The last time I revisited these questions I had after you passed was on the 4th of July. I thought it would be fitting to review them again as we are closing out 2018 and just a week or so away from your one year deathversary. Again, I can’t believe it’s almost a year since you passed. Where has the time gone and where am I now? Have I gotten any better or wiser since January 7th, 2018?? I have no clue, but what I do know is that I’m starting to grow more comfortable in in my new skin and widowhood status. I’m slowly starting to find my voice and speak more vocally about grief and the challenges of widowhood on a broader scale. I’m not sure what came over me within the last month or so, but I started to be very active on Facebook. I started posting more about what I was doing, my thoughts on grief and widowhood, stories about us, articles and videos I read and watched that I liked. I couldn’t explain why I had the urge to do any of these things but I just kept doing them since it was what I wanted to do at the time and it felt right even if it was contrary to who I am (posting on social media wasn’t our forte, but I guess I needed to figure out if it wasn’t my forte either or if it was just something you didn’t like and I just respected it and never posted anything about us). As I went back and started analyzing my posts, I realize that these were things that we would have done together or things I would have shared with you via text messages or email. I guess, without realizing it, I was using Facebook as an outlet to substitute what I would have shared with you. I guess, I felt like I needed to give my circle of family and friends (who have been serving as your surrogate) a break from these mundane updates in my life that I would normally share with you. I know nobody would be ever say that I was bothering them with these minutiae updates but sometimes I do feel like I need to find a different outlet for these things, but I’m also positive that Facebook or social media is not the right outlet for them either. So, I guess I will continue to figure this part out...I think this is one of the reasons why I think dating and wanting to find a new partner makes sense in my mind, but at the same time, rationally speaking, I know dating will not solve this need or urge either. Not only because it takes time and years to develop this type of relationship with someone, but also because if and when I decide to start dating again, I have to truly be comfortable with myself, where I am on my grief journey, and I have to truly understand and grasp that this new person is not a surrogate or replacement for you. You can never be replaced, and honestly, I don’t think I will ever stop loving you. How can I, when every fabric of my being is in someway a direct result of loving you? I can’t image a day where you wouldn’t be in my heart, even if I remarried or have a new life partner. What I need to learn how to do is to “expand” my heart (this is what all the widow groups and blogs call it, “expanding” your heart to be able to love and let someone new in your life and heart while also still loving and honoring your deceased spouse). I guess this is another thing to set as a goal but I think the two I already have for 2019 is enough for me to work on without adding this one just yet. I think this part of the journey will have its own challenges and struggles when it comes, so I’m not even going to worry about it until it’s time to think and worry about it. Yes, I’m trying out your philosophy of “Just roll with it!” (Just so we are clear, it used to annoy the hell out of me whenever you told me to “Just roll with it, SY!” You know my control freakish nature could never let anything to chance, but this is the new me and I’m trying out some of your philosophies in life to see if they would work in my “new normal” because the only thing that got me through the first few months after you passed was your voice telling me over and over again like a broken record in my head (of course this isn’t verbatim, just my interpretation of your words), “SY, not everything in life has to be rational and make sense. Sometimes, there are things you can’t control and there are no answers to your questions. You just have to accept there are things in life that just can’t be fixed or controlled or answered.” So, in essence, this is how I’ve gotten this far on my journey, by not asking questions that have no answers and by surrendering control to a higher power called grief and letting it take me wherever it takes me (I know that I’m not always good with surrendering control to grief, but I will always admit when I’m wrong and should have just listened to grief instead of trying to resist or control it! Honestly, I don’t think this will change as it will always be a challenge and struggle for me to let go completely...you know what type of a person I am!! I can never let go of the reins completely...it’s just not in my nature!! And yes, I know this just makes the process harder, but what can I do?! I’m trying!!)
Alright, onwards to reflecting on the questions I asked myself after you passed. The red was from March 25th and the blue is from July 4th. Green will be from today...so let’s go!! Let’s see if I’ve gotten any wiser since you passed.
nothing’s changed here!
Yup, nothing has changed here. You just have to push yourself to keep going even when you don’t want to or aren’t comfortable with it. The only way to survive this journey is to keep pushing your boundaries and living in the “uncomfortable.” It will feel shitty at first and sometimes for a long time, but over time, it becomes comfortable again. You just need a lot of patience, resolve, and resilience.
I will never wake up from this nightmare. This is my life now, my story, whether I like it not. I didn’t have a choice in the matter, but I have choices on how I choose to move forward, continue living, and celebrating our story and your life. I will take it slow and one step at a time. I’m learning to be patient and forgiving of myself, I will fall and I will move backward, but the goal is to always find the warrior inside of me, so I can continue to pick myself up and fight. I’ve also come to learn that strength and vulnerability are intertwined and that’s the beauty of life’s dualities. I have to always remember that “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”
Nothing has changed from July 4th, except that I believe this more and more. Sometimes, I felt like I said a lot of things that I knew I needed to say but I wasn't sure if I believed I could do them or not. I think now I truly believe that everything I said above from July 4th is possible, even if I don’t have a plan or know how to tackle the issue, I just know I can and will. When it’s time, it will happen and fall into place like its supposed to. I just have to put my faith in fate and trust that what is meant to be will be and be patient and forgiving with myself if things don’t always happen or fall into place in the timeline I set out for myself (I know, I have control issues, you don’t need to remind me!!)
see above comment
I don’t necessarily think the nightmare is over, but I’m not as scared as I used to be. I don’t know if I will ever wake up from this nightmare, but I hope that I will always continue to find ways to keep learning whatever lessons I’m supposed to learn from this experience and to continue finding positive and healing ways to navigate and manage my life, pain, and grief. I hope to never succumb to the void or let the pain and anger consume me. I will never give up fighting for this life we built together, even if it’s just me now. I will continue living for the both of us. I will continue telling our story and living the best life I can. This is the only way I know how to honor your memory and legacy.
