After you passed, I was so scared of everything. Going out into the world felt like navigating a strange and unfamiliar jungle without a map while a war was raging on at the same time. I didn’t know if I was going to make it back alive or not and whether I would step on a landmine or not when I left the house. I was completely unstable, mentally, emotionally, physically. I didn’t know what was going to trigger me and I was always afraid of having an uncontrollable emotional meltdown in public afraid, so leaving the house was quite an ordeal and challenge since it was like walking in field with hidden landmines all over the place. I wouldn’t know when I would step on a landmine and explode to smithereens, so I had anxiety and panic attacks at the thought of leaving the house. I had to mentally prepare myself for days before I could even leave the house. If anyone wanted to see me, they would usually visit at the house in the beginning, and if someone was able to cajole me to going out, I would tentatively accept and only confirm when it was almost time to leave since I wouldn’t know if I could mentally prepare myself to leave the house or not until I was actually able to leave. Eating at restaurants was the hardest and most challenging thing for me. Something about witnessing people share and enjoy a meal with their friends and family was very hard for me. I think going to restaurants was this stark realization that I would never be able to share in the simplest, most basic human activity with you anymore – eating dinner together. After you passed, I never ate at the dining table by myself ever again and only when there were guests that would warrant sitting at a dining table versus the bar area. I even gave away our dining table when I sold our house. I never wanted to see it again since it represented the heart and soul of our life together. It was where we shared all our meals, conversations, and laughter together. No matter how busy our lives were, it was important that we always eat dinner together since it was a time for us to bond and connect without distraction after a long day out in the world. After you died, I couldn’t even bear to look at the dining table. It held so many precious memories that were now too painful to remember. It was like it didn’t exist and I never used it unless I had to. Even guests who knew the seating arrangements when they used to come over for dinner wouldn’t sit in your chair after you passed. One time, even a friend was uncomfortable sitting in your chair and kept making sure multiple times before sitting in your chair – I mean there was nowhere else he could have sat unless he wanted to eat on the floor.
One of the biggest reasons going out into the world was scary and debilitating was having to be present and witness the world go on as usual, as if nothing happened. There were times where I would just stand still and stare out into the world perplexed and confused. I’m not sure what they don’t understand?! How can they go about their daily routines as if nothing happened? There were moments where I just want to scream and shout at everybody, “STOP!! Don’t you know what happened?! My husband died!! My world just stopped and ended. Why isn’t your world stopping and ending like mine?! My world turned upside down and nothing will ever be the same again!! Why are you guys just going about your daily life and routine like nothing happened?” I always had to remind myself, your world may have stopped, but not theirs. You can’t be mad or upset if they don’t care or feel the same pain and anguish you do. They can never understand you or what you’re going through, so you have to cut them some slack!!
Being part of a world where you don’t exist was already strange and odd, so going out into the world and feeling like nothing happened was like a big slap in the face, especially when my world stopped and turned upside down. I could barely breathe or take a step anywhere, so how could the world just go on as usual like nothing happened?! It felt like you disappeared and nobody noticed or cared. Nothing happened or changed. Nothing stopped and nobody took notice. How could nobody not notice something so seismic?! How could the entire world keep going on as if nothing happened when my entire world fell apart?! How could nobody care?! How could the world be so cruel and unsympathetic?! It felt like the universe was mocking me every time I stepped out into the world and said, “You’re insignificant and you don’t matter. Your pain and grief are insignificant and they don’t matter. Nobody cares, so you shouldn’t either. You just have to move on with your life as if nothing happened!!” It was a tough pill to swallow, and it felt very cruel and harsh, if you ask me!
About two years after you passed, I even had a dream where I was looking for you. I was so desperately and stopping everybody I passed by if they saw you. I even went to the police station and left no stone unturned. But everybody thought I was crazy since nobody believed you existed. Everybody kept telling me that you don’t exist, and I made you up and wouldn’t help me find you. I kept arguing with them and said you do exist. You’re just lost and I need to find you. I was so desperate and pleading with people to help me but nobody stopped or helped, and I woke up in a panic and it put me in a weird mood for days. It was a strange and odd feeling I couldn’t place and shake. #widowhoodstruggles (Whoa?! Throwback!! I haven’t used that reference in a while, right?! 😂🤣)
Although it was very scary and excruciatingly hard, I kept forcing and pushing myself to move forward and go out into the world. I wanted the world to stop and take notice of what I was going through, but it didn’t. It kept going on and moving as usual, and I didn’t want to be left behind either, so I was determined to reintegrate myself into world even though I was completely uncomfortable and socially awkward where ever I went. I was a fish out of water, floundering on the dry floor, unable to breathe, or help myself, but I refused to be left behind, even if the world was cruel and harsh, I still wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to be “normal” like everybody else. I wanted to be “okay” like everybody else. I wanted to be “happy” like everybody else. I wanted the pain and anguish to stop. I wanted my world to be put back together and keep moving on like nothing happened. I was desperately searching for a super glue that didn’t exist. The harder and longer I searched for it, the more desperate I became and the more elusive it became as well. It always felt like I was getting closer but never close enough to grab on to it. I grew more and more frustrated. I felt trapped and lost at the same time. I felt stuck and drifting at the same time. It felt like I was lost in a forest; wandering day and night trying to find my way out but going nowhere and making no progress since everything looked the same, and I didn’t have any breadcrumbs to leave a trail to help me either.
Honestly, I don’t know if I’m still lost in the forest or not. There were many times where I think I’ve finally found my way out but only to realize the trail dead ends and I’m still stuck in the forest. I guess my only options are to keep walking until I find my way out or give up and just set-up camp in the wilderness and hope and pray someone who isn’t lost happen to find and rescue me.
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.