In my 38 years, I have never once not been with my parents on either Christmas eve or Christmas day. Even when I was in the military, I lucked out in that I wasn’t deployed over Christmas, and I was able to drive from North Carolina to Ohio, even if only for a 48 hour visit. Since 2002, I’ve added Megan’s family to that tradition, always ensuring that my second family was part of the holidays, but simply splitting time between both.
It was convenient that both my family and Megan’s family lived within 15 minutes of each other, and we never lived farther than 30 minutes away from either. Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas day with hers.
Since Megan’s death, that tradition has remained the same. Now, however, there’s a third and fourth family.Read more
Will I Ever Stop Asking
Where would we be,
had you not died?
Will I ever stop wondering
what would have happened
in our life together
if you were still here?
Will I ever be at peace
with the idea that my life is filled
that do not have answers?
Will I ever feel okay
with the knowing
that large pieces of my life
will always remain unknown?
Will I?Read more
So it's been 7 years since my beautiful husband left for work one morning, and never came home. Seven years since his shocking and sudden death. Seven years of living this life in the "after" of painful and life-changing loss. It's a long time, and it isn't. It's forever, and it's also ten seconds. In all of this time living with the death of my husband, I do get asked one question quite frequently. People often ask me if I feel guilty for being happy. Do I feel guilt when I experience joy or joyful moments? Do I feel guilty for falling in love again?
The answer is no.
Guilt has certainly been a big part of my grieving and healing process. I felt guilty on my first two birthdays after Don died, because he would never get to see another year or enjoy another birthday or another year older. I felt guilty on New Year's Eve for years, and I refused to do the countdown to midnight, because it felt like a countdown to more time without him on earth, and another year that he won't ever get to be part of. I felt guilty for being asleep in our bed, while my husband was collapsing on a hard floor in a Petsmart, and going into cardiac arrest. These are the types of things I felt guilt about, and the types of things I worked on for years with my grief counselor, and came to better terms with.
I have never felt guilty for feeling joy. I have never felt guilty for falling in love again. I have never felt guilty for laughing so hard my sides hurt, or for feeling euphoric about something incredibly awesome or awe-inspiring. Maybe it's because I know for a fact that the most important thing to my husband, was my joy and happiness, so I know that me being happy would give him incredible peace. Maybe it's because I so fiercely want to LIVE, because my husband does not have that choice, so I look for and cling to moments of euphoria wherever I can find them. Maybe it's because it took me FIVE years and a hell of a lot of processing and therapy, to get to a place where I was even able to find love again, so why spend one second feeling guilty about it? I don't know what the reason is, but I have never felt guilt for feelings of joy or love.
What I HAVE felt is this:Read more
I have been nestled inside the winter for months, it seems. It has been so cold and dark. Even today, at the end of April, spring struggles to gain a grip, the wind and rain overtaking its warm and promising breezes, painting the hilltops white, again, pouring pellets of icy hail onto the ground. This weekend, there are predictions of frost.
Each day, I walk past the newly budding lilacs on my way to the train station, and I kiss them, and tell them to be strong, and reach deep, and find warmth. I so hope the cold will not kill them before they flower.
I have sat inside an inner winter, too. Some days, I am able to look around, and revel in the rainbow coloured tulips and the deep blues and violets of the evening sky. But other days, I cannot reach deep enough to overcome the cold, and the world feels frozen, the wind biting at my fingertips.Read more
I already know the answer to this question, but I will ask it anyway.
Do you, dear widowed friends or surviving person of anyone you loved that died, have certain specific things that still make you feel guilty? Things that you wish you had done differently? Things that maybe you regret, in the wake of the loss of the person you love? Yes. Of course you do. We all do. I do. I have many. It would take me all day to list them, and to analyze them. Some of these things I have processed and talked about and come to a place of peace within myself about them. And some of these things have stuck with me, and probably won't ever really go away. There is one particular thing that has nagged at me since the day my husband died - it just scratches and scratches and claws at me, begging to be dealt with. And today, I found a way to begin to deal with it in a way that has started to give me some calm.
My husband's name.
Ian and I never particularly did Valentines day. Although I *like* getting the gifts and stuff, I never felt it a necessity. It's a more than a bit over-commercialised to me, which is thankfully quite a protective view-point in my after.
But the day still holds memories. Some good. Some that trigger a sense of guilt.
Two years ago, on November 17th, my husband and I were getting married. It was a chilly autumn day, and the rain paused long enough for us to gather at the registry office in New Mills for our simple, beautiful ceremony. Later, we brought close friends and family to our local pub, The Beehive, for a reception and delicious dinner.
No one from America was with me at my wedding, and Stan knew I would be missing their presence, so he put together a slideshow with pictures of them and played it on a screen at the party we held later in the evening. It was a sweet and thoughtful gesture, his attempt to bring my old world into our new, shared life.
I had a session with my beloved therapist the other day. I filled her in on what had happened since I'd last seen her and then she said "What do you think about coming to see me? Do you think you're ready for a break?" and it was as if I'd expected her to ask me.Read more
So, today is the 4th of July. I do not have any plans. In exactly 9 days from now, on July 13th, it will be the 3-year anniversary of Don's sudden death. I think that what happened is that I got so anxious and determined to make sure I had a plan for that day, that I completely forgot about the major holiday that comes the week before, and all the trauma and guilt and anxiety associated with it for me. So now, here I sit, wondering once again, just like last year, how to handle this very complicated day, which brings sadness and numbness to me, usually without even trying.
I am going to copy below, a portion of the blog that I wrote in here last year on this same day. Not because I am too lazy to write something else, (well, maybe that's part of it) but because what it says is EXACTLY the same thing I want to say again this year, because I still have not been able to figure this all out in my mind, and I still don't like "celebrating" on the 4th of July. It is sort of weird that, in this particular area, I feel like I have not had forward motion or any breakthroughs at ALL in my thought process. I had hoped I would feel differently about this day now, than I did a year ago. But I don't. So that is why the exact same words I wrote last year, are just as relevant today. Here is a part of what I wrote last year on this day:
I just finished looking through our pictures again. Sometimes, fearing I've imagined my former life, I need proof that it all really happened. Italy, our house rehab, Hawaii, Yellowstone, the hundreds of pics you took of your beloved students scrolled before my eyes. I sobbed and sobbed, scaring the cat with the sounds of my heart breaking, and what I really wanted to do, what I wish I could do, was smash everything in the room to pieces.
I wanted to feel my fist connect with glass and hear it shatter, with the drywall and feel it crumble under my fist. I wanted to throw the computer to the ground and stomp on it until it’s in countless pieces. I wanted to scream and scream and scream.