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To those faithful readers…

I know that it’s been more than a year since I’ve updated here. After my mother’s death, things became difficult in ways I was not expecting. It made it difficult for me to update properly, and quite frankly, I just wasn’t motivated to do it anyway.

It wasn’t that I stopped grieving over Jon, or was too busy. But losing my mother brought out a side of grief in me that I wasn’t expecting. In short, I became somewhat numb. I could really only handle the basics. I took care of my girls and my household, but otherwise, I had a hard time dealing and accepting her death for awhile.

Without Jon and without my mother, the isolation became something almost too hard to avoid. I found myself in a place where I didn’t quite know where I fit. My in-laws have moved on, along with my other family. Everyone I know is pretty much tired of hearing our sob story, (and they’ve made sure to let me know.) To put it bluntly: my girls and I are pretty much on our own, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. Some days are definitely better than others, and I’ve worked hard to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for my daughters.  We stay involved in church and stay close to those who make the effort. This is our new normal.

Over the past five months or so, my body started to react to all the stress of the past five years. Anxiety and depression came on stronger than I ever thought it could, and it put my most creative outlets out of commission for awhile. I felt that I had no choice but to go back to counseling, and seek out treatment. I am happy to say that I’ve come a long way in the past two months. I still struggle with anxiety and some other things, but I am much better off than I was before. The good news is that my prayer life is stronger than ever, too. :)

Anyway, I feel like it’s time to say that I no longer feel like writing in this blog anymore. I don’t believe I’m “actively grieving” as I once was, even though I’m clearly dealing with leftover emotional fallout. Instead, the things I’m dealing with are more private in nature, and I would rather not talk about them here.

I’ll probably start a new blog one of these days that’s more general, as far as my life and thoughts go. I don’t know when that will be, however. For now, it’s just contemplation.

I don’t plan on deleting this blog and if my previous entries are of any comfort to anyone, please feel free to comment if you need to. I’ll do my best to answer when I can.

Thank you all for the past five years of support. It’s definitely been the hardest five years of my life, but I’m glad I was able to vent and discuss things here, without real fear of judgement. When I look back on some of the things I’ve written, I can definitely see how far I’ve come since Jon died, and how much better my mentality is. I’m happy to say I’m a lot less petty than I used to be, and I’m a lot more compassionate. Regardless of the difficulties I’ve faced, I’m happy with who I’ve turned out to be.

With that said, I wish you all peace, love, prosperity and comfort.

God Bless you.

Maria

I know I haven’t written much in the past few months. Dealing with my mother’s death so close to the saddiversary made things difficult to process. Writing about it has been hard. That being said: A post is forthcoming regarding the four-year anniversary. I just have to write out this idea, right now.

In regards to the on-going debate over whether or not widowed people have it better or worse than divorcees; there is something that both parties often overlook. We explain the experience, (most of the time in vain, because the description doesn’t quite convey the actual feeling), but we don’t put a word to our distinction.

The distinction is the lack of closure. We have to practically make it up ourselves. There isn’t a paper to sign to admit defeat. We don’t have a tangible break point from which we can launch our rebirth. Instead, we are left wandering in the dark, fumbling around to get our bearings. We have leftover affection, love and need for our spouses, that up until the point of death, is usually returned. Similar to divorcees, we have to figure out what to do with these feelings. We also have anger, frustration, a sense of abandonment, confusion, a sense of worthlessness, depression and a struggle to believe in a happy future. And we cannot blame anyone for them. We know that blaming our spouses for abandoning us by death is ridiculous, but we feel that way anyway. We know that being angry at our spouses for dying is pointless, but we feel it anyway. And it has no where to go. As a divorcee, I had plenty of blame, not just for my ex, but for myself for being so stupid and selfish. As a widow, I know my husband never wanted to just leave me here to face life alone. He died and it wasn’t his fault. I can’t blame myself, because I didn’t kill him. What then? I have spent four years having to let that go. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

A conversation with a very intelligent friend of mine really opened my eyes to this. As a group of confused and hurting people, we often turn to “industry standards” when dealing with similar symptoms of two very different life experiences. It is impossible to do. As a person who has been both a divorcee and a widow, I know the differences and how I perceive them. However, I also know that they shouldn’t be compared. In order to appreciate the difficulties of both, you cannot compare them. They are both hard. Is one harder? I think so, but that’s subjective. It’s also not up for debate.

