Sunday, January 31, 2010
When I first saw my husband's body it was so strange. It wasn't him... or was it? This has really happened... hasn't it. He is no longer here... just this body.
I had one viewing and then short calling hours right before the funeral. The evening viewing was packed but before the funeral very few came. So, there were a couple times that I was the only one in the room - as everyone else was running around preparing for the funeral. There I stood all alone. Staring at the bad make-up job... wondering why they thought peach lipstick was a good idea... wondering what color his skin would be if they hadn't caked on the foundation... and feeling like it looked as though he was heavier... how much preservatives did they pump in him? Do you think he even feels real anymore? He sure didn't look real. So... I reached out and poked him.
Cold. Jello-like. Weird. **shiver**
Saturday, January 30, 2010
I was thrown into this world of working full-time, caring for a house that needed far too many repairs, taking care of three kids (gosh I hate homework), and just trying to survive.
I am not a neat freak. Nope. I am fine if the kids run through the house and it looks like a tornado hit. At least I always had been - when I knew I could clean it up at any time. Something happened when time became this precious commodity... All of the sudden I didn't have the time to spend picking up the messes, doing the laundry, making dinner, doing the dishes, etc. I had just a few hours a day to accomplish everything. It really bothered me. I felt like my house was in constant disarray. I hated it. I was miserable. Then one day I was talking to my sister on the phone... moaning and groaning about how I couldn't take it, about how I couldn't keep up. She gave me some wise advice that day. She told me to get new friends. She told me I was comparing myself to me in my old life and I still had all these friends from my old life that were stay-at-home moms with kids in school who had TIME for things I didn't have time for anymore. She told me to find some single mom friends and see if I still felt incompetent.
That was the day I began to lower my standard. Now, I only fret if the kitchen or fridge starts to smell. Instead of worrying everyday about what a mess the house is... I rest in peace knowing I will clean it on Saturday, if I feel like it. I will say... I didn't run out and take my sister's advice to get new friends... I think I was too afraid that I would still feel incompetent. It's better here... in denial with my own new standard of normal.
Friday, January 29, 2010
I had not thought too much about that, in terms of how it applied to my life until she said... "I remember you... you never gave up hope. Two days before Chris died, there was still a plan for how he would get better." In fact the day he died I was talking to my sister on the phone and I told her, "I think I am the only person in this room that believes he may not die".
I think a lot of people felt as though I was not accepting what was happening to me... but I had unwavering faith. I knew my Father in Heaven, God, was watching over me... so I pushed forward with hope. With faith in His plan for us. My husband gradually declined in health from the summer of '04 until his death in January '05. But, I kept up the hope... not in a negative... clingy kind of way.. but I continued to believe that no matter what the situation appeared to be, it could change at any time according to God's will.
I felt peace. I guess that hope gives us that. Since his death, the hope continues... my hope for my kids, that they will heal, that they will be positive, contributing members of society, that they won't be supporting the "psychology field" as they heal from their childhood :), hope that I will have a better future than my past, hope for finding my way out of this maze.
M. Russell Ballard said "As we put our faith and trust to work, hope is born. Hope grows out of faith and gives meaning and purpose to all that we do".
I hope you will take a couple minutes to view this video on hope.
I had a friend tell me once that she was concerned about a friend who didn't appear to be taking seriously what was happening to her husband (he was dieing as well)... who are we to question another's hope? Our 'carnal' nature is what wants us to say to someone... "wake up" but, on a spiritual side... why would we want someone to give up hope? I used to say, "If I am in denial... leave me here... it's a beautiful place to be".
There is nothing wrong, in fact, there is something very right - about having hope.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
My oldest really struggled. I didn't know what to do for him. He wouldn't talk to anyone and in every way "checked - out" while he was at school. They were sending him to meet with the school counselor, but I also knew he was taking frequent trips to the bathroom during the day. I understood. He needed to get out... to get away... he needed to cry. So, he would. He would go to the bathroom to cry.
