The Stage of Exhaustion

woman wearing black off shoulder dress
Photo by Engin Akyurt on

I am exhausted. I think the stages of grief should be revisited and exhaustion should be added. Since Peter died, I feel like my body is a wet, wool coat, I keep dragging through the day. Yeah, I’m getting to the end of the day, at times lately even better than okay, but I am utterly, totally, completely, exhausted.

The other day my friend commented that she didn’t know how I didn’t stay in bed all day. Staying in bed all day. Sounds like a good plan…if my back wouldn’t mutiny on me and scream for me to please, for the love of my lower back, get out of bed. And if I didn’t have a room full of crap for my new apartment I still have to pack up, or Peter’s stuff I have to go through. My bedroom is a basement, only upstairs. Shoot, I had to bring up the basement. The thought of starting in on the basement and the garage wears me out.

Peter was not a hoarder, not really, more of a packrat who saved things with the thought, “maybe I’ll use this one day” and gosh, darn it if he didn’t find a use for many of the whatchamacallits he saved. Of course, most of the things he stored in the garage or basement have the kids and I scratching our heads. Things like pieces of wood shaped like an isosceles triangle, or a pipe that could be in the Masterpiece board game.

It’s not only the things I have to go through in a house filled from twenty-four years of “maybe-I’ll-use-this-one-day” that causes me to feel drained, but it’s also the emotional turmoil whipped up the minute I knew Peter died. I’ve already written about the exhaustion caused by my fights with insurance companies, credit card companies, utilities, and pension boards. They’re not all resolved, but some.  Those are ending, but what still remains are the insecurities of my decisions and the fears of my loneliness. Carrying around those two powerfully strong emotions on my shoulders wears me down every single day.

I have made decisions, some rash, some great, most in between, and with each one, I question the financial implications and long-term effect on me. With each one, I do think of Peter and think of his approval and/or disapproval. Only I will never know for sure his opinion as he’s dead. So I base it on what I know of him. And you know, sometimes that’s not good or fair to me. I mean, I am the one left living. Yet, old habits are hard to kick as I am not used to living as one, and not a pair. It’s also tiring. To have those internal debates are taxing and I’m not sure when they will end.

Loneliness is a huge part of my fear in this grief crap. I don’t fear to live alone, really. I actually relish it. I lived alone for years before Peter, and I like my alone times. Hello, I’m a writer, the most individual profession you can have. Besides, as the youngest of seven, I probably seek it out more than most. I mean, it’s not something I had very often growing up in a smaller house. What I do fear, is experiencing events and celebrations, alone.

For the past thirty-plus years, I never worried about being alone on my birthday, an anniversary, the holidays, going to a wedding, even attending a community event. Peter was always at my side, and I at his, until he wasn’t. So now, like today, I am already wondering what I am going to do for New Year’s Eve. It was never an over-the-top celebrated holiday for Peter and me. We would sit at home, watch movies and I’d fall asleep by 10:30. But it was a holiday I spent with him. Now, he’s gone, my tradition is gone with him, like all our, my, traditions. Making new ones is much easier said than done.

Oh, I have friends, great friends, plentiful friends, sister friends. And I have kids, wonderful kids, loving kids, giving kids. Yet, friends have their own traditions and barging in on them makes me feel like an obnoxious guest. My children should and do have their own lives, figuring out their own traditions. It’s not in me to intrude or interrupt their lives, lives that are beginning. It tires me out trying to figure out my future, my experiences, my celebrations without Peter in them.

I do add to my own exhaustion. I overcompensate. I go downtown for a birthday or anniversary in efforts to avoid the inevitabilities. Or I am on the go, making plans, having lunches or dinners, getting my apartment readied, anything to keep me busy enough to avoid thinking about what is my reality, my decisions. I mean, I keep moving which seems good for me in my own healing process. While I move though, the introvert in me – yes, I have one in me – screams she needs rest.  I have to start listening to her yelps because I am getting exhausted.

I am going to my daughter’s place this weekend. Spending time with her will be refreshing. She, like me, has an introverted side and we do tend to have our introverted sides visit. She likes to read while I write, or crochet while watching television. Sure, we’ll probably do a few things here and there, but, mostly we’ll talk, laugh and just be. Plus, the ride out there, listening to an audiobook, is making my introverted side very happy. This weekend may actually help my exhaustion.

Yeah, I’m tired.  I’m tired of all this crap widowhood lays at my feet. I’m tired of living a life without him. I tired of ignoring my own life. I’m tired of second-guessing my choices. I’m tired of looking at the road ahead of me, filled with more purging of the stuff Peter kept. I am just tired of being tired.

Still, at the end of the day, I know this is my life now. I know I still have strength in me, humor in me and love around me. I know this because I get up every morning in my bedroom that doubles as a basement and face the world again. In time, when this exhaustion stage which isn’t really a stage, like all the other stages of grief, will lessen, maybe even go away, and I will live my life more refreshed. I will emerge restored and recharged. In the meantime, I think I make take more naps.