Why do you let my grief scare you?
Why can’t I just talk about Natasha how ever I want? She was MY wife, not yours!
Why can’t you just listen and try not to fix me? “You just need to focus on your daughter’s smile, and everything will be alright.”
Why do you give me an arbitrary timeline and act as if it is the word of some God? “So, how long has it been since your wife died?”
Why do you try to insist on measuring the severity of my grief by saying, “So, have you been dating?”
Why do you need to suggest that a man needs a woman to raise a girl, “Girls need a mother, it’s just good for them.”?
Wow, you really are an expert on grief! So have you ever lost a spouse, no? How about a parent, sibling, or good friend, no? I guess you haven’t had much experience with grief, yet you are so wise when it comes to my grief.
I know, I should relax, you are a good person and you are just trying to help, and, maybe I am being too sensitive.
All I ask, please let my grief be just the way it is.Read more
One of the most fundamental aspect of our species is that we are constantly comparing everything. Walking down the street, our brains are constantly comparing the faces of strangers to faces of people we know. Isn’t that? …no, she’s too tall to be her. Comparing helps us cross the street and be safe—we have an image of a safe crosswalk in our brains, and we compare what we see on the street with that image before our feet leave the curb. Most comparisons keep us safe and healthy, while others simply make life far more complicated than it has to be.Read more
I have watched loved ones turn into corpses, and, I somehow managed to survive. Being alive means I get to watch an amazing little girl grow up, but each and everyday, I daydream of what life would be like if Anisha’s mother and grandparents were still with us. I try to look on the positive—I am the ONE who gets to raise an amazing little girl! I get to feel her hand on my face in the morning, “Dada, wake up! I’m hungry.” I get to hear her say, “Daddy, look at my new dance move!” or “Daddy I wish I could hug you forever and never, ever let go!” I try hard to remind myself of the precious joys of watching a girl who is a blend of my wife and I mature. I try, yet I still feel this never ending abyss of pain, fear and anger.Read more
There was always a bit of competition between Megan and I as to who could be the “favorite” parent. It was playful, obviously, but between the two of us, we were always trying to get the “better” birthday present for Shelby, or take her to the more memorable thing to do, or tell the funniest joke. Whomever could make Shelby laugh harder got to “win” that battle.
Megan won, more often than not. When Shelby was younger, it was Disney princesses and ice-capades. Pink everything and dance competitions. Every so often though, I would swoop in with something like fishing or a funny “dad” joke (to Shelby, at least), and I would get to win that day’s competition.
All of this was in good fun, and it only benefitted Shelby. She got to experience multiple events, types of hobbies, or memories that she wouldn’t have otherwise. It helped her form the interests she has today.
But, as I am sure you are aware, considering the fact that you are reading this on the Soaring Spirits website, Megan died a few years back.Read more
Today has been a good day so far. I love waking up and feeling passion for whatever is going to happen next in my life. Like my daughter saying, “I have a Valentine’s Day card for Dada! Here it is!” As I help my daughter get ready for school, I take a deep breath and remind myself of one simple truth; getting Anisha ready and walking her to school in the sun and snow IS what life is all about! I love that I truly appreciate simple things more, but I still miss so many things about Natasha, such as her food.Read more
Megan spent a lot of time in her pajamas. It kind of came with the territory, spending so much time in the hospital. When she was home, she often wasn't nearly at 100%, so being in her pajamas was comfortable, warm, and easy. If there was no need to been seen in public, she figured, why get all dressed up and ready? Pajamas made sense.
She was tiny. Five feet, three inches, and at her absolute heaviest (after a double lung transplant and a lot of steroids) she was able to crack 110 pounds. She spent more of the time in the sub-100 pound range. Still, she wore those same big baggy pajamas.
In the final year of her life, she struggled to keep 80 pounds on her frame. Those pajamas fit her in a very specific way. The waistband was tight enough, but the flannel fabric draped off of her like curtains. Her accompanying t-shirt seemed far, far too large, with the sleeves actually hanging down to her elbows.
