I’ve tried to write more about the good things in life recently but every week brings a new strange situation that results in processing new thoughts and difficult emotions. What does one think when they are given inheritance?
So many people are gifted property and money as their older family and friends pass away. It’s understood that each new generation gets a little lift from the ones before. Passing away at an old age allows for the ones left behind to process the loss as it comes closer. That death, albeit hard, is expected. Therein lies the trap for those of us whom have lost someone out of phase. Sudden loss or early loss due to illness steals our one chance to collect the time and memories of a life long lived. So when life starts to settle after the loss, the remaining possessions are passed around - Inheritance. Inherently designed to help after loss as a loving gift, inheritance takes on another form for those of us with an early loss.Read more
Grief is hard. There is no denying that. There are things that are so obviously associated with grieving that I know will be difficult: anniversaries, birthdays, things that remind me of Mike and the list can go on. When those moments happen (or are soon going to happen) and I feel upset or angry or sad I can clearly attribute it to grief. It almost makes me satisfied to be able to classify it. “Ah, it would have been our wedding anniversary and I’m pissed he’s not here.” I know why I am feeling the way I am. It’s grief. I can give myself the grace to go easy on myself and let myself experience whatever emotion it is I need to feel.
The more difficult part is when I just feel sad, angry, or upset and I don’t know exactly why. Sometimes I just don’t feel like doing anything at all. I may just want my bed or I may cry over something that doesn’t seem significant. Is that still grief? I’m not necessarily crying about Mike but I still just feel sad or alone or whatever. I didn’t ever use to do that or feel that way so intensely before Mike died. Can it still be grieving? Is it something more? Is it normal to just have bad days for no reason? Is it for no reason? I just don’t know.Read more
Our wedding song playing.
Someone else playing our wedding song as part of their shared memory of a completely different circumstance.
My boyfriend’s family’s memory of our wedding song as part of their memory of his parents’ 30 year wedding anniversary.
Sitting in my boyfriend’s parents’ living room with his whole family watching his parents’ 30 year wedding anniversary video play to our wedding song.
Jolted from the present moment. Torn from my daydream of what a possible future might hold for me now. Back to the past.
All consuming emotions. Hard memories of a life that never was. Missing Mike. Missing sharing our memory together. Alone.
Paralyzed in frozen silence. Hoping no one notices. Wishing to disappear. Hard swallow. Dark room. Silent tear.
Is loneliness the never-ending story of widowhood?
Does it end if we find another chance at Love?
Does the loneliness exist, even then
Because the loneliness is specific to that person, your person, who died?
Is there ever a moment again
When a widow’s heart feels that lightness of being,
Or is the heaviness, the ache, the sadness of that particular loneliness
A lifetime sentence in the so called new normal?
Because, no matter what I do, where I go, how I push, how I involve myself in life, in relationships with family and friends, no matter how much I join in, engage, power on,
That loneliness doesn’t leave my heart, my soul, or my body.
Counseling and therapy for anxiety and trauma…EMDR, bi-lateral brain stimulation, talk, tapping, retreats, meditation, new environments, connections with others…I’ve done it all, and I continue doing it all…
And…the loneliness that only intensifies as the years pass by.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
Where are they…
The ones we loved in life,
love still, in death?
Where do they go when they leave our sides?
Do they exist in a far away Universe,
Unseen and unseeable?
Carried only in memory,
That shows itself in the wind,
In clouds tinged with the colors of a sunrise or sunset?
Do they see us as we wish for them?
Do they hear our cries of anguish?
Our pleas and our sorrow?
Do they hear us whisper their names into the air we breathe deeply into our lungs?
Do they see us hug our arms tightly around ourselves…
Remembering their arms around us,
Their hearts beating the rhythm of life and love,
Into our ears laid upon their chests?
Do they know? Do they hear us? Do they know us…still?Read more
Yesterday, July 25, is the third anniversary of our wedding without him. That’s three more anniversaries than I celebrated with him. We didn’t get to celebrate a single one. I try to imagine what we might be doing on our third anniversary but it’s hard to both predict and recall something that never once happened.
