I 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.
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.
I’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.