I recently had a scare over someone close to me dying again. It wasn’t even a true emergency, or anyone in fact having a close call by any means. But this wasn’t just anyone. This was one of my oldest friends and someone who has been a mother to me since my own mom died when I was nine. Now that both of my parents are gone, she is one of only a few people left who were there when I was growing up. And really, she is the last of the keepers of all of my history. All of my stories.
The other week, after having just returned from a Texas where I got some time to visit with her, I found out she was in the hospital. It wasn’t anything life-threatening, an intestinal issue that she has dealt with before. But, she is getting older, and I’ve been becoming more aware over the last year that her health isn’t as good as it could be. So my brain went into immediate overdrive when I heard she was in the hospital. Made worse by the fact that I had just seen her 3 days before, and was now sitting in my house, some 1400 miles away in Ohio. The pain of not being able to be right there by her side was so big.
I don’t usually react to triggers in such a big way. But this time, I did. My brain immediately went back into that place of shock and trauma that hit me when Drew died seven years ago. That place where suddenly my life is completely altered and though I am there, still breathing, and my life is still there, something about it is very very wrong. Suddenly I felt the room spinning around me, just like when he died. I began to hyperventilate and exploded into panicked tears that I could not stop for what felt like ages.Read more
Summer has a feel,
for all who love it's rays
lounging by the pool
warm nights with just a twist
of warm breezes.
down the cone,
car rides with the top down,
and tunes blasting.
Carefree and endless guilt-free hours,
sipping on tall iced-teas.
Summer has a feel
of drive-in movies
and walking the dog
in the park
with Italian ices or lemonades,
to stay cool.
Staying up late,
road trips and reunions,
looking at the stars.
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
Soon after the sudden death of my husband, almost 8 years ago now, I began trying to navigate my new reality and world that I never asked for or wanted.
I didnt know what the hell I was doing.
There are no guidelines or handbook for how to "widow" properly. I hadn't even put away all of our dishes and kitchen items and gifts from a few years prior, when we got married. Things were still in boxes. We were talking about having a family, moving out of Jersey, things that married people talk about in the first few years of their marriage. I hadnt even begun to figure out the rest of our life together, and now, I was left to figure out how to cope with my husband and my world and my future being dead?
I didnt know how to do that.
Looking back now, I see that I made a lot of mistakes.
I made a lot of mistakes that I will now call "grief mistakes."
I am probably still making them, but hopefully way less often.
Sharing a few of these mistakes and lessons with my grief community may be helpful or beneficial for some to read.
Last week, I wrote about dealing with fear. More specifically, the fear of more bad things happening. Of the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think it’s normal when you’ve experienced any major loss to begin to fear another one coming. So for the past six months or so, I’ve been having an increasingly big fear of someone else in my life dying or some other horrific thing happening.
Since writing last week’s post, I feel a little bit better about all of this. They’re still there… but it felt kind of like giving myself permission to have those feelings by sharing them aloud.
I think that’s the great thing about sharing our fears and struggles… it takes some of the heaviness out of it. It gives us permission to feel how we feel. I definitely felt a weight lifted off having shared those feelings out loud. And maybe even more importantly, it helped me to accept that I felt that way.Read more
In July, it will have been 8 years since my husband's sudden death from cardiac arrest bulldozed into my life.
There are so many days when I trick myself into thinking that Im really okay now and maybe this wont affect me anymore.
And then I get knocked over by something such as this .......