Earth 1 doesn’t exist anymore. Earth 2 is my only reality now, and I’m learning how to adjust in this new world. Even though I know that only Earth 2 exist, I can’t help but always look back and yearn for life in Earth 1 again. Even when I’m forging forward and trying to figure who I am and where I want to go in Earth 2, all I really want is you and life in Earth 1 back. Every part of me knows that it’s impossible, but that hasn’t stopped me to still want and yearn for it everyday.
I don’t think of Earth 1 as much anymore. I can honestly say that Earth 1 doesn’t exist anymore and it’s completely impossible to get back to, so I’ve decided to focus my energy on other things that are within my control. But that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with the thought that Earth 1 doesn’t exist anymore. I struggle with it everyday and with every breath I take. Most of the time, I feel like I’m in some Chinese melodrama watching our life played back in my head on a recurring loop by way of flashbacks. I know from reading posts on the widow support group and blogs that flashbacks are definitely a common side effects of widowhood!! The flashbacks come and go as they please, they never end, they can be very vicious, and they always leave me feeling very sad and depressed. Most of the time, I just close my eyes and fight back the tears because I can’t be having an emotional meltdown while I’m waiting in line to pay for groceries or while I’m sitting at my desk at work. Now, I know why Chinese movies love using flashbacks, they can invoke so much emotion if done right!! Yes, I know I have goals, that at some point these flashbacks will invoke a smile instead of tears. Yes, I know I still have a long way to go towards mastering this goal.
see comment above
I’ve given up on trying to find ways to get back to Earth 1.
There were many things I could have done differently to save you, and I could have pushed you harder, but at the end of the day, I know that you will always be you and there’s nothing I could have done differently that would change your fate. The only person that could have changed your fate was you, and you decided that you knew better than the signs your body was telling you. So, you paid the ultimate price. I can be mad and angry at you (which I think I am in some small way deep down inside), but ultimately it changes nothing but makes me an angry and bitter person. And I rather not be an angry and bitter person, it would just be very unbecoming of me, you know what I mean?!
There’s nothing I could have done differently. If you were meant to live, you would be alive now. After you passed, you don’t know how many times I played the events leading up to your passing over and over again in my head. I would also imagine alternate endings to our story. The one that occured the most was where you wake up in the hospital room with me by your bedside, holding your hand, and you ask me, “What happened? Where am I?!”, you know like the movies!! Ultimately, I’ve decided that this is a question with no answer, so I stopped asking myself this question for awhile now.
See above comment
I can’t know what you were feeling or what was going on in your mind when you were experiencing any of the symptoms, so how could I pick up on any of the signs if you didn’t see them yourself? I can only know what you tell me, and I don’t think you really knew how serious they were. I truly believe that if you knew they could have been deadly, there’s no way you wouldn’t take them seriously. I think you had a logical explanation for all of them, so you rationalize any seriousness away. Do I hate you for doing this, yes a lot time, but as I said earlier, being angry and bitter is very unbecoming. So, I try not to focus or dwell on this anymore. I’ve relegated it to another question without an answer.
This is how our story ends, Babe! I thought I had to write a few more chapters before it really ended and leave our life behind and start a new one by myself, but what I’ve come to realize is that our story ended, but your presence and memory will never die or end in some chapter of my story, you will always and forever be a part of my story and my life. I just need to figure out what that means and looks like as I progressed through the rest of my journey and story. I’m fairly certain our relationship will never end. It will always continue to evolve and forever be a work in progress until the day I die.
Nothing has changed here from July 4th. I’m still struggling to figure what this new life of mine and what it will look like without you in it. I don’t think I know or even figured it out, but I guess I will die trying. I just know that it won’t be easy, and there’s a very high probability that it will be messy and very gray, and it will probably be something that I will struggle with for the rest of my life. I guess I better get really comfortable with living in the “discomfort” and gray areas where life and emotions are messy, entangled, and can’t be organized into neatly labeled boxes. (Yes, Konmari is cringing as I write this!!)
I can’t seem to find the strikeout feature so I can finally strike this comment out.
Oh look, I finally figured out how to strike out that question!! As Peter Kavinsky would say, “Progress!”
The pain will never end or go away. It will always reside in my heart and soul forever. It’s a part of who I am now. It’s a part of me. It’s a part of my journey and my story. The more I’ve come to accept this, the easier it’s become to love myself and be more patient and forgiving with myself. I don’t think I feel empty now, but what I do feel constantly is loneliness. It’s hard to go from having a life partner to share your entire life and world with to having nobody. Just wanting to go watch a movie or have someone to hang out with or do something with requires thought and work now. It’s not as simple as, “Hey Babe, let’s go do the movies!!” or “Hey Babe, do you want to go try that new restaurant that just opened up down the street?”
Yup, nothing has changed here and I’ve concluded that widowhood sucks big time (just in case you didn’t get the memo, I wanted to make sure we’re on the same page!!) I guess I’ve gotten to point where I don’t expect the pain to ever go away. It will always be something that I will carry inside of me forever. I think if anything, the pain is even sharper and more pronounced now that my eyes are wide open. Without the insulation from the fog of denial and numbness, I can feel the rawness and depth of the pain and grief at a level that I didn’t know I was capable of feeling. But, instead of feeling sad and empty, I feel bolder and more alive. I’m starting to learn that if I want to survive this experience, I really have to let go and surrender myself fully and completely to grief. I cannot control it or put a timetable on it. I have to kneel down before it and call grief my master. I also have to promise to not resist or question it. (Yes, I know I problems with with authority and someone trying to tell me what I should and should not do, that’s why this part is so hard and challenging for me!! I struggle with it every minute and second of the day.)
