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Bluebird

Beyond Active Grieving - Life is Beginning To Look Up!

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Hi everyone,

 

I took a moment to read all the section descriptions for our message board and started thinking about the description for this section. In part, it states that life is beginning to look up. That's certainly true for me in so many ways, and I'm interested to hear how life is beginning to look up for others who are beyond active grieving.

 

I'll start by sharing a few of the ways that life is looking up:

 

- I no longer start many of my conversations with "I am a widow"

- I approach life in general with more optimism - I'm more inclined to trust in the good in the world than look for the bad.

- Thoughts about my DH focus more on his life than his death.

- I learned that I could love another again.

 

What about you? How is life looking up?

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Hey!  Great topic!  I found "life beginning to look up" a few years ago, when I realized I looked forward to going to work... Loved the people I worked with and had lots of fun with them.  I enjoyed family get-togethers and wasn't dreading the "okay, all you kids and your spouses, let's take a group picture!" anymore.  I, like bluebird, didn't define myself first as a widow, but was finding my way by myself again.  I was taking pleasure in life again, not living under a black cloud.

 

I find myself way more able to fly by the seat of my pants, make spur-of-the-moment decisions, take what seems to be crazy (but not dangerous) chances.  When I got remarried, we both quit our jobs and took on a whole new life in a whole new place.  I think at first we thought by going to a new place and starting over, we could "escape" our widowed pasts, but it's how we met, it's part of our story, and you know what?  It's a great story.  We both had great lives before, and we're building a new one together now.  We're about to embark on a new adventure, and my outlook on life, I've realized, is "Life is short... Take chances and make memories while you can!"

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Cool topic!

 

Life started to consistently "look up" probably about the time I stopped only looking within myself, if that makes any sense. It probably relates to the sentiments of my buddies Moke and Bluebird in that my identity wasn't widow anymore, rather, it had been absorbed and assimilated into the facets of me. When my worldview stopped being nearly entirely through the wid lens, I started looking up and out more...at people, towards places, considering events. Life stopped being just my story of what had happened to me and all I had lost, to reengaging with world.

 

I'd say these days...

~I take deep pleasure in the smallest, sweetest moments.

~I trust myself and my instincts more than ever in my life...I've earned my stripes and have nothing to prove to anyone anymore.

~My faith has been challenged by fire and has come through tested and solid as a diamond. It's my dearest possession.

~I like interesting people even more than I did before. Conversely, I have zero problem nuking gigantic sphincters from my life.

~I feel unbelievable gratitude for the life I lived before and the life that has emerged from so much pain.

~I have a partner in this second half of my life that is helping me find adventure and fun.

~I am in awe that I have been given two of the most wonderful men in the world to love.

 

And this one makes me tear up to think of it...

Spring is coming early to my region this year. The year he died it was so cold and wet in mid-April. I wrote at some point that April wept with me. I've moved from dreading any evidence of the promise of returning life to seeing unbelievable beauty in this new spring. It's spring number seven without him and the world is almost painfully beautiful. I know all these signs of new life are as they've always been. My own eyes are what have changed.

 

I had hopes in the way back days that things would look up and life would be worth living in the absence of R. They have and it is.  :)

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kmouse, I clicked above to get notices to my email when replies were given to this topic... I was reading your response on my phone, and it doesn't identify the author till the end.  I knew without seeing who wrote it that it was you.  You have a certain wonderful style to the way you write.  And I knew for sure when I saw the word "sphincter".  ;D

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Bluebird,

 

This is almost mental telepathy. I have just finished writing a post about "Rebuilding" and wanted to hear about others' experiences. I am not quite the "happy camper" that You are, but there has been transformation and forward movement, at times sporadic and more labored, and still open-ended.

 

So I don't  know what to do with my post because it doesn't quite fit in here with the "fast trackers", and it doesn't make sense to post it separately, because it's more about the process of rebuilding  and how we got to where we are now.

 

Either way, yours is a great idea and will give encouragement to others! Mostly, I am VERY happy that things are beginning to look up for you!!!

