Time Frame > Beyond Active Grieving

Snow day musings

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This could become epic so I am going to apologize in advance for potential length/stream of consciousness.

Five years coming up here.  In the past year, I got remarried and walked away from my career.  For the first time since I was 14 years old, I am genuinely unemployed.  I know it is temporary, but it is a lot of time to think.  A lot of time to think that I probably should have given myself five years ago. 

I still live in the house I bought with my husband three months before his terminal brain cancer diagnosis.  I've managed to let this "fixer-upper" fall into a state of even worse disrepair - don't get me wrong, it is still vintagey cool just like it was when we bought it.  And it still is often home to lots of gatherings and for that I'm grateful.

When my husband finally died, everyone encouraged me to "get on with it" and to "pull your bootstraps up" and to "soldier on" and I did that with a determination I now cannot even imagine.  How did I ever have the energy or the will to keep on like that? 

That message blinded me.  It kept me in a working situation that was killing me.  It kept me running to activities and appointments and birthday parties and  and and like I didn't also have a career.  How did I do that? 

I am so full of "should haves" right now.  I should have taken a leave of absence. I should have found some kind of help.  I should have sold this house.  I should have quit that job long before I did.  I should have moved to England.  We should have taken the jobs in X, Y, Z places.  I'm realizing that powering through might not have been the right approach for me. 

No one in my family ever really acknowledged my grief.  My cousin committed suicide in a spectacular way in 2014.  His parents have become much closer to me than ever before, acknowledging that they didn't understand how much I was hurting (and my god I have no clue how much they are hurting).  But literally, everyone in my world basically, if they said anything at all, said, "You must be so relieved." when Scott died.  I've said this a thousand times - of course I was relieved he was no longer suffering but then?  What happened then, well, it was a very private hell (apart from my posts on ywbb and my conversations with the friends I made there).  It was a kind of loneliness, darkness, that no one in my *real* life even tried to understand, that I couldn't tell most of them about in the first place.  It was important in my world that I appeared to have it all under control. 

I was so determined to keep on going and to see silver linings that I'm not sure I took care of myself very well.  In stubbornly not making any big decisions, I feel like I dug a great big hole I now have to get myself out of.  Blending two lives between two continents has proven stressful with even more uncertainty than when we were on different continents.  And now there is my tweeny daughter in the mix.  And a whole lot of relatives who are unhappy with us on a seemingly perpetual basis.

Sometimes I think about that life we once lived.  We were so young and oblivious and had a lot of energy.  But then brain cancer and death.  Everything is so serious now.  I don't have any regrets; I did the best I could.  But I sure wish I'd had more empathy and encouragement in those early months and years from the people in my life.  I wish someone had said, "Take a semester off; get yourself on terra firma again."   I have to wonder if things - not my relationship with Andy - but things for me, personally and professionally, might have turned out differently if I had made some different choices instead of just trying to fit life after Scott into the life with Scott box. 

I suppose now that I have some time, I can try to do that.  But I'm tired.  This is a long road for me.  I can only hope others don't have to experience this the same way I did.  Not sure if any of this makes sense but I just need to get some things off my mind.  I have to focus on reinventing my career at 45 and dealing with a handful of a tween after all.  Can't have this widow stuff clouding my focus! 

You post makes a lot of sense. It may help someone newly widowed who is getting the same bootstrap advice you did. I'm sorry you had to soldier on during that painful time. Glad you shared. I wish you peace.

I hear you and I get it. So many things I wish I would've done differently my first 4.5 years..looking back not sure how I survived (3 kids under 5 and a major pill addiction).. Bens death was a major "life detour" for me. At 46... Just starting my teaching career (and this year is killing me with the class from Hell).

It's good to get those thoughts outta our head. I'm on Day 4 this week of snow days..LaSt week we had 3 snow days. Ugh!

Toosoon I am glad you are finally taking sometime for yourself, all of that stuff we avoided dealing with for so long is just sitting there waiting for us. It seems like for many of us who soldiered on and "stayed strong for the kids" there is a lot of personal and emotional price to be paid. I was fortunate to be able to take off 3 months after DH died but spent much of that time dealing with difficult issues related to his business and trying to keep things "normal" for my kids.  Crazy when I look back now because of course nothing was normal.

From the beginning I did not want to be pitied and did my best to appear strong and in control.  I kept everyone at arms length for fear they would see behind the curtain and realize what a mess I was and how I was incapable of preventing the very real struggles my children were facing.

I am remarried now too and while I thought on some level that being partnered up again would solve many of my solo parent issues and trying to manage a household alone I really had no clue.  Yes it's wonderful to have someone to come home to and someone to share responsibilities with but my parenting issues are still mine and mine alone because of the age of my kids.  Now I have someone who has gotten behind the curtain and he is as quick to point out my failings as he is to praise my successes with my kids and managing the household.  He also comes with his own burdens (a crazy ex, 2 small children and a lengthy custody dispute) that I must share in.  Marriage has taken some things off of my plate but has also added many more. 

I don't want to sound like I am not grateful to have found love again because I most definitely am.  But it's messy and complicated and makes me miss being with someone who I started my adult life from scratch with.  I miss parts of the old me even though I appreciate other parts that are an improvement.

The "couldas" and "shouldas" are a slippery slope that I try to avoid dwelling on but they do creep in.  I hope some day to get to the point of letting myself off the hook for the bad decisions I made in the wake of grief and fully accepting my new life for what it is.


I am going on 7 years in a few weeks and can so relate to much of what you wrote, especially these items:

"I am so full of "should haves" right now."
"No one in my family ever really acknowledged my grief.    It was important in my world that I appeared to have it all under control."
"I was so determined to keep on going and to see silver linings that I'm not sure I took care of myself very well."

I think about some of the things I did and the way I handled things these past years and I should have made myself and my grieving more of a priority.  I was so busy being strong, not only for my kids, but to make it appear that way for everyone around me.  Now I think that was not only detrimental to my health, but pushed people away from offering help when we really needed it.  I think I handled everything the best I could at the time, but now I know I should have done things a little differently.  I am not as strong as everyone now thinks I am and as I am getting older, I see the toll the stress has taken.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts - it got me thinking as well.



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