Five Years!!!

A few weeks ago I passed the five year anniversary of my Husband’s passing.  In many ways it just doesn’t seem possible that this much time has passed.  There are times when it still seems as if it was only a short time ago!  I have come a long way on this “grief path’ in these five years, no question about it, but are there still some raw times, very much so!

The brutality of the initial grief is not present anymore.  I am functioning well, moving forward, creating the “New Normal”!!!  The so called well meaning questions from friends and family, that haven’t been through this, are almost gone.  I think they have gotten the message that I am staying in my house, I am capable of managing a house and the property with it, by myself!!!

What I am experiencing now is the true reality that I am by myself.  At least that is how I feel most of the time.  Yes, I have family and friends, but my life has changed forever.  The life I had with my husband will never be here again. New life is growing back, but it is slow and different, not necessarily bad.  It is at times quite lonely, something I haven’t experienced before in my life. Friends and family don’t call anymore to see how I am doing.  By this point they assume you are fine.   The friends who have been through this, do still call.  There is a misnomer that time heals all wounds.  Well it doesn’t.  This type of loss never really goes away.  There will always be reminders and situations that bring the feeling of loss to the surface.  The anniversary of his passing brought the tears back.  However, I was Blessed to have girlfriends who remembered and called and came by to be with me.   I wasn’t alone.  These friends are Angels in my life!!

So I now start year 6 without him.  The journey continues!!!! I am moving forward with  with gratitude for those who have stayed by my side through all of this.  You know who you are.  Thank You!

Hugs

Elizabeth

Four and a Half Years!!!

Well, I passed the 4 1/2 year mark two weeks ago!  Another milestone in a way.  I was  very much aware of the approaching date, but the anticipation of it wasn’t filled with the anxiety that I experienced previously.  This process is getting easier as the time passes, although there are still moments of sadness.  The reality that this IS my life now has really taken root.   The really overwhelming waves of grief seem to be behind me, and when I say waves, they were more like tsunamis!!!  Along with the still ever present moments of sadness, what I am experiencing more than anything  now is loneliness!

This past year has brought more loss into my life.  My rooster Phineas passed away early in 2017.  August once again was a tumultuous month with the sudden and unexpected passing of my cat Bam Bam.  Then on the 28th of October my beloved Westie Fey passed. Although these passing were no where near the magnitude of the loss of my husband, they were painful.  My animals have always been very precious to me and they played a big role in helping me with the brutality of this grief process.  These losses are yet another reminder of the fragility of life and that we really don’t get to hang on to anything.  So now my Westie Angus and I are going it alone.  So many changes in these 4 1/2 years!!!

There are still those “well meaning ” individuals who feel the need to give me advice on how best to live my life now.  Still asking why I want to stay in this size house with this much property? Why don’t you downsize to a 55 and older community?  I wonder if this advice will ever stop!!!

I have no plans on moving out of my house or downsizing.  I lost my husband, but not my intelligence, common sense or capabilities!  Angus and I are “holding down the fort” just fine and there will be a Westie puppy joining us, hopefully sometime this summer!!

Hugs,

Elizabeth

 

WHERE DID SUMMER GO!!

I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that I am writing this on September 10th!  Where did this summer go?  It seems to have gone by in a blink of the eye.  My intentions were to write on this blog at least weekly, really they were, but the time has gotten away from me and other matters consumed my time as well.

Summer is my favorite time of year, with the exception of August.  It happens to be my birthday month, but so many other events have occurred during this month, I have come to dread it.  Both of my parents passed during August and them my husband passed during this month 4 years ago. Yes, I have made it 4 years, and I can still remember when I didn’t think I would make it to the next day.  So much has changed in these last 4 years and yet so much has remained the same.

This year in August I added another anniversary of a passing to the list!  My cat Bam Bam passed unexpectedly on the 9th.  I had him since he was a kitten and found him under my deck.  I had him for 13 years and he along with my two Westies were my life savers during the worst of this grief process.  It was a shock to loose Bam Bam and another reminder of the fragility of life.  I miss him and my dogs are still looking for him.  Another lose, another change, another reminder that life is forever changed, another “new normal” to get used to.

My Westies and I are adjusting to life without Bam Bam.  Losing my cat is not as traumatic as the lose of my husband, but my wounds of grief are only scabbed over and this has ripped some of the scabs open.  I don’t think these wounds will ever just be a scar, I think they will always be scabs that will bleed from time to time!

We miss and love you Bam Bam!

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Hugs,

Elizabeth

 

Secondary Losses!

