For these 8 years since my loss, I have thought something isn’t right with me.
My thoughts of this intense grief is that it had settled on me, like some pea-soup fog.
Leaving me to wonder if this is depression.
Even being told by one doctor that it was indeed, depression.
Then, the calm voice of reason from another doctor, “Margaret, you are not depressed. You are a WIDOW.”
But with the passing of the days, weeks, months and years - the sadness lingered.
The tears still fall.
The memories are as clear as they were in those early days.
I miss my husband.
I have met other widows and widowers.
Online and in real life.
Everyone has their story of love and life before - and now.
I have seen people start new relationships, some getting married.
There are those who choose to remain solo, and many are very adamant about it.
And I realize that whether one decides to find another chapter, or remain solo - there is much criticism and judgment passed by other people.
The trauma of losing Rick has had a massive impact on me.
I was diagnosed with PTSD, due to having been his caregiver 24/7 for almost 3 years - and then having my hand on him when he died.
For several months to years after he died, I tried to be that extrovert - going, doing, being.
Around people. Working. Shopping. Events.
But then, COVID struck our country.
And with so much shut down, and restricted if not shut down, I found myself becoming more introverted.
As the restrictions were lifted, I realized that I no longer wanted to be a burden to people.
- Knowing that my presence was a vivid reminder of Rick’s absence. For all those 35 years of marriage, it was always “Rick and Margaret”. If I was seen anywhere alone, it was because Rick was off on the truck, or out on the sales route. Now, it’s just easier on everyone else if I am not there - because they can have it in the back of their thoughts that Rick is still at work, and I’m just at home waiting on him. Rather than having to process their own loss, and help me with mine.
And now, years after Rick's death, and even a time after COVID, I find that I am an ambivert.
I tend to be extroverted around some people - those that I feel most comfortable with, those who truly do love me , those who accept me for who I am - - just as I am.
Otherwise, I am introverted. I find it hard to "sell" myself in any situation. I really have to fight and guard myself - because I see how easy it would be to fall into "The Net" - that older movie with Sandra Bullock.
I have seriously been thinking that there is something dreadfully wrong with me.
I have been told that I am wallowing in the grief.
And that I need to let it go, move on away from it.
“He’s gone and not coming back.”
It’s been a struggle against the thoughts, and words, that this is something I could FIX if I wanted to - and since I haven’t FIXED it yet, then I just don’t want to be better.
Society puts a lot of pressure to get over it. To recover. To move on.
Society has created this whole artificial concept of what a widow’s life is, and what it should be.
As well as creating the image of moving on and no longer grieving.
So it is easy for family and friends, even other widows/widowers, to think, feel, and say, the same things.
Platitudes, comments and judgments, that follow that line of thinking are not helpful.
I’m not buying it.
I no longer believe that by grieving still, after 8 years, that I am choosing an abnormal way of living my life.
I recognize that grief is my constant companion.
And why shouldn’t it be?
Losing Rick was not like getting the flu and then recovering from it.
It’s more like having an amputation.
Losing a limb.
And then learning to live adjusted without it.
Nothing I do now, after losing the one I loved the most - and who loved me the best - is exactly the same.
The way I cook, the way I sleep.
The way I watch something, the books I read.
The hours I spend in the day, or the night.
Where I go, what I do, who I am with.
Nothing is exactly the same.
The way I think, and feel.
The stories that ache inside of me to be told and shared.
My hopes and dreams for a future.
Nothing is exactly the same, without Rick.
My grief has not reduced over these 8 years.
I have grown stronger at dealing with the grief.
I have grown wiser at processing the grief.
And, my world has grown around the grief.
But the grief remains.
Much like a pearl being formed.
Rick’s death was that grain of sand that got into me - and it hurts. It irritates. It annoys.
All I can do is add a layer around it each time.
- A long walk. A nap. A good cup of coffee. Watching a sunrise or a sunset. Listening to the birds singing, or a child laughing.
- Reading a good book. Watching an older sitcom, or a engaging movie.
- Spending time with kids and grandkids.
- A phone conversation with someone who cares.
- A text/chat message with one who gives that time.
- Whatever it is that softens the hurt for a moment - that is my layer.
What people who have not walked this way do not realize -
Losing Rick has challenged everything I assumed about the world, before he died.
It has made me question everything I thought I knew - about God, about the world, about my life, about how our life was supposed to play out.
So, for me, these 8 years of being a widow has been about learning to live WITH my loss, and finding new ways to make sense out of my life, and me, all over again.
I’m not there yet.
I'm just learnING.
Just saying. ;)