.Read more
Last weekend, I climbed a mountain with my sangha friends to honour my husband and to raise money for a fund set up in his name. I came home from that mountain imbued with a new courage. My hike up that trail, under the most adverse conditions, has helped me to let go of the fears I have had around conquering other obstacles in my life.
I have been afraid to let go of my beloved husband. I will never let go of his memory, or the love I have for him. Those things will always remain. I think of him every day, in every moment, and his presence lingers in this house and this village and these hills. His love and generosity brought me to the colourful world of Northern England, a place I am happy to call home, and I am so grateful that knowing him brought such a richness to my life.
But I have needed to make room in my mind and heart for who I am to be, and to make this home my own. I have needed to put away some of his things to find the parts of me that have been hidden. I have needed to make space, to clear, to cleanse, to let go.Read more
Tomorrow, the day after this posting, marks the first anniversary of my beloved husband’s death. I can hardly believe it is true. One year.
It feels like yesterday. It feels like a lifetime ago.
So much has changed since he died. I have done many things, in spite of my crushing grief. I have visited my home neighbourhood in Indiana, and sat with pigs and donkeys on an animal sanctuary in Spain. I have travelled to Whitby in Yorkshire and to Ireland and to Snowdonia in Wales. I have spent days and weeks in meditation, study, and reflection with my sangha teachers and friends. I have helped form a grief support group with a widowed friend in Sheffield. I have written for this blog.
And some days, I have not been able to pull myself up from the grief. I have stayed on the sofa with the curtains closed. I have slept for hours throughout the day and into the night. I have had periods of insomnia where I could not sleep more than an hour or two at a time.
Such has been the landscape of my grief. Activity and exhaustion. Periods of joy and hope followed by deep sadness. Despair and loneliness and friendship and gratitude and love.Read more
Today is the first day of June, and eight days from the first anniversary of my beloved husband’s sudden death. While last year, at this time, England was sweltering under a heat wave, the temperature has barely climbed above 55F (13C) this spring. I check the weather forecast obsessively, grasping for some sign of a sliver of warmth. I want to lie in a field of grass and let the sun shed light on the dark and frozen places inside me. I want to warm the parts that are numb.
It’s been almost a year since he was here with me, and sometimes that feels so long ago. I don’t want to lose the memories I have. I don’t want them to fade with the passage of time. But lately, I have felt him slipping from my grasp.Read more
It is the middle of May, now, and we are moving toward the anniversary of your death. Sunday, May 24th, is the day the police came to tell us they had found your son, dead, in his flat. I remember that moment as if it happened yesterday. It was a Saturday afternoon, and we had not long returned from our weekly shop. We were relaxing on the sofa, and watching a silly show. You put the show on pause to answer the doorbell. Our doorbell was set to the melody of "It's a Small World," an apt tune, for us.
Part of me cannot believe it has really been two years since you left us. The other part of me looks back at all the changes in my life since then…and knows. Yes. Two years. It is real.Read more
This week you’ve been on my heart minute to minute as the anniversary of our final kiss has loomed large. Flashes of the last week we shared as husband and wife have been spontaneously popping into my head with surprising clarity. There is no rhyme or reason to these recollections, and the bittersweetness of memory has both plagued and comforted me as the anniversary of your death has arrived with its usual inevitability
There are still times when your physical absence takes my breath away. It's surreal, even nine years later, that your death was the tragedy that escalated the local conversation about how motorists and cyclists can safely share the road. The image we use for our Share the Road campaign is an athletic, confident man in the prime of his life riding his bicycle on a gorgeous autumn day. When I stumble unexpectedly upon the photo hanging in a store-front window or on a community bulletin board I’m shocked every time that the athletic, confident man is you. I know, I can hear you laughing at me because I created the damn poster! But boy does it still hurt to see you smiling at me from a foam board instead of across our dining room table.Read more
I feel like I’ve been in a rut for more than a month now, since Dan’s first anniversary. I’ve had days here and there where I’ve been able to smile and actually mean it, but in general, the pain has been very deep and the ache for him, overwhelming.
The grief has been so relentless that it’s started messing with my head and making me question if I was doing something wrong. If I’d gotten stuck in it some how. Was I doing enough to keep moving forward?
I mean, I know this dance well by now, the three-steps-forward, two-steps-back tango. I know I need to keep my expectations realistic and that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I know that I can’t project manage my way out of this, yet in the dark of the night when the tears won’t slow and my heart feels like it’s going to stop beating from the sheer agony, I forget that this moment will pass and I’ll take steps forward again.
So, last week, you may have noticed that my post was strangely invisible in here.
Yeah. That is because I totally forgot to write one.
I realized this fact somewhere around the time when my name was being called out loud by my friend and Soaring Spirits board member Janine. We were in San Diego. At Camp Widow West. At the Saturday night formal dinner banquet party. Janine was asking the writers of Widows Voice to please stand and be recognized, and as I stood up proudly, something inside of my brain screamed. And then I screamed out loud, to nobody and everybody around me: "Crap! I forgot to write my blog this week!"
I am just a couple short weeks away from the 3 year mark of my husband Don's sudden death. I feel like I can't even type that sentence without breathing differently. 3 years. Three. Years. I have no idea how it is even possible. I have no idea how those words could apply to me. I have no idea ....
July 13th will be the 3-year mark. On the first year death anniversary, I created "Pay it Forward for Don Shepherd Day", in which I asked everyone on planet earth to do something kind for someone else, tell me about it in writing, and take pictures if possible. Last year, I did it again, and there was even more of a response. Over 130 stories each year, all of which helped me immensely in getting through that day. This year, and every year, I will continue that same tradition, but Im also in the middle of writing my book, which will hopefully come out later this year. In the book, I will take my favorites of all of the stories from the past 3 years, and create a Top 10 List out of them to publish as a chapter.