I’ve come to realize that the only way I’m going to survive “purging” your things is to treat it as “spring cleaning” and purge both of our things. I will have to let go of some of my things in the process, so the whole experience can become more bearable. Every time I think about “purging” your things, I end up thinking of all the things I should get rid of myself that I no longer use / wear anymore. I mean, who am I kidding?! When am I ever going to fit into that tube top or halter top from my college and / or graduate school days?! And come to think of it, even if I could fit into them, would I even want to wear them at my age?! Probably not!! Nowadays, I feel like I’m showing too much skin if I’m not covering my shoulders. 😂😂 I think I have you to blame for that. You can be quite conservative when it comes to what I wear. You always like to pull down my shirt if it's rising a little too high or pull up my jeans when it rides a little to low, and if I'm showing a little too much skin, you would say, "Don't you want to cover up a bit?" Because now that I'm thinking of it, I used to show more skin before I met you but somehow I don't feel comfortable anymore. I always attributed to age, but maybe it has more to do with you than age, now that I'm thinking of it!! 🤔🤔 When I started bagging your toiletries to toss out last week, I grabbed a bunch of my toiletries that I hadn’t used in a long time to toss out also. Somehow, it made the whole process seem more bearable and normal to think of it as I'm just tossing things we didn't use anymore; instead of thinking of it as getting rid of my dead husband's stuff, which is a vital process on the grief journey.
***Going off on a tangent, but what I’ve come to realize after reading a lot of posts on the online widow support group is that “purging” your late spouse’s things is really hard process and a point of contention for many widow(er)s. There are widow(er)s who still have all of their late spouse’s things years and years later, some even remarry without ever getting rid of their late spouse’s things. I know it’s been very difficult for me, and I don’t have a strong attachment to “things.” No one would ever know that my husband died if they stepped foot into our house (unless they see your urn sitting on the end table in the living room). I feel like as a society, we’re only taught how to consume and hold onto “things,” but we’re never taught how to “let go.” I feel like that’s why it’s so hard for people to “let go” of their late spouse’s things since it’s so hard to disconnect that the their late spouse’s things are just that -- THINGS!! By letting of their things, it doesn’t mean we’re letting go of the person. Even though I've come to this realization I still struggle with the idea of actually getting rid of your stuff (when I say get rid, I'm not going to throw them away, I'll donate and find uses for your things, don't worry!!) But I know for me, having your things around, gives me with a sense of comfort, "safeness", "semi-normalcy", and familiarity, even though most of the time, I ignore them. I just like to know that they are there and taking up the space they used to take when you were here, even if I don’t necessarily like to look at them. It makes me somehow feel like I'm less of a widow, I guess is what I'm trying to say. Somehow, if your things are still here, you might actually walk through the front door one day and return from that long business trip you've been on. I feel as a society, we need to learn that there’s no such thing as “forever” and that “letting go” is a natural and normal part of life, and it shouldn’t be feared or kept in the dark. We shouldn't feel the need to show the world that we are okay, even if we're not, just to make the people around us feel more comfortable to be around us widows. We shouldn't feel the need to cry, suffer our pain, and / or endure our grief in private and / or silence. We shouldn't feel like the world is continually watching us and trying to gauge our "wellness" based on what we do or how we act. We shouldn't have to suffer through platitudes or stupid words of encouragement. Why must we somehow need to feel "better" or be comforted and need to know that "we're going to be okay"? What part of we are NEVER EVER going to be "okay" or "normal" again?! (because there are widow(er)s on the online support group that still have their "moments" and it's been double digit years since their spouse passed. We should be allowed to feel and acknowledge our pain and grief in whatever way we feel comfortable and do whatever we need to do to heal without criticism or judgement or awkwardness from people who have no clue what we're going through. These are things I feel like we need to learn as a society when it comes to grief and loss.***
I guess letting go of some of my things along with yours makes sense since bits and pieces of me died with you on January 7th. So, I guess it’s only fitting that I have to also let go of pieces of myself when I’m trying to learn to let go of you. I feel like ever since you passed, I don’t know who I am anymore. Without even realizing it, so much of who I am is tied and connected to you that I don’t even know who I am without you. I feel like since you’ve passed, I’ve been in the dark searching and searching for who I am to no avail. I’m not quite the fiercely independent, feisty, and fiery girl before I met you, and I’m definitely not someone’s wife or life partner anymore either. I know there are still bits and pieces of both versions of my prior self in me now, but I also know that when I look in the mirror, there’s a stranger that stands before me that I’ve yet to meet and still trying to figure out and get to know. I may not know who the stranger is that stands before me in the mirror, but all I know is that with each progressive day, she’s evolving and growing stronger and more confident in accepting her fate and “new” reality even with all the hurdles and obstacles she has to endure and overcome alone along the way. I feel like lately, you’ve been testing me to see if I can really survive this world alone without you, and most of the time, I feel like I just want to curl up into a ball and hide in a dark corner somewhere and never come out, but I know you’re constantly pushing me to stand in the light and find the calm and center that you’ve been trying to teach and instill in me all these years to take on any challenge that gets thrown my way. (Yes, I know at some point I have to change the lightbulbs in the house by myself...I promise I will very soon!! I guess I’m just not ready yet...but I know I will be very soon...I can feel it.)
