With this Post, I realize that I’ve officially reached my one year milestone of writing for the Widow’s Voice blog. My first Post of October1, 2022 “Pumping Gas on Ruff Roads” relayed my solo trip to New Jersey with my puppy, Quint and a small urn of Rich’s ashes in tow. I spent time at the Jersey Shore in the very neighborhood Rich and I called home for nearly 25 years. Passing our former home was a bit odd at times, but it makes me happy to know that the young couple who purchased that house in 2020 are enjoying it as much as we did.
I’d often heard of women making that solo drive from parts of Florida up the I-95 corridor alone and I’d think, I could never do that! But it’s funny what we really can do if we have no other choice. I know I could’ve had people ride with me, but I had to go it alone. Besides, I’d just learned to pump my own gas and wanted to use those skills during my journey. I understand that Oregon now is a pump-your-own state leaving New Jersey the only service-only state in the nation (for now).
Quint and I bonded on that trip. He’s a great travel buddy and got to be a Jersey Dog for a few weeks. On the return trip I stopped in the Shenandoah Valley to visit a friend and then made my way home through some back roads on which I’d never travelled.
Recently, I saw in Facebook Memories a photo I’d snapped on the Blue Ridge Highway as Rich and I began that fateful road trip home. We were taking a new way back as we’d grown tired of the perils of 95 in certain areas. It was a new experience, and we enjoyed the scenery, but Rich wasn’t convinced it was worth the detour and said we would stick to our regular route next time.
But we never know what the regular route is when life changes so suddenly. Sometimes I grow weary of trying to explain to people what my new route feels like, so when I recently recalled an article about the science of grief, I saved it in my “writing prompt” file for the “write time”.
The article written by Deborah L. Davis, Ph.D, explains the actual physical processing made by our brain to cope with the loss of a signficant other, who I define as someone who was enmeshed in the minutiae of your daily routine from who takes out the garbage, makes dinner arrangements, discusses the mundane events of the day, is by your side when bad things happen and literally breaths the same air you do in the confines of a shared home year by year, month by month, week by week, day by day, hour by hour.
Davis writes, ‘When your partner dies or leaves you, your brain struggles to absorb or understand their absence, as your bond had been encoded as everlasting.Your brain requires lived experience and repetition to learn, rewire, update predictions, and make sense of your partner’s absence.This lengthy and intensive redrawing process explains many of the bewildering, frustrating, a and worrisome aspects of grief and mourning.’
I thought about how upon navigating the Shenandoa mountain passes toward home, I’d missed a turn on my way out of that rural mountainous region. My GPS went out for a while and then returned to reassure me that I was still on the correct route. I had to trust her guidance and my insight that I would return to level ground eventually and find my way back even on unfamiliar roads.
Here is the link to the full article on neural mapping and grief. I think it helps those who are suffering profound loss to better understand their situations and may help the uninitiated who struggle to understand those dealing with grief over the long haul. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/laugh-cry-live/202303/as-you-grieve-your-brain-redraws-its-neural-map
Have a great week.