In three months I will hit the 4 year mark of my husband’s passing.  This seems like an eternity and yet it still feels at times like it was just a few months ago.  Don’t get me wrong, I have made enormous progress with this journey through the grief.  However, there are still those days when the memories come floating back and they won’t leave me alone.  The days and weeks are starting to feel like they are moving by faster.  Perhaps this is just part of the “getting older” thing that people talk about. That time moves faster the older you get, but it may also be part of the fact that I am adjusting to my new “normal” way of life.

One of the aspects to this type of loss that I find myself still somewhat uncomfortable with are the Secondary Losses. For me these are the people that were part of your life when you were married, who now that you are single, don’t seem to be around that much.  Being half of a couple makes many of your “couple” friends uncomfortable being around you.  The wives talk to you, but not as much, and the men don’t talk to you at all.  It’s like you have become a threat or something.  It’s a weird part of this adjustment.  I sometimes feel like an outcast.   It still bothers me at times and I have tried to reach out, but I am coming to the realization that it is just not worth my time in the long run.  Life has changed and the people I associate with have changed too.  Yes a few will once in a while call and some of them have life issues of their own to deal with as well, which may also be affecting this.   However, for the most part, the couple friends have long disappeared.  So, my whole social structure has changed.  It’s a new life all the way around.

Secondary Losses can come in many forms. Mine seem to be with the people we associated with. For others secondary losses can be financial, lifestyle, loss of their home, loss of income and many others.  The loss of a spouse is hard enough and then on top of this one has to deal with all the secondary losses that start to take place.

This journey through this type of grief is messy, ugly, and brutal.  The ripple effects from it are wide spread and not something that is often talked about.  It’s complex and so different for everyone.  Just keep moving forward, one step at a time.  You are doing great and you Will survive this!

Hugs,

Elizabeth

The Unwanted Advice!

I would like to start this post by saying that I have to believe that people make various comments with nothing but the most sincere intentions.

With all the aspects that are involved with the adjustments we make to the loss of our spouse and the huge amputation of a part of our life, one the things that I found difficult to deal with was the “advice” and comments that people felt so compelled to say to me.  These started almost immediately after my husband’s passing.  I was still in the room with him after he had passed, numb and in shock, trying to absorb what had just happened, when a women I didn’t know told me that I was now a “widow”!  That thought hadn’t even occurred to me yet!

Everyone is trying to say something that might help you.  They feel so lost as to what to say to someone that has just had a loss. Society has conditioned us to say certain things that are deemed to be “acceptable” to comfort those in grief.  Quite often the comments are not comforting and you want to say so, but it’s just not worth it, and when in grief, we have enough going on to also  deal with this ignorance.  I remember meeting a couple who were friends of ours, the husband had worked for my husband at one time, and we were meeting for lunch. This was the first they had seen me alone and it was only about 10 days after my husband’s passing.  After the greetings and the “I am so sorry for your loss” comments, the husband asks me if I had given any thought yet to what I was going to do the “that” house!!! Really!!! It wasn’t any business of his and the implication was that I, as a woman, now alone, that I couldn’t or wouldn’t want to maintain a house and the property with it without “A Man”!!! I just took a deep breath and very nicely stated that yes I had thought about it and I was going to Live in the house because that is my home.  I also got comments from family and friends for about 3 years stating, “That’s an awfully big house for one person” and “Are going to ever sell that house?”  There seems to be an obsession with a widow staying in the same house!

I also had people ask me why I hadn’t changed my name back to my maiden name since I wasn’t legally married anymore.  Once again, none of their business.  I know of some women who have chosen to do this, but this is a very personal and individual decision.  It just another example of the ignorance surrounding this kind of grief.

My reason for sharing all of this is to let anyone who is reading this know that you are not alone when you receive these inane comments from people.  They can be very hurtful and insensitive, but I don’t believe they are said with malice.  They and society are just ignorant to what this type of grief is all about.  I am finding that these types of comments are coming less and less.  Address them as best you can and keep in mind to guard your own feelings and whether responding in a negative, attacking way will really help You in the long run.

These comments will come from people that you may think would be able to show more compassion to you.  Not long ago I had a family member bluntly tell me that she really thought that I wasn’t going to do well after this loss.  When I ask her why she would make such a statement to me, her reply was, “Well you were so devastated by it”!  Hello…..I lost my husband, the love of my life!! I thanked her for passing judgement on me and making that assumption!  I have proved her wrong on this over and over again.  She was someone who I totally thought would have nothing but compassion for me.  Don’t be surprised by who and what people say to you.  It happens and unfortunately is part of this whole process.  You will and can evolve and survive this aspect of this journey too!

Hugs,

Elizabeth

 

 

 

Grief Is A Lot Of Work!!!

