Author Topic: Greetings from Ahead  (Read 1461 times)

Newgirl

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Greetings from Ahead
« on: December 19, 2016, 09:18:43 AM »
Hello New Wids,

It is difficult for me to fathom that it has been almost four years since I lost the love of my life. I was 30.

I lived on the old board, and the new, for years. One day I got to the point where I didn't want "X's Widow" to be my sole identity. For a while, I needed it to be, and I embraced it, and I seized mourning traditions from the past, or made up my own. But one day, it was no longer the whole of me.

I left the boards bc I often felt similarly to Serpico, in that "hugs," weren't helping me anymore. I had reached the point where I had to push myself out of the nest I had made of my grief.

There was a culture on the old board wherein some of the "old wids," would not step forward to help the new wids bc it was "too painful." On the one hand, I understand, but on the other, it never sat well with me.

If you are thinking of hurting yourself, please don't. Know this: one day, I promise you, you will die. Guaranteed. Especially for my fellow wids without kids (and I'm sorry for the shitty way ppl respond to that, even in our own community), please pick a reason to move forward each day and keep breathing. Whether it's to water the plants, eat that fucking "gourmet" frozen dinner you paid too much for, to widowbomb someone, to make an inappropriate death joke, to go on a trip, to complete a memorial scrapbook, or spitefully suck every last dollar you can out of a system that screwed your late spouse, whatever the reason that day, seize it. And if you have a day, where you are struggling to hold on, know that there is a community of people you have never known who cares about its members, and whose hearts would hurt. Loss ripples through space and time.

I was there. It was scary.

Fill your house with plants. They smell better than cats, and they will nourish you. Look up NASA's oxygen garden for some good recommendations.

My prime responsibilities in the early days were to breathe, to hydrate, to rest as best I could, and to keep the lights on. Sometimes I tried to see myself and my household as a business, so I could separate the "me" with all my grief from it.

It is vital that you guard your health. The widowhood effect is real. It is vital that you see your physician.

Know that you are doing the best "normal," you can in an abnormal situation.

Find fellow wids. The best wid friendships I found were a mix of someone near to me in age and/or had lost his/her spouse in a similar way. One day you may find yourself playing "Cards Against Humanity," with your new partner, and your wid friend, and her fiance, and winning with "only two things are certain in life, death and.... survival guilt."

I spoke to myself like I was a toddler in toilet training, praising the tiniest achievement. The subconscious doesn't understand sarcasm, so if I wanted to be mean to myself, I made myself say positive things in a sarcastic way. I.e. "Good job, genius!"

I managed to find my way. You will as well. Oh it hasn't always been glamorous. Far from it. But there is a satisfaction in being able to look at a great deal of life's challenges, and think, "Bitch, please, I've survived widowhood, what's your superpower? Come at me."

I was told by my late spouse to "go do X accomplishment, find someone worthy," and most importantly, "have a GOOD life." You all deserve the same.

My late husband's love did not die with him. I have managed to integrate a spiritual relationship with him, into a mortal life in the real world. I still tell stories about him, to those who are worthy, and I have ways of honoring him at certain holidays that make me smile. My home is no longer a tomb, but the birthplace of a phoenix. I addressed myself as "Captain Badass" for a good six months.

I wish you all survival. Survival until you find yourself in a place where you seize thriving again.

You're worth it. I'm worth it.

One day, you will be several years out, seize your power over what you can control. That point will not be as bad as this point. Until you can get there, breathe, hydrate... keep the lights on.

Portside

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Re: Greetings from Ahead
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2016, 09:22:31 AM »
Cool post - great attitude - thanks!

« Last Edit: December 19, 2016, 09:24:25 AM by Portside »
The war is over for me now. But those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again, to teach to others what we know, and to try with what's left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life.