I read somewhere that grief is just another form of love. It’s a way to keep the love between two people alive when one passes. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot, so it forms into a well at the corner of your eyes because it has no place to go. I also read an article by a lady who was diagnosed with terminal cancer that writes, “Grief is a genesis, not a finale. It gives life.” She concluded that fear closes your heart, while grief keeps your heart open, if you can turn towards it and confront it because grief’s sole purpose is to keep love alive. I guess there are many different interpretations of grief. For me, it’s good to know that there’s more to grief than just pain and sadness. I will continue exploring my grief journey, and hopefully one day it will manifest itself beyond pain and sadness to life and an extension of love where the memory of you will bring a smile to my face instead of tears.
Empty - not really anymore
Numb - not really anymore
But I do feel lonely most of the time now, even when I’m in a room full of people or doing things with family and friends. What I miss is the connection we had, the laughs we shared, the looks we would give each other that require no words but we knew exactly what they means. But, nowadays, I just feel incomplete, like I’ve left a piece of my heart and soul somewhere, and I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Even without saying a word, we knew what the other person was thinking. We used to say to each other, “I know you better than you know yourself.” And the more I think about it, the more I realize how true that is. Now, when I think about having to start all over again to build what he had with someone else, it just seems so daunting.
I don’t feel empty or numbness anymore. Loneliness, I still feel but on a different level. I think the loneliness I left earlier was a yearning and desire to fill the void I felt in my heart as quickly as possible. The void is still there but now I know it’s not about filling the void as quickly as possible, it’s about living with the void until I can feel comfortable in my own skin and widowhood status. The void will never be filled if I don’t take care of those two things first.
Happy to announce I don’t feel this way anymore. I think the feeling is still there though, but it’s less pronounced and manifests as a skip in my heartbeat.
My heart still skips a beat whenever it hits me that you are no longer living on earth anymore, but the episodes aren’t as strong or as frequent as before. But it still happens, and it’s still very hard for me to grasp that you aren’t here anymore (even though I know this to be true in my mind and heart).
this is still ¯\_(ツ)_/. I know I’m in the ‘I’m not okay and that’s okay’ phase of this journey. I’ve also come to realize that ‘okay’ may mean something very different to me now than what it did before. I may never be okay like before, but that doesn’t mean I’m not okay. It just means my ‘I’m okay’ now looks different than before. I may not know what “I’m okay” in this new world order looks like yet, but I will die trying to figure it out.
I think I’m doing better but not sure if “I’m okay” yet. I think I’m still trying to figure out what “okay” will look like in this “new normal” I’m in. But, I think I’m closer to figuring it out than before. At least I’ve come up with two things that can be used as gauges and barometers to measure against. As Peter Kavinsky would say, “Progress!!”
Nothing’s changed here
Nothing’s changed here
I don’t think I’m going to die soon, but I still do miss you and want to see you again. But at least now that I’ve finished my estate planning, I at least know my affairs are in order and I don’t have that feeling like there are loose ends to tie.
I’m not waiting to die, but I’m still glad I finished my estate planning. I’ve decided that the only way to honor your memory and legacy is to keep living fully this beautiful life we created and built together. I will try very hard to let go, not resist, not ask questions that don’t have answers, to keep my heart and mind open to whatever comes my way, and most importantly, I will “Just roll with it!”
I will never know the answer to this question. I just have to keep living each day to the fullest and be open to whatever the universe has in store for me.
Again, a question without an answer.
Well, except for Samy, I’m making it work with the fur babies! Although they are going ‘rogue’ as you would like to call it! Hey, something’s gotta give and discipline is it when you’re a single parent of five needy, high maintenance fur babies!!!
I’m making it work, and the animals are still going “rogue.” (Yes, my definition of “making it work” means outsourcing some of the responsibilities to others!! Hey, it is what it is - no judgement needed from you! Yes, it’s like when I say I did the dishes, what it really means is that I loaded the dishwasher, which is still doing the dishes babe!)
With a lot of help and support is the only way I can manage this house (and my life) right now!
Well, I’m doing the best I can, even though widow brain gets the best of me sometimes. We do have a serious plumbing issue that needs to be resolved within the next year so, but that’s a story for another time.
Nothing’s changed here
Well, one thing I know for sure is that I’m not ready to sell the house, despite what anyone thinks or say. It’s the one thing I can say with confidence right now.
Nothing’s changed here
For now, I want to keep the house. I don’t want to sell or move. I love living in our home, even though I really need to figure out what to do with your stuff and whether I can live with a roommate or not.
I’m more comfortable in the house now and getting used to being alone and it always being quiet. Your stuff is still here, I haven’t really done much but organized the utility room with all your tools and stuff. I tell myself I’m almost already to start going through your things, but whenever I think about it, I just lose all willpower and desire, so everything is as it was before you passed.
I can definitely say I can live at the house alone. If anything, I’m getting more and more comfortable with living alone, which makes it even harder to contemplate having a roommate.
I’m not ready for a roommate is what I’ve come to realize unless it’s somebody I know I can get along with and live in harmony with.
I think I want a roommate to help share in the expenses, since it’s a massive mortgage and property tax. I feel like I’m just throwing away money by living here by myself and not having a roommate to share in the expenses. I know, the rational and pragmatic SY is back!