There’s been many times where I feel like I’ve finally reach the top of this mountain that I’ve been arduously climbing since you passed, but when I finally reach the top of the mountain, I’ve come to realize that there’s more than one mountain that lays ahead of me that I need to scale. If anything, after I successfully scale one mountain, I have to descend before I can even attempt climbing the next mountain that awaits me. I get these highs when I feel like I’ve successfully scaled a mountain and have a breakthrough, but only to get the wind knocked out of me when I realize I have to descend the current mountain before I can even prepare to climb the next mountain that awaits me, and let me tell you, the next mountain always seems taller and more perilous than the previous one. I know, it all seems very daunting when I think about it this way, and most of the time, I’m surprise I’ve gotten as far as I have without giving up. I know there are many times when giving up seems so much easier, but I have to constantly remind myself that you would not be okay with me giving up nor would you ever want that for me or anybody else that is mourning and grieving you.
I guess I just have to accept that this journey will never really end for me. It will be a work-in progress, a constant struggle that I will have to battle and contend with for the rest of my life, even if I find joy and love again. Yes, I know, I really need to stop reading all the posts on the online widow support group!! 😂😂 I have to accept that there will always be a hole in my heart and the pain will never getting smaller or subside or go away, I will learn to manage the pain and to “expand” my heart over time and accept that my life will always be bittersweet from now on. There will probably never be a day where I don’t think of you or wonder what our life would be like today. But that's all they can ever be, a wonder or a thought, but never a reality.
Last weekend, I went to watch Life Itself. It was really good and brought me to tears. I didn't really know what the movie was about but it seemed like something I wanted to watch. The overarching theme was that life will always surprise you. No matter how hard or difficult life gets, no one really knows what lies around the corner, so when life brings us to our knees, we have to get up and keep moving forward because if we go far enough, there will always be love. (Interesting concept right?! So simple yet so elegant and profound, in my opinion.) The other recurring theme was the idea that a person’s story will continue to live on even after they are gone because their story lives on through the people they leave behind. (Another simple yet profound idea if you ask me!!)
I guess these are the two things I have to keep telling myself:
When the gray area is too gray
Did I tell you that I joined another widow online support group?? I think this one is better than the one I joined the first month after you passed, or maybe I’m in a better state in my grief process to know better and not get super depressed when I read something that is depressing. I guess reading the posts and comments on the online support group and reading other widow’s blogs have helped me try to figure out, “What kind of widow do I want to be?!” They’ve helped me gain perspective, and truly understand that I’m not alone in this journey, and the emotions, pains, and struggles I go through daily are all very typical and normal of someone in my circumstance. Ultimately, they’ve helped me realize what type of widow I DON’T want to be and the type of widow I strive to be as I continue walking on this journey through grief.