Would we be going out for dinner the two of us? Would we be cuddling on the couch with our dog Tango having a drink? Or would we be celebrating it as a new family with a baby? The truth is, I don’t know. I will never know. It never happened and it will never happen.
I feel he is so far away right now. Like it’s been a lifetime since I’ve seen him instead of two years. I feel like part of my memory of him is slipping away. I can remember him and what we did but I can’t feel it. It’s hard to recall what his hug feels like. When I imagine it, it sometimes feels feel like maybe I’m just making it up now. I don't like it. I feel guilty for even admitting that I feel like I’m forgetting the feeling. What kind of widow am I? I don’t want to forget.Read more
Since losing Tin, I look to each new week as a new horizon that will bring brighter days. This is my fourth post and I thought, maybe by now, my blog would have small sparks of settlement in the chaos. I guess it is good to hope but bad to assume. A very fine line that I often fail to recognize these days. I’ll keep the faith that those brighter days are to come but it is difficult with the unexpected challenges that continue to appear. I feel as though I have never heard of anyone else going through all of the milestone days associated with a loss along with the strange scenarios I have recently found myself cornered in. Yes cornered is a great description of how I feel and this week has been one of the most unmanageable yet.
Those who haven’t lost a partner can’t understand the extent of the loneliness. No one to wake up to. No one texting through the day to see how you are. No one to plan dinner with. No one to fold laundry with. No one in the room at the end of the night to wish you sweet dreams and provide a sense of safety through the night. Worst of all – No one to enjoy those special dates with. The lack of a person makes them almost unbearable.Read more
Another week past and overall things have been even keel. However the dreaded dates pile one on top of another. July 15th is Tin’s first birthday. July 4th is Tin's and my anniversary and today, June 29th, 2018 is the first anniversary of my father Wayne’s passing.
I know this writing is not based mainly on my lost partner Tin but it has a strong and strange effect on my healing. My father passed away 3 months before Tin was diagnosed with terminal liver failure. My father had over 13 back surgeries, was addicted to pain medication and became an alcoholic to try to manage what the pills could not do. We all thought he would pass away from liver failure. He had heart failure the same as his father Thomas whom I got my middle name from. The irony is that Tin, who did not drink nearly as much as my father, passed away from acute liver failure. I have recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure so now I fear the fate of my father and grandfather. All the while, a glass of red wine is good for the heart but bad for the liver. So life feels like a walking contradiction. I have new fears that never occurred to me until the past year. As I write this there is a commercial for a heart attack medication on the television and I can’t help but wonder if it is a “sign”.
I know that I have better health than both of the men that left my life but perhaps that is another complexity of being a gay man. You lose your father, you lose your partner and you could have the same ending. It’s easy to support family and friends that have breast cancer but that is an evil disease that effects women much more often and a man has a harder time relating to that disease. My mother has beat breast cancer and I am so thankful. A dear friend beat cervical cancer and I can provide all the support possible but I can’t relate. She could do the same but not relate if someone had prostate cancer. I’m rambling but this is what goes on in my head. Either way my fears have intensely heightened.Read more
I once heard a phrase that if all the world’s problems were in a bag you would be trying to pick back your own. At the time I thought well of course, my problems are miniscule. Now I think that clearly wasn’t written by a young widow. I know there are still worse problems than mine; people who deal with major issues on top of being widowed and not to mention people living in third world countries. However, if I was offered a bag of possible problems mine would certainly not be at the top of the list of problems I would want.
I know it’s not particularly helpful to myself but today I’m feeling envious of other people. I’m envious of the people who got to be married to their person for their life. I’m envious of the people who got to celebrate their first or even second wedding anniversary. I’m envious of people who got to get married and have a baby, not a funeral, a year or two later. People that get to live seemingly “normal” lives with their spouses and families.
And I’m mad. I’m mad that I was able to plan a life with Mike that I never got to live. I’m mad that happiness does not just come naturally to me anymore. It’s something I have to be conscious of and work for so I don’t slip back into my dark hole. I’m mad that I can’t just relax into happiness. That I know that I need to do certain things consistently, like exercise and get outside, even when I’m busy or want to do other things so that I can keep myself in balance.Read more