Nothing’s changed here
Who knows?! This isn’t a question that doesn’t have an answer, but it’s a question that lacks sufficient data points to justify one way or the other. So, I guess I will only know when I know, and hopefully, it won’t be a roommate from hell type of situation.
Work is my only solace right now. It’s the only place where I feel like everything is the same and nothing has changed (maybe the only thing that has changed is me at work, but other than that, it’s business as usual!)
Nothing has changed here but I’ve started to notice that work can get to me from time to time now that I’m in a better mental state!! Before, I was happy to go back to work, but now i’m like UGH! At least I have the women’s group to keep work balanced and worth going to. (Oh, did I ever tell you?! I co-lead the women’s group at work?!)
Nothing’s changed here
Nothing’s changed here
I have to start casting a wider net of people to start looking after the animals when I travel for work or pleasure! I still need to travel for work, and of course all the soul-searching spiritual journeys I want to go on, so I better starting making some new friends that can help out with the babies! I’ve even asked my dad to come up here and take care of them for an upcoming trip. You know I’m desperate if I’m asking my dad to come look after the babies! He might burn the house down or kill one of the animals!!
I’ve found a very reliable and affordable pet sitter whose given me the freedom to roam the world for work and quests for self-discovery and self-exploration.
This hasn’t even crossed my mind. But some days, I do feel like selling everything and just roaming the planet like a nomad though!! At times, I feel so confined and constricted with life and ‘adulting.’ Why bother doing any of it when we all end up in the same place anyways. Why do we subject ourselves to this rat race?! What is it all for?! We can’t take anything with us when we die!!
I honestly believe that if I didn’t have the animals, I would have sold everything, become nomad, and roam the world in search of the meaning of life! Damn the animals, they are always holding me back!!
The answer to this is still I hope I will figure something out sooner than later. As for right now, it’s later!!
Well, this is still something I need to figure out, although some of your stuff have already been given away to family and friends. But I’ve yet to really get rid of anything. I don’t know why I’m lagging, but it’s definitely not high on my priority list, even though it’s something I think about all the time. I even brought moving boxes from work to put your stuff in. It’s not like I don’t think about it, because I do. I just haven’t done anything about it. **SIGH** #widowhoodstruggles
I can breathe now, and I continue to forge forward even on days when moving forward seems futile. I’ve come to realize there are two types of widows(ers) in the world (after reading more and more articles on widowhood), those who get consumed by the void or those who continue to embrace life and take it by the horns. I’m striving to be the latter, even on days when I can’t. I just think about you and how you would never ever want me to get stuck in the void. You love me too much to want that for me and I love you too much to not keep living for the both of us.
I can breathe, even on days where I don’t want to. But nothing has changed here. I just keep getting up everyday and putting one foot in front of the other and hope there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. This is all I can do. I will not give up. I will continue to honor your memory and legacy by living the best life I can.
My happiness and joy currently comes in the form of connecting with you through the blog and journaling, sharing our story and keeping your memory alive, and continuing to fulfill the plans we made together.
I think I’m still trying to figure out what happiness and joy will look like without you.
see comment above
Who knows? This is still ¯\_(ツ)_/
This has definitely been hard. There are times where I feel like I can do it and then there are other times where I’m just overtaken by grief. All I can do is continue to put one foot in front of the other. Baby steps until I can walk and run again.
Nothing has changed here. It’s still very hard, and I continue to put one foot in front of the other. The best way to describe widowhood is like learning how to walk again. I need to crawl and find my balance before I can walk again. I think I’m in the trying to find my balance before I can walk again stage. It’s like I have to re-learn everything in order to live a life without you. Most of the time, I don’t even know who I am anymore. I struggle with my identity and what type of future I want for myself. Everything I know and have planned has you in it. I didn’t have a contingency plan for what if you died at 49 and I’m a widow at 39. So, I guess I’m trying to figure out my contingency plan as I’m living it.
Nothing’s changed here
Nothing’s changed here
Nothing’s changed here
I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do with your ashes. I’ve alway thought I would just keep it but now I’m not sure I want to keep it anymore. I’m not connected to your urn in any way. I barely even look at it or even realize it’s there. I’ve been thinking about reaching out to your parents to see how they felt about spreading your ashes somewhere. Where?! I have no clue since you never told me what to do with your ashes. I guess it’s just like you - you never think far enough to put in place a plan to make my life easier!!
Nothing’s changed here
Nothing’s changed here
I think the answer to this is yes, but when I’m ready and when it feels right! I’ve started thinking about this more and more by reading articles on dating as a widow and what it’s like to be dating in your 40’s. Some of the stories and experiences being shared are funny and hopeful, while others make it seem like I’m doomed before I start!! One widow relates her re-entry to the dating scene to a NASA spaceship re-entering earth. Some live to tell about it while others crash and burn!! Daunting, right?!
I still think the answer to this question is yes, but no clue as to when I will start. I feel like mentally and abstractly, I’m ready to start dating but emotionally, I’m probably not even close to being ready. But, what I do know is that I will never know until I try and with everything else on this journey, sometimes I have to push myself into the discomfort zone before it can become comfortable. But, for now, I will continue relishing in the comfort zone since this isn’t something I want to rush, especially since it will involve another person, I should tread lightly and get comfortable in my own skin first.
Someone asked me the other day if I was ready to start dating. I said abstractly and mentally I think I’m ready and I won’t know until I try. But really, I don’t even know how or where to start. I only know how to be someone’s wife and life partner. I know how to share my life with someone. I know what love looks and feels like. I what it takes to have a healthy and meaningful relationship. But, I have no clue what casually dating looks or feels like. So, before I can even fathom dating, I need a mental shift in my perspectives on relationships from being someone’s wife and sharing a life with someone to casual dating. I don’t even know what would go on a list of examples of what casual dating looks like. Gosh, I have a lot to learn and worry about!!
