I met with my new landlord today to exchange the keys for the rent and pet security deposit checks. I took Belle for her evening walk, listening to my iPod (very loudly I might add) and just enjoyed the sun and sounds … and some exercise.
When I got in the house, I sat on the side of the bed, and it suddenly hit me. A rush of emotion just overtook me, and the tears just flowed and flowed. I was acutely aware that I haven’t cried like this is a while now. So much has happened in the past 4 1/2 months. I never could have imagined what a turn my life would take this year.
I never in a million years expected Mark to die. Never. Well, maybe some day, but not on January 17th. I remember sitting in the hospital with the Social Worker, and not having a clue what I should do. The shock was numbing. Thank God I had enough sense to make phone calls, and thankfully I called the right people. Of course I called my brother Jeff. Who else would I call when I am in trouble? He is the one person that I have ALWAYS been able to count on whenever I got into a jam and needed help. There are no words for how wonderful he is, and how lucky I am to have him for a brother.
I also called two very special people who both came to the hospital to be with me. They are total opposites on the “crisis spectrum”, but the balance was exactly what I needed. I am forever grateful to both of them.
The numbing days that followed after Mark’s passing were hell. If Jeff had not helped with the arrangements, I doubt I would have been able to do it alone. When he went back home, he left me with a detailed list of things I needed to do and when to do them. I did manage to push through and get the things done, although very slowly. It was painful, and each day was a living hell. I cried all the time. I wondered if the tears were ever going to stop. I didn’t know if I would actually be able to go on, and I doubted my own sanity.
I can remember the feeling of not being able to get out of bed. What was the point? I didn’t have one. I stayed in bed to the point that I could no longer be on time for where ever it was that I had to go. I felt like I lost my purpose. Life really didn’t have any meaning. Then my friend and co-worker N. had car trouble, and she was forced to take the train to work. I offered to pick her up at the train station to save her the cab fare (or having to walk in the cold). Part of the offer was to help her out, but it was also to give me the motivation and incentive to get my pathetic ass out of bed. It worked out for both of us.
When I couldn’t go to the grocery store because the sadness and pure panic would set in, N. would go with me in the morning. While it might not have been a big deal for her, it was for me. It was because of her that I found the courage to go alone. I still don’t enjoy it, but at least it’s not a horrifically painful event.
“When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
~ Alexander Graham Bell
Slowly things got done and life was tolerable. However, I found that the doors that were once my life with Mark were closing. I hesitated to close them all the way because I was afraid of the future. Even more I was afraid to let go of the life Mark and I had together. Yet I found that in closing them, new ones were opening for me, and those doors held endless possibilities and hopes for the future.
In the months since Mark passed away, I have done things I never thought would or could be possible for me. I have stepped out of my comfort zone on SO many different occasions. As much as I hate to make phone calls, I really didn’t have much choice. I couldn’t see myself having my friends make all the phone calls for me (although I have no doubt that someone would have done it for me if I asked). I have paid off all of my debt (except for my car). With Mark’s love of shopping and (over)spending and helping his family, we were never able to be completely financially free, and I didn’t like living under a cloud of debt.
I’ve reconnected with old friends and co-workers. I’ve taken a painting class, finding a new outlet for my creative side. I’ve taken a glass blowing class and made a beautiful glass egg. I’ve learned that I actually do have “4:00 AM friends” (the friends you can call at 4 AM because life hurts) and I had them ALL ALONG!!
I have had numerous friends help me with packing and sorting. I’ve had many friends just call to check on me to make sure I am doing okay. I couldn’t have done it without my countless, wonderful, giving, loving friends! You all know who you are and I love each of you dearly. I have no words for the love and support you’ve all shown me! I am forever humbly grateful!
Now have a new place to call home. I knew I couldn’t stay here because it is WAY too huge and too expensive for me to manage alone. I am so proud of myself. I knew I needed to find a new home, and I did what I needed to do to make it happen. I did have some help from my wonderful friends who went with me to look at the places I found.
I move into my new home in 10 days. I have friends who will help me. Jeff made all the arrangements for the movers and he has completely removed that pressure from me.
I still miss Mark. I will always miss him. I will always love him. I am also eternally grateful for the years we had together. While it was not perfect, it was ours. It was special to me, and I will cherish our life together forever. The memories will live inside of me forever, but that life is over now.
Mark is looking down at me, and I have absolutely NO DOUBT at all that he is so proud of me for all that I have done and handled in the months since he has been gone. I can honestly say that in spite of my own personal stumbles and misgivings, I have handled myself with extreme grace and dignity. I have pushed through the excruciating pain, and I’ve come out stronger and better. I’m not completely “there” yet, but I am well on my way.
I can once again see happiness in my future. I never thought that would happen. I never thought I’d ever feel “better”. Months of misery has taken its toll, but I know that life does go on.
I’m ready to put the hurt, pain, anger, denial, sadness, and guilt behind me. I want to move forward and find out just how wonderful my life can be. I will face roadblocks, but after losing my wonderful husband, I think I can handle it.
