Life isn’t always a walk through the fucking tulips. Which is not a new concept for me, in widowhood; I learned this hard lesson in 1996 when my younger brother, Kysa, died, followed by my mom 6 months later. Cancer cured me of the walk through the tulips perception. My husband’s death only solidified this realization.
The people I appreciate in life are those who are willing to show up as their real selves. Those willing to sit with me in darkness. People who genuinely want to hear the tough stuff. People who will call me and say Let’s go for a cup of coffee and talk real talk. People who respond to me in this way free me up to actually be who I am and truly be in the moment. Good, bad, and indifferent.
The word acceptance gets thrown around a lot when it comes to grief. Always followed with a reference to stages of grief. Without fail, I correct people. There are no stages of grief and Elizabeth Kubler Ross, who coined the phrase, was referencing terminally ill patients…those who were dying…not those left behind. She came to regret ever using the phrase because of how it was co-opted, even by professionals. I don’t hesistate to correct them, either, as warranted.
Which leads me to this; it is up to us, widowed people and all others left behind, to educate others about grief and, more specifically, about our grief. If we care enough to do so, that is. We can’t expect anyone to know what this is like. Even if they’ve gone through a similar loss themselves, there are too many variables in each life for us to expect them to read us. We must tell people what we need. Which is tough, because it’s so difficult for us to know what we need. But, there you go…
Grief is grief is grief. Comparison with anyone else gets us nowhere. There are levels of grief, and depths, that differentiate one from the other, but, in the end, grief is grief. Widowhood brings massive secondary losses that we must deal with, and the impact of those losses is felt in every aspect, and that makes it more intense on a daily level than other griefs (often), but I’m way past arguing with anyone about one or the other. Mostly, I just try to be compassionate with anyone I meet. That keeps it simple for me.
To me, the word acceptance means accepting the duality of life after loss. Life, even without grief, is mostly duality by its’ very nature. Widowhood just shines a blinding light on it. In widowhood, I am this AND that, all the time. Devastated and powerful, lonely and filled with Love, hating life without him, and appreciating the beauty of it…at one and the same time. It’s an okay kind of crazy in my world, and I tend to embrace the crazy, rather than resist it.
I accept that this achiness and heaviness is a part of my life, possibly forever. How can it not be when it is there because Chuck is dead and always will be? Even if I meet a spectacular man to share life with again someday, and it eases the loneliness, I will always be lonely for Chuck’s presence in my life. Which is not to say that I can’t love someone as powerfully as I loved Chuck. I believe that my heart will grow and expand to love more as life happens. In fact, I believe this to be true because I was so loved by Chuck, and loved him so much…giving me the ability to love again, as strongly.
As my widowhood years stack up, words and language become more difficult for me, in some ways. At the same time, words and language have shifted and changed for me, so much, deepening my understanding of them, that they come more easily. Though I do feel that I’m frequently speaking a foreign language now.
Duality. Duality. Duality~