It’s been a long time coming …the blog.

Well here I am. I am back and with an urge to write. I’ve been gone since the end of       April ’16! Did I hear a gasp of breath?

It certainly has been a long time …

I’ve changed the name of this blog for a very good reason …

So what has kept this widow from writing. Well obviously grief and coming to terms with grief’s place in this new life of mine. But there’s more to it … In October of ’16  my youngest son passed away, here at home. There was much trauma in his death, unlike the death of his dad.

Just before he passed away, a week before actually, I woke up one sunny morning and felt as though I was ready to begin thinking about what my life was going to be going forward. I was ready to think about living my life. I had begun thinking that there had to be more to life than numb grieving. There had to be a way to grieve and live too.

And then … heroin took my boy. I was slammed back to my knees. I couldn’t breathe again. God help me.//STOP

FMF Post – so I stopped at the 5 minute mark, because the theme of FMF is to freely write for 5 mins. without regard to punctuation, grammar or sentence structure. You should join us there. Follow the link.

** There was only one thing I believed that could possibly be more devastating than losing the spouse you know God meant for you … and that was the loss of the precious child that God gave you charge over.

Breathing hurt so much.

It wasn’t unfounded guilt. You may not understand that. The mother (parents) of an addict often blame themselves. However, I had worked my way out of the prison of enabler. So there was no time to wallow in false guilt.

I couldn’t breathe because I couldn’t bear the the weight of the loss. Shane’s loss was parallel to Don’s death … let me try to explain. The grieving is now two. I am grieving separately for both men. It’s like my son’s death laid atop my husband’s death and now they move forward, simultaneously, like a double deck bridge … one path above the other, neither one more important than the other, yet not equal either. It’s surreal really. And grief’s sister joined us for the journey.

So I stopped moving. If I didn’t have to work, if there was nothing demanding my attention, I didn’t leave my house. Funny … now that I think of it I barely leave my house now. Just church, bible study, groceries and medical or therapy appointments. However, I move some now.

I am always amazed at the fact that my boy has only been gone four months in four days. Funny how the counting works. As a widow you begin counting how long your husband has been gone … now add a child … the counting seems almost to mirror OCD. Thank God it’s not that.

Widow’s begin to count the years, not from their birthday or New Year’s Day, but from the date that they lost their other half. So the start of my year is April 28th each year. I wake on that day and put behind me the old and count the new … today I am just 3 months shy of 2 years old(er). See how that works?

And it just dawned on me, this day, that their is no title for a mother who loses her child; if there is I’ve not heard of it.  There really should be though. We carried those precious ones in our bodies for ten months. He was physically apart of me and it feels as though something has been torn from my body at his loss.

Like losing a lung. The devastation makes it hard to breathe. It’s debilitating really. But I smile and say I’m okay. I’ve become an accomplished liar on the subject of okay. Yet I noticed the other day, while talking on the phone and putting on makeup at the same time, I genuinely laughed at something that escapes me now … and caught my breath a bit when I realized that my laugh, that my smile, even genuine, no longer reached my eyes. This mad me sad. My husband, for a lifetime, said he loved my eyes, that they spoke my emotions. Now, I guess they don’t any longer.

Anyway … I believe I’ve begun rambling. So here I am, I hope I’m really back. I’ll need to get into a comfortable groove as I will be managing both of my blogs, and maybe I can fit my photography blog back on tract too … one step at a time though … thanks for reading. God bless.

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Widow’s Fog … this too shall pass

Morning Bokeh

PASS … Go!

This too shall pass, a very popular saying in today’s culture. Particularly in support groups. However the truth … ‘this too shall pass’ does not apply to the widow.

I’m planning to write a book and it’s title is Widow’s Fog ~ The Journey.

Widow’s fog is an actual thing and for the most part it defines the first year of a widow’s/widower’s life after the death of their spouse.

I hear myself saying, regularly, that this particular journey of grief is not understood except by personal experience. If you have not lost a spouse to death you cannot and I pray you never understand what the widow/er goes through.

That is just a fact. One I am ashamed I was too pompous to believe before I experienced it personally.

The death of a spouse is not comparable to any other loss one experiences in life. Not divorce, not the loss of a parent, sibling or friend. The only loss I believe that can even come close is the loss of a child … and that I cannot even fathom!