TooSoon

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Re: Greetings from Ahead
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2016, 09:51:16 AM »
Thanks for this!  One of the most unexpected things to come out of my husband's horrible illness and death and the grief and the ugliness of it all is that for the first time in my life I feel like I have peace.  It is odd.  The "fight" in me that got me through so much has, over these four years since he died, melted into something very calm.  At first I thought it was resignation but it is more like acceptance.  Far from resignation, it feels more like I know a secret now (the same secret everyone here knows) that our time is finite and thus delicate and precious.  In his death, my husband gave me the gift of gratitude.  It might sound seriously cheesy and once I would have said it was implausible but it's true.  There was a time when I thought I would never be ok again - ever.  Its been a rocky road and a ramshackle affair but in its painful authenticity we came through ok.  Better than ok. 

BrokenHeart2

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Re: Greetings from Ahead
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2016, 10:08:24 AM »
Wow NewGirl thank you! I see you posted for new wids but this certainly resonates and inspires me at 3.5 yrs out!  I'm getting there with more work to do!
TS I hear you and it certainly has been and is still transforming for me as well.
Blessings and hugs.
I don't want it to be his legacy that his death destroyed me.
I need to honour his life by rebuilding my life.

Laura1612

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Re: Greetings from Ahead
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2016, 10:52:40 AM »
Thank you so much. So very much. I am having a hard morning. I am six weeks out. I'm having a hard morning. When I get to work, I usually check all the forums. I have to admit, I'm often hoping for something like this.

Someone sent me the globe and mail article that was released today. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/relationships/the-widowhood-effect/article33344335/

I read it before getting out of bed, and for someone so new, I found it utterly depressing, like I am doomed to be as miserable three years out as I am now. I don't want to be that. If I knew it would be as bad, I really would just kill myself because what's the point?

I know my husband wanted me to live, but I'm stuck on the fact that I can't remember him telling me that. I know we had a conversation once, before he was sick, just on the lark. I never let him get a vasectomy because I said "If I die, I want you to love again, and maybe you will find someone who you do decided you want kids with." He laughed because he definitely didn't want kids, but I was five years older and I understood things change.

I can't remember him telling me he wanted me to be happy if he were to die. I'm sure he did. He was horrified with the pain he caused me due to his alcoholism. He felt I deserved better than him. Of course, I just wanted him to keep trying, but his liver said "no." And while he was sick, we still had hope, so we didn't go there.

I'd fill my house with plants, but I seem to kill them quickly.

Every time an "old wid" posts something like this, my heart sings a little with hope. Thank you.
May the Force be with you.

Raymond

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Re: Greetings from Ahead
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2016, 11:46:53 AM »
Good Afternoon Newgirl,

I liked your post.  It speaks to the power of time.  However, one must be careful not to characterize grief in linear fashion.  Grief is like being in space -- no up, down, left, right, forward or back.  For me, it is not a journey that has an end.

Your strength drips from your post.  You have carried your loved one's water for so long it feels not like a burden -- not painful -- but rather like the weight of a pocket watch or a locket around your neck?  The grief is still there, no?

Some buckle under the weight, some are strong and carry the weight much easier (I think it is one of the cruelest things I've heard someone say to a widow that they were dating so early after their loved one's death) and some take a year or so to adjust to the carrying of it.

Grief comes to sit with you on the bench, shortly thereafter, Time sits beside you as well.  These two know each other well and converse as you sit together.  After awhile Grief gets up to stretch his legs.  Time taps you on the shoulder and introduces you to another acquaintance Hope.  Grief comes back and you all sit for a spell.  Grief is restless and leaves more than usual now and Hope stays longer than usual.  One day Hope comes back and introduces you to another acquaintance, Joy.  Time never leaves you on the bench all during this.  Time stays.  I think the trick is to make a friend of Time.  Listen to him and learn for he will tell you that at some point he will leave as well.


Newgirl

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Re: Greetings from Ahead
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2016, 12:40:45 PM »
Dear Laura,

I read that article too, and while I still have difficult days, I think it is important for me to accept the inevitability of time. In the article, she asks another wid if he's "still as fucked up" as she is. I was "fucked up" before widowhood, and I suspect I will be "fucked up" in my own special way for the remainder of my days.