We had a wonderful counselor that was working for Hospice at the time. She was good at what she did and she understood kids and grief far better than I did. I spoke with the counselor at the school and inquired regarding his knowledge / experience in dealing with grief. He admittedly had none. I talked to the Hospice counselor about whether or not she could work with the counselor at the school. My son would not talk to her in the evenings, she would come to the house and he wanted to be left alone... but I thought maybe he would at school. And, at the very least, the Hospice counselor could teach the school counselor a few things that may help.
The counselor was open to this, so, with a plan in hand... I went to the Principle to seek permission to arrange this. His reaction: "No, I don't think that would be a good idea. I mean, what would be do if there was a break through and he was crying?" My reaction: "You are right. It is so much better for him to go to the bathroom and cry where the adults don't have to be made uncomfortable by his tears of grief. "
I didn't win that battle.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
If you read up on it... you will find that it is a normal part of the grieving process. Well... then.... I am going through the grieving process A LOT! That part, I can say has improved over the past five years. I certainly spend less time in bed now, then I have. But, it still hits me sometimes... and I just need to crash.
People at work know I am widowed... the word has spread.
After I had been there for about a year, a lady who has been with the company for 50+ years lost her husband. About six weeks later I found myself sitting with her at a table for a holiday luncheon. I didn't know her that well. We don't even work in the same building. But, we had spoken before, and I had offered my condolences.
As we sat at the table that day she was talking to the group that was there about how tired she is, and she doesn't understand why. As girls do, they all started offering her wise advice. Drink more water, take your vitamins, and on and on. I sat there silent until I couldn't stand one more piece of useless advice. So, I spoke.
"Your husband died my friend, that is why you are tired. Drink all the water and take all the vitamins... but you're still going to be tired. Your body is grieving. Just sleep if you are tired. Let your body heal. And don't expect it to go away quickly. I'm two years in and I am still tired."
No one said a word after that. We sat for what seemed like hours in silence... of course I think it was only five minutes. I think everyone was too shocked that I would say something like that and too uncomfortable to know what else to say.
Sorry. But you can't go leading her on to believe it will go away by drinking water. He is dead. And all the water in the world is not going to make it so you don't have to heal.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I sold my house in two weeks.... and realized I didn't know where I was going or what I was doing. Luckily, we found a nice enough home to rent in the neighboring town.
A year later, I quit my job. That story is for another day... but here I was unemployed, with the money from the sale of my house in my savings account... just needing time to heal. Time to get my life, and my kid's life, on track. I went back to school, only to find out that I would get $0 in financial aid due to the money in my savings account. I guess they didn't understand or care that if I spent that money I would not be able to buy another house... I wouldn't have money to live on.... After one semester, I decided I might as well buy a house... so I did. I bought an ugly little, and I mean little, yellow house that I fixed up.
A year later, I was working full-time and felt claustrophobic in our tiny little house... so I bought a bigger one. I love my house that I am in now.
Three moves, three years. I think everyone thought I was crazy. Sometimes I think back and wonder if some psychologist would analyze that to mean I was 'running' or trying to keep so busy I didn't have time to feel. I say.. yes, those were the perks... but the reality is... I HAD A DARN GOOD REASON FOR EVERY MOVE! :)
Monday, January 25, 2010
My oldest (9 when his dad died), as I have mentioned before, has struggled the most. I think he truly didn't want to let go of the grief or the anger - because the grief and anger allowed him to feel connected to his father still. It was his way of proving and FEELING like he still missed him. Of course, I am no psychologist... just a mom with a gut feeling.
My middle child, who is a girl (7 when her dad died), has taken it in stride for the most part. I have watched her shed more tears over her gerbil that died or the bird's eggs out her window that were smashed than I have her father. Of course, when she was upset or hurt - she used to go to her dad. That's right... I think he was more nurturing than I - so even if it meant waiting for him to get home from work, she would go crying to her dad the minute he walked in, as if the injury had just happened. He put on her band aids, not mom. I have watched her cry a lot over minor injuries or little things where a little kiss on the forehead would have made her better in an instant before. I think those have been her moments of mourning and grief. Her daddy wasn't there to run to.
