This will be my last blog. My life has become so full that I no longer have the necessary time to dedicate to writing. This is so very different than in the recent past when I had too much time on my hands. I distinctly remember the feel of those days when I had nowhere to be. When I belonged nowhere. I have not forgotten the awful feeling of drifting aimlessly. After he died, feeling rootlessness and sad was my baseline for years. And, since I began blogging for Widow’s Voice, I have spent every Sunday night writing to you. Writing for you has been a labor of love. It is a task that gave me structure and purpose when my life lacked both.
Writing helped me to process and understand my grief. It also helped me execute and plan my transition back to life while at the same time helping others. Writing literally saved me when I thought I would die from sadness. Writing to you each week created an opportunity for me to come to terms my feelings while I validated yours. It has been a blessing for me to share my heart with you, but it now time for me to allow someone else to have the privilege of sharing their story with you. The new blogger for Monday is Emily Vielhauer. Like me she is a middle aged widowed mother. Both of us are not who society typically imagines as widows, but here we are widowing. I wish others outside of our community realized that widowhood has many faces. Faces like mine and Emily’s. Emily’s blog will be published each Monday and I hope that writing serves to help her like it did me and may her words give you comfort and hope.
As widowed people, we know that having to live forward through the wreckage of a life cut short changes you. You have to create a new blueprint for your entire life when the life you are living drastically changes. There is so much thinking and processing that must take place when your person dies and much of this thinking is about the life you have to bury with them.
It takes a long, long time to accept that the life you knew is over. Mike died suddenly and unexpectedly on a Tuesday. Tuesday November 15, 2016, everything I had come to know was just g-o-n-e. WIth his last breath, everything he promised me disappeared into the ether along with him. When he died, I had to recreate a new life for myself while I mourned the life I lost. I did all this. Every damn part that grief demanded of me, I completed it. And, there were some moments when I thought I would die trying to save myself from the aftermath of his death. But, I didn’t die and you will not either. Like me, you reading this, will somehow make it through the awfulness that is their death.
For years, I spent hours thinking and pondering about what I was supposed to do in a world where he was not. I had so many questions and the answers were not easily revealed. But, eventually, I somehow found my stride again. I think this is how life is supposed to become after profound loss. You are forced to think deeply. You need quiet so that you can retreat into yourself while you work to recreate a new self identity that fits your new life.
For the better part of four years, I existed in my head more than in reality. It appeared as though I was functioning and possibly even thriving, but the truth was, nothing felt right inside me. Almost everything about my life was uncomfortable. And, I was trying so hard to steady myself, but I could not. Emotionally I was way off kilter and I was beyond restless.
I felt like I was just drifting through life. I was skimming the surface of everything around me, but I was not genuinely engaged in anything. I was withdrawn from reality because the world no longer made sense to me. Those years adrift make up the most complicated season of my life. And, now I see that this uncertainty and sense of profound disorientation is part of grief. It is unavoidable, grief makes you feel completely out of sorts. It is terrible, but it is part of the process.
In order to recreate myself, I had to become wildly untethered. I think this disorientation happens so that you are forced to reorientate yourself. Finding direction and mapping out a plan is hard, but it is all part of the transition back to life. I have always thought that reentering life after loss can be liken to a rebirth of sorts. There are growing pains that are an unavoidable part of rebuilding a life; however, I think the pain of remaining in limbo is far worse than any discomfort the change of recreating your life might cause.
It took me five long years to be able to type this, but I can now say that I have successfully rebuilt my life into something that I am excited to live. Somehow, I saved myself and you can too. With all of the grit and grace I could muster I lived forward. I forced myself to step into the uncertainty because standing still scared me more.
Today, as I sit typing this, things feel like they have come full circle for me. This is not to say that my grief is over. It’s not. It can’t be. This is not the goal here – it never was. I understand this now. A sense of missing lives somewhere inside me and it always will – the difference is that I am okay with this now.
I am happy again, even without him. I no longer long for him. I think of Mike with fondness and gratitude. But, my focus is the life I have before me. My life has become louder and consequently, my grief is quieter. The fullness of my days drowns out my grief so that I am able to live a good life again. My life is unfolding as lives tend to do.
Since recreating a good life for myself I have met someone who I am sharing my new life with. He is good for me and to me. There are no words I can write that adequately express my gratitude about him. He has given my heart a cozy and safe place to reside. Recently we began sharing a home together, but even more, we are home to each other. Having someone take up residence in both my home and in heart has been wonderful. More than wonderful actually… So, now, it is time for me to focus my energy on living my new life. I will leave the writing with Emily. Her writing will provide you with a new lense on grief.
Writing to you weekly has been part of my life for many years now and I will miss this ritual. But, death taught me that all good things come to an end, and this includes writing to you.