Unfortunately all of us who are on this unwanted journey of grief and mourning experience widow’s fog on some level or other.

Yesterday marked a year that my Love has been home with the Lord, and honestly I look back on that year and it’s simply described as a surreal haze. Fog. I honestly cannot tell you how I got from 12:31 am on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 to today, April 29, 2016. I am amazed that I am here at all. And I will hazard to say that most widows will tell you they remember very little detail about the first year of widowhood.

Surreal is defined as: having the quality of a dream; marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream.

We seemingly float through the first year in a dream, or more to the point, in a nightmarish state.

I fell asleep sometime around 3:30 am on that Tuesday morning. At dawn I sat straight up and was literally surprised that the sun was shining. That too is a real occurrence for the widow/er. We are simply aghast that the world continues to spin on it’s axis. How dare the sun shine, or the rain fall, or the Robin sing! Because, for us, everything is at a standstill.

STOP! PLEASE forgive my indulgence as I continue on with this post. 🙂

You know that scene in a movie when the character is standing still while the camera is the world spinning around them. They are seeing everything and everyone around them just spinning on that axis. That is virtually the widow’s first year.

What is odd is that we seemingly jump on that axis with the rest of you and function. Because after all, life moves on; but the widow doesn’t, not really, in that first year.

We function because the sun rises and sets each day. We smile and say we are okay, it’s a lie, but it is the mask that shields everyone (ourselves) from that constant flow of sorrow that we are sure we are emitting; and everyone smiles in relief and carries on with life and we remain frozen, paralyzed, by grief.

We are at our most vulnerable and at the same time our most volatile. We lose any filter we have. Every word, every touch assaults us. A comforting hug hammers at the dam of our tears and pain. It takes all of who we are to hold it together.

We wander through the days of getting our affairs in order, while trying desperately to stay in the now so we are not taken advantage of by debtors, charities, and sadly, sometimes, family and friends.

We come to problems and crisis in our lives that we must now handle on our own. Things our spouses handled, things we may not know how to handle. And then … we might have to ask for help. Help from one of those kind and loving family members or friends who said … “anything you need, any time, I’m here for you.” only to find out that they aren’t available. This is one of our very first confrontations with reality.

Everyone else’s life moves on. And we are frozen in time.

We begin to count the days, weeks and months. We wonder if we’ll ever stop counting. For me that day is not today … I’m on day 1 of my Second Firsts. I’ll explain that phenomenon in another post.

All the Firsts we experience are occasions that once brought great joy and are now sources of sorrow and loss. Birthdays, Anniversaries and Holidays celebrated without our soul mates. All spent in a fog of longing and tears, with everyone begging us to try and enjoy ourselves.

They mean well, and in our deepest minds we know this. But our hearts and minds scream within us … “HOW CAN YOU CELEBRATE???!!! HOW CAN I CELEBRATE???!!!” So we smile and fade into our quiet fog and do what we do to get through each event.

I prayed. I prayed through each and every First. I thanked God each morning as I witnessed the sun shining through the sheers in my bedroom through the fog. Praying that this too would pass.

Widow’s fog doesn’t so much as pass as it fades.

Today, right now, I’m okay. I have clarity. However, as I tire the fog will come closer. The fog is only remedied by taking care of oneself.

The counsel of a wiser widow to the new widow is this:

Be kind to yourself. Rest. It’s okay to feel your emotions. No we don’t move on. We do move forward. Do what is right for you. No big decisions or changes for a year!                    And more …

No, this won’t pass. Loss of this magnitude changes a person, irrevocably. Our sadness will not pass, it will change and become something we manage. We will move on in our lives one way or the other, but it won’t pass.

Our Loves passed. They went on home to eternity. They will remain tucked gently within out hearts. We will converse with them. We will dream of them. We will forever love them, because as they say …

Grief is bore out of love. Where there is great grief, there was great love.

 

Grief never ends, it only changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, not a lack of faith. It is the price of love. ~all-greatquotes.com

 

Grief is the price we pay for love. ~Queen Elizabeth II

Thank you for reading! And HIT the Five Minute Friday button below and check out the other amazing writers who are participating! God bless you.

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This Widow’s New Year’s Eve …

Don and I bw Today is this widow’s new year’s eve. I no longer mark a new year on January 1st, though that may change someday. But not today.