I know that this is all a matter of opinion. And I realize that there are people who would argue without end how much better I have it because my spouse didn’t choose to reject me, (or vice versa. A choice a widowed person doesn’t get either, by the way). But I think it’s important for people to see the distinction, whether they are equally as painful, or not.

This is just a small process of thought that I’ve been chewing on for awhile. I respect the opinion of others, but I do resent the idea that anyone who hasn’t been through this experience feels as though they can identify. Maybe in small things, but you can’t say it’s the same thing. It is not. I also recognize that resenting that sort of presumptuousness does not mean it invalidates someone else’s pain. I’m not saying you can’t hurt. I’m not saying you don’t hurt badly. But I am saying that even if you’re also a divorcee and a widow, you still can’t know exactly how I feel and you have no right to compare.

What do you do when the dust starts to settle? Do you clean it up and hope that nothing else makes a mess?

I think that sometimes, I feel like I have to force perfection on every situation until it becomes out of joint and dramatic again. I don’t want to do that this time.

I know this may sound wrong, (or not), but I don’t want to rock any more boats. I don’t want to cause any more trouble than anything is worth. I just want to live my life, however long it may be, in peace. I’ve noticed that in the past year or so, I’ve cut out a lot of negativity and bad crap. (And there really is no better title for it) I did it impulsively in some cases, and I did others with a lot of thought. If there is anything that my widowhood has taught me, it’s that I am completely in control over what I can control. It sounds redundant, but there are times when you have to take the selfish road, and think about yourself. Not always, but there are definitely times.

I’m still in the process of clearing away the junk, but it’s hard not to stop and think: Wow, things feel so much lighter now! I don’t care about so many things I used to care about. And my own personal B.S detector works so much better. Whether or not someone is lying or being truthful, I can tell from a much further distance. It’s enabled me to avoid things. It’s amazing what a little foresight can do.

I know – I have the ugly habit of being vague and confusing at times. (Like right now) I don’t mean to be. I’m just really proud of myself for having this perspective. It’s one of the biggest things I loved about Jon. He had such a sense of foresight and mental calm. There were days he spent discouraged by what he perceived in people he thought he could trust. But he also knew better than to stay connected to those people, and he did so without major issue. I don’t know if I’ll ever be cool enough to avoid drama as smoothly as Jon did, but I know I can avoid it.

I’m going through another phase of grief that I don’t understand. The last time was last December. I had a feeling of immense peace that seemed to come almost overnight. Suddenly, it didn’t hurt to miss him as much as I did. Life was moving along at its normal pace, and I finally felt like I had caught up with it. That incessant pain I felt in the first few years, (that I had gotten used to), was no longer there. Sure, I loved him still, and I missed him just as much; but I was set free from feeling like every day was one big chore. It was like the brick that had settled in my chest was just gone, one morning. It hasn’t been back.

Now, I feel like I am not on chaos-mode anymore. I don’t have to come out with my fists swinging, ready to make the world spit teeth. There seems to be much more time to consider things, to make decisions with a clear head. I have a lot going on. I’m preoccupied with my mother’s illness, and making sure my kids wake up everyday in a normal house. And I can actually focus on these things. My grief isn’t getting in the way. It’s such a separate part of my life now, that it confuses me. Even though I still struggle with lack of sleep and missing my husband in the dark nights.

But it’s not breaking me down, destroying all the work I do during the day.