 

ATJ  :)

 

 

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Things began to look up when I finally acknowledged that his death was the biggest shock of my life. I had begun getting out, not grieving every minute and acknowledging that there was an identity beyond widowhood. But I was hiding my grief in a bunch of ridiculous excuses for relationships. Each failure was another excuse to miss him more. I needed to feel alive again with out dating and sex which I  mistakenly thought brought me past active grieving.  I am a believer in continuing bonds with my husband. I miss him but I am mostly used to it. I do feel that I am bringing him along with me but carving out my new life. I'll  be widowed longer than I was married soon. Acknowledging the incredible shock helped me stop being obsessed with how I was going to try and control anything and everything in life to prevent that kind of devastation again. I dont ever want to be totally beyond grief but being beyond active is pleasant to say the least

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Mokie, that's a great point about the workplace. While I was actively grieving, being at work was really hard, but over time, I found my passion for what I did return. And yes, "Life is Short" can empower some amazing choices that I would not have otherwise made. You are boldly living the life you have and that's fantastic!

 

Kmouse, one of the things you wrote about nuking gigantic sphincters...made me laugh, but it rings true for me too. I made a huge decision to leave a company that I perceived was not doing the right thing by its people, and followed my heart. I've also chosen to associate less with toxic people who spend the vast majority of their time critiquing everyone but themselves. Earlier in grief, I may have simply put up with it because I didn't have the energy to deal with it. Now I do.

 

ATJ, I think you should absolutely post your topic. It is one thing to say, these are the things happening in my life that make me realize life is looking up, it's quite another to have insight on how they arrived. In some cases I don't know, but in others, I can see there were choices I made, and followed through on, that led to an outcome I'm happy with. Understanding the process may be even more helpful than knowing positive outcomes occur?

 

LisaPop, I love what you wrote about acknowledgement. Acknowledgement of our loss and acknowledgement of an identity for us as individuals beyond "widow". Getting to understand who I am without it being about who I was with DH was one of the more fascinating parts of this difficult road. I have to admit, I still struggle with the fear of loss, it raises it's ugly head every now and then. But then I realize that if I let fear hold me back, I'm not living the lesson that Mokie pointed out in her post "Life is short"

 

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@ATJ, we're not the "fast trackers" 😀 There are absolutely times when I'm running the race and I stumble and fall flat on my face...Like when I see his handwriting unexpectedly, or I wonder whether the people that bought the house he renovated are caring for it the way they should, or I think about how our son must feel without his father at this crucial stage of his life. These and many other incidents have a way of slowing me down, but they don't seem to stop me for as long.

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ATJ, I think you should absolutely post your topic. It is one thing to say, these are the things happening in my life that make me realize life is looking up, it's quite another to have insight on how they arrived. In some cases I don't know, but in others, I can see there were choices I made, and followed through on, that led to an outcome I'm happy with. Understanding the process may be even more helpful than knowing positive outcomes occur?

 

ATJ, we're not the "fast trackers" 😀 There are absolutely times when I'm running the race and I stumble and fall flat on my face...Like when I see his handwriting unexpectedly, or I wonder whether the people that bought the house he renovated are caring for it the way they should, or I think about how our son must feel without his father at this crucial stage of his life. These and many other incidents have a way of slowing me down, but they don't seem to stop me for as long.

 

 

(((Bluebird,)))

 

You are a treasure and so encouraging! Thank you for this!

 

But most people like looking at the brand new model of a shining car in the showroom, and are really not interested in how it was engineered, the many steps and revisions it took, and when the design stage sometimes came to a temporary halt.

 

I have definitely made progress and am determined to move farther, as much as is in my control. I've been open to change and everything that the universe will offer me. But I am STILL an 'unfinished product' not ready for rolling out into the showroom. My state is still more about continued perseverance, not giving up, and holding onto hope - having reached a plateau and raising many new questions.

 

The 'sausage making process' is messy. People like a winner and a success story. YOU and the others who are responding are just that, and I am very happy for you! I remember when I was little, and my father would read a fairytale story to me.  I would feverishly wait until I heard the words: "And they lived happily ever after!" Then my little heart would breathe a big sigh of relief, and I thought that's how real life would turn out as well - after difficult struggles and perseverance, a happy ending would be guaranteed.