My youngest (5 when his dad died).... oh how I have ached for him. Once he was upset over something... I think he had gotten in trouble (he is a sensitive one... doesn't like to do wrong). He was in his room crying after the incident and I walked in to see him curled up in his bed hugging a photo of his dad.
Another time, at the age of six he spoke the words I think each of us could understand... for we had all felt that way. We were talking about Dad... and he simply said.... "sometimes I am so sad I cry in my body".
Sunday, January 24, 2010
There is some truth to that...in some of the little things. The memory fades. Sometimes when I watch a home video or read from my journal - it can bring it back completely. But day to day - there is a larger, general memory of who he was. I am confident that what I have written does not say what I mean... because there are not words to explain that feeling... of losing from your grasp the fine detailed memories.
I don't think Chris was worried as he watched over us that we would forget him. He is too unforgettable. But, I am certain he was concerned about me forgetting who I was (and the kids forgetting who they are). His death changed me. There has been some positive growth, but mostly I started to lose myself somewhere in dealing with my grief, and trying to help my kids deal with theirs, and being a full-time mom, dad, and working... There was no more time for me... just this robot.
I made the comment before that I felt like I "came out of the clouds" some this year. Not just seeing peaks of sunshine - but more constant sun everyday. I don't know if it is because I came out that I found me again - or finding me again pulled me out the clouds. I am not the same person I was... but I am just starting find out who I am now and remember the good in who I was.
I laugh more now. Not to say I haven't laughed in the last five years... but laughing seemed to be something that was the "peaks of sun". When I was with friends, on a date, etc. It was no longer the everyday. But, I am finding that part of me again. I am crazy and silly and carefree. I am starting to remember.... and little by little I am becoming a new me with the past and the present gelled into one.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
My husband was always a dare devil. He found joy in high-risk type activities and "boy toys". I had lots of accidental life insurance on him. I don't know if it was my own insecurity or if my Heavenly Father was preparing me... but I always thought he would die early.
I would have been set for life, if he only died while out riding a four-wheeler or driving too fast down the road. One thing I never considered was that he would die from health issues. He was extraordinarily strong and very healthy. In fact when he first went to the doctor when he was having issues, his doctor told him not to worry about it - he was young and healthy "it's not like it's cancer." Or... it is!
When my husband passed... my life insurance policy was sufficient to pay off a couple bills, pay for the funeral and hospital bills. Then, I was on my own. A single mom with three kids to support and raise. I only took a week off of work. Then, we started to get on a schedule. I would get the kids off to school then get myself dressed up and head for work. I would cry the entire way there. When I would pull in the parking lot I would wipe the tears from my eyes, take a deep breath - and be glad my office was just off the back door.
I had a family to support. There was no time to let myself go completely off the deep end. I had to stand on the edge... half functioning... half crashing. I think I would have gone insane, completely insane, if I didn't have to remain in working order. Yes, you have to be rich to be insane... losing your mind is not a luxury for the middle-class.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Sometimes you feel BLAH! So, you have to get something NOT SO BLAH to perk you up. A pink phone, red shoes, a red computer bag with polka dots on the inside, a pink coat, a black and white polka dot purse, fun glitzy earring, a new lipstick, a bright scarf, a perfume called "Provocative Woman" 'cause you feel like anything BUT, a lime green coat with a matching hat, super high heels with big 'ol gems on them... you get the idea!