Mark was right. I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for, and I can achieve just about anything if I put my mind to it. I never realized that. I never had to because he did it all for me, and I didn’t have to step out to face my fears.
Now I realize that I want to enjoy all that life has to offer. I want to have some fun. I want to cross things off my Bucket List (http://pinterest.com/bonsaisms/bon-s-bucket-list/) and feel that wonderful sense of accomplishment. I want to open my heart and let a special person in. I want go places and do things that make me feel alive. I want to experience what it’s like to feel free.
I’m ready. I didn’t realize it until today. And now I know I won’t accept anything less than what I want and deserve!!
It just occurred to me that I didn’t go to Bereavement Support group last night. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I was so wrapped up in my own life that I completely forgot all about it.
Is this a sign of healing? Or am I just too preoccupied?
When Mark passed away, I felt as though my life was thrown into a blender! That may sound a little odd and melodramatic, but it sums up what I felt at the time. As time has passed, I have found that the blender only mixed up all the parts of my life, but in its churning, it created a new and different me.
I’ve realized that life is too short to take everything so seriously. That’s not to say that I would just act irresponsibly or reckless, but I will embrace what I want and how I feel. I’ve learned that I have the best friends that anyone could ever ask for! So many of them have gone WAY above anything that I could have imagined, and I am eternally grateful. I have also learned the fine art of “Pay It Forward”. For those of you who do not understand that concept, it’s really very simple. Pay it forward is asking the beneficiary of a good deed to repay it to others instead of to the original benefactor. It’s really a beautiful concept, and for the first time (that I can remember), I was able to do just that.
I’ve realized that there is no timeline for grief. It’s inconsistent, it’s personal, and it often hits like a damned freight train. But at the same time, it’s important to know that grief is also like a snowflake. Each snowflake is different, and each person who experiences grief deals with it differently.
I’ve been given a lot of advice and suggestions by those that care about me. The advice has been on a variety of topics such as money and finances, cooking, dating, and personal safety just to name a few. While I take it all in and listen carefully, ultimately the choices will be mine. Some of my decisions will be good and others may not work for me. This is all part of the growing process that I’m experiencing as I learn how to live on my own and for myself.
I know that I’m being given the advice because I am loved and cared about, but again, the choices are mine, and my time line is my own. If I choose to eat frozen pizza for dinner, that is my choice. If I spend too much money or buy something extravagant, that is my choice. If I choose to date someone, that is my choice. If I choose to be a bit reckless, again, that is my choice.
I’m in charge of my own life. I’m walking my own time line. And I will live and learn with each step that I take. You may not always agree with what I do or how I live my life, but just remember, it’s my life to live. I appreciate the concern and the advice, but I can’t live to please others.
“There are a lot of things about me that aren’t what you thought. But if you love me, you have to love all the things about me.” ~ Frances “Baby” Houseman, Dirty Dancing
I’m hopeful because I truly believe that my new life can be GREAT! I lost myself over the years, but I’m ready to find myself and start living again! Do you want to know why? It’s really simple, BECAUSE I’M WORTH IT!
Today marks the Four Month Anniversary of Mark’s passing, and I realize that I have come a very long way. It’s been hard. It’s been sad. I’ve been through so much in four months that I never thought I would have to deal with at this stage of my life.
Five Stages of Grief
I’ve been through the stages of grief. I’ve been through some of those stages several times. I did the denial thing. I couldn’t grasp the fact that Mark had actually died. I had trouble believing that I was a widow at the young age of 49. Never saw it coming. Sometimes I have a little trouble believing he is gone, but it’s not the same as it was months ago.
Bargaining was not one of my longer stages. I knew that Mark was gone, and I knew that there was no bringing him back. There was no reason to bargain. What would be the point?
The Anger Stage was and is a HUGE one for me. I was angry at Mark before he died because so many of his health problems would/could have been avoided if he had just taken better care of himself. He would rarely go to the doctor and when he did, he was non-compliant with what ever the doctors had told him. It would make me very angry, and I didn’t understand why he was so apathetic when it came to being healthy. He seemed to take better care of himself after he started dialysis, but I think that was only because he was forced to see doctors and follow protocol.
I was angry that he left me to deal with all the loose ends. I realized that I was in the dark about a lot of things in our financial house. I should have paid more attention to what was going on, but I trusted him, and I never thought to question it in the manner that I should have.
I’m angry that I’ve missed out on life for the last four years. This does not translate to regret over anything that Mark and I shared together. However, I missed out on time with friends, sacrificed my own personal wants/desires, put my dreams on the back shelf, and put myself in the roll of caregiver all out of the love that I had for him.
I didn’t really hit a deep Depression. I was sad, and I did a hell of a lot of crying. Way more crying than I could ever imagine that one person could actually do. But thankfully I never hit a deep low of depression. Maybe the xanax helped? Maybe it was the love from my wonderful friends? Maybe I really am stronger than I thought that I was?