I think this is one of those questions that requires a lot of balance and more experience before I can even begin to answer. But, it all goes back to the idea of “expanding” your heart to include a new love while also loving your deceased spouse. I think this is one of those questions that only experience and time can answer, there’s no amount of soul searching I can do to figure this one out!!
I think I’m finally understanding what my therapist meant when she said, “I need to figure out what I want my life to look and feel like without you.” I think I was trying to race to the finish line by trying to believe that I can get back to my old self and operate and manage my life at the same level I used to before you passed. Like that would be the gauge or barometer to track whether I’m back to “normal” or not. But, now I realized I missed the point completely. I think trying to get back to “normalcy” and keeping “distracted” in November and December made me realize that I've been using the wrong thing to gauge my well-being. I was trying to get back to the person I was before January 7th, but I think I finally realize that's not the right gauge or barometer to use at all. Trying to get back to the person I was before January 7th is literally impossible. I'm setting myself up for failure because it's not a goal that is achievable or attainable. Somehow, it occurred to me in the last few days that I will never ever be that person I was before January 7th. She doesn’t exist anymore nor can she ever exist again. She died with you on January 7th, and the person that stands before me in the mirror is a stranger. I haven’t quite figured out who she is yet, but I’m trying to get to know her and be comfortable in her skin. So, that means, I can’t use my old self as the gauge or barometer of whether “I’m better” or back to “normal” again because this new person’s normal and better is completely different from the person I was before January 7th.
I know, it’s a good thing I’m good at course correcting when I realize I’m heading in the wrong direction!! The other day, I was on the phone with my sister and we were talking about all sort of random stuff like we normally do, and somehow we got on the subject of “failures.” She asked me what was my biggest failure in life?! I thought about it and said, “I really don’t have one!” She said, “Seriously?! You’re not that perfect!!” I said, “I’m not saying I’m perfect or that I don’t make mistakes or bad decisions because I do (more than I’m willing to admit), but I don’t consider them failures just because they were bad or poor decisions. I made the best decision I could with the most information I had at the time, and sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong. And, if the decision was wrong or it didn’t end in a favorable outcome, I would course correct and take the necessary measures to get myself on the right track." I'm always striving to learn something from all the mistakes or bad decisions in my life and hope that I don’t make them again!! Therefore, if I’m still learning from these mistakes or bad decisions, how can they be call failures?! Because they are not. It’s these so called "failures” that become lessons I need to learn to get me to the next level. I would only call them failures if I didn’t learn anything from them. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that failure isn’t bad or the problem. The problem is when you don’t learn anything from these failures or mistakes. Nobody is perfect or has all the right answers all the time. All we can ever strive for is to take all the lessons we learned from all the mistakes and bad decisions we’ve made in our life and be able to use them to become a better person. That’s all we can really ask for in life, in my opinion!!
There’s a poster I’ve seen recently when I’m in the office that says, “A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor!” This quote speaks to me because when I reflect back on my life, I know I would not be the person I am or have the resilience I do if it wasn’t for all the trials and tribulations in my life. I think some people confuse my “sunny” disposition, positive attitude, and glass half-full mentality as a result of having life handed to me on a silver platter, but I don’t think people realize what I’ve had to overcome or the hard work I had to put in to become the person I am now. I didn’t have the best family life growing up. If anything, when I was able, I wanted to get as far away from my family as possible. I spent the greater part of my teenage years and 20’s soul searching and wandering the globe in a quest to “find myself” and the meaning of life because there had to be a better way than the life I knew and I also refused to end up like my parents. Growing up, the only way I knew how to resolve any issues or problems I had was to run away, to escape. But, what I’ve come to realize was the more I ran away or escaped, the better I became at being able to look at the problem and issue more objectively and holistically. It was like I was able to gain a better perspective when I was not in the middle of the problem or issue because it’s hard to get the big picture when you are inside the box. You can only see what is in front of you. But when you step outside of the box and look in, you’re seeing things from a different perspective because the view is broader and the bigger picture becomes more evident. So, I guess that’s why I'm always traveling so much now (even work travel helps with stepping outside of the box). This is the only way I know how to cope and deal with my problems; to get outside of the box so I can look in and gain a different perspective on my life. I guess that’s why my all time favorite quote from my 20’s is “Not all who wander are lost.”
I think a goal I want to set for myself as we embark on the New Year is to be able to come home from these “adventures” of self-exploration and soul searching without crying when I’m on the plane ride home. Yeah, can you believe it, it’s almost a year since you passed, and I still cry every time I come home from a trip (whether it be work or personal)!! If we’re being open and honest, I will admit that I still cry from time to time when I’m driving home from work. I guess the thought of coming home to an empty and lifeless house takes a lot of getting used to. Now, come to think of it, another goal I want to set for myself in 2019 is that one day the memory of you brings a smile to my face instead of tears. I feel like if I can do these two things, then that’s when I know I will be okay. These two things will serve as the gauge and barometer of the “new normal” I’m trying to achieve in my life without you.
I love you so much it hurts.
P.S. Did I tell you? I’m going to Spain in mid-January?! It should be a fun trip! I plan to be completely unplugged (at least from work) during the trip. I literally just realized that I used to be a very unplugged type of person until I worked at the fruit company. I didn’t even have a data plan on my cell phone until I worked for the fruit company. Can you believe that?! Yeah me either!!