Sometimes, I still indulge in how much I miss Jon. Sometimes, I still feel the need to fantasize about what it would be like if he were still here. Would we still be as happy as we were? Would he still have his job? Would we still be in this city, fighting the same fight? In my fantasies, we are still as we were. It’s nice to think that we could weather anything coming our way, because we loved each other so much. We loved each other, so very much.

I know how long it’s been since he passed away. A lot of my life stopped then. I look back and realize how far I’ve come from that moment nearly 3 and a half years ago. I still feel like I’ve fallen more than I’ve accomplished. I’ve had to stop and re-do more times than I can count.

But things are changing once again. I feel like things are coming to some weird sort of closure. And yes when I type this, it doesn’t sound quite right. Closure isn’t the best word. I don’t know exactly what is, but I am peaceful. In my heart, I am peaceful.

This three-year mark passed very quietly. I didn’t make a huge spectacle of the third year of your passing. I didn’t plan an event or even write you a public letter, as I have done in the past. (until now, of course.)

It’s not that I didn’t think of you. In fact, I think I thought of you every second of that entire day. I think we were in constant conversation, as I struggled to finalize what I thought would be proof of my great healing. I wanted people to see that I can handle my life without you, and that it didn’t take that long to get here.

The truth is that I CAN handle life without you, but it’s taken some serious effort. And that effort still hurts. But for the Grace of God, have I strived to face each day with a grasp of any hope I can find. Because I miss you. And because I love you, still.

I have a learned a few things, and they have re-shaped my entire mentality. When this all started and you left me behind, I felt more alone than I had ever felt in my entire life. I couldn’t look forward to my future, because all that I had ever wanted selfishly, was taken away in one horrible, tragic moment.

Simply stated: my world was destroyed. Not my ENTIRE world, but everything I had built-in my little universe that I felt would fulfill me and make me happy for the rest of my life. You were the root of that happiness and the plan of my future. You were the love of my heart, and the soul of my identity. It took your carnal graduation, (for lack of a better term), to break down the false idealisms I had built around myself. I wanted to be responsible for my own happiness. I did not want to relinquish control of my life, even unto God, without making sure that you were part of my existence and our life would continue together.

But God always has other plans. And I’ve learned over the past three years that He doesn’t always share them with us; especially while we are making our own. Instead, He waits patiently while we contrive and operate our little systems of thought, for us to finally ask Him to step in and take over. Like us, He won’t accept simple navigational responsibilities. He wants the entire operation, and His place is the Captain’s Helm.

Does this mean that He took you away from me to teach me how to trust Him? No. But I believe He allowed you to be a part of my life because I could learn this lesson no other way. Your time on this planet was short, from the time you were born. In retrospect, all of our time is short. But in comparison, you were born into a life that would not last as long as others. Your affliction was genetic. You were born with weak veins, that had weak walls. Like your father and paternal grandmother before you, you would succumb to their weakness, unless you somehow found out about them before they gave way.

Like an ill-fated house next to a river bank, your levees were not strong enough to contain the flood.

This had nothing to do with me. This had nothing to do with you, really. Had you been able to control your aneurysms, you might have prolonged your lifespan. But not without much suffering and high risk. It does not make your life any less lived, or any less important. But only that your time was shorter than mine.

And even still, I believe that we were brought together to love and comfort each other. To procreate and bring our daughter into the world. I believe that we were meant to be together, even for the short time allotted, if only to teach each other what it means to love unconditionally, despite circumstance.

I do not believe in marriage after death, therefore you are no longer the husband I married. But you are still my family, and I look forward to the reward of seeing you in eternity, someday. This was my very first hope, and I clung to it like driftwood. It brought me to the possibilities that hoping in a promise such as this might bring. It was a seed that birthed my faith. Not a platitude of random words and pretty pictures, but a real faith, in something that I either have to deny fully or accept fully. I chose to accept, and thus, my healing began. It never stopped, even in the midst of my pride, my anger and my complacency. Today, no one can shake me from what I choose to believe. My faith in God, His plan for our salvation through Jesus Christ and the promise of living forever in His presence was essential in helping me accept what I have lost on this Earth. That faith will never be shaken.