On Wednesday, I went to the gym (YMCA), where I have been exercising with a pool workout routine, 4 to 5 times per week. On Wednesday, I did my workout routine with my water weights and laps and such, then went out to the adjoining room for my favorite part - the post-workout hot tub sit. While sitting there with the water jets on my sore joints, one of the older ladies walked in from the pool area. She had left the class early because her chest felt tight, she was really hot, and she "didn't feel right." That's pretty much the only "warning" my husband gave , according to the staff at Pet-smart , where he collapsed that day while working his part-time job and his volunteer work with animal adoption, almost 8 years ago now. He told his manager casually, after coming out of the restroom: "I dunno, I just don't feel right." The manager asked if he wanted to go home. Apparently, Don being Don, said "Nah, I''m fine. Ill stay until my relief comes." Half-hour later, he was lying on the floor, in cardiac arrest.Read more
This past six months or so I’ve been noticing a bit of a looming feeling in the background of my mind. Things in my life are relatively dialed in for the time being. I have a new life, a family, a routine of day to day things. I have dealt with enough of the bigger stressors that I now have more time and energy to tackle and explore smaller things like organizing the house and my own mind better. Essentially, the fires have been put out and I feel like it has opened up some space to explore a little. For me though, that also comes with an incredibly challenging sense of doom.
When things start to feel calm and in order, I start to get scared. I guess I start looking for what’s going to go wrong. I’ve had that feeling my whole life really, not just since being widowed. My mom died when I was nine. I struggled with depression for about 2 years after that, with no one to really talk to about it. My dad fell into drinking pretty bad when I was in my late teens and thru my twenties. Then he died when I was 27. Three years later, Drew died suddenly in a crash.
From the time I was nine years old, I have not gone more than 7 or 8 years without something catastrophic and life altering happening to me. Much more of the time, it has been every couple of years. It is currently nearing year seven since Drew died… so I guess it isn’t surprising that I am dealing with these feelings of impending doom.Read more
I have always hated change. Especially when something would change drastically or quickly, and I didnt have much choice in the matter. Like that time when I was about 7 years old and we went on a class field trip to a Maple Farm, and I somehow ended up with a gigantic ball of maple syrup in my long, curly, gorgeous hair. And then my dad, for reasons I cant quite remember (maybe my mom was away on business or something), took scissors, and CUT OFF MY HAIR so that it went from being down to my waist, to just below my ears. He couldnt get the huge ball of syrup out, so he cut it all off without telling me first. It was just suddenly gone.
Or that other time when 3rd grade ended, and the town decided that the street we lived on would no longer have bus pickup to school, and that instead we would be "bussed" over to the new school that was on the other end of town, because we were considered part of that district or county or whatever. So with no notice at all, I had to leave all my friends and go to this other school that I didnt want to go to.
There are so many other examples, but these two were the first that came into my mind.
So you can tell Im not bitter about them or anything.Read more
It hangs in mid-air,
swaying through the trees,
like an echo,
and other times,
like a scream.
That life unfinished,
the one we didn't get to have,
because you died.
It lingers there,
in the breeze,
like a hundred-thousand question marks,
and never any answer.Read more
It’s been a little over a month now since Mike proposed. I’ve had a few hard triggers. Trying to think about planning a wedding has been tough at first. The last time I was going to marry someone, he died before we ever got to the big day. He died before we ever even got into the true planning. So needless to say, that part of me that remembers is very aware. I’ve had a few moments of just bursting into heavy, deep sobs because sometimes it feels like reliving the past and it gets very scary to imagine it all disappearing again.
I’ve worried this whole process would be too much to handle, and too emotional to deal with, and that I wouldn’t even be able to manage the idea of planning a wedding ever. But aside from those moments where the fears get big and scary, most of the time, I’ve felt a new awareness of time and a new appreciation for each day.
Just last week, I told Mike, “I’ve gotten to be engaged to you for a whole month now! That’s more than I ever got to before!” And it’s true. Just as with each anniversary year we have hit (4 YEARS next week, wow!)… there is a feeling of thankfulness that we’ve somehow gotten this far. Part of me is still expecting it all to fall apart at any moment like it did when Drew died. But instead of being so afraid of that, I just feel excited for every small piece. Excited to ask one of my best friends to make our wedding cake. Excited to ask another of our closest friends to be the one to marry us. And honored, so honored, that I get the privilege to have had one whole month of planning such a special day, so far. Even if all went wrong and it didn't happen, I still got this part. I still got to spend all this wonderful time dreaming of the day - which is something that was taken from me the last time I was going to marry my person.Read more