Widowhood does not come with a map. In the beginning, there are no familiar landmarks and the curves on the road are unfamiliar. As you set out on your way, you will spend a great deal of time bumping into things as you shimmy along, and that’s okay. The important thing is that you are moving and forward momentum is always a good thing. It’s likely that you will not know what direction you are headed in, and that is okay too. It is time to have faith that everything will be “okay”, somehow.
There have been many new beginnings born from Mike’s death. I have met new people and some of these new acquaintances have become friends. And, further, many of these friends speak in Grief’s mother tongue. I easily understand them because I am now fluent in grief. These new friends understand the language my heart speaks and there is great comfort in this. However, widowhood is a long journey and it demands solo traveling at times. My friends can accompany me and offer me empowering advice and encourage me with their words; but, I must recreate a life for myself. I need to navigate my way through this “mess” – no one can do this for me.
Wading through the quagmire of grief isn’t easy stuff.
But, in order to re-engage in life we must sort through the broken shards of the life we imagined.
This is tedious.
This is gruelling.
Simply put, it is hard work.
My fingers are bloody and raw from clawing my way back towards life.
But, bloody fingers aside, I know that the life ahead of me is worth it.
Re-entering life, without Mike, is the most difficult thing I have attempted to do in my life. There is a lot of uncertainty in my future, but more importantly, there is potential. Before me are boundless opportunities.
Once again, I find myself on a ledge. I am paused because I am scared. But, even more significant, I am excited. I am actually somewhat enthusiastic about life again. I feel it – I am standing on the edge of something big. And, in time, I am going to leap towards the new life that is waiting for me. And, I KNOW that I will land on my feet – somehow.
I’ve changed a lot since Mike died. And, some of the changes are serving me well. I am no longer as daunted by the unexpected. Since surviving his death, I am not scared of detours because I know that I am capable of handling pretty much anything life serves up. Dead Ends don’t give me anxiety anymore because I am not afraid to go off road.
My instincts have proven to be a good compass without him.
And, going forward I will continue to rely on my intuition.
Being widowed has forced me to become accustom to being “lost”. I have veered off the main road and I have become fairly self sufficient travelling off the beaten path. I’ve always been independent; and, generally, I can excel under pressure; but, Mike’s death has made me even more effective in the face of adversity. I have made solid decisions on unstable ground and I have grown somewhat comfortable being ‘off kilter’.
These days, I choose to take the road less traveled because I enjoy the solitude, whereas, before the silence would have been unsettling to me. With time and experience, I am less afraid of being lost. Mike’s death is teaching me to handle the unexpected and unwelcome in life. And, sometimes I resent this lesson, but I still choose to learn from it. What else can I do?
For all it’s taken from me, widowhood has also given me an unshakable belief in myself.
I am a stronger, more capable woman since he’s died. Since I last saw Mike I have changed. If he could meet me now, we would have to take a moment to find our stride again because I am no longer the woman he knew when he was alive. Without question he’d love me still. In fact, he’d love me even more.
In truth, Mike continues to love me, though he is physically gone from here. Somehow, I am still able to ‘see’ my reflection – even without him holding a mirror up to me. Now, I am privileged to see myself in some of the ways Mike saw me when he was living. I know with certainty what he valued in me, and now I appreciate these qualities in myself in a whole new way. Mike has taught me more about myself since he died than he ever could have while he was alive. What more could I want from him? The man I love has given me the gift of getting to know myself to the depths of my Soul. Maybe this is one of his greatest gifts to me.
Mike loved life and it loved him right back. He showed me how to live with the enthusiasm of a child and he showed me what love feels like, sounds like and looks like. And, I am eternally grateful for the generosity of his love and laughter. I can not say it enough, I am a better woman for being loved by him. And, I can not thank him enough.
Originally written: JULY 02, 2018
Today is February 14, 2021. It has been three years since I wrote this and it feels like a lot more time has passed since then. For me, now, it feels like another lifetime in which Mike lived. That life I had seems so very, very far away now. And, surprisingly I no longer yearn for it like I used to. I just can’t continue to long for a life that is over. I have let “it” go – “it”, meaning all my hopes and dreams that died with him.
I have painstakingly chosen to release these unrealized dreams. I never knew this was possible. I can’t even believe that I am writing this, and what is even more fascinating is that these words are heartfelt and true. I have let a lot go. I have accepted that it is all over. And, by releasing these broken promises and dreams have shattered the hold the sadness had on me. Writing this was easy. Arriving here was not.
Make no mistake, to get to this place of acceptance was the hardest thing I have ever accomplished. I clawed my way here using fortitude that I did not know existed within me. 4.3 years later, I no longer cling to the past and all the unfulfilled promises with the same intensity that I used to. And, I don’t feel as sad as I used to either. I have no idea how all this has come to be, but thankfully it has. Maybe it is partly because I have lived too much life since Mike died to continue to be bound to the memories. Before, my memories of Mike held me captive. They held me hostage from my future. They haunted me and distracted me from the present moment. My thoughts of him blurred my vision. It just isn’t like this anymore. I live for me now and he would be so happy about this. Now, I long to live forward. I deeply desire to live a big, beautiful life and I know that the new life I will live is without him. I have accepted this. I don’t like it, but I accept it.