Last night, Grief visited me at Discovery. While I was awakened from the intrusion, my mind wondered. I thought how would I sum up my widow journey far, say if I was asked at a grief group or by another new widow. I don’t know why it came up last night, but I go with my mind and the thoughts in it, and here’s what I think I would say, based on my beginning journey.
First, every widow – and widower but I am only talking about my experience now – has her own journey to take. There are similar steps taken on the journey and hearing and reading about them has been a comfort to me. I take heed in the women who have walked on these widow roads before me. Our destinations are the same – to get to a place where you live with your grief. The feelings of loneliness, anger, despair, and confusion are felt by every widow ever. And starting over is a must for every one of us. Yet I do keep with me the understanding the journey itself is different. One woman’s set-back is another woman’s momentum. What triggers depression in one, is not even felt by another. Slow and steady may be a mantra for one, and fast and furious is how another widow roles. How I role. And so on.
Second, get into counseling. I’ve never been afraid of therapy. It’s never been a sign of weakness for me. Actually, it’s just the opposite. It takes courage and strength to feel your feels, share them with a trained professional and heal. Friends and family are wonderful, but they cannot take you to a place of recovery because they do not possess the tools or knowledge. I truly believe this is important. Death of a spouse is the second worse loss of one’s life. (I still believe the worse is the death of your child.) It has been my worse pain, my worse experience, my worse loneliness. For me, seeing a therapist days after Peter died helped me live. That is not an understatement.
Third, people are going to let you down. There are people I thought would be there for me, some even family members, yet they were like crickets in the daytime. Perhaps they had/have an uncomfortableness with death. Perhaps their lives were/are filled with other ongoings. Perhaps they expected, and still expect, me to reach out. Perhaps, they never were the people I wanted them to be. However, even with uneasiness with death, or what’s going on, I did expect some type of comfort, of showing up. Early on, my voice was lost, so asking for help was impossible. I come from the thought the important people in your life should push through to reach out. This may have been, may continue to be, an unreasonable expectation, and our expectations are what angers us the most, right? Yet we all have them. So, I continue to try to understand some people are just going to let you down. As much as it hurts, it is the reality.
Forth, try not to dwell on those who aren’t there for you and concentrate on the ones who are your pillars. I have lauded and loved and cried over the people in my life who have picked me up when I crumbled and held me up when I wanted to fall. I have celebrated them. I tell everyone that I have no idea where I would be or who I would have become without these people. Sometimes though, because I am an imperfect person, because I am a sensitive imperfect person, I tend to spend time, too much time, dwelling on those who weren’t and still aren’t around for me. With the holidays, this seems to be a particular focus because of memories of Christmas pasts with them. Yet, when I make a conscious effort to switch my thought in a well, f*&# them sort of way and remember those who were and continue to be my support, it soothes me. Dwell on your tribe and try to dismiss those who disappoint.
Fifth, even with advice, therapy, knowledge of people not there and celebration for those who are, in the end, it all comes down to you. It comes down to your choices, your feelings, your pitfalls, your triumphs, your setbacks, your grieving. I have learned, and am still learning to become comfortable in myself. All the voices of others, the support of others, the constant of others will eventually become less as I become more, the way it should be, the way it has to be. So, I have to believe in myself while I feel my feels, while I make my choices, while I become a single person again, a new person. I know I’m not there as of today. Though, I do wonder what I will look like when I get there.
So there you go. In my made-up scenario of being asked about my experience of my beginnings on this reluctant journey of widowhood, here are my feelings, advice, and reflections. I’m sure six months from now when I am farther along, I’ll either expand or dismiss everything I wrote. Hell, maybe even a week from now. But today, after Grief visited me last night robbing me of some sleep, here they are…laid out in front of you the only way I know how, with honesty and with heart.