I am also very skeptical of widow books, articles, etc. Being a "professional widow" is not for me, and when someone writes something like this particular article, I am cautious to internalize it. I have compassion for her story, but who is her audience? Other wids? I don't think so. It read more as a scathing death slap to society. I can get behind that, because our death phobic culture is not helping us, but I could not tell someone that they will still be miserable 3 years out bc I am. Likewise, I cannot guarantee anyone else's happiness, that is on the individual.

I can say that I became better able to cope with the pain now more days than not, and that time is moving, whether I want it to or not. I can also say that in a given day, I am able to make choices, and as TooSoon mentioned, I am able to choose gratitude. In the early days it may have consisted of "I am grateful there is lotion in these tissues for my raw nose."

Your grief, your rules.

I wish I had all the answers, and could fix everyone's pain, but I do not, and I can not.

P.S. regarding plants, I too have often described myself as having a "black thumb," but I brought up the Oxygen Garden plants because they tend to be so hardy. I have a "resurrection" aloe I have kept when other people told me to throw it out, bc it was shriveled and grey. It is now green and propagating. My snake plant has sat in a dim corner, barely getting watered, and it thrives. It thrives on my neglect, it gives "zero fucks" about me, aside from tossing the occasional water in its pot. I like it's attitude.

TooSoon is so much more eloquent about it in her post, but in essence, widhood was liberating in that it offered me the ticket to "zero fucks" land. Some days I give a "many" not a "zero," but I try to aim for zero.

P.P.S. By virtue of you saying you don't want to be doomed, I don't believe that you will. Take care of you. You're worth it.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2016, 12:58:56 PM by Newgirl »

Newgirl

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Re: Greetings from Ahead
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2016, 12:48:24 PM »
Hello Raymond,

Thank you. I do not believe I characterized grief in a linear fashion. It's not. The guilt stage and I are old friends. All I can say is that for me, it was comparatively worse in the early days. If someone out there can take hope from my post, and defy having their widhood dictated to him/her, that's great. If not, well perhaps I managed to distract someone from their misery for a couple of minutes.

If I had all the answers, I would have a hell of a lot more cash.

Re: dating. The vows are "till death do us part." Anyone who wants to judge when I/you/whomever started dating again is welcome to assume full responsibility for my/our happiness, and well being. The mortgage is due on the 1st. No? All of a sudden the finger waggers aren't interested? Hmmm, shame.

As for personifications of my grief, locket, etc? Those are mine to keep.

Mizpah

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Re: Greetings from Ahead
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2016, 12:50:15 PM »
like I am doomed to be as miserable three years out as I am now. I don't want to be that.

I know many have weighed in on this so I'm sure what I have to say is just cumulative at this point, but I thought I'd lend my example.  (This is just a brief timeline of transformative moments.  I grieved deep, dark and hard.)  Some moments: at about 5 months, one morning, I noticed I was smiling.  I'm sure I'd smiled before that of course.  But it felt monumental.  I felt a tiny piece of simple happiness in existence.  At about 14 months, a man kissed me.  I sort of scream-sobbed into his face and ran away down the sidewalk (hopefully most won't go through this particular grief indignity!).  (Many, many widows reengage romantically wayyyy before then, and some wayyyyyy after.)  At about 18 months-ish, I started wanting something exciting and "changeful" to happen in my life.  At about 2 years, I felt rejuvenated - I felt alive again.  At 5 1/2 years, I have a full life, complete with "normal" happinesses and sadnesses and stressors.  I never sob on the floor.  I hardly ever sob at all.  I honor DH and will always always love him, I was lucky to have something amazing with someone amazing.  But even though it's (terribly, horribly, unbearably, tragically, destroyingly) sad, *I'm* no longer sad.  I can even say that my life probably would have been much better and much happier if DH were alive, and still be happy with what and who I have, and not in a lesser way, if that makes sense - I know it doesn't SOUND logical, but.... 