Hi Babe -
I can’t believe another year is almost over and that it’s almost a year since you passed. I honestly didn’t think I would survive or make it to month 2 after you passed. I thought my life was going to be over and I was just going to wither away from insanity (cause I was completely insane after you passed)! I don’t even know at what point I got my sanity back (or if I’m even sane now)! Honestly, when I saw your body on the metal slab in the hospital, all I wanted to do was hold your hand and lay next to you forever. I didn’t want to leave you, I just wanted to die with you. All I could think about was how my life was over, and that’s how I felt for a very long time. It took a lot of reflecting and processing to get to where I am now. Yes, our life is over and I can never go back to that life, no matter how hard I try or will it to come back. It is gone forever. I can never have that life back. I can wither away, live in the void, and die with it or I can choose to continue living and celebrating our story and your legacy. No matter how hard it gets or how tempting it is to just give up and succumb to the void, I will always choose life because I know that’s what you would want me to do. It would break your heart if I decided to wither away or be consumed by the void. I could hear you now, “SY, stop being a victim!!” (That’s something you’ve been trying to drill into me for a very long time now!!) “Yes, Babe, I will NOT be a victim! I will put my big girl pants on and roll with it!!”
No matter what, at the end of the day, I have choices and options (even if they are bleak and nothing I want). I can make the most of what life throws at me and embrace all the lessons its trying to teach me or I can curse the universe (which I’ve done plenty of time and nothing changes) and become bitter and let this tragedy swallow me alive. I wish I can say that I choose the former because I’m smart and enlighten, but honestly, it’s because I hate to lose and admit defeat. I will never go without a fight. I will always be kicking and screaming until it’s my last breath. I think I’m just wired like that; it’s my survival instinct. Also, it would be a complete waste of this beautiful life we created and built together if I just gave up. I know now that our love will always be stronger than death; it will carry me through my darkest hours. It is your strength and our love that resides deep inside of me that continues to carry me through this journey. I know I resist a lot and try to usurp control (and I fail miserably all the time to my dismay), but I will try to be more open, accepting, and let the journey guide me and continue walking in whatever direction it thinks I need to be on. I know, resistance is futile anyways!!
I will continue to embrace all the lessons I’m supposed to learn on this journey, and I will keep forging forward towards the great unknown, no matter how scary or daunting it seems. I know at some point, there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel, right?
I feel like I’ve grown more and more confident in my own skin lately. I know I’ve been struggling with taking the next step in this journey where I’m supposed to pack my bags for the next part of the journey where I accept that you will never come home and I have to forge a life on my own. I always feel like I’ve been on the threshold with one foot in and one foot out for awhile now. Not really sure which world I want to live in. But, I feel like I’m finally ready to put both feet on the other side of the threshold and take the next step forward into the unknown. I don’t know what lays ahead of me or what my life will look like, but I’m ready to start figuring it out. I still don’t know what I want to pack and take with me yet, but you know me, I’m a very light packer, and I generally pack at the very last minute. If I forget something, then I just make do with what I have.
I’m finally able to admit and truly believe and accept that I am broken. I am weak. I am lost. I am alone. But, I’m no longer scared. I will not let fear be my boundary. And, no matter what, I know with certainty that I will be okay, even if I don’t know what lies ahead of me. I refuse to be a victim any longer. I will not let this tragedy imprison or define me anymore. I choose to be a survivor. I choose life, even if that life is without you. I will continue to live for the both of us. I will honor your life, memory, and legacy by living the best life I can for the both of us. I know I’ve been saying all of this for a long time now, but this is the first time I truly believe it and know that I can do this on my own. I guess before, I was just “faking it until I make it.”
I’m on a flight back from Fort Worth, TX. I went to visit the E’s. It was a spontaneous and out-of-blue type of trip that I decided to take before the year ended. I completely forgot that you wanted to visit them until I landed at the airport. When I was waiting for my bag at baggage claim, I remember you telling me that you wanted to visit the E’s when CE bought his house. You wanted to see his house and eat Texas BBQ. Somehow, when I was reminded of this memory, the emotions came flooding in and hit like a ton of bricks. It was another plan that went unfilled. The first day was a bit rough, but I pulled myself together and put on my BIG girl pants and made the most of it. I figured you would want me to have a blast and eat lots of BBQ and fried chicken, so that’s what I did. I think I ate so much this weekend that I put on 5 pounds.
There’s this new song that started playing on the radio that catches my attention every time I hear it. It’s called “Say You” by Lauren Daigle. It’s a Christian song, but if you take out the Christian and God part and only listen to the words, it’s beautiful. It resonates with me because her words are how I feel since I’ve been on this journey. I no longer know who I am without you. People say I’m loved, but I don’t feel a thing. People say I’m strong, but I feel weak. We were each other’s worlds. I was your everything just as much as you were my everything. I gave you strength and courage to become the person you are just as much as you gave me strength and courage to become the person I am. I was your person just as much as you were my person. Looking back, when we met, we were two lost souls wandering aimlessly through life. Even if we didn't know it at the time, we were searching for something.
After listening to this song, I realize why I hate it when people tell me I’m strong. I don’t think people understand the turmoil and struggle that rages on inside of me on a daily basis. The constant struggle to do the simplest things that most people don’t even think twice about like changing a light bulb or folding laundry. Even walking into the closet every morning feels like a battle. So, most of the time, I feel weak since I can’t even do the simplest things without it being a constant struggle. So, how can I feel strong when I’m struggling with the simplest things in life that most people don’t even think twice about?! Forcing myself to wake up each morning and living life is not extraordinary. It’s life! There’s nothing strong or unique about that. That’s just being normal. It’s not strong. It’s called choosing life and not letting the circumstances in your life control or define you. And, at the end of the day, I know it would break your heart if I didn’t choose to continue living life to the fullest, even if you never told me this when you were alive, in my heart, this is the only thing that I know to be true without question.