 

Well, now I do know that life is a little different, and does not always reward effort and determination in equal measure. Input does not always equal output. But I'm still a dreamer at heart and want to believe that "the sun will come out tomorrow!" A work in progress amid ongoing struggle!

 

 

Baby-development.gif

 

 

The best I can aspire to at the moment is this:

 

 

"When I'm not afraid to fall down, falling down won't feel like failure. I have fallen down enough to get more comfortable with it, to know how productive it can be, how necessary it is to growth. Still, when I sense the ground beneath me giving way, I have to remind myself that it's OK if I falter. I have to remind myself that it's more than OK!"

 

~~ Jan Denise

ATJ :)

 

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@ATJ, we're not the "fast trackers" 😀 There are absolutely times when I'm running the race and I stumble and fall flat on my face... have a way of slowing me down, but they don't seem to stop me for as long.

 

Fast tracking kind of made me grin because part of what I've had to do in my process of looking up is forgive myself for my grief/mourning/loneliness/purposelessness taking so incredibly long. It took me really until very recently to open myself up fully to the understanding of just how devastated and lost I was. Recently I was part of conversation with some dear friends and said an expanded form of this:

 

"The brutal truth is that R's death fucked me up so deeply, so badly, so entirely, that I couldn't recover without help, but sadly, even without all that [2 years of therapy] help, I was still an anxiety-ridden mess...so badly I left my career and slept away a year...because I was such a mess and then hid from the world in the second. I tried so hard to compensate, I hid so much of my pain, I worked myself dangerously close to my own death to keep the school going forward that even with those two years of concentrated help, I utterly fell apart when I finally laid it all down.

 

I am finally, finally closing in on recovery and working towards finding who and what I am now. The trauma still shows its face in an exhausted adrenal system...an unexpected stressor like a missed alarm can throw me into a panic attack. I've had to draw tight boundaries on negative people/places/events. I'm intentionally seeking out fun/beauty/humor/wellness. I'll never be quite right again, but I've got some coping skills now and can manage. One of those elements of management (that D has had to learn to accommodate) is a need to plan ahead, know what's coming at me, understand next steps, etc. I never was terribly spontaneous, but now I feel like the kiddo in school on the spectrum that needs a social story and a visual schedule to manage my day.  The PTSD is gone as far as I can tell, but I'm not sure the elements of suddenness and the tendrils of trauma will ever quite go away."

 

Maybe the looking up really has come as I've been able to find those areas of sweetness despite the tendrils. I was so, so hard on myself for years. I didn't hide my grief well enough. I didn't "get better" fast enough. I wasn't happy enough despite being remarried. It seemed like no matter how fast I danced, what had to rebuilt and processed would be in its OWN time, not mine. I'm hoping one day I can add full self-forgiveness to the list of accomplishments. The true me that I hide fairly artfully was grievously wounded...maybe one of these days I'll be able to cut her some slack. 

 

ATJ, I hope you post your post on rebuilding. Rebuilding has been the most confounding, painful, frustrating thing I've ever been faced with. Seems like I mess it up more than I ever get it right, but I keep trying. It's a huge comfort to know others are out there plugging away at it, too.

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Guest TooSoon

ATJ,  please post your post.  If we can't express ourselves here then where?  Everyone's circumstances are different and everyone's feelings are valid.  I'm on no fast track but some things had to be fast tracked for the child's sake.  And so I grieved belatedly.  But that was my reality.  My trajectory is different but that doesn't mean it is easy or I'm in any way "done" or that I've stopped thinking (everyone wishes I would stop thinking) or that I can't learn from you and others willing to share.  Please share if you are comfortable doing so.  I am listening. 

 

 

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The "fast-tracking" made me giggle too.  I felt like I was moving so slowly.  Others here were dating at a year out.  I tried it, and ran very quickly back into hiding.  No way was I ready for that yet!  I wasn't ready until about 3 years out, and only then, with someone from YWBB that had become a dear friend.  And I had learned to love myself, and my time by myself, during that extra 2 years I gave myself.  And I'd still be by myself, happily, if the right person hadn't been there.

 

Everyone just plods along at their own timeline, doing what is best for them at the time.

