The Tsunami of July

We all have one. Well, those of us who are widowed people. And most likely, anyone who has lost someone they love dearly, to death. However, since I am a widowed person, I can only speak from the widowed lense, and I can tell you with 1000% accuracy, that we all have one. For me, it's July. 

We all have our month on the calendar. That month that used to just be a month, but that now, in this new version of life, is the month when our world changed forever and we no longer had that life we knew - the month they died. 

It's funny the amount of power that lies in numbers or days on a calendar. Okay, maybe not "Ha Ha" funny, but something to ponder when you're sitting around thinking about life's oddities. People who haven't been through this will try to convince you that it's all in your head, that you should just think happy thoughts or think positively, and don't let that month hold so much power over you. And while this is true to an extent, there is also a lot I cannot control about what the month of July does to my heart and soul. 

Today is July 1st. The world I knew ended on July 13th, 2011. In less than two weeks, that day will come around all over again, and will fall on a Wednesday, which is the day of the week he died. A few days ago, my body broke out in hives. Stress-induced hives all over my arms and legs. They look as horrifying as they feel. They are physical proof of what the stress and exhaustion of grief and death does to us, over and over again. I got these same hives a few months after my husband's sudden death. I remember the doctor asking me: "Anything particularly stressful going on in your life right now?" My robotic response: "Yeah. My husband just died." "Well, there ya go", he said. "That'll give ya hives. The stress makes them worse. The anxiety. Try to relax." Try to relax??? Was he joking??? My fucking husband was dead and Im supposed to relax??? Ive got news for that guy. I haven't been able to truly "relax" since July 13, 2011. At least, not in the same way that I used to. That word, like all other words in my world, now means something entirely different. 

For me, in the midst of year five of this life, July comes in like a tsunami.

It thrashes around me, over me, under me, and especially inside of me. The tidal waves just crash and crash, followed by a burning sensation in the pit of my soul. The flashbacks. The things I don't want to remember. The casket. The way he looked all puffed up and not like my husband, sitting in that death box. The well-wishers, saying insensitive things and not looking me in the eye. The phone call - the one that rang and rang and rang in the early hours of the morning, telling me that my very world was about to change forever. The 98 degree temperature and the awful humidity that seemed to be matching in tone with the cruelty of his being gone. The cab ride to the hospital that was 3 minutes but felt like 3 hours. The not knowing what I was going there for, or what I would be walking into. The animalistic sounds that came out of me when I heard the nurse say: "I''m so sorry. We did everything we could. He didn't make it." Running into the bathroom to throw up. Being left alone in a tiny room with my dead husband, and not having a clue what to say or do with him. Having that feeling like I was watching a movie, or like this wasn't really happening to me, and everything would be fine later on. Convincing myself that he was just taking another nap. He was fine, and I would see him tonight at home. Leaving that tiny hospital room. Leaving him there in that hospital, as I drove away with my friends to begin all the horrors that would follow. The trauma of hearing ambulance sirens afterwards, or seeing other men in EMS uniforms. The sick feeling I got upon realization that these ashes in my hand, are what is left of my husband. The endless sobbing. The numbness. The fear of dying. Wanting to die. Not wanting to live. Forgetting how to breathe. Not remembering how to exist. Living inside a tornado. Being made to suffocate in this version of life, and knowing that everything was forever different. 

We all have our months. 

I will feel however I feel this month, I will do my best to get through it, and I won't apoligize if I'm an absolute mess for awhile. I have every right. My world died five years ago, and it takes a hell of a long time to pick up all the pieces of that. Sometimes it takes forever. Or at least it feels that way, when you're churning inside the tsunami. 

Showing 19 reactions

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  • Nancy Knight
    commented 2019-06-02 09:58:00 -0700
    My hell starting July 17, 2016. Waking up to find my husband dead on the bathroom floor. It’s just not July for me it’s almost all summer. It starts with mother’s day (which he always made special) followed immediately with 2 of my children’s birthdays, then our wedding anniversary, then my youngest’s birthday, Father’s Day, the fourth of July, and THE DAY. My daughter always takes the day off on Father’s Day because she can’t handle people asking if she has plans with her dad. My kids are in their early twenties. They seem to get how these days can overwhelm but my sisters who have all been married for 20+ years think I should just move on. They can’t or won’t reflect on the idea “what would I do if this happened to me?”

    Thank you so much for your post. It always helps to know you aren’t the only one going through this and that when you are still feeling it after 3 years you aren’t crazy.
  • Jenifer Davis
    commented 2019-05-30 23:11:00 -0700
    May is my month and today is the day. Two years in and I don’t see how I will ever live with it. People don’t get it either. They just want you to go back to how you were and that is not possible. Sending you Widow sister hugs 💜
  • Sandy Winters
    commented 2019-05-30 20:47:33 -0700
    July 12, 2011. I was right there, with you. Together alone. I hate July .
  • Vartan Agnerian
    commented 2019-05-30 19:34:52 -0700
    I was already emotional and in a sad mood’ listening to and watching " Engelbert Humberdinck In Hawaii " on PBS’ as each romantic song was reawakening a memory of my blissful married years’ of my couple days’ of my husband and wife days’ that are no more’ and then I read this on Soaring Spirits Facebook page’ and the tears flowed and flowed …
    My world forever changed also eight months ago’ it is no longer the life I knew’
    Now it is a widow’s world ’ now the days just follow each other’ without any drive’ any zest or enthusiasm’ though the calendar pages change’ but my mind’s calendar page is stuck on that month and day when my husband died’
    Reading your widow experience with that touch of clarity’ courage and core emotions has become part of my therapy’