And despite all that I have learned. Despite the strength I have gained, and the hope I can no longer shake by the mention of Death or anything else, I have not lost the love I had for you from the very beginning. I do not understand how this will pan out in God’s great plan, but I am not worried about it. For now, my heart remains oddly sated, even though I have not heard you speak my name for more than three years.

If you are looking upon me, as your earthly wife, and the mother of your children, I hope you see a woman who is healing, and finally at peace with our separation. I truly believe God has great things in mind for me, and for our girls. And despite what people may interpret, I still believe you peek in on us, even now. I know you are around. Just as I know that the Holy Spirit comforts me, guides and gets rather frustrated with me on a daily basis ;)

I still have a lot to learn. I still have a lot to go through and to process. But I have The Peace that passes ALL understanding. It is a current of hope within my heart that reminds me that everything will be OK in the end. And if it isn’t yet OK, it’s not the end.

I love you always, my Jonathan. I know you know this. I still cannot wait to see you again.

Maria

I’m almost three years out, and while I’m handling life fairly well, ( I think), I still have my moments of major frustration. Especially in regards to explaining things to people.

I know – Why explain? Why do strangers deserve any explanation in regards to MY life? I wish I could tell you how cool I am for not ever caring what people think about my social status, but the truth is that I am constantly comparing myself to other parents or mothers or even other wives. I want to give my children the most normal, functional life they can hope to have. And likewise, I’d like to enjoy what’s left of it. Unfortunately, the words “Single Mother” make it difficult to do in this society.

When I tell people I am a single mother, they usually nod. Some are sympathetic. Others shake their head in disgust. I’ve even had some people ask me whose fault that is, as if I should hang my head down in shame because I’m parenting children on my own.

My youngest daughter was 19 months when her father died. She knew something was different, if not wrong, because she began to really react to almost every new environment. It was hard for me, in the first few months especially, to stay focused on parenting when I could barely function myself. Whenever we were out in public, I couldn’t sit down for a meal because she couldn’t sit still. Meltdown status was always right beneath the surface for her, and my oldest and I had a hard time with the stares and the sneers. The people who obviously either had perfect children or none at all were always offended by our presence. In the mall, at the grocery store, at church – I was the mom who “obviously needed God in her life, because no Godly household would have a child acting like that.” (Yes. That was said to me once, too.)

I tried to explain myself a few times. I tried to explain that I was a widow, whose husband died very suddenly. No, he wasn’t a drug addict. (Because only drug addicts die suddenly.) And no, he wasn’t overweight. His aneurysm was genetic. I have the paperwork explaining it all. There have been many times when I felt like pulling it out and having those who so rudely commented on my life read it and understand that I had no hand in this. That I would have NEVER wanted Jon to die and leave me with two children to raise by myself. And that I know as much as anyone else (probably more so), that he was the smarter, wiser, calmer, stronger and braver one of the two of us. As much as it pains the ego to admit, I probably needed a lesson as powerful and life-changing as this one to get over myself and become the person I would much rather be.

As I become her, I realize that I owe no one any explanations. I realize that my faith in God is solid, and that He speaks for me when my life is in question. I realize that will raise my kids the BEST way I know how, through Christ who strengthens me. And Yes, it IS possible for someone to get married, divorced, married again and then widowed by the time they are 31. I am not an anomaly, and my girls are not living in a ‘broken home.” Everything in this house is in fine working order. I make sure to keep it that way.

When my children grow up and have families of their own, the only real thing that will matter is that I am their mother. That is all the explanation that anyone really needs.

I’ve recently been clear-minded enough to figure out some things regarding my healing and grief recovery. For one thing, I notice that certain triggers that I used to avoid no longer affect me the same way. I’ve heard that this happens, and it’s part of the process. I agree, although I think there is an element of participation that is imperative in order for the process to work.

