I originally wrote this in January of 2019.
Nearly three years later my life is so very different. At the end of this blog, I will highlight what I believe to be the evolution of my own grief these last three years…
In the early months, I remember reading the blogs of people who were years into widowhood and I was dumbstruck. I had no idea how they did it. I was completely in awe about how they were going about rebuilding their lives. And, I hoped that I could be like them. I hoped I would survive outliving Mike; but, I was not sure how they were doing this. Well, now I know. They just did. There is no magic. There is no secret formula to grief. There is not way to side-step the aching. Widowed people simply leaned into their grief. So, this is what I did, and so can you.
You have to absorb the sadness and yearning and aching into your psyche. And, with hard work, intention and persistence, you can somehow recreate a full life. It will not be the life you imagined, but it can be a good life nonetheless. I have been attempting to reconstruct my life for the last two years. It has not been easy, but I refuse to let Mike’s death define my life. I have to strive to do more than simply survive his death. I have chosen to choose joy, in spite of the sadness inside me. And, moving into 2019 I will continue to relentlessly seek joy.
I have been a widow for over two years now. This is a fairly significant chunk of time, but in the grief world it is still early on. The last two years have been composed of the longest days and loneliest nights of my life. There were many moments that I did not think I could do this one second longer, but I did. Time has softened the rough edges of my grief and it will do the same for you. Nothing in this life remains the same, grief included. With time, the intensity of your grief will change. And, for me, sometimes it still comes on full force. Certain times my grief is raw. The aching is primal and the sadness is overwhelming; but, thankfully, now, most days my grief is just a dull heaviness that lives inside of me. I am learning to live with Mike’s absence. I don’t like it, but I am attempting to accept the permanence of his death because there is nothing else I can do. I was a good “Wife” and only an average widow.
Recently, I have stopped counting the time ‘earned’ in widowhood. I no longer keep track of the months because it feels odd now that I am over 2 years into this mess. This whole counting the months passed reminds me of when my sons turned from babies into toddlers. When my boys turned 2 years old, like most parents, I stop referring to my children in months because I thought it sounded kinda quirky. Now, my sons are teenagers and I have no idea how many months old either of them are because it stopped being relevant a long time ago. And, being Mike’s widow has developed this same feel. The time I have spent as a widow is less relevant than it used to be. The fact is, I am a widow. I am not going to become more or less of his widow with time. Even when I met someone new, and if I marry this man, I will still be Mike’s widow. Nothing changes this.
And, as far as being a widow goes, I am getting somewhat “better” at it with practice.
But, still, I remain only average at widowing. I don’t know if I even want to excel at it.
I know that I can live a full life on my own, but I don’t want to because I know that I am good at being in love with the right person. I like being in love. Mike made me a huge fan of love. And, I want to share my life with someone again because it is simply way more fun. Waking up alone and making coffee for one is getting old. Wandering through life not being someone’s person is less fulfilling than when I was Mike’s girl. I miss his random text messages throughout the day. I miss him making me a coffee in a travel mug to drink on my drive to work. I miss him stopping me on my way out so that he could run into the garage to get the pruners and clip some beautiful lilacs off the tree in the front yard – just for me because he loved me. (For real, he did this.) I miss him looking at me from across the table, and gently putting down his fork and softly telling me “you are so beautiful Stace”. I miss him. Dammit, I miss him so much my heart aches as I am typing this. My life without him is not easy. I just miss being his person. And, I miss being so deeply in love with a man who is alive – I was really good at it loving Mike. And, lastly, crawling into my empty bed every night still sucks two years later. This widow thing is not a routine I enjoy.
I am a far better Wife than Widow.
And, as I move forward, I don’t plan on excelling at being a widow. I do not have any interest in this. I want to live fully and be wholly engaged in the life I have before me. It is the right thing to do for my children, and for me. I am not interested in learning to survive his death. I want to LIVE again. And, dammit, that means to live without him. I do not like this alternate life, but it is the one I have and I am choosing to make the very best of it. This has not been easy. It has easily been the hardest thing I have ever been forced to do. Many days I want to give up and fall back into my old life. But, that life is over. No matter how much I want to continue into the future with Mike as my husband this is not realistic. It can not be…
Moving in 2019 I have hope in my heart for me – and for you. I will strive to choose Joy every chance I get. I will choose to embrace the new. I will choose to smile even when my heart is breaking. What other choice is there? I want the way live the way Mike showed me. I want the script of our shared love to be what I take with me as I carry on without him. I miss him to the depths of me, and then beyond; but, I didn’t die and I have to find a way to life again. This is what he wants for me and I want this for me too. So, I will go seek Joy in spite of it all. Please, I urge you to try to do the same.
Best to you, to us all as we live forward,
So, at nearly five years into this widow thing I can tell you that I am starting to identify more as just Staci and less like Mike’s widow. And, let me tell you, I am so immensely grateful for this reclaimed sense of self I have found. I worked so very, very hard to attain this new sense of self. I did hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours of Soul searching to find a way to belong in the world without him. I painstakingly sat with my grief – for years – until I found a way to incorporate a new life around the sadness that existed within me.
And, really, looking back, I am not entirely sure how the evolution of my grief occurred – I just know that it was not just one thing in particular that helped me step into myself and out from the veil of widowhood that cloaked me for so very long.
As I write this, please understand I am not saying I am “cured” or magically “fixed” from grief. I am not. Grief doesn’t work like that. It is a thing that will be part of who I am for the rest of my life. I accept and understand this now.
Nearly five years later, I *still* identify myself as a widow because that is what I am. I will always be Mike’s widow. It is what it is. But, I am so much more than this. And, really, I have always known that who I am is more than a dead man’s fiance, but the weight of grief prevented me from embracing myself and who I am without him for a long, long time. Now, finally, I can say with authority and certainty that I am more me than widow – if that makes sense. I am Staci. I continue to be only “average” at widowing, but like before, I don’t care. I was never planning on excelling at this gig anyhow because I am too busy rebuilding my life to bother becoming proficient at widowhood.