When I started down this path three and a half years ago, I had no idea how much work this process requires.  In the beginning it was an hour by hour effort.  There were moments when I thought I couldn’t make it another hour.  The shock and emotional pain was so intense and would hit in agonizing waves.  The wave would retreat, but I was left feeling drained.   Over time the waves would come a bit less frequent and with a bit less intensity, but they still came.  Anyone who hasn’t experienced this type of grief would not understand that there are moments when just putting one foot in front of the other to move was agonizing and more effort than I felt I had. Somehow and someway I managed to keep “moving forward”.

Moving through this type of grief really is “Work”!   I had constant support from a few very close friends,  but ultimately I was the only one who could get myself through this and get to where I am today.  Recently I had a teacher who referred to child birth as an analogy to a point she was making.  I think this analogy can also be used to describe the process through grief.  We can have those around who support us, but ultimately only we can do the work to get ourselves through this. In child birth the same is true.  There are doctors, nurses, technology and other support people with us, but only we can push that child out, not all those other people!

This was a slow and agonizing process at times and there were moments when I thought I should be moving forward faster.  The bottom line is, there is No Timeline for how you move through grief and you will never get a certificate of completion for it.  It’s done on your own time and at your own pace and only you can do it.  Do not be discouraged or think you are not doing correctly.  There is no right or wrong way.  The key is to keep moving forward at whatever pace works for you.  Remember, when you wake up in the morning and you get both feet on the floor and stand up, you have taken another step forward!!!

Hugs,

Elizabeth

 

 

 

Three and A Half Years!!!

In many ways it seems surreal that three and a half years have gone by since my husband’s passing!  Yes, I am now counting in years and not months. My journey has come a long way in three and half years.  The loneliness  still prevails many days, but I feel as though I am piecing a new life together for myself.  I have two dogs and a cat who have been by my side through this journey and last week I was reminded that time has passed and they are getting older.  My oldest dog was diagnosed with diabetes and gave me quite a scare.  That nauseating emotional pain came flooding back through me when I was rushing her into the veterinarians.  She was sick and had gone into Ketosis and this all happened very quickly.  I am happy to say she is fine now and will be on insulin for the rest of her life, but that can be managed.

The return of the emotional pain brought my thoughts back to the months after my husband’s passing and how brutal and ugly those days were.  I spent many hours in agonizing crying pain, so out of control that I would hyperventilate.  My two dogs would surround me in an effort to help and protect me, while I was breathing into a paper bag to try to regain control of my breathing.  Only a few close friends knew and saw the depth of this grief.  It’s not something that you even want many to see and it takes a very special and unique individual to walk along side someone at this level of grief.  I don’t think my family had any idea what I was going through.

I have survived this life amputation for this long, so I know I can and will continue to survive.  My life is very different now in many ways, but I continue to try to focus my attention on my Gratitudes.  So to anyone who might read this and is new to walking this path, I have survived, and although you think you won’t, you too will work your way through this!

Hugs,

Elizabeth

 

Bittersweet!

When I started my journey down this path of grief, I was told by many that this type of grief is one that you never get over.  There is some truth to this statement, however I am finding you never forget and certain situations will arise that can take you back to a level of the grief that you thought was behind you.

I had one of those experiences this past weekend.  As I mentioned in a previous post,my husband has been gone 39 months, and as of this post, it’s now almost 40.  Also could be referred to as 3 years and 4 months!  My husband’s passion was trains.  He loved them! At one time he was into the HO gauge trains, but somewhere early in our marriage as a result of me seeing the G scale trains in a hobby shop, he left the HO and was totally into the G scale.  These can be run outdoors as a garden railroad.  Over the years his outdoor garden railroad kept growing and growing.  He spent hours outside with his trains, especially after he retired.  His platform was a complete labor of love.

After his passing I couldn’t even think about taking the railroad down.  There was so much of him  in there.  I didn’t need to demo it for any particular reason, so I just left it to be dealt with when I felt the emotional time was right.  It also took me some time to find someone who was willing to do the demo.  Well, this past Saturday was the final demo day. I watched the years of loving hard work and enjoyment go into a dump truck.  I thought I was completely ready for this, but after it was all hauled away and I stood in the leveled dirt where all trains used to run, I was taken back to the early days of the painful grief.  I looked around with tears in my eyes and that knife in my gut feeling and thought, “This really has happened”.  It was that surreal feeling once again even after all these months.

Saturday was a difficult day!  This is what was meant when I was told you never get over it. My wounds have only scabbed over they haven’t formed solid scares, and the scab was ripped open again.  It wasn’t as painful or intense and neither did it last as long as the waves of grief lasted in the beginning, but it definitely was a wave.

