Today Mike and I are writing together about a topic that our Friday writer Kelley asked about recently. Most people assume it is easier to be in a relationship with another widowed person when you are widowed. And it's true, a lot of things are simplified when you understand each other's loss. Kelley was curious to know what some of the specific challenges are when you have two widowed people in a relationship, so we thought we'd write a few posts on the topic...
The first thing I thought of in relation to this question is that your widow card is basically canceled out. There is no way to leverage that card to your advantage during a fight when your partner has been through exactly as horrible of a loss too. I do know from others who have dated or married someone non-widowed, that it’s extremely tempting to use that widow card to trump their arguments and opinions. When I was with Drew, there were times that I used my “dead parents card” to trump him in fights or conjure up some extra pity and attention for myself. They aren’t proud moments, but I think it’s a very normal temptation to want to use victim tactics when you’ve been through a lot.
That doesn’t work in a relationship with two widowed people. Even at times when we do try to lay down the widow card to trump each other, it doesn't really fly. We both have experienced losses in very different ways that are unfathomable to the other person… so there’s no hiding behind trump cards to manipulate a situation in our favor.
It is not just his deadness, it’s my aliveness that weighs heavy on my Soul.
In a month and one day, it will be exactly three years since Mike died.
And, this year, it is not only his deadness that is gutting me, it is more...
Mike is dead. That sentence is awful to read. Beyond awful really. And, it is terrible to type. But, I force myself to bluntly and truthfully acknowledge his death in my writing every week because it helps me. It pronounces my reality. Mike died. He can not become undead. And, no matter how many times I write about missing him - he is gone from here.
There is no fix to his deadness. It is what it is. And, over time, I have slowly begun to process his death. This doesn't mean I like it. I don't. I never will. But, I know that it is something that can not be undone. So what can be done? That is where I choose to focus my thoughts. For me, I have to focus on what still is. I can not let his death define me. I have to concentrate on more. Daily, I ask myself "now what?"; and, in truth, I still don't know nearly three years later.
Well, I made it through the long three days of Mike being out of town for work the other week. He made sure to text or call at every turn so that I knew he was safe - which helped so much to keep the panic at bay a bit. So no, he didn't die. Much to my relief. Although I will say, the whole ordeal of having to cope with my new person on a work trip after my previous person died on one, has stirred up a lot. In fact, Mike is currently fixing my car and as I watch him underneath 3000+ lbs of metal, the thoughts just come again. Before I know it I’m imagining the entire thing crashing down on him and me, standing there, not knowing what to do. Or what if it crashes down on him and kills him instantly, and there I am, standing there, my whole world flipped upside down again. Only this time I have a kid and no job. How will I take care of her? How will I get a job to pay for everything? There goes my mind... off on it's own horrific adventure. Although this is all highly unlikely, you all know, that doesn’t stop the stories in my head, or the physical reaction.
I wish I could do something about this. I wish I could go back to not knowing what that would be like for my partner to die suddenly and instantly have my entire future taken away. Most of all, I wish my body didn’t remember the trauma. Seven years later, the thoughts, feelings, and sensations are quieter though. Or at least, I have gotten much better at calming myself and just allowing it to mildly be there.Read more
We all know the dreaded dates. The anniversary of their death, birthdays, togetherness anniversaries, holidays but there’s one more on my list that adds another dark mark on my year - His diagnosis date.
I can easily say that I do not reach out to Tin’s mother and family as much as I should. I want to speak with them but it’s hard for me and I feel like I am the immediate reminder, that I trigger all of the grief for them. These widowed weights on my shoulders press down hard at times. It’s a double-edged burden. I want to speak with them but I don’t want to upset them. So conversations don’t happen as often as they maybe should.Read more
Today is Sarah’s birthday. Not Megan’s, not Drew’s. It’s not Mother or Father’s day, or an anniversary. It’s a day where the focus is squarely on her, and not shared with those who are no longer here. Or, at least it’s not supposed to be.
The rub of it is that I’m a widower. Sarah’s a widow. Damn near every experience we have brings thoughts of Megan and/ or Drew in some way. It could be a significant, life-changing experience like becoming engaged, or some minor thing that I do on a random Tuesday that reminds Sarah of something similar that Drew did. Sarah even mentioning wanting to change the color of a wall for the 400th time always reminds me of Megan doing the same thing.
So, in a roundabout way, I tend to think of Megan quite a bit on Sarah’s birthday, and I’m sure she thinks of Drew on mine. They are both just as much a part of us as they were in life, albeit not actively participating and interacting, for obvious reasons.
It’s exactly the way it should be.Read more
Part of me died with him. And, surprisingly, a big part of me survived his death. This part of me is fighting to live forward.
Since early on, I have chosen to focus on the living part of me. The part of me that was not buried with Mike. Sure, absolutely, I miss the person I used to be, but the life in which that woman existed died with him.
All of it - everything we were together - simply vanished when Mike died. Our life was built on solid ground, but when he died, everything imploded and what was once solid quickly turned into a quagmire of uncertainty. I lost Mike and my identity. Everything that I thought was certain disappeared. My life was no longer recognizable to me. (And, in truth, it still isn’t 2.10 years later). Not surprisingly, I lost my footing when Mike died and I have been fighting to recover it for nearly three years.
Today is a beginning of sorts. For the past few years, Mike and I have written for Soaring Spirits on separate days and will be moving to sharing Sundays now. For anyone who doesn’t know our story, we are both widowed and now engaged to one another. We met in Tampa at Camp Widow in 2015 and have been dating since. The idea to share a day seemed like a good one… a way for us to share both the similarities and differences in our losses as well as what our experience has been like in finding love again - both the good and the hard stuff. Some weeks we will be writing together, and other weeks we will write individual posts. I think this has the potential to teach us more about each other, as well as sharing the things we’re learning along the way
With that said, this first shared post is from a suggestion of another widowed friend. She is newly dating and expressed to me that she wondered if being engaged was harder for Mike or for me. I thought this was a great question. I’ll share my feelings, and Mike’s will follow mine...Read more
Some of you who read here often might know that our Tuesday writer Mike and I are both widowed and in a relationship together. For the past few years, often times we are found to be writing about finding love again after being widowed and what it’s like to be in a new relationship as widowed people - both the good stuff and the hard stuff about it.
This past week, Mike wrote a goodbye post of sorts, and also a hello post. In this post, he shared that, starting this next week, he will be stepping down from being the Tuesday writer to let someone new step in.
Instead of leaving the blog though, Mike is joining me on Sundays now, where we will write together.Read more
Since the spring of 2015, I have written here every Tuesday (well, “most” every Tuesday). I’ve shared my story from just a few months after losing Megan, to now. Having four plus years of what can only amount to a public “journal” has been both surreal and incredibly healing.
Oftentimes, it’s hard to recall just how “raw” I felt in that first year or so, or how confused I was about life. Whether I was doing the right things, or raising Shelby correctly, or honoring Megan’s legacy. I certainly never imagined I’d be writing this post, years later.
I felt that sharing my story here was a phase. That after a year or so, I wouldn’t have anything to discuss any further, or that I would burn out and simply wish to go silent. There have also been numerous times that I wanted to share about my new partner and current fiance, but second-guessed the subject, not wanting to feel as if I was unrelatable to the thousands of widows and widowers that either have no desire to be with another person, or have dipped their toes into the dating world, only to find that nobody even remotely compares to “their person”.
I write today to state that this “phase” is coming to an end of sorts.Read more