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But most people like looking at the brand new model of a shining car in the showroom, and are really not interested in how it was engineered, the many steps and revisions it took, and when the design stage sometimes came to a temporary halt.

 

Most people, who've never needed to give the why's and why me's of life more than a sideways glance. That would not be anyone here.

 

So do share your post, I have a feeling that it will provoke much thought and just as thoughtful a bunch of replies.

 

But to respond to the OP's query:

 

Life is very good. On the surface and even below layers there is little to complain about. In fact, I don't complain much - unless I am ranting about politics.

 

The ninth anniversary of LH's death passed at the beginning of the year without any drama at all. I even forgot on the actual day though I had noted its approach the week before.

 

Husband and I will be married eight years this June. Daughter and I finally were granted Canadian citizenship in the fall. The older daughters are settled-ish (how much can you be settled at 30ish these days?).

 

No one has died - recently.

 

The economy is not manhandling us. The weather where we live is slightly improving with climate change.

 

I feel settled. I have yet to write a book to the finish but I am getting closer, and I don't really worry about "what am I going to do with my life?" and haven't for a while now.

 

I also don't worry that I am living life wrong, the way I did when I was younger (widowhood magnified that feeling for me). I am pleased with myself.

 

I wish I could say I learned some patience, but sadly, that still eludes me.

 

One of the things I worried most about when I was widowed was "when will I start living in a way that is forward rather than backward looking." And I don't know when that happened, but I can affirm that it has. In fact, I am pretty good with the future even though I know I have zero control over what might be waiting out there for me. Having a  future doesn't feel like something that only other people get to enjoy and look forward to.

 

Good topic, Bluebird.

 

I await, ATJ's.

 

Now all we need is an "Ask Us Anything" topic.

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I still sometimes waver between "Beyond Active Greiving" and doing a bit of grieving sometimes. To me, what defined "Beyond Active Greiving" was also not first identifying myself as a widow, secondly that I truly look forward to the day beginning when I wake up in the morning and that my life holds promise and meaning without him. 

 

I realized also that a part of me will always miss him, but that my time with him was meant to push me further forward as a person. "Beyond active Greiving" for me also means that I am thankful in a way for having gone through this huge devastation in my life. I have proven to myself that I am stronger than I give myself credit for. I know now how to cultivate good, healthy friendships, while minimizing my dependence on toxic people.

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"I am thankful in a way for having gone through this huge devastation in my life."

 

OMG!!  I have thought this same exact thing... I don't think anyone has actually put this thought into words on this board... On the surface it sounds like such an awful statement.  But I know I am a better person for having gone through the loss.  I appreciate life more.  I let people know I love them more.  I take more chances.  I don't waste my time on negative people and things.  I know what's important.

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ATJ,  I really hope you do post your topic. I lurk in Beyond Active Grieving a lot, I always have since the beginning and yes, sometimes I take comfort in being a voyeur on the destination but what really helps is a peek inside the journey, be it complete or still ongoing, shared by those willing to tell their tales. We are all different so there is no set course,  but identifying similarities is helpful beyond words.

 

That said, I love this topic and the stories being shared. :)

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Since several of you have asked me to post about my lengthy Rebuilding struggle - a roller coaster ride that may want you to have your "barf bag" in hand  ;D - I will do so in a few days. But first let's give those others with happier stories a chance to respond to Bluebird's thoughtful and uplifting post.

 

We are all in the same lifeboat together. So let's stand in solidarity. BUT, you may want to throw me overboard after reading my post. ;)  Always be careful what you wish for!

 

ATJ   

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I realized also that a part of me will always miss him, but that my time with him was meant to push me further forward as a person. "Beyond active Grieving" for me also means that I am thankful in a way for having gone through this huge devastation in my life.

 

MissingSquish! This is a gem.

 

In Alanon there were members who expressed gratitude that their lives were affected by alcoholism. When I first heard this it sounded insane to me. But with many years, and a little wisdom, there are parts of my growth that I owe to alcoholism taking hold of my husband and affecting my family. I will be forever hateful of the disease of alcoholism and forever grateful for what I learned.

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I am glad that my words have resonated with you guys. Many look at me sideways when I say I am thankful for losing my husband. I am so glad you guys can relate.

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