When you love someone deeply with all your heart and soul, you always put the other person’s happiness before yours. And this is how we both loved each other. Even if you never told me to choose life and continue living to the fullest if something ever happened to you, I know that is what you would want for me. When you love someone with all your heart and know the depth of their soul, you just know. They don’t need to say or tell you anything. You just know without question.
We’ve both worked too hard to be who we are and build this beautiful life together to throw it all away. Honestly, this is the only thing that keeps me waking up every morning to battle grief another day. This is the only thing that gives me hope that I will be okay because our love is so strong and deep, that it can transcend time, space, and death.
I want to let you know that taking grief on head on with eyes wide open has made me less afraid (even though I’m an emotional roller coaster as of late). I feel like I’m coming to my own and figuring out who I am and what type of widow I want to be. I’m finding the strength and courage to walk on my own and say, “I'm not afraid to be alone.”
Lately, I feel like I’ve been keeping very busy as a way to distract myself from:
Ultimately, I think I truly wanted to believe that I was done grieving and getting back to the business of “living life” and being somewhat “normal” (as normal as someone in my position can be); like somehow I was back in the driver seat and in “control” of my life again; instead of feeling like I’m stuck and just drifting endlessly and aimlessly with no purpose or ambition. There are times where I surrender completely to grief and let the journey take me to where it takes me while there are other times where I resist with all my might and I refuse to go without a fight. It’s a constant battle that rages inside of me on a daily basis (if not hourly and from minute to minute). I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how hard it’s been for a control freak like myself to “let go” and “resign” myself to grief and let it be in the driver seat and control my life. Most of the time, I don’t know if I want to scream or cry out of frustration from feeling trapped and imprisoned in my own life. And as time goes on, I grow more and more impatient with myself that I’m not “better” (whatever that means) and that I’m still on this journey. I just want it to end. I just want the pain, the sadness, the grief, and the loneliness to end. I honestly don’t know how much more of it I can bear. And now that I’ve entered the “mourning” stage, the pain and emotions are even more intense and raw.
Remember what I said earlier about grief?! Grief is just something that happens to you. It’s passive. You have no control over it. You don’t know when it’s going to happen or how it will hit you. So, when you’re grieving, you’re always on the defensive. You just need to make sure you’re on guard and wearing your protective gear for when the strike occurs. All you have to do is protect and insult your heart with the strongest armor you have and brace yourself for impact whenever it happens. You can protect and force yourself to not feel the pain and / or emotion too deeply and intently. I know you probably don’t believe me when I say that, but it’s true. Whenever grief strikes, I close my eyes and look away. I let it come, do what it needs to do, and then it goes away. But, I would never look at it directly or confront it head on. So, how can you really know what’s going on or how deep your pain and grief can go if your eyes are always closed?! So, when I say I haven’t really felt the depth of my pain, I really mean it. But, now that I’ve started mourning, the pain and grief is even more raw and intense because my eyes are no longer closed. They are wide opened and I’m looking at the gaping hole and missing pieces of my life head on.
I’m no longer on the defensive. I’m no longer waiting around like a sitting duck for a surprise attack from grief. Instead, I’m on the offensive. I need to strategize and put together a plan of attack, so I can overthrow grief and regain some semblance of power and control over my life again (I know, nobody really has true and ultimate control and power over their lives, but that doesn’t mean we stopping fighting to retain power over the things we can control like our decisions and choices we make in our lives). And I've taken off all my protective gear and armor. I'm no longer scared. I'm no longer afraid. I will face my pain, grief, and loneliness head on with eyes wide open. I will let myself feel the true depth of my pain, grief, and loneliness. I will no longer fight it. I will not try to control or overpower it. I will not ignore it. I will embrace it. And when I can't do any of these things by myself, I will let you hold my hand through it.
I love you so much Babe - it's almost unbearable.
Since we’re keeping score, it’s 1-1...I’m tied with the closet now!!
P.S. I finally went a bought me a big girl ladder. Now, I have no excuses when a light bulb goes out or when a smoke detector battery needs to be replaced. And, I also told LH and YA that I don’t need their help with these kinds of household chores anymore. I’m an independent women (kinda of), hear me roar!!
Actually, now that I’m thinking about it...the score’s really 1.5-1 and I’m in the lead!!!
I’ve been reading this book by Joan Didion called The Year of Magical Thinking where she writes about her first year as a widow after her husband died suddenly and unexpectedly. (okay, reading isn’t the right word, as I’ve been trying to read this book for like 5 or 6 months now….in my defense, reading about widowhood is a lot harder to stomach than those juicy young adult high school drama novels!!) There’s a part in the book where she talks about the difference between grief and mourning that really struck me. She says that grief is passive and uncontrollable; it’s something that just happens to you. But, mourning is active and controllable; it’s something you choose to do. It’s an act of dealing with grief, which requires attention and consciousness. I guess you can say, I’m in the mourning stage now. I am actively and consciously choosing to deal with my grief and face the pain of my loss in a very direct way. I guess without knowing it, the first step in my mourning process was when I decided to stop wearing my wedding ring. It was very painful, and I constantly obsessed and stared at the empty ring finger. There were times when I go to touch the wedding ring like I was still wearing it but only to realize it’s no longer there. There’s really are no words for the pain and heaviness that sets in when this happens, so I won’t even try to describe it. I guess the second step was I told your family that it was “last call” for your things, and then decided to keep the closet empty after most of your things were gone. I would wake up each morning and stare at that empty closet like I was staring at the hole and emptiness that has taken permanent residence in my heart and soul. I guess I felt like I had to face my loss head on. I felt like I had to find the strength and courage to look at the pain, the loss, the emptiness, the missing pieces of my life head on. I always thought it would be something that I wouldn’t be able to do or handle, but what I’ve come to realize that facing my pain and loss head on has made me a lot stronger. Even though at times, it feels like I’ve transported back in time and starting this grief journey over again like it was day 1. There are days where the pain and longing is so great that it takes me to my knees, but then I remember that even this shall pass and when I’m ready and able, I’ll be able to get up and breathe again.