(And even though grief certainly isn't linear, *for me*, the lows were NEVER as low as they were in the very beginning.) 
widowed 2011 (DH 28)

Laura1612

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Re: Greetings from Ahead
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2016, 01:16:19 PM »
Mizpah,

What you say does make sense and is logical. In six weeks I have scoured the Internet for anything by people like you and Newgirl ... anything that offers hope for happiness again. I'm not naive enough to believe my life will ever be the same, or that I will ever not miss Adam, that I won't always wish he was still with me. I know now that I will have sad moments the rest of my life. This of course, seems entirely unfair ... the feeling that I was singled out among everyone I know for this grief (which is why this forum is so good ... it reminds me I wasn't singled out, it just happened to me).

But now that I have chosen against the suicidal feelings I had in the first 2-3 weeks (though they still pop up here and there), I figure I might as well find a way, slowly but surely, to be happy. 

You and Newgirl don't have to have all the answers for me. But what you do provide is hope in an Internet full of misery. Anyone who has been through this can cumulatively pile their hope on me anytime they want.
May the Force be with you.

canadiangirl

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Re: Greetings from Ahead
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2016, 05:13:35 PM »
Newgirl, thank you very much for this post.  I loved it.  Also loved your reply here:

...when someone writes something like this particular article, I am cautious to internalize it. I have compassion for her story, but who is her audience? Other wids? I don't think so. It read more as a scathing death slap to society. I can get behind that, because our death phobic culture is not helping us, but I could not tell someone that they will still be miserable 3 years out bc I am. Likewise, I cannot guarantee anyone else's happiness, that is on the individual...

TooSoon is so much more eloquent about it in her post, but in essence, widhood was liberating in that it offered me the ticket to "zero fucks" land. Some days I give a "many" not a "zero," but I try to aim for zero.

P.P.S. By virtue of you saying you don't want to be doomed, I don't believe that you will. Take care of you. You're worth it.

I don't have any issue with the author of that article giving a death slap to society, and (perhaps like you) I don't think her point is that any young widow will feel that way 3 years out.  No way.  She didn't radiate positivity and optimism but if that's false for her, it's her grief, her rules.  I also don't think her audience was other widows.  She got it off her chest, she gives zero fucks, more power to her. 

beth_krkswidow

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Re: Greetings from Ahead
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2016, 09:41:38 PM »
I want the T-Shirt. ..

"I survived Widowhood.  What's your superpower? "
"Until my last breath, I loved you more than life itself." ~Kirk, in his envelope to be opened only upon his death.  And now I to you, My Love, until my last breath...

Raymond

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Re: Greetings from Ahead
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2016, 08:12:00 AM »
Good Morning, I hope all is well.

Newgirl, I could not have stated it any better.  There are no answers only the searching.  I think a synonym of grief should be a question mark?

And you did snap me out of the doldrums for a minute to read and respond.  Cheers!

I was puzzled in your response, is keeping the "locket" to mean that grief hasn't went away?  No matter really, curious I guess.  I'm thinking it is better described as something else?  Something warm, cozy and colorful?

I have befriended the pain I feel as it reminds me of the love.  I desperately hold on to it (the lizard part of my brain I should think) for fear that to lose the pain will diminish the love.  The right side of my brain sees this as circular, inefficient, leading to an unhealthy place.

Mayhap you could speak to the issue of what you would call, define or label "grief" where you sit?

Thanks for the support you bring to this, "a problem shared is a problem halved" my grandmother always said.

Happy Holidays

Newgirl

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Re: Greetings from Ahead
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2016, 10:05:46 PM »
"Mayhap you could speak to the issue of what you would call, define or label "grief" where you sit?"

It's not something one labels, it's something one lives. It will be as unique to you as it is to me.

John Clare said it best, "Language has not the power to speak what love indites. The soul lies buried, in the ink that writes."

Raymond

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Re: Greetings from Ahead
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2016, 02:11:58 PM »
Yes, grief is our own and so must be unique.

And words are mere sound and smoke, dimming the heavenly light -- Goethe, Faust.

However, language is the dress of thought  -- Samuel Johnson, Lives of the English Poets