It came to me two ways. First, I made the choice to not look at my grief as a medical condition, as opposed to a life experience. I refused to be medicated, save for the first week or so, because I was fearful of prolonging the process that I was aware I needed to go through. I don’t know exactly why I thought this way, especially in the first weeks, but I was bound and determined to let it hurt, and it surely did.

It was painful enough that I have blocked out most of the first three months from my memory. Even now, as I look back and read what I was writing, here and in my personal journal, I have a hard time reading and absorbing the overwhelming emotional trauma I was experiencing. It’s almost as if I experience it again, and it still hurts.

But I also notice that it hurts less. Much less than it has in the past year.

Secondly, I noticed that the more I listened to painful songs that reminded me of my marriage and husband, the easier they were to listen to. They still hurt, and they still triggered a grief release, but that has significantly lessened with time. This is also true with pictures, movies and any other signifiers that I’ve connected with my marriage.

I made a playlist last year, specifically designed to trigger a release. I wanted to hang on to what I was experiencing, and I think I was afraid to forget and have it sneak up on me. That has happened quite often and I hate it. I hate when grief just shows up out of nowhere, and decides to ruin an afternoon, or keep me up for a night.

I suppose it was my way of controlling my grief, because I’m a serious control freak, but I also felt that if I was going to feel it, I may as well face it and get it over with.

Amazingly, I’ve found healing through this method. I had to face down what hurt, and why it hurt. I had to tear it apart, and dissect it, in order to absorb and accept it. By doing so, I’ve found that only the good memories are left. And yes, they sometimes still hurt, but I am not crippled with grief in a supermarket, or bawling my eyes out on the freeway.

I’ve built something of an immunity to a lot of my random grief attacks, and it’s given me a measure of core strength. Something that I haven’t experienced since before my husband died. It’s that solid secure feeling of facing down the enemy, or weathering a storm.

I don’t think I’m out of the woods yet, however. There are new things that I find, buried deep beneath the surface. Perhaps I will always find something that will spring up like a green stem, despite my efforts to purge it all out. I am ok with this. If there’s anything I’ve learned (although I don’t always practice the theory), it’s that I can only control myself and how I react. Sometimes, that’s too difficult, and I have to allow grief to have its moment. It’s all about picking ones battles.

But I’m getting much better at navigating this journey – and yes, I do believe it’s a journey. I do believe that someday, I will be healed enough to love my husband’s memory and not still try to cling to him as a living person. I know I will see him again, but other than that promise, I know that I am on my own. The pain of that statement still stings. I am not yet ready to say I have accepted this life, but I am definitely in the process of accepting it.

The measure of peace I’ve felt in the past few months has been astounding in comparison to what I’ve felt in nearly three years. It has been enough to keep me focused on my plans for this year. I no longer feel that the life I want is out of my reach. I just don’t l know the distance it is from my grasp.

It feels good to write that I am progressing. I’m not just riding out the bumps in the road, either. I’m actually enjoying the ride. A little. :)

 

I just got another Futureme.org email I sent to myself years ago, when I was still living in Germany.

It was a hard letter to read. I was full of self-pity, but I was also full of immense hope.

I had no idea what would happen to us, and what life would be like if I really got what I wanted. There are no guarantees.

Naturally, I went to the site, to write another one to myself, and hopefully encourage myself for this time next year. (I’m not going that far ahead anymore…)

And somehow, I found this:

http://futureme.org/letter/211993-so-how-is-life-now

It was written by a woman in January of 2006, and sent to herself  10 months later.

Her question: “How’s life now?” is heavy with hope, with frustration and with uncertainty. Her husband suffered the same affliction that killed  mine, and yet hers lived.

It makes me wonder many things. Would this have happened to us? Would I have been able to handle it? Like those who have never lost a spouse, I will never know unless it happens to me, but it’s scary to think about.

