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 ūüėČ

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

It’s important to point out that it happens, just like that. I’m talking about grief and how it can attack you at anytime, no matter how far away you are from Point A.¬†

It can be so quick. I could be reading a book called Little Bee, and there is a character, and she is Sarah. She is missing a finger, and laughs because it still itches. And the grim-faced policemen are forced to blurt out the news that her husband died suddenly at his home. Apparently, he just dropped dead, just like that. And she gets to pick out an oak casket, and she gets to explain to a four-year-old what death means. And she marvels at how it hasn’t even hit her yet.

Well…why would it? But she isn’t real, and her character-husband didn’t really die, and even though it’s true how oddly funny funeral salespeople can be, (oak is such a classic choice). I didn’t go with oak. I went with aluminum, (I think?). It was a brushed silver casket, because Jon liked brushed silver, and I picked some sort of golf stationary, (Oh? Did he golf, too?) and it was only because it had trees. Jon liked trees.He never golfed.

Suddenly, I am there. I am right back in that odd-smelling office, with the odd-cookie-baking sales guy, who was LDS and didn’t want to be buried with shoes. I hate the smell of lilies and old coffee. I hate the look of gleaming brushed silver, and I hate the pall of old, yellowed memories that find their way through the words of some stupid book that was great all the way up until now.

I don’t even want to read the rest of the book, (which is undoubtedly very good), because I don’t want to read how the author totally messes up the real season of grief that his Sarah-character won’t really go through. It will just be a blemish on her weird, written up world, but I won’t be able to ignore it. I won’t be able to pretend that his Sarah didn’t lose her husband to quick death, like I lost mine. It will bother me until I read the same passage again and again, and marvel at how she doesn’t seem to be feeling the same way I felt. Until I remember that she doesn’t breathe the way I do, and she doesn’t really exist the way anyone does.

 And this, my friends, is how Grief, with its ever-present rumble, its low-vibrating scowl, can sneak up and destroy you in two minutes.

We should win awards for how well we are able to quickly pull ourselves together and pretend it never happened. Books, magazines, blogs, billboards….they should all come with warning labels. Mine fields ahead.

Weslee woke up with me this morning, and we were silent for a minute. I did what I always do, and read through my Twitter feed to help stimulate my brain¬† and wake up. (Don’t judge – it works)

I read www.penmachine.com/2011/05/the-last-post and it choked me up. My favorite part was the last: “I loved you deeply, I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.”

Suddenly, after I was following some of his tags, Weslee spoke for the first time that morning.

“I miss Daddy. I wish he was here. How come he can’t come down and visit us?”

It’s so hard to explain to her what death is, and why it happens the way it does. For now, she knows that his head got sick, and the doctors couldn’t fix it. I told her that they did the best they could, but sometimes it doesn’t work. And she likes to think that he’s in Heaven, building her a castle to live in when it’s time for her to go there. I told her it won’t be for a long time, (which was as much for myself as for her), and she said she knows.

It’s funny how this type of thing happens during this time of year. Since the first year out, there’s a part of my subconscious that knows the date is coming, and reacts to it. I can be totally preoccupied with my mom’s health, or the girls or anything else, and I can feel it. I feel run down, and my mind is distracted.

More so than normal.

Aurora brought it up to me the other day, too. She misses him. And like me, she wonders where we would be right now, had Jon never died. Like her, I have no idea.

This year, the pain is less. It’s not that I don’t miss Jon, or that I’m getting over it, so to speak. It’s more that the missing him doesn’t hurt as much. I was so afraid to get to a place where it didn’t hurt as much, because I thought that it would make me miss him less. I thought it would make me lose him.

I was wrong. I miss him just as much as I ever did. And there hasn’t been a single moment where I don’t wish he was with me.

But the pain of all those wishes and the pain that usually resides in the emptiness he left is going away. I wait and wait for that ever-present kick-to-the-gut feeling I normally get when I miss him and need him at any given moment….and it’s no longer there.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t get triggered. I do, in the weirdest ways. There are still places I haven’t gone, and things I haven’t done that I know remind me far too much of how much I have lost, and how much I love him still. And sometimes, just thinking of those places produces that same gut-wrenching feeling of loss, that same painfully dry emptiness, that I have become accustomed to, and have learned to avoid like mines in a field.

This is year three. And I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d be able to say how much easier it has been, but it has. Perhaps it has to do with the things I’m dealing with in my present life, or just that I have made decisions to progress, even when I didn’t feel like doing so. There have been so many times when I haven’t wanted to get up and face my life, and so many times when I had to over-caffeinated myself just to follow through with the basic stuff. I have to be honest and admit that being a parent hasn’t given me the choice to wallow, and it’s been the best excuse to keep going. But I shouldn’t need one, and I know this.

Lately, I haven’t had to use an excuse to get up and live my life. I won’t use some ridiculous platitude to explain it way, either. I don’t feel like I’m learning to “dance in the rain” or any other such nonsense. Instead, I think I’ve done the most basic, simple thing: I have accepted.

I keep saying that I’m learning to accept, or that I’m in the process of accepting…all these things were true in the past. It was a process that I had to either follow through with or continue waiting for my Prince to walk through my front door and tell me the “The truck is runnin’ woman! Lets go!”

How nice would that be?

That’s not going to happen, though. And as I continue on with my life, I realize that it’s OK to let Jon go, more and more. As I do, I have discovered something remarkable to me, that I had never expected: I can miss him, and love him and think about him as much as I want, and let him go at the same time.

Really. It sounds contradictory to those of us who never want to let go of what we had with our spouses, but it’s the truth. I still love him very much, and I still miss him always, but he is there, and I am here, and it is OK.

Really, it is.

I even notice him around still, in his daughter’s eyes or catching his scent on a passing breeze. I know he is there, and I know we are OK. I know that I can keep going, knowing I can take the best of us and what we were, into my future, whatever it brings. Being Jon’s wife was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and it has permanently adjusted who I am, guiding me into being who I want to be.

My new normal finally feels like just normal. And for the first time in three years, I can’t wait to see what my future looks like.

I keep thinking about the last thing you said, before you slipped away. I told you I dreamt you had forgotten me. You answered, “How could I ever forget you? I love you.”

I told you to see a doctor about your headache. I told you I didn’t want to be left all alone, should something happen to you.

You said, “I’m not going anywhere. You won’t have to be alone forever.”

You chuckled, and one hour later, you were gone.

I am always right about the worst things. I miss you so much.


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. ūüôā

 

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.