Anyways, no judgement, but it’s just my opinion when I say, with anything in life, the group follows the 80/20 rule -- 80% of the stuff is white noise while the other 20% is inspirational, uplifting, and sage advice / feedback / comments. There has been a few posts that have touched me and helped me in my grief process while there are others that have kept me awake at night for fear of falling victim to the same treachery as some of the widow(er)s are going through. I think one that really did me in was a post from a widow who remarried now, but she still had all her late husband’s stuff in the closets and dress as if he was still alive, so her new husband didn’t have anywhere to put his clothes in since the closet and dresser was still full of her late husband’s stuff. So, she locked herself in the bedroom and forced herself to start purging his stuff. She said it was so painful and she was in utter tears. What I couldn’t believe is how she even got that serious with someone to the point of marrying him while still having all of her late husband’s stuff in her closet and dresser. I read that post when I was in bed, and let’s just say, I couldn’t sleep all night and I didn’t end up going to work the next day because I wasn’t able to sleep at all that night. I started to worry that I would become this widow if I wasn’t careful. It’s been almost 9 months since you passed (9 months! I can’t even believe it’s been that long come to think about it), and all your stuff is still where you more or less left it when you passed. Anyone coming into our house wouldn’t even know that you passed away if I didn’t say anything since I’m living in a house with all your stuff like you are still alive. I mean your dirty laundry is still sitting in the corner you left it -- I know I fixate over your dirty laundry, I don’t know why. The cleaning lady has organized them neatly into piles in the corner of the room where you left it before you died. I don’t know why I can’t bare to start going through your stuff, but I’ve been telling myself that I’ve been ready for a couple of months now, but still when the weekend comes, I always find something else better to do than sort through and start purging your late husband’s belongings -- in all honestly, I barely want to do that for myself, let alone your stuff. Maybe i should just not even go through anything and just put them in boxes and take them to goodwill...I mean, really?! Why do I feel the need to go through each item and ask myself whether this item is worthy of keeping or purging -- it’s not like I have to konmari your stuff. There’s nothing you have that will fit me and anything I want to keep, I already know what they are. So, really, all I have to do is find the things I want to keep and close my eyes and toss the rest into a box marked for donation. But alas, I’ve gain no traction on this front. However, I did finally toss out your toiletries yesterday. I’ve been waiting to clear off some space in the bathroom counter by getting rid of your toiletries that I won’t use for about 4 months now, but even that I haven’t been able to do!! Today was trash day, so when I was taking the trash cans to the curb yesterday, I remembered I had to toss out my favorite pillow that Jesse decided to spray while I was gone for two weeks in China and Japan. I guess he wanted to make sure I knew how he felt about me leaving for two whole weeks. When I was walking into our bedroom, I saw all your toiletries sitting on the bathroom counter, and I don’t know what got into me but I decided that today was the day. I grabbed a bag that was laying on the floor near the bathroom sink (I had just purchased shampoo and conditioner earlier in the week and I didn’t put the bag away so it was still sitting on the floor) and I just impulsively tossed everything that I didn’t plan on using -- your stuff and mine also. There was no discrimination in the process, I just hastily tossed everything that was of no use to me any longer in the bag. As I was walking out of our bedroom with the bag full of stuff to throw away, I felt this pang of emotion hit me and knew that tears were forming and about to burst out of me. But I held back the tears, not because I thought crying was bad or I didn’t want to cry, I held back the tears because what I was carrying in the bag was old products and toiletries that I didn’t use anymore and you obviously wouldn’t be using anymore either. They had nothing to do with you or how much I loved you, or whether it signaled I was somehow miraculously ready to move on with my life and start finding myself a new beau. They were just things that was taking up space on the bathroom counter that I decided to toss out. So, I won and I was able to successfully hold back the tears. But later that night, when I was getting ready for bed, I stared at the empty space where your things used to be and started crying. Not because I threw the stuff away, but because I was fixated on the empty space on the counter and I couldn’t bring myself to move my stuff to occupy that empty space. So, that space on the counter remains empty (while the other side is cluttered with my stuff), but I’m sure I’ll eventually stop fixating on the empty space and will find the courage to move my stuff to occupy that space. But for now, I have to remind myself….it’s all about baby steps. I guess in some small way, this was a precursor of things to come. I wanted to see how I would react or felt after I did it because I know I’m ready to start going through your things and finding new homes for them, I just haven’t had the strong call to action to do so, but I’ve made arrangements for LE to come and help me during Thanksgiving break. I hope by then, I’ve ready myself mentally and emotionally since I refuse to be the widow that is able to get remarried but unable to purge her late husband’s things. I know that there’s no such thing cut and dry and black and white when emotions are involved, and most of the time, but this would be way too messy and gray, even for me.