The first year my husband died, I bought myself a present every month as a reward for making it through another month. Now, well... reality and bills hit and so I reserve my splurges for special occasions... But I still live by the theme... WHEN LIFE ISN'T FUN, YA GOTTA HAVE FUN ACCESSORIES! There is something about sitting at a dead-end job... knowing your kids are home without you.. and having your phone ringing ten times with the reports of fights going on at home... The sunshine? The super cute pink phone I look at every time it rings. It's the little lesson I learned - find happiness in the little things, like your accessories!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Maybe you get used to it - so the hurt isn't so raw. But it is still there, it has only changed.
Of course, 5 years ago today I stood at a graveside in the freezing cold watching as they lowered my husband's body into the ground. So surreal. The feelings I had in that very moment so easily and speedily return when I just think for a moment of that day....
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I sometimes feel like he got out easy. I am left to raise three kids and support them emotionally and financially while raising them to be strong contributing members of society. That is not an easy task. My oldest has had a hard time accepting and adjusting to his dad's death. He has had a lot of anger, and I am sure out of 'safety' takes it all out on me. We have struggled through so many struggles and in my moments of despair, when I don't think I have the strength or the energy to keep up the fight... in those moments I miss him. I need him. I yearn for him. I am not angry with him, because if I sit still and let my heart be still, I can feel him. I can feel his pain as he watches my trials with no way of physically helping me. I do not doubt he has shed tears as he has witnessed mine.
With the same thought I am not angry at God. He is all I have some days. No matter what - He has not left me. When I married my husband - we made a promise to God. With that promise our marriage became a three-way bond. Me, my husband and God. My husband may not be able to be here like he was - but God is here even more. When I turn to Him for help, if I am but patient, the help always comes.
Monday, January 18, 2010
I think it is more... I have a girlfriend who is single. She was the sole caregiver for her parents as they became ill and both died within a year of each other. She had a very close relationship with them and they loved and supported (emotionally) her everyday. I have another close friend who woke up one day to find out that for some reason... her husband didn't love her anymore and he wanted to end their marriage. I think these friends of mine are widows. The person they were emotionally dependant on is gone - and now they have to go through the process of finding new ways to cope and rely on only themselves for the love and emotional support that used to be there for them everyday.
I think that is what has made widowhood such a challenge. If I am tired... it is still all mine to do. There is no one I can turn to and say "can you handle this? I don't have the patience today". Everyday is my day. If I 'take a day off' from picking up the house or doing laundry - I have to work twice as hard the next day.
Today, I just want to say... if you know a widow... know that they need to be loved. Don't judge them for how they do or don't mourn. Don't judge what they do or don't do. Just love them. That is what we need. As we each look for the sunshine that is covered with clouds - we need to feel that it is there even when we can't see it. Most of the time that comes from a friend who just calls to say "I love you" and offers some emotional support. These are the friends that help bridge the gap from where we are to where we are going. These are the friends that feel like angels from heaven, sent to help us find the way.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
"As a new year begins and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. So a more theological way to talk about Lot's wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord's ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently, she thought that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as what she was leaving behind."
Saturday, January 16, 2010
I have moved three times in the last five years... that story is for another day... but somehow, even though my husband's name isn't on anything anymore, the magazine "This Old House" has managed to keep up with me and where I live. I received a letter from them this week. It was addressed to my husband with big bold letters across the front that said, "We Want You Back". I thought...SO DO I!
It has been five years now. Five years ago today I stood in a hospital knowing I was saying goodbye, at least for this life. That was nothing compared to watching my husband say goodbye to our children. I sobbed.
It has been a journey. I have grown. I have cried. But I have come to love this path for the strength it has instilled in me, for the perspective I have gained.
I did a lot of "coming out of the clouds" this year. Don't get me wrong, it is still hard. I am still tired. I still miss him. But I am starting to find me again.... Although, sometimes, like yesterday and today, I feel like I am in a maze and I can't seem to find my way out. I just keep running into walls.
This blog is about widowhood. About the path I have been on and about the path that is coming. If you are a widow, I hope you will come here to find out you aren't crazy.... OK, maybe we are all a little crazy. But that is what makes us.. us! Welcome to the Diary of a Widow!