It’s scary because it puts me in a great conundrum. Would I rather have Jon live, if he were to exist this way? To be completely incapacitated, after being such a brilliant and able-bodied man? A man who would have surely far surpassed his own goals and aspirations and then some. A man who taught me to look forward to our future.

And maybe I am reading into it far too much, but Jon would be miserable like that. To live for so long as a broken man, forever behind what he was before.

Would it be worth it, even if I could have him here with me?

I might say, two years ago, that it would be. That I would be ready and willing to nurse him back to health, no matter how long it took. And I might be happy just to have him with me, regardless of whether we had real conversations anymore. Because his loss is so incredibly great and painful.

But Jon would never had wanted this. And his prognosis was so poor. The neurologist gave him a five percent chance at life, and said he would most likely be a vegetable.

I didn’t care then. And I still don’t. But I know that he would. I know that he would have never wanted to exist that way, even if it meant twenty more years with the girls and me.

I am not judging this poor woman of her decisions to prolong her husband’s precious life. I am confident I would have made the exact same ones. I would have done what I could to help Jon live, no matter what it took. But it’s hard to think that maybe Jon wouldn’t have wanted it that way.

The lesson, I think, is that no matter what the outcome of tragedy is, we can always choose to find a way to survive it. This woman has a firm grip on the life she has chosen, and regardless of the battles ahead, she is not afraid of her decisions. I had no decision to save Jon, because it was too late for us. But I do have a decision to survive our outcome.  I want to hope, like this woman, that despite the tragedy, I will still be happy.

And I hope that the letter found her in a world of miracles, where she is now able to have wonderful conversations with her husband. I miss those so much.

Another Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza is here, and the World is going about its business, preparing for a few days of indulgent celebration. For the past two years, I’ve struggled to ignore the same recurring pangs of Remember-When, as I do my best to join the festivities.

I’m not alone in this struggle. I know that millions of young widowed people, with or without children, struggle with the same pains, in different ways.

It’s a serious test of our Grief Journey: How well will I handle this year?

Technically, this will be my third Christmas without Jon. I have long past the painful yet foggy Year of Firsts, and even the stark Second Year of Harsh Reality. Both years were a painful climb. And many times last year, I wondered if I would always feel so empty, as if I had nothing to look forward to ever again. I know I’ve asked God countless times if I would ever feel free to really enjoy my life the way I used to.  I also believe that the answer will show up if and when I am ready for it. Mostly because I didn’t realize how much I loved my life and how happy I was in it.  And also because I know that life is really just a mental perspective, and my happiness might just depend on how much I’m willing to work to get it.

I do know that without this experience, I might have never learned to appreciate what’s really important to me, (without my habit of complaining about menial, petty things).  But I also see how things may always be bittersweet, because there is no part of me that will ever dispute that things would be better with Jon here, with me or not, than without him. And I do mean that if it meant that Jon could be alive right now, I’d rather be divorced from him than fight to hold onto even the simple memories of his voice. Before anyone tries to correct me, please note that I have also been through a painful divorce. While I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I know the differences firsthand, and can honestly say I prefer it to Death. Call me crazy.

I’m sorry. I’m trying to stay within the structure of my original thought, but I’m having a hard time. It makes perfect sense to me, however, because this time of year messes up my thinking. It seems to me that every time I approach an anniversary or birthday or some other significant holiday, I can feel literally feel the emptiness and loneliness creep up on my like a storm. I subconsciously ignore it, but it’s pain is evident in my jumbled thoughts, and my short temper.  I hate to admit it, because I would rather be stronger than this, but I really miss my husband. And as the season grows colder, I long for the days when I had someone to keep me warm. It goes without saying that I long for that someone to be Jon, because I can’t imagine anyone else willing or available for that sort of thing, but sometimes, I remember clearly what I am missing out on, and the idea of not being quite as single as I am becomes very tempting.

