Time goes on and life begins to settle. You think you are past the hardest conversations until you get a message from out of the blue…
“Oh My God! I’m So Sorry! I Just Heard”
These words come in a text message, a social media tag, in an email and, rarely, in a phone call. Mine came just a few minutes ago through Facebook. It’s one of those messages you don’t ever expect from someone you really never thought you’d hear from again and you dread reading it. To be honest I did really look at my phone and say to myself “What in Gay Hell?” That’s a movie quote from Too Wong Foo. Tin loved that movie and I use that quote more often these days. It usually gets a good laugh.
As if we are really friends with everyone we call “Facebook Friends”, there is a sharper edge to the knife when the person that reaches out is someone that never really thought much about others unless they needed something. They gush over just how wonderful your person was and how sad. I have little patience nowadays as I figure out what to do with my new unwanted freedom. I need to fill my abundant time alone with things that allow me to feel and process but not trigger the feelings like I’m back reliving “D” day. I need to focus on the essential things in life and their importance in rebuilding my foundation.Read more
It comes in waves, those flames: the flames of fear and the flames of future, the flames of anguish and the flames of anger. You do your best to fight the fire but it is erupting from within you. As if you haven’t fought enough, you are constantly fighting with your inner beast but you never know whom. Is it your inner phoenix or is it your inner dragon? Phoenix is a rebirth out of the ashes but develop too quickly and your heart’s new house will burn down. The dragon brings strength to walk the path but beware your breath as you may strike fear in the ones you meet along the way. One must tread lightly around stirring giants. In their glory, both are majestic and rule with kindness and wisdom but at their worst they can destroy entire villages. Young beast master, do not try to wake them until you are ready to control them or you will lose control of yourself…
“I’ll never be able to move on” - The sparks fly
“It will get easier” - The pressure builds
“Have you moved on?” - The fire is stoked
It’s not under our control what feeds the beast and which beast we are nourishing. It breathes when it wants, it feeds when it wants and it sleeps when it wants - Caution to those that wake either of the sleeping beasts. Caution to all who wake both…
It’s been a long time since I have had a night out with others. There have been dinners, a mellow movie night but not one of those “Let’s grill! Neighbors are coming over and we can party”…I just had one of those nights. It felt like a relief but little did I know that the start of the relief was a release of the phoenix and the dragon.Read more
Over the river and through the woods, Tin’s Aunt had come down to see him before he passed and to help his mother handle a mother’s worst nightmare losing a child. She watched him grow, watched him thrive and now held him as he faded away. I can’t imagine and it seems unholy although if Jesus’ mother had to go through it than who am I to judge the workings of the Universe. Either way, it hurt to be losing him and it hurt to watch her lose him.
Aunt Caryl. I had heard wonderful things and Tin was so excited she would finally come down and meet me. We had been together for 4 years and I looked forward to meeting her. After a long day at work, I picked up my mother at my apartment and we went to meet the visiting family. Tin had a procedure that day. I still feel guilty that I had to work and I couldn’t go with him. When we got to the house I said hello and then checked on Tin and his new medical directions. While reading, Caryl stated that she was in town and that she was with him all day today and that she was handling his medications now. I was torn. Up until now I had made sure his medications were correct. Her tone implied that I lost my rank because she was family and I had to work. On the other hand I felt relieved that I could spend time with him and let someone else deal with the chemistry. Seeing that she wanted to come in and take over, I let it go. Shortly after she felt Tin needed pain meds without him asking. I thought that was strange and I said he tended to not like them because he felt too tired. She scoffed at me and started pulling pills that were not the pills he was supposed to get. I got up and stepped in reading his new doctor’s orders and pointed out that his new medical directions had adjusted and stopped some of the meds she was getting. Her response in front of everyone was that I asked ridiculous questions and that she was there now to handle it. In one statement she dismissed everything I had done as well as the importance of our relationship. I was just the partner. She had no idea she had opened a door I boarded tightly shut. I unleashed 10 months of anger pointing out that she did not get to sweep in for the final hour and claim heroism. She put her hand in my face and told me to go home. My mother started crying and said she couldn’t stay and so we left.Read more
Along about the second year, definitely going into the third and then the fourth…I just wanted to scream at people.