  • Jeanie Miller
    commented 2019-05-30 17:53:36 -0700
    July is also my month. It is the month, in 2016, that we were told that my husband had 14-18 months to live and that if he had anything he needed to do, he should do it. July is also the month, in 2018, that he succumbed to that awful disease. He beat the odds but it cost him a lot to do it. At first, it was a blessing because of how that brain tumor had already taken his quality of life. But as time goes on, the waves of that tsunami wash over and around me, and I am drowning in the reality of it all, even though it oftentimes seems surreal.
    Yesterday was our 36th anniversary. I learned at Camp Widow that love never dies, and so I chose to celebrate. May 29 will ALWAYS be our special day. Nothing can change that. So I choose to keep my eyes above the waves and swim.
  • Joanne Ingledue
    commented 2018-07-16 13:40:37 -0700
    For me, it is not only “that month”, it is “that day”. I will hate Saturdays for my remaining days. My kids dont understand why I am “down” so much. Simple answer, I must now have Bubonic Plague because few ever come to see me or worse yet, don’t include me in family gatherings. For the life of me, I will never understand why I wasn’t invited to my eldest grandchild’s 30th birthday party or even included in stupid things that neighbors are included in.
  • Cherie Myohanen
    commented 2018-07-04 11:37:04 -0700
    Thank you for sharing. It catches my heart that you wrote about that it’ll be a Wednesday. How very poignant that is for me. Tuesday. The day of my husband’s accident. The day a week later when I learned of the extent of his brain damage. Some days in my grief at random times of the year, I relive every moment of that Tuesday, from kissing him goodbye at 6 in the morning to telling my children that I didn’t know when daddy would be coming home at 11:34 that night. I GET that Wednesday will be hard or you. Prayers
  • Nancy Magi
    commented 2018-07-03 19:07:10 -0700
    The minute I’m not working or busy with something the feelings flood to the front of my mind. My husband passed July 17, 2016. My life has been upside down ever since. I miss him every minute of every day. EVERYTHING reminds me of him. The loneliness is excruciating. I spent 2/3 of my life with him and I have no idea who I am anymore.
  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2016-07-05 11:51:20 -0700
    Thank you everyone. All of your stories and emotion help so much – it is such a confirmation that none of us are alone, no matter how much we might feel like we are.
  • Franci Pennington
    commented 2016-07-03 18:32:07 -0700
    July is my month, too. My hell started on 07/22/14, the ugliest day on the calendar
  • Cathy
    commented 2016-07-03 06:11:28 -0700
    February for me, when all those hearts and flowers appear in your face everywhere you go. Then there’s his birthday month, July, which is also the month his brother died a year ago, who was my main support. It goes on and on, including parents deaths, just about every month has a trigger day or two in it. At least I have you all to turn to, who get where I’m at. The grieving never ends, it changes over the years, but is always in the background, and sometimes the foreground, of our lives.
  • Sharon Wall
    commented 2016-07-02 20:55:13 -0700
    Thanks for your post, Kelley. It’s right on as always. My tsunami is from mid March until June 13 – when Brian went into the hospital and never got out until his memorial. I call it the death march. It’s been 25 months now and even though the pain isn’t as sharp, I’m feeling so worn out from it all.
  • Maria Cardenas
    commented 2016-07-02 13:36:19 -0700
    My month is November. My world as I knew it came to a crashing halt on November 7, 2014. My husband went golfing at a company sponsored tournament, and never came home. My day was very similar to yours. I pray you will get through this month as peacefully and gracefully as possible. Thank you for this post!
  • Judy Kaan
    commented 2016-07-02 12:07:19 -0700
    My heart is with you this month and what is leading up to that day. My month is September – but the end of July he went in the hospital never to come home again. This 5 year are Tsunami’s. Sending huge hugs and again you write what so many of us feel.
  • Sarah Treanor
    commented 2016-07-02 09:39:48 -0700
    This took me right back to my own traumatic day. My own phone call. My own animal screams. All the disbelief. Sometimes its still hard to feel like we have somehow lived this long through it all. Its so surreal.

    I’m thinking of you. sometimes I feel the months after Drew’s death are even harder because that misery stretched on and on. Something about being in the hot Texas summer has brought back a lot of the grief too this week for me, mini flashbacks. I’m on my way back to Ohio now, and so look forward to a phonecall soon to catch up with you. Beautiful post. <3 love you!!!
  • Don Yacona
    commented 2016-07-02 09:29:49 -0700
    True in every sense of the word. For me it extends from Arlene’s birthday in May, thru the three anniversaries in June (day she had the stroke, the day she passed and the day we met) till this Wednsday, the day we became “US”. It just sucks.
  • Britt Ford
    commented 2016-07-02 01:43:33 -0700
    Right on the money Kelly couldn’t have written it better thank you for your vulnerability and truth
  • Linda Tevebaugh Keeling
    commented 2016-07-01 18:03:55 -0700
    Kelley… You wrote what is so true and real… My month is May….
    And specifically my world as I knew it ended May 8, 2012.
    Just keep doing whatever you need to do.
  • Arlene Marker
    commented 2016-07-01 10:38:36 -0700
    Very powerful Kelley. Thank you for sharing your story…..the one you never wanted to write. My world changed forever on March 8, 2016. I will never get over it…but I will like you keep trying to pick up the pieces….it may take forever!