I feel like there’s so much to tell you but sometimes I just can’t seem to find the words anymore. I don’t know if I’m at a loss for words or just need some time and space to really take a step back and try to reflect and process everything that is going on in my life. I feel like I’ve been in the throes of grief, and the pain and loss has monopolized and consumed by life for the last six to seven months, but now that grief has started to subside, become more manageable, and less debilitating, I’m trying to figure out what to do next. I’m looking all around, and all I see are pieces of our life shattered around me. I’m trying to figure out where to even start picking up the pieces of our life, let alone how I will even begin putting the pieces back together. I don’t even know where to start or what to do first, so I just stand in the center of the room, frozen, staring and looking around me, scared and afraid, trying to figure out where to start, while I’m also digging deep within myself to find the mental and emotional strength, courage, and fortitude that I know I have but just can’t seem to find yet to take the first step, while also knowing deep inside my heart that even when the pieces are glued back together, it will never ever be the same nor will it ever feel “right” or “normal” ever again. Doesn’t that seem so daunting??!! That’s why I feel like standing frozen and looking around at the pieces of our life scattered all around me is a better option at this moment since I, at least, know what it looks and feels like whereas I have no clue what the pieces would look and feel like when they are glued back together, especially when the biggest piece of our life is missing and gone forever, never to return except in my dreams.
When I got back from Japan, I felt like a completely different person stepped off the plane when it landed. Before I left, I was scared and afraid to be alone, especially after my grandma passed. I felt this deep sense of longing and yearning to have my person, my life partner to help me get through the pain and grief of losing my grandma, but he was missing. I felt so scared and alone, like I was reaching around and searching for something or someone in a dark room. When I couldn’t find what I was looking for, even though I knew what I was looking for wasn’t there anymore, I still started to panic and look even harder, feeling and touching everything all around me in the dark frantically; trying to find that magic plug I can use to stick in the gaping hole in my heart, so I could feel whole again, but nothing fit; nothing felt right. Instead, I felt completely alone and incomplete, so I’m paralyzed in the dark, feeling sad, alone, scared, and frightened; unable to take a step in any direction. But, somehow, I found the courage “to push the envelope” and step outside of my comfort zone and say, “I can do this!!”, and pushed myself to go to Japan, even though I was so scared and hesitant. But, I pushed myself, I did it, and by the time the experience was over, I found that fearless girl on the other side. She was there all along, she was never lost or gone, I just needed to find her laying dormant inside of me. When I stepped on the plane, I was scared, hesitant, and unsure, but by the time I stepped off the plane, I left fear behind and found the confidence and courage to say, “I’m ready! I can do this!!” But this doesn’t mean I’ve stopped looking in the rearview mirror, if anything, I’m fixated on the rearview mirror right now. My mind may say, “Im ready!” but my heart says, “But wait, I’m not ready to let go just yet. I need more time before I can say goodbye for good!” So, here we are again--I’m glad I didn’t get rid of the airstream!!
Quote of the day:
"Courage is NOT the absence of fear, but the capacity to act despite our fears!!" ~John Mc Cain
I’m sitting here in a hotel room in Kyoto, Japan missing you so much. I was supposed to go on the second part of the Mario Go-Karting excursion and I just couldn’t do it. SC and I did it in Yokohama and I just felt this deep pain when we were driving around because I knew this would have been something you would have LOVED to do!! When we were getting ready to go today, I felt myself getting edgy and short and I didn’t know why. I even snapped at SC and I just didn’t feel like going. Then at the last minute, I just decided I didn’t want to go anymore (even tho it’s already paid for and I kinda did want to go), but I just couldn’t do it. After SC left, I just started crying and I realize I couldn’t go because I know it would have been something you would have enjoyed so much, and it just pains me too much that you aren’t here to enjoy it with me. I know if you were here, you would come up to me with that look on your face like you just got your favorite candy from the candy store (like the look you had when you got the rims on the lexus) and you would have said, “SY, that was awesome!!! We need to do it again!” That’s all I could think about when I was driving around in Yokohama the first time that I got so sad, I couldn’t really enjoy the ride because all I could do was think of you and how much you would have loved go karting around in the city. I just couldn’t bare to go through the pain of missing you and the feeling of longing and yearning for you again. I miss you so much Babe...you have no idea. Sometimes, I can’t even imagine how I’m even getting up everyday and continuing to live life -- but I know that you would never want me to get lost in the void nor never find joy or happiness in my life again. I know it would make you so sad and it would break your heart if I didn’t get up and continue to seize life and grab it by the horns. So everyday, I get up and continue living for you. I find the strength and courage to keep going and living life (even though most days, I don’t even know what it’s all for because we all end up in the same place anyways). But even knowing this, I still have days like this where all I really want to do is just lay in bed and cry my eyes out -- no matter where I am in the world. I just want you and our life back. Nothing else and nothing more. Is that too much to ask for?
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.