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.
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.