I am half way through my 6th year since my husband passed. It really seems unreal that this much time has passed. I can remember it being 6 weeks and thinking how I would manage to get through another day!!! Many days I wondered if it was worth it to try to get through another day!! The future seemed so bleak, lonely, and scary!! Especially the “alone” part! But as each day passed and I realized I had survived yet another day, another week, month and then years, I started to appreciate that I was making progress. I realized that if I woke up in the morning and put both feet on the floor and stood up, I had just made a small step forward. All these small steps culminated into moving forward 5 and a half years later.
There was a tendency at times where I felt like I wasn’t making progress, that there would never be a time when I would feel “normal” again. I think it’s very normal to have these feelings when struggling with loss. It is a brutal battle and very depressing at times. However, progress is being made every day whether you feel like it is or not. It takes a lot of effort and work and self motivation to continue, but you will get there and you will find a place where you feel “normal” again. This will be your new normal.
As I look back over these years, it was rough, brutally rough at times. I am here to tell you that I am living proof that you can come out the other side and feel much better. I have reached that point. I have found a new normal where I am again happy and feeling Joy in life. Yes, it is different from my life before, but the happiness is there. I made a choice to put together the pieces into a new life and I am living it now. Do I remember my life with my Husband and do I still have some of those moments. Yes I do. The difference is that I can remember and smile at things and am grateful for the years we had. I am Blessed to have had those years and life with him, but I am looking forward to living my life with Joy and Happiness.
On a side note, my dog Angus and I welcomed a new puppy into our lives in April 2018. It just so happens that she turned 1year old on the Five and a Half Year mark!!!! Her name is Mayzie!!!!
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!
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!!
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!
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!
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!
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!!!
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!
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!!!