I feel like the second time is more painful and harder since you’re really forcing yourself to live in the discomfort of the pain and focus on the loss in a very direct way, but it’s easier in that you know this is a process and that even though it doesn’t seem like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel (maybe there will never be a light at the end of the tunnel but you know it’s process that you have to go through on this journey if you want to continue healing.)
I guess that’s what I’m trying to do now, force myself to live in the discomfort of the grief and focus on the loss and the missing pieces of my life until one day it becomes comfortable since we’re going to be besties for the rest of my life.
P.S. I can't believe that yesterday was 11 months. Sometimes, it feels like it was just yesterday that you died while other times it feels so distant that it's almost like it didn't happen; like our life together was just a figment of my imagination.
Recently, there are days where I feel like I’m going through the emotions of grief like it was just the first few months. I’ve started crying in the car again, not all the time, but there are days where the reality of my life and the pain just really hits me, like a ton of bricks!! There are days where I wonder if this is it. Is this where I will really drown and won’t be able to come up for air. I haven’t talked about PTSD in awhile, but it doesn’t mean I still don’t transport back to that day where my entire world turned upside down. Before the PTSD was totally focused on the events leading to your death. It would play over and over in my head again. In the beginning, I kept focusing on how you fainted and had a seizure right in front of the bedroom floor. Then as I was able to get over that scene in my head, I started to focus on how you got on your knees, turned towards me, and gripped by shoulders as we stood speechless staring at each other before you got on the gurney. How we spent our last moments staring at each other in fear and speechless. There are times, where I close my eyes and I can see your expression and those scared eyes staring at me before you got on the gurney. I can’t even imagine what you were thinking in those last few minutes before you passed. Sometimes, you don’t even know how much I obsess over this...what were your final thoughts as you were laying on that gurney going down the hill in the ambulance with a bunch of strangers trying to perform CPR before you passed. This thought still haunts me often, and I think it will probably haunt me for the rest of my life. How scared you must have been. What were you thinking? This thought sometimes takes me to my knees whenever I think about it. I will never know what went through your mind in those last few minutes of your life, but all I know was that I was so scared, but I never once thought, “Today, I was going to be a widow.” Honestly, that never crossed my mind at all. That’s probably why when the doctors walked in and casually said, “I’m sorry but your husband died.” I screamed, “Noooo!!” at the tops of my lungs and said, “you have the wrong person. My husband didn’t die!!” Then I turned to KT and asked, “Is this a joke?!” before I fall to the floor in tears and start kicking and screaming, like a five year old throwing a tantrum, on the floor of the “family room.” No one was able to calm me down and my sanity was nowhere to be found.
When I was finally able to stand up, I start pacing back and forth in the “family room,” pinching myself, gasping for air like I was fighting for my dear life, while ranting over and over again “This is not my life. This is not happening to me. This is just a dream. I just need to wake up.” At some point in all this madness, I’m gasping for air to the point where I’m hyperventilating and say, “I can’t breathe. I need to get out of here. I need some air.” So, I walk out of the “family room” and out of the hospital doors where I continue my madness and insanity in the fresh, cold and gloomy air for hours and hours on end as I pace back and forth by the side of the hospital, pinching myself, crying uncontrollably, ranting over and over “This is not my life. This is not happening to me. This is just a dream. I just need to wake up.”
This is the image that always flashes through my mind now whenever I have a PTSD moment. Somehow, my PTSD has changed from focusing on the events leading up to your death to my crazy lady madness and insanity. Everytime I flash back to that day, all I can see now is how crazy and deranged I was after the doctors said, “I’m sorry but your husband died.” It’s like I’m floating in the air, out of my body, watching this crazy and deranged lady, who looks exactly like me, pace back and forth ranting like an insanely mad woman, but she’s not anybody I’ve ever met or knew could ever exist in me. Whenever I flash back to this moment of insanity (actually my insanity lasted longer than just a moment, probably more like days and weeks. Actually, who really knows if I’m even sane now...sometimes I wonder if I’m actually sane or just really good at “faking it until I make it!”), all I can think about is how I’m even where I am now. How am I even functioning. How am I even coherent (because I wasn’t able to mutter anything coherent let alone say anything that wasn’t gibberish after you died)?! How do I even wake up everyday and continue living life like nothing tragic has ever happened to me?! Most of the time, I wonder where I was even able to find my sanity again because I definitely didn’t have it nor did I think I could ever find it again after you died.” Honestly, I didn’t think I could ever get to where I am now in such a short period of time. Whenever I look back and see the stranger that looks exactly like me pacing back and forth and ranting like a crazy lady by the side of the hospital after the doctors said, “I’m sorry but your husband died”, I often wonder if the crazy lady really exist or if she was just a figment of my imagination because at what point was she able to find her sanity again (because how can anyone ever find their sanity again after going through such a painful, tragic, and traumatic experience?!)
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.