What I mean to say, if any of this makes any sense, is that after all this time, I still get tripped up by certain times of the year, when his presence is especially missed. And that I realize it might be a struggle I experience for years to come, until that day that it doesn’t. I thought, once, that it might depend on my own decision to simply let it go and move on, but I am well aware, now, that I do not have control over such things. Indeed, as I try to control my grief, I have learned the hard way that it only causes anger and frustration. I do not have excess time or energy for such things in my life.

Maybe I will always feel this way. Maybe I will always long for Jon like he left yesterday, and maybe I will never have room enough for someone else. While many people consider it a flaw, I am tired of trying to change it. And maybe by admitting it, and accepting it as part of me, I’ll finally be able to open up to something new, or at least, appreciate even more what I still have. All I know for sure is that I still miss and love him, even if I don’t have time to really acknowledge it like I used to.

It’s 40 degrees out. With the wind chill, it feels like 38. May you all have Happy Holidays. May you all find a way to stay warm.

 

If I had a nickel for every time someone told me that “time will heal,” or “time will make it better,” I’d have a lot of nickels and no where to put them.

But I am want for nickels and I know from experience that time itself will not heal anything.

Between today and where I was in May of 2008, there has been a lot of laughter, and a million tears. I have cried in anguish, and I have relished accomplishments. I have felt lonelier than I ever have, and I have been grateful for the support of my many friends that never seems to cease. I have lived enough, in these 29 months, to believe that despite the invalidation that such a phrase can conjure in a newly grieving person, it does come from a very profound truth. However, it’s not a truth that can be explained away by an insensitive platitude. It must be experienced.

I now think of time like a vessel. Life and all it’s inhabitants are on a journey, and whether we participate in it or not, that vessel keeps moving, ever forward. You cannot stop it, and you cannot put your hand over your mouth and wave to get off. There have been many times that I have wanted to do so, and despite my retching and desparate waving, I am still along for the ride. Eventually, I chose to participate, and in doing so, I found my first real moments of healing.

The problem with trying to explain my thinking now, to someone who is where I was then, is that newly widowed people are so saturated with Death. It is everywhere we go: in our clothes, in our hair, on our walls, and in our hearts. Like a black hole, it swallows the life we wanted to live completely, and we are left numb and confused, while people struggle to comfort us. It tells only of an unknown future, and that can be completely overwhelming. It scares us into believing that we have no reason to continue, and we feel completely vulnerable. How, then, can a future, that brings us there via time, be of any comfort at all?

The answer is simple, but it stings. And Death wants us to hate it. 

We have to live. That is what time holds in it’s mechanical fingers: life, and the time we have here on Earth. And to most people, that means two of the worst words ever said to the bereaved: Move On.

I totally disagree with this, and call it an outright lie. People have no idea what it means to “move on.” I think that phrase is nothing but an indirect way of saying, “I don’t want to deal with it anymore.”

No. Living doesn’t not mean “Moving On,” and I would never suggest anyone try to do that. No one really moves on from anything, in my opinion. Just ask anyone about things they dealt with in their past. Most of them will tell you ever ready sob stories about their difficult childhoods and prior experiences. And if they don’t, they will tell you about the great ones. Either way, they haven’t moved on from those things. They have simply learned to live with them.

We’ve all heard the adage about diamonds, and how they are forged from carbon, ugly and uncut. We all know that a jeweler will work with their many facets, cutting and polishing them until they are worthy to be sold for a large price. We all know that what it takes to end up who we are, whether we are delicate and diplomatic, or stoic and steadfast. Whatever areas we are of strong character, we all know what it has taken to get there.

Like those experiences, this one will cut us a new facet to catch a new light. And it is not necessarily time that will take us there, but a life lived, in pain or in pleasure, between the past and the future. It is a multitude of experiences and lessons that will elevate us to understand that time is irrelevant. What matters is how we lived.

“Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo” – H.G. Wells

If there was ever a result of widowhood that I did not expect, it is the casualties of relationships that lie tattered in the roads behind me.

It’s hard to believe that something so harsh can be so inevitable, but the truth is; that is what it has become. If I had my choices, I don’t think I’d lose a single friend; but the word friend has become refined and redefined. And some people no longer fall under my own definition.