Yes, I can honestly say I have made progress in moving forward through this grief.  However, the reality is that there will be situations, events, circumstances that will scratch the scab. No one will receive a diploma for the completion of this grief!

Hugs

Elizabeth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY STORY

It has been 39 months since my husband’s passing.  Sometimes I will refer to this passage of time in years, but just as with babies, I still tend to use months.  I feel that I have moved forward in many ways during these “months”, but there are still times when  I stop and question whether all this has really happened.

My story started on a Friday night in the middle of July in 2013.  It was teaming rain that evening and my husband could hardly breathe or talk.  I thought he might have pneumonia and called our family doctor.  I was to take him to an ER for a chest X-ray.  At this point it had been raining so hard and so heavily that roads were flooding.  I couldn’t get to the hospital, so we went to a local urgent care.  He did in fact have pneumonia, but they also found a mass in his chest.  I remember my whole body going numb at the sound of those words.   This is not at all what I had expected to hear. The next five weeks were a roller coaster of medical tests, doctors visits, emotions and fear.  Everything just seemed to be going down hill and quickly.  When I think back on this time frame, a lot of it seems like a blur, everything happened so fast. It was such a whirlwind that I didn’t have time to tell many people what was happening.  Only a select few even knew.  I felt like my world was falling apart and I was all by myself.  Exactly 5 weeks from the Friday night in the urgent care to Friday night in the hospital, at around the same time that we were told of the mass, my Husband took his last breath.  He died in my arms.

I was in total shock!  It wasn’t until around 3 that very afternoon that I even let the thought that he might pass even enter into my thinking.  I was preparing myself for “the battle”!  But, there really wasn’t much of a battle, it was such a fast and ferocious  journey that ended sooner than I had ever expected it too.  My wonderful life with him had just come to an abrupt end!

The hours and days that followed were spent in numbness and shock.  I felt like I had been shot up with novocaine.  I wasn’t even sure I was breathing!  I have never felt this deep level of emotion and intensity.  It’s difficult to put in exact words the enormousness of these emotions. I had a friend staying with me for part of the first week, but then I was on my own to cope.  I somehow managed to keep functioning, but it was the hardest thing I have ever done.  Fortunately I was able to get out of bed everyday and I credit this to my two dogs and cat. I had to keep taking care of them. I had to survive for them and only them.  They were the only ones on earth who needed me now.

There were the usual things that had to be taken care of after a person passes and somehow I managed to get it all done.  Thinking back on it now though, I don’t remember a whole lot of it.  I think I was just on auto pilot and mushed my way through. What needed to be done at the time did get done, but my memory of all this is a blur!

I was told by someone when all this happened that I would “survive” this!   Although I have made it 39 months, I still do have moments of doubt that I can keep going, but each day I do.  I have heard this experience of loosing your spouse referred to as an “amputation”!  I think that is the best word that sums it all up.  A huge piece of my my life was amputated that night and my new life is growing back very slowly.

Hugs,

Elizabeth

Catching Up

My intention was to start blogging on a more frequent basis when I set this blog up.  However, this year has gotten away from me.  Here it is a week from Thanksgiving and my mind is still back in September.  Time has just flown by.

I had an opportunity to go to Africa this year, which I did in September for 3 weeks.  This has always been a bucket list item for me, so when this opportunity presented itself earlier this year, I figured WhyNot!!!  I travelled with friends I have known for 30 years, but hadn’t seen for quite awhile.  Needless to say, the trip was beyond words.  It’s probably one of the best trips I have ever taken.  My late husband and I travelled quite a bit, but he never wanted to go to Africa, so this was not a trip we would have taken.  I spent the bulk of the year consumed with getting ready to go.  Being away for 3 weeks and having animals and property to be attended to requires some pre planning.  It was all worth it.

Today is November 16th.  Yes a significant date because it is the 16th of the month and my husband passed on the16th of August in 2013.  It was 39 months ago.   I am happy to say that I have gotten through the last two months of significant days without any problem.  October had been difficult since that is the month of our wedding anniversary.  This month was my husband’s birthday.  I actually got through all these days with no difficulties this year.  There was a time in this process that I didn’t think this would ever happen!  It is getting some what better.  This is not to say that I don’t still have some low moments.  I definitely do!  They are just further apart and not as horribly low and difficult.  I know that many people say this is something you never get over.  I would like to say that this type of loss is something you never “forget”.  You will never forget your life with your spouse.  It was a major part of your life and helped shape who you are.  However, it is possible to create a new life for yourself without forgetting this portion of your life.  I think I am just starting to reach this point.  It has not been without many low and ugly moments, but I am starting to see some light instead of so much darkness.

Bye for now,

Hugs,

Elizabeth