Not in anger, but in shredded grief and pain…
Why can’t you just let me be sad? Why does it feel like I must defend myself against you? Why does it then feel like I have to defend my grief even to myself? Why does it feel like I can’t just feel what I feel, be whatever I am? Why must I expend all this energy defending my right to feel all that this is? Why is it not okay with you that I can’t find my feet and I’m feeling so disoriented that my stomach continually wants to heave its’ contents? Why are you trying to make me feel like I’m doing something wrong?
Why can’t you just let me be fucking sad?
These are a mere sampling of the piercing reactions that took up so much space in my heart and soul and mind in the first years of grief, in reaction to all the well meaning mostly discussions that people would have with me. To me, really, because they weren’t seeking discussion with me as much as they were telling me where they thought I should be with this, or how they thought I should be with this.
Grief, I mean.
How I was grieving vs how they thought I should be grieving.
They didn’t realize this is what they were doing, of course. At least, I hope they didn’t realize this is what they were doing.
Whether that was their intention or not, shaming is how I heard every word.
And every word from them shattered me more, because I, and we, already judge ourselves so much, when we grieve.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
In July of 2011, my husband died, and I died too. Well, that version of me died.
About an hour after his death, after I had made the phone calls to immediate family and a few close friends – from a random bathroom inside the ER part of the hospital, sitting on the toilet after having just thrown up from shock – I sent my first Facebook status update about my husband being dead. I wrote it in words, so that everyone would know. I wrote about it in a brutally honest way. My post said “I don’t know what to do next.“
From there, Facebook posts became something of a comfort to me. My only way to reach out to lots of people all at once, and say how horrible this all was. I didn’t have a widowed community back then. I didn’t know what the hell that even was. I was 39 years old, and my world was gone.
Sometime around early 2012, my Facebook posts became a blog (ripthelifeiknew.com). People started saying I should write a book about the brutal realities of grief, the dark humors of it, and about my story in the aftermath. So at some point that year, I started writing and slowly shaping my book. I wanted to give him a legacy. I wanted to help people who are going through this. I wanted to share all the things that I learned the hard way while grieving – all the things nobody told me.Read more
I have been working really hard at being upbeat and positive this Christmas. I consciously remind myself of the wonderful things in my life - amazing kids, great friends, a rewarding job, an amazing community, etc. I don't want to whine. I certainly don't wish to have others internally groan and roll their eyes if I talk about how lame the holidays are as an only parent or a widow. I keep beating myself over the head with intentions of positivity and quotes about gratitude. I very often feel that I have reached the lauded grieving stage of "acceptance".
But sometimes, just sometimes, I feel myself thinking, "This sh*t blows."Read more
It’s December 1, 2011.
I bought a new car today.
My very first new car ever.
The very first car I have bought all by myself.
Something bright and shiny and new to replace the old and falling apart, frustrating and faded.
I should feel happy.
But I don’t.Read more
.... on now long Jim will remain on so many mailing lists?
Because .... really?! It's been 4 years. Well, Three years and 11 months, but who's counting? Besides me?
I don't think there's a day that goes by without getting something in the mail that's addressed to him. And mostly, it's just junk mail.
And I get that.
I really do.
Because junk mail is just stupid, in and of itself.
So I don't expect anything different from that crap.
But this year .... just a couple of weeks ago .... I received something in the mail that shocked me. Really.
It took my breath away.
.... that my children became orphans on December 18, 2007.
OK, they didn't literally become orphans.
But technically .... they did.
They lost both of their parents that day.
Yes, I was here in body, but only in body.
My body was empty of any resemblance of me.
All it held was the cold, black grief that enveloped every part of me .... grief moved into every space, every cell of my being, and took over.