When I eventually got around to clearing out some of her clothes after her death, I don’t know exactly why I kept some of her pajamas. It may have been a small feeling of comfort in knowing that the things she wore so much weren’t just going away. Possibly, it felt a bit wasteful, knowing that they were so “broken in” that even a thrift store wouldn’t take them.
Mostly though, I imagine there was a lot of “oh, Shelby can wear these someday”
It’s now someday.Read more
My wife and I have always enjoyed mixing our favourite coping mechanism, comedy, with accomplishing important tasks. Sometimes, the best remedy for the worst life stresses is proactive humour. Natasha came up with the term “cancer card” as a way to deal with life’s day to day challenges. We would often jokingly ask each other a question, “Is this a cancer card moment?” For example, we are waiting for a table for brunch and Natasha tells me that we are third on the waitlist for a table. I turn to her and say, “This is a good time to play the cancer card.” I approach the hostess and say, “Excuse me, my wife is literally fighting cancer right now, so, if there is any way that we could get a table faster, that would be great.” Usually, the cancer card works because the restaurant staff and the other customers are very accommodating—especially if I had told Natasha to exaggerate her fatigue while I get her a chair to sit on. Contrary to popular opinion, some cancer patients are not super thin and emaciated. As in Natasha’s case, the medications used to manage the side effects of chemo can make you gain a lot of weight. As a result, she didn’t always look like a cancer patient to everyone, which is why exaggerating symptoms was sometimes necessary. In the past, when my self-esteem was low, I would have felt pushy, inconsiderate and manipulative using my wife’s cancer to get special treatment. Now, I know whatever I can do to make life easier for my family, I should definitely do. I know this might sound strange, but my wife’s cancer has actually had a positive impact on me: I am much more confident. In the past, I would have spent too much time worrying about pleasing strangers in a restaurant at my own expense—no more! One of the most important things I have learned is that we all have to do what we think is best for OUR family because if we don’t, no one else will. Besides, the chances of anyone else in line for a table is battling post-partum depression, cancer AND has a new born baby is highly doubtful.Read more
Anniversaries are, in general, a prompt for looking back. They’re an annual reminder to be reminded of the past. While oftentimes, an anniversary is also a milestone, it still remains that, simply put, an anniversary measures the passage of time.
They don’t really MEAN anything to widows. Our person is neither more, nor less dead on their death anniversary than they are on any other day, but damned if we aren’t reminded of the fact that they ARE dead a whole hell of a lot more.
Interestingly, other dates tend to morph into this reminder as well. Shelby’s upcoming birthday? I’m always reminded of the fact Megan isn’t there to see her reach twelve years old. Halloween? Megan loved halloween...she would enjoy being here. The anniversary of the date I was discharged? Oh wow, now I remember how I met Megan a few months after that.
That’s the thing, it’s like I can’t have an anniversary or holiday anymore without feeling the pressing need to remember Megan and either A) remember how she was on that day, or B) point out the fact that she’s not there.
But today’s anniversary? It’s different.Read more
I have to expect that my widowed parent journey is, and will always be, just that: MY widowed parent journey. It is unlikely that I will meet another single parent who like me stood over his father-in-law, mother-in-law and wife while they all took their last breath. Whenever I share this fact, most people’s jaws drop in surprise, and then people get quiet, and struggle to say something meaningful. My grief for my wife is intertwined with my grief for her parents and the life we had. I used to get really annoyed with people who quickly try to change the topic. Now I have more understanding for them. How can I expect them to respond correctly? No one truly knows what to say in times of grief. Besides, words that work today may not work tomorrow. Or, words that work for me may not work for others. Also, since my grief for my wife is intertwined with my grief for her parents, how can I really expect others to understand the complexities of my grief, grief that can quickly turn into anger? This is where gratitude is very helpful.Read more
I miss the feeling of moving around life’s obstacles as a team of three, as opposed to a team of two; fortunately, I am gradually learning to rely on myself for mental and emotional stability more and more. Natasha and I were good at supporting and pushing each other to revel in the joy of being human. But these days, it is easy to find myself stumbling around and tripping over anxiety, self-doubt and darkness. Without Natasha, I find myself desperately trying to find some light, confidence and peace.Read more