October 22, 2014
I must say, almost 5 months in, the ache is still absolutely excruciating.
In many ways, day-to-day life is getting easier. It used to be that I didn’t even have the energy for the most basic tasks and that I got emotionally triggered at the drop of a hat. Now I am much more functional and am able to keep my self from getting constantly triggered. For example, for a long time I cried every single morning on the drive to school, because John used to drive the kids to school. A week and a half ago (5 wks into the school year) I had my very first morning when I didn’t cry as I drove. Of course, the next morning I cried while I drove, but still – this is progress.
At the same time as I become more able to manage the details of life/kids/household, my ocean of grief continues to grow. I am told this is common. Day after day I’m reminded – he really isn’t coming home. I still stare at the front door while I’m cooking dinner, willing him to walk through it after work. Reality continues to set in as the numbness wears off. Professional counselors and other widows all tell me that I can expect the pain to increase until about the 1yr mark. They say that the loneliness and the awareness of the stark and painful reality of his death will continue to grow. I almost can’t even breathe when I contemplate that this excruciating pain will only continue to get bigger. Every fiber of my being aches for him and it takes all of my strength to not get sucked away by the darkness of true, all encompassing sorrow.
I continue to find that the healthiest thing I can do is take solo trips. When I am here in town, my burdens are crushing. I have to stay very strong and put-together for the kids, my MIL, and for the continued administration around John’s death (the paperwork continues plus I have moved through 4 drafts of a will). I have so much on my shoulders, there is very little space to surrender fully into my grief. I do have chunks of time every single day when I let go and cry, but am not able to do some of the deep soul searching I need to do while caring for everyone else. So, I take trips. Every single trip I have taken has been fruitful, either in that it simply refreshes me for the next push or in that I am able to meditate deeply, connect with John’s soul, cry a TON, and process some of my feelings. I plan to continue to take a lot of trips for at least the next couple of years. I have a sense of that I won’t make it through this ordeal unless I frequently step away from my burdens. I simply won’t make it if I just stay here and drown. You hear stories of people really losing it – single moms feeling like there is no way out and then totally falling apart. I never before truly understood how someone could let themselves fall apart, especially when they have children, but I understand now. I will not fall apart, because I will continue to make time for self-care. There are a couple of people out there who have shown that they will judge me for taking time to soothe myself during a time of such darkness. I do not welcome any judgment into my life.
The other thing I have come to understand is that I need to make life different. There are some things that need to stay the same, both for my sake and the sake of my kids. For now we need to stay in the same house, the kids need to go to the same school, and it is important that their loving Grandma stay downstairs, at close reach. These things help us to stay grounded. Other than that, change wherever possible is good. The life that I have now is a life that I built with John. I realized that it felt like I was leading the same life, but with a big hole in it. I need to find a new life that is a Holly-and-the-kids life, not a Holly-and-John life that has no John. So, I’ve done little things – buy new furniture, reorganize the house, taken trips with the kids that are more me-trips than John-trips. I’ve come to recognize that I need even bigger changes. I’m closing down my yoga business for good and will look for some other totally different sort of part time job after the new year. There are other big changes I have in mind. It is time to create my future, while still giving myself space to continue to grieve. This isn’t about forgetting John. We will never forget John. It’s about setting an intention to continue to grieve, to continue to keep his memory alive, while also continuing to LIVE and embrace the life in front of us.
As for the kids – Isabella’s experience is similar to mine in that her grief continues to grow. She has gotten especially sad in the last couple of weeks, at times is resistant to going to school, and I’m holding her closely. She goes to group grief counseling (with other kids her age that lost parents). I continue to gently offer her the option of 1:1 counseling and she continues to reject the idea. Our family grief counselor advises me to offer the option but not push. She has to be ready. Melanie continues to be clingier and need more affection than before John died. She is confused, doesn’t know what to do with her sadness, and turns it into asking me to marry someone else because “Mama, I _really_ need a dad again.” It is heartbreaking.
John – I miss you.