A year ago, today, marks a year since I’ve seen your smile. A year since I’ve heard your wonderfully infectious laugh or held your warm hand, your fingers firmly entwined with mine making me feel taken, protected, and wanted. You always made me feel desired and loved. Always. Even now I feel your love for me, and I thank God for that.

A door closed at 12:31 am that Tuesday morning. It closed on our future and I found my heart homeless. A great love remaining, with seemingly no where to go.

A homeless heart, shattered on the ground; cutting deeply with each step forward these 365 days.

We widows count … it bothers most of us and we wonder if we’ll ever stop counting … I don’t know if I will, though I stopped counting days and weeks, I only count months now. I imagine it will eventually be the years I count, but not today.

Time has no meaning. It’s been a year, yet it feels like just yesterday we were driving up north laughing about whether it was horses or cows we saw on the drive. I stand that they were horses! 🙂

Just yesterday …. a year … time has no meaning to me. It’s a blink of an eye, all of it …

I did much better today than I thought I would. I didn’t indulge in sorrow. I went to the  cemetery for the first time … you aren’t there, but your crypt stone beautifully displays your name with your dates … and the flowers for spring. James was with me. It’s the first time either of us have been there since your funeral. The tears flowed but I was at peace, somehow. Though I know you aren’t there. I guess it’s like a touch point.

Oh, how I miss you. It comes in waves. The pain. The missing. The longing. So tomorrow I begin the second firsts.

I’m told I will feel these more intensely because the shock has worn off. I will think clearer and will have to face the reality of what my new life will be and how I will handle these things alone.

I’m told people will be less tolerant of my mourning process. They’ll advise me to move on and live my life. They’ll tell me I’m young and should remarry. Well … I certainly hope God continues to help me be kind in the light of their having no clue. Like I’ve said before, we don’t move on. We don’t get on with it. We move forward. And some of us never marry again.

Lord help me to be kind! Amen. 🙂

So it’s new year’s eve for this widow. I imagine I will wake up tomorrow as I have these last 365 days (I guess that’s counting days, isn’t it!), wondering what the point is. But I will get up and I will move forward, with you tucked away in my heart.

It’s how I bring you with me each day. Tucked safely in my heart, always.

I am thinking of getting another tattoo … one with the signature you’ve written in virtually every card you’ve ever given me and a scripture from the last Mother’s day card you gave me …

We have shared together the blessings of God.

Philippians 1:7

With All My Love

Don

We did … we shared together the blessing of God! ❤

I think you would love it. I love you …Forever to Eternity.

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In 13 Days …

My Don

In 13 days I will mark a year of missing you. A year of not seeing your smile, not hearing that infectious laugh. A year of waiting for you to come through that door and kissing me and calling me Doll.

Our home is so quiet without you. The things that used to come with such ease are no longer easy.

The easy comfortable-ness of our life has become … un-easy.
I no longer welcome the coming day, I accept it.  I no longer look forward to anything really. It’s hard to see a future with he rubble of our plans scattered about.

So when does this “life after you” become easy-er? I suspect after 11 months and 15 days that easy isn’t what any of this is ever going to be.

So … I will take it easy on myself. I will do things as I can. I will do what needs doing until I come to a place where I can once again see a future. A place where I have a goal that is more than getting through the next thing that needs doing.

I do have one plan, today … to get the floral sheers out and take down the drapes that block the light. I have found it way too easy to sit in the dark of this house … I think the light through those pretty sheers will ease me back into the light.

This grief thing … It’s a trick having this as a part of my life now, but not a part of me. It is so strange living with the loss of you. It’s not easy to manage grief some days, but I am finding that on a few days it’s not as cloying, now … sometimes.

You know what I’ve found to ease me? A place called Widow’s Hope … a place where I can connect with other widows who really understand what I’m going through. Women, and men, who are further along in this journey, who have been where I am right now, and they understand from experience. It really is a blessing to have others who are in various places in this journey of life without “you”. And … I am able to support and help the newer widows too. Helping seems to ease some of the pain.

I’m not finding it easy to figure out who I am without you, though.