In all fairness, I no longer fall under theirs.

I once wrote that it is incredibly hard to live with a grieving person. This is a cardinal truth. The reason is because while we are in our OWN state of grief, be it active grieving or beyond, it is OUR OWN. It is not measured by someone else’s ideal of what a widow should be, or any person grieving someone they loved. Unless someone is resolved to accept a person’s grief journey with out prejudice, they will find it very difficult to interact and stay connected to an actively grieving person at many times during a relationship. There is not much to be done about it, other than to support them.

Death is so incredibly final. Up until this past Spring, I could not bring myself to admit that my Jonathan was gone. He’s never coming back to me. It hurts so much to say this and I know I’ve said it before, but it’s true.  Yes, I believe in a Judeo-Christian Afterlife, which ensures that we will meet again in a different realm, dimension, universe, etc., and we will be happy there. And yes, I am aware that I am HERE. I am not where Jon is, and that is precisely why this has been so hard, and is so hard for those grieving. Until you have lost someone you loved so deeply, no matter who they are, you cannot know what that is like. I could never have known. And I don’t expect outsiders to understand this. Those that haven’t deal with Death’s powerful grip on their lives cannot understand why it takes someone so long to let go of a lost loved one. They have moved on. Why cant the grieving? Why can’t a widow get over it already? Why is she still grieving? Why is he still single? Why do they idolize their spouses??

I don’t expect to have to keep up appearances and live up to impossible standards. No one has the right to tell anyone grieving that they cannot feel the way they feel, or react the way they react. Grief IS about the GRIEVER. It is not a sabbatical, or a retreat. It is not a picnic and it sure isn’t a vacation. It is an alternate state of being, where everything that once was is no longer quite the same. AND IT STAYS THAT WAY. It’s never going to go back. It’s never going to be the way it was. And I hate to disappoint people, but that takes awhile to get used to. Like it or not.

And in the same way, no one can expect a widow/er or grieving person to go back to who they were. I am no longer who I was. I used to be (in my opinion), very arrogant and forthright. I reveled in my false intellectualism and my pride as a wife and mother. Do I think those things are wrong, now? No. But I do think that the emphasis put on a projected facade, and then used to destroy someone else’s character, in the guise of offering opinions or “advice,” is a serious personality flaw. And like all things in life, I have learned a very harsh lesson.

I am no longer concerned with the petty, useless lifestyle I once lived. I don’t think my husband would even recognize me, anymore. But I do think he’d like the improvement. I do think he’d appreciate the new-found ability to recognize a defect that I no longer wish to be a part of.

Unfortunately, this is a cause for many losses on this journey. Mentalities that I no longer share with people have caused many riffs and odds, where there is no longer any common ground.

I’ve lost friends and even family members, because we cannot see eye to eye, and our lives are too different to connect. It’s a very sad thing, to realize that people I once counted on for support are tapped out. I don’t blame them for being who they are and wanting what they want. I only wish they didn’t feel the need to judge or slander instead of just saying: “I’m done with this.”

But I, too,  have drawn my own line in the sand. I no longer want certain people in MY life. Most grieving people don’t realize that we have the power to exclude those that are not supportive to our lives, and we are not obligated to continue friendships and relationships that are detrimental to our progress. It sucks to say it, but there are those we simply don’t need to be around anymore. It’s really just a part of life, and at what stage you are at in it. In my entire life, I have learned one valuable lesson: Nothing lasts forever. At one point, in almost all things, we will all have to say goodbye.

I recently came across a quote on Facebook that read something like: “Giving up doesn’t always mean you are weak. Sometimes, it just means you are strong enough to let go.”

I feel strong enough to let go of the things that hinder me. I feel strong enough to move on with my healing process. I know that I have true friends and I am so much more grateful for their friendship, because I see how rare and real it can be. I will heal, and everything else will happen as it will.

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