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!
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.
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,
Yesterday, June 16,2016, marked the 34 month mark since my Husband’s passing. Yes, I am still counting in months, similar to counting the age of an infant or toddler. Every month on the 16th I get a twinge in my stomach. For me it is one of the “significant” dates. It marks a passing of yet another frame of time that I have survived without him and at the same time a remembrance of what happened on the “16th”! I am someone who seems to remember dates relating to just about everything. In this situation, I question whether or not it is an asset.
I have been told by many that I had to get through the “firsts” of all the significant dates and then it would get easier!! All the advice a widow gets is another subject that I will talk about later, but I have found the seconds and thirds have their challenges too. Significant dates are not just the typical holidays. I find myself recalling memories about days, like a day we picked up a particular car that we were excited about or a day we got a new dog. Any day that left a significant memory of our life together can have an effect on me. Yes the “twinge” in my stomach gets a bit less intense, but I still remember and associate the “dates”.
I don’t ever want to forget my memories with my late Husband, but my hope is that as I continue to move forward, that maybe I will be able to just smile at the memory or even remember that a date was significant a couple days later! Everyone handles the memory of these dates differently. Although yesterday was the 34th month of my Husband’s passing, it was also the 34th month that I have somehow survived. So, on those days when I think I can’t do this anymore, I try to remind myself that I have been doing and surviving this “beast” called grief for 34 months!!!
Finding support for this type of grief seems to be few and far between, so my hope is that by writing about my experience I may be able to be of some support to another woman going down this path.
Two and a half years ago, I was unwillingly inducted into this club called Widows!!!! Like other members of this club, I didn’t apply for admission or pay a monetary fee to join. It took only “one breath” and I was officially a member. It started on a Friday night in the middle of August at 9:06pm. It will be forever engraved in my memory! At that moment I was about to embark on a journey through a thing called “Grief”, the likes of which, I had never known. It has been a journey that no one can understand unless they have walked this path. I know this to be true, as I could never have understood what this was like till I went thru it!!! It is a personal and very individual process that is as different for each individual as our fingerprints. My hope with starting this blog and writing about my own journey will in some way help others walking the same path to heal and grow and move forward as I have been doing and continue to do.