I don’t know who I am without you. We were so blessed to truly be a couple. To truly live our lives together from our weekly errand dates to being leaders at church. I remember your reaction when we were told we were going to be officially made Elders! I know it was about the gravity of the responsibility of that ministry for God. Well … you didn’t have to bear that responsibility … and Elders is a couple thing, so neither did I.

I miss my other half. They say that half of us goes with you and I can attest that a core part of me is with you, because I feel the emptiness of where that part was, daily.

I was your best friend, your wife, the mother of our children … what’s not easy is feeling that I remain all those versions of myself, while not having you here with me! How do I remain the me that was happy in this life, being your BFF, wife and partner in crime and life, when you are not here?

How do I cultivate who I am, alone?

“How do I ….?” That is a question that is actually a trap for anxiety. With each moment I try to figure it out I can feel the anxiety creeping in.

So … 13 days of impending un-easy. And then what?

I know that things won’t magically change when I mark the 1st. year without you. They say the second year is harder because people expect you to be over it and moving on. They don’t understand there is not getting over it or moving on … there is only forward and we who grieve don’t, typically, have a clear view of where that forward is taking us.

So it’s one day at a time. Take it easy and be kind to yourself because the reality of it is …

Life goes on and I must move forward in this life, without you. So I will tuck you comfortably in my heart on this journey forward. I will remember your easy spirit and try to find my happy in being the me you loved.

It’s not going to be easy … but I’m going to give it to God and He will ease my path.

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Emotionally Present

God-knows-Matthew-6-verse-81I used to think I was emotionally present, connected, to my life. And for the most part I was. I worked to be in the here and now. However, I also tended, like many of us, to see the future. To plan, explore and desire something ahead, something more.

I’ve almost survived the immeasurably worst year of my life. Sounds negative, right? It’s not, I assure you. It sounds like I do not count my blessings or appreciate what I do have.

 

Again, I assure you that I do count my many blessings and appreciate this life that I have.

However ….

When your world and your entire being have been ravaged and trampled by devastating loss survival is a triumph, not a complaint.

I’m not simply surviving. I am, as many of us are, struggling each day with Grief. Whether we just lost our spouse or it’s been a year, two … ten. Grief, it’s said lasts as long as Love.

“Grief is the last act of Love we have to give to those we have loved. Where there is deep grief, the was Great Love.”

I have NEVER been more emotionally present. I have NEVER in my life, until this past year, felt, experienced and appreciated my full range of emotions.

My DonI’ve been changed to my core. Losing the person God intended you to live your life and grow old with rips a part of you away and that part goes to the grave with your beloved. I assure you this is true, and all who have and will experience the depth of this particular loss will testify to the same.

So yes, I survived the last year.

I walked, virtually alone, through the thick mire of this loss. Alone, not because no one was physically with me, but because that is truly the only way this is done.

Grief and mourning of one’s life mate is a solitary venture.

It is unlike the loss of a parent or close friend. It is not the same as the loss of an uncle or grandparent. It is not even comparable to the loss of a child; though I must admit, the thought of that loss would be the only loss I believe to be as devastating, however on an entirely different plane.

It is an experience that, thank God, is unimaginable to the mind until it occurs. If we knew, as humans, the vast destruction that this loss does to a soul, a spirit, we would never get close enough to another in fear we’d have to live it.

That said. It’s not a negative statement to say that I survived the last year. It’s not  an ungrateful view of my life this last year.

It is rather a statement of victory. A sigh of relief that the majority of the firsts are past. I survived our anniversary, mother’s day, his birthday and mine, valentines day and Christmas, even tax season (that one scared me, I don’t know why). There is only one first left to survive, and surprisingly I didn’t know to count this one until April 1st rolled around.

I have yet to survive the first year mark of his passing. Maybe that’s what all the other firsts were about … I (all of us who are in this club, that no one asks to join) loathed the coming of the firsts. Afraid of the pain, fearful of the tears and the anxiety of those special days. Maybe they were supposed to prepare me for this last marker of the day I lost my forever.

Being emotionally present in this experience was both devastating and cathartic. Don’t get me wrong, my closest friends will attest, there were months where I sought ways to stop the pain. All short of masking the mourning process. I knew I needed to mourn, so I did everything I could to lessen the pain and anxiety without drugs that would delay the process.

Essentially I walked through this valley of the shadow of death with my eyes wide open and my heart laid waste to the excruciating pain of losing my better half.