Now I have reached the Acceptance Stage. I think I’ve been approaching it for a few weeks now. I know that Mark is gone. He left me before I was ready, but it was his time and God’s will. I know that I will always love him and miss him, but I need to walk forward and find myself and my own happiness. I will be moving in three weeks into a place of my own, and I will have a new freedom that I’ve never had before. Mark didn’t leave me destitute and he did give me some basic “instructions” for what to do if something happened to him. While I wasn’t prepared for this new life, I will adapt and do the best that I can.
I’ll be able to do what I want, when I want, and with whom I want. I’m not totally sure what that is yet, but I am looking forward to finding out. I’m looking forward to decorating my new place MY way with the colors that I want. I’m’ looking forward to new beginnings and fresh starts.
I know that Mark would approve.
Something feels different as I approach the four month mark of Mark’s passing. I feel different in many ways and the vise that has been squeezing my heart seems to have loosened its grip enough for me to breathe again.
Is it that I am now counting how long Mark has been gone in terms of months instead of weeks?
Could the reason be that I am closing the doors of our life together and beginning to open new ones without him?
Is it because I am learning to envision my future without Mark?
Perhaps it is because when I see couples together, I can smile and not immediately burst into tears?
Maybe the reason is that I now have a new and different support system who I reach out to instead of Mark?
As I sort/toss the stuff that WAS my life with Mark, it is a form of healing for me. With each article of clothing that I donate and each box that I sort through, I feel a little bit of the weight lifting from my world. As I pack the boxes and tape them closed, taking with me only the things that I want, I feel the door slowly closing to the life I shared with Mark.
In many ways I still consider Mark to be my husband, and until such time, if ever, I remarry, I suppose I could still refer to him that way. However, he is not alive so therefore I am a WIDOW. If I continue to refer to myself as married, I will never be able to move forward nor will I ever find happiness and peace.
Right after Mark died, I thought about changing my Facebook status from married to widowed, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I felt like I was being unfaithful or minimizing what we had together, so I didn’t change it. I now realize that I can be “widowed” but still hold the memories of our life together close to my heart. By moving on and closing doors, I am gluing the pieces of my life back together, and it is what I need to do and what Mark would have wanted me to do.
So with that being said, I am going to change my Facebook status. Why now, you ask? All I can say is that I have my personal reasons and all you need to know is that it feels like the right time. Maybe some will think it is too soon. Others have told me that I should have done it months ago. For me, it is the epitome of healing, moving on, and learning to stand on my own two feet.
…where you were 14 weeks ago? I can.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 3 1/2 months since Mark passed away. It’s hard to believe I’m actually functioning.
I saw a commercial on TV when I was watching NCIS, and they sang the song, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands” in English and Spanish. Then I was acutely aware that I’m not happy. And I don’t know when I’ll be happy again. I’d like to think that eventually I will find peace and acceptance. And maybe someday I might find happiness, but that day is NOT today. And tomorrow’s not looking so good either!
I miss you Bunny!
This evening was Bereavement Support Group, and for the very first time since I have been going, something that I shared in a previous week was able to help someone else! I never would have believed that would happen?
I won’t share their story, but it had to do with family troubles after the death of their loved one. I was asked to re-share my experience with the In Law’s after Mark passed away. I was easily able to tell the story again except that now it almost seems comical. When it was happening it was painful and depressing, but in the big scope of the things that I have dealt with and been through since Mark passed away, I have pretty much shrugged it off and moved on.
I enjoy Support Group – that is if anyone can enjoy sharing their grief and pain with others. I wish I did not have a reason to go. And I wish that none of these wonderful men and women had to be there either. Yet, I find them to be kind and supportive, and all are very welcoming. Everyone is at a different stage of grief, but I can relate to something that each person shares.
Tonight the theme was “Are you Bad, Glad, Mad, or Sad.” We were asked which one of these we were feeling today. My emotion was MAD. Today I was MAD at Mark. I was mad because he passed away and he left me alone. I was mad because I have had to deal with so many new things. I’m mad because he broke his promises to me. I’m mad because Wonder Belle and I will be moving into our own place in a month which just reminds me that “I AM A WIDOW!!” I’m mad for so many more reasons that I just can’t share with anyone.
Everyone at Support Group was so happy that I found a new home because they knew that I was going to have to move out of this condo because it is too big and I am hemorrhaging money each month. They all seem to think that it will help me heal and Chaplain Karen (who sometimes fills in for Chaplain Anna) said she was so proud of me for moving forward, being strong and doing what I need to do even though it is difficult.
As we were leaving, one woman said that she thought I was an extremely strong woman, and I needed to package it for the rest of the group. I don’t feel strong. I’ve never felt like I was a strong person. My good friend once told me that I am the strongest person she has ever known. If I can be honest, I often feel incapable to deal with life. I feel weak and afraid. I am out of my comfort zone more than I am not. I feel sad and alone. I feel like I want to crawl into bed and never get out.
Yet people keep telling me how strong I am. Maybe someday I will believe it!