A friend told me at lunch recently that she thinks I have not changed at all. That I’m still the same person I was before Don passed on to home with God.

I’m not. I am more aware of life. I am more aware of things that those who have not experienced loss of this magnitude are not yet aware. You scoff? I assure you, you do not understand and I pray you never do.

I see the world, life, you and events much differently than a year ago. I see those who are walking in their sleep, because we only wake up to certain things in God’s timing. And then … we are changed, irrevocably. I do not feel the need to wake you to my understandings any longer, as I am aware that some wakefulness comes only by God’s hand. I’m not supposed to wake you up to them. Thank God.

Grief. My experience cannot bring you any more understanding on the subject of grief because it is not your experience. You will only understand by your experience. Coming to this knowledge, I am acutely aware of how narrow my thinking on grief was before April 28, 2015, and I am sorry and ashamed of how I felt about loss prior to this.

God began my understanding of the Mourning process in September 2014 when my love was diagnosed … the preparation was complete on April 28, 2015, then the Grief process began.

There is a ever so slight difference between mourning and grief. So finite it’s almost undetectible.

I now understand how my sweet aunt lost herself in the grief of 3 consecutive deaths … her father, her husband and then her brother. Her frail spirit could not handle the devastation. And when her soul mate passed, she got lost and has not returned.

I now understand my mother’s need to remain in her home, even if it means she’s alone hundreds of miles from anyone in the family. I am struggling now to clean out and sell my home. The only place I lived with my Don, where we raised our family and lived our life together. The home we intended to grow old together in. I completely understand my mom’s need to remain, even at the expense of being alone.

I now understand what the next 40 years of my life may hold from my grandmother, who is 93, dreaming of my grandfather, whom she lost 10 years ago. And if the longevity of the women’s lives in this family holds I have approximately 40 years to dream of my love and long to talk to him about all of this. And that makes me cry, right now. Maybe not later … someday … maybe not, but for now I cry at the thought of those 40 years ahead of me.

So I ask you, please don’t assume I’m not grateful for my life and blessings.

Please don’t assume or point out that you think I’m being negative.

Please. Please do not tell me you know how I feel; unless you’re a widowed person.

Please don’t assume I’m not moving on …

I’m not! We don’t move on.

We move forward. They are very different actions in a life.

I am simply living emotionally present. In the moment. In the day. In my life. And this my friends is quite freeing.

I’ve come to a place where no one else’s ideas of what I should or should not be feeling can shut down my emotions. I no longer care to cater to another’s need for me to be continually positive, according to their terms. I no longer feel the need to make my life or emotional state more comfortable to the masses.

And that’s okay.

After all no one can appreciate the positive without feeling the negative.

This is me, right now, raw and uncensored. This is me, emotionally present.

And emotionally present is a messy thing!

This is who I am now. I feel the whole range of emotions and they are exhilarating and exhausting. They fill you up and empty you out. They make your skin tingle as if you’ve been in the sun too long, and chill your blood to your core.

It’s healing and freeing. And I get to feel them all, without having to infringe on your reality. Somehow, being emotionally present has made me quieter, more contemplative. Though I still find myself needing to be heard … I’m working on that.

Thanks for taking the time to read this very long entry.

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Just getting through the day …

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I’m just getting through the day today.

I’ve awakened each day this month (April ’16) more resistant and angry. Emotionally, mentally, I am angry by the disturbance of wakefulness. I want so much to dream of you, or us. Maybe a discussion. Maybe just a dream of being with you again. But I don’t get to dream of you for some reason.

Yet, waking up is still an issue. Especially in this last month of the first year after losing you. Of all the firsts I’ve endured this past year I’m finding April is the worst … from day 1.

Anxiety is rearing it’s ugly head today.

I look forward and I don’t see anything. I’m heading into a new year soon. Without you. Again … always, from now on. And I freeze.

I really thought it would be easier by now, some how. It’s not.

I’m fighting an invisible battle. I smile and put on a mask so I don’t make others uncomfortable. And they prefer to believe I’m okay and getting on with it.

I’m not.

I’m not okay.

I’m not getting on with it … life.

I’m just getting through the day today … day by day.

I’m just getting through the day so I can go back to sleep.

I miss you. Maybe tonight I’ll dream a happy dream of you. I pray.

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