Posted in grief, living forward, widow

One Day More

Pat died at the age of 44 years, 6 months and 1 day.  That’s all the life he had to live and boy did he live it.  Today marks my one day more.  One day more is something he would have wanted more than anything.  And now here I am… I have been living one day more than he was given to live.  Its a day that is bringing me mixed emotions.  One, I am realizing how young he was when he had to leave this world.  I couldn’t imagine having to say goodbye to everyone and everything right now.  I am too young.  Two, I am feeling the pressure to truly live life.  I feel like from this point forward I need to embrace life and take every opportunity I have to live and love.  I am doing this for the both of us.  I know I have felt that way since he died, but right now it seems more real than ever.

thankful

The past three and half years…I can’t believe we are there already…has been such a crazy roller coaster for me.  I have been in the depths of hell and I have found my way out again.  There were times I didn’t know what in the world I was doing, where I was headed, what I wanted or if I even deserved any of it.  I have been completely lost, alone and frightened.  And then there were times of great clarity.  Times were I could see an amazing future for myself.  I saw opportunities and ideas and dreams that I had never deemed possible before.  I was given a new perspective on life and the world in which we live.  I discovered my inner strength, realized I don’t give a shit about what others think about me and my choices and started to try to live my life again on my own terms.

This hasn’t always been an easy path…it definitely was not a straight path that my journey has taking me on.  But looking back I am amazed at all the self discovery and soul-searching I have done to lead me to where I am right now.  I had crazy ideas and thoughts about where I was headed at times.  I tried so many different things and routes to take before I came full circle and found my peace again.  I found my place.  I didn’t think that was ever going to happen again for me.  I thought I would be a lost soul forever.

But here I am.

Three and half years later, I am finally in a job that I love, working with people I truly enjoy, comfortable (as much as any parent can be) with raising three boys on my own, I have cut people out of my life and I have found someone new that makes me happy.  I am proud with how far I have come and I am aware of the fact that I am just beginning.

beginning

I am 44 years, 6 months and 1 day old.  I am barely mid-life at this point (at least I hope).  There is so much living and loving and learning left for me to do.

And now I am going to do it not just for me, but for Pat…in his memory, in thanksgiving of all he gave to me, for the life he deserved to be a part of….I am going to try to make him proud and truly live.

One day more may be all I get and I don’t want to waste it a single minute of it.

Posted in grief, living forward, widow, year of self-care

A year of self-care

2017 came to an end.

I was given a gift of a two-week vacation from school and work. I had hoped that I would have felt recharged, refreshed and ready to start 2018.  I wanted to use my two weeks to reflect and refocus on where I am, where I’ve come and where I want to see myself this year.  Unfortunately, the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 brought my a cold and sickness that I just couldn’t seem to kick.  I came into the year more exhausted then I left the last.  I knew I wanted 2018 to be a bit more about me then the years that have passed, but after the way the year started I now know that it is a must.

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I have been reflecting on the past 2 1/2 years since Pat died and all the different places I have been and the crazy thoughts that have gone through my head.  Looking back is way easier to see what I was doing then when I was actually living it, hind sight is always clearer.  A friend told me that my first year after Pat died would be the year of Denise.  That I would  need to do whatever I needed to do.  I thought that sounded amazing.  I thought that was what it was.  But it wasn’t.  It was a year of survival.  It was a year of grace.  I had to learn how to make it on my own,living in this deep fog that we widows experience.  I had that year allowing myself to be in the pain and the grief and just put my head down and go through the motions.  It wasn’t about me.  It was about survival…for all of us.

The second year I then thought I was ready for a year about me.  I even quit my job and took some time to learn about who I was know that Pat was gone.  I am definitely not the same person as I use to be, but I had no idea who this was.  I had time but it didn’t turn out to be about me either.  It was about learning how to run the household…how to take on all the new roles and responsibilities that were left in my hands.  It was also a year about the kids.  Taking care of their grief needs and school needs and everything else that comes with raising three boys on my own.  It was a year of learning, not a year about taking care of me.

This third year has been about getting back out in the world and finally coming to this new normal everyone has been talking about.  I went back to work doing something different from my past jobs and tried to find a new path for my life.  I have slowly started to get a handle on the finances of the house and making plans for the future.  It’s been about getting the boys back out into life and active with their friends and school activities.  This has led me to devoting all my time and energy to them.  I understand this is what parenting is all about, but I am utterly exhausted not having a tag out to someone, anyone at anytime.  This is 100% on me and boy am I feeling it.

This has led me to my focus on a year of self-care.  I want to change the perception that taking time for yourself and putting yourself from time to time is not selfish…it is necessary.  You can not be good for others if you are drained.  You can not pout from an empty pitcher.  You need to provide yourself oxygen before you can help others reach their oxygen.  It isn’t wrong to care for you…it is the best thing you can do for you and your family.

I realize this is an intentional act I will have to focus on everyday because being a working parent I am pulled in so many directions that I can lose track of where I am headed.  So I am mapping out a plan for myself and I hope others do the same.  This year has to be a little bit about me.  I have to take care of myself; body, mind and spirit.  Everyday I need to take at least five minutes to focus on me.  This could be for meditation, or reading, or walking, or sit ups or writing or anything that I want to do.  Everything else can wait for five minutes.

I am also going to work on letting guilt go.  My kids do not need everything they think they need right when they think they need it.  I am going to give myself the gift of not feeling guilty for not giving them everything.  I am going to put some of my needs and wants ahead of their demands (because they aren’t typically needs anyways).  I am going to schedule some me time to do what I need to do for me.  Not what I need to do for them.  I will take care of me, even if it seems stupid to others and give myself some time to reboot, recharge and refresh my spirit.

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This is hard.

This is so hard with three demanding boys standing over me asking to be driven somewhere, or to buy them something or to make them dinner.  But they can wait.  They can wait for me to get my head together and take a deep breath and remember what life is about.

Life is about love.  It is about finding happiness and peace and love in the smallest of things.  It is not about having the most, or being famous or having the busiest social life.  It is about finding your place in the world and being at peace with where you are.

In order to find this, you have to look.

In order to look, you have to take some time for you.

If all the focus is on others and at the end of the day you are emotionally, physically and mentally drained, you will never be able to find the peace you deserve.  The peace I deserve.

So this is my challenge to you…make it a year of self-care.  Make an intentional effort to be about you, just a little bit and then let’s see where we are in year from now…or even a month from now.  I’m ready for some time to discover me and do what is best for me.  I believe that if I am happy and settled in my life, then everything else should fall into place.  I will be a better mom, a better daughter, a better friend, a better employee…just better.

It’s a worth a try, at least that’s what I think.

 

 

 

Posted in grief, widow

Writing Chapter 2

So I think I have found my chapter 2…that sounds all good and everything, but it isn’t.  It doesn’t make everything good.  My life isn’t magically recreated into a blissful ending.  That’s for the movies, not reality.  Dating mid-life is a challenge to say the least.  Establishing a relationship is almost impossible.  Trying to balance work, children, grief and a new relationship seems to be something not meant for the weak.  There are long stretches of not seeing each other without six children around.  There are stretches of not being together at all.  There are days when I don’t think I can do it anymore…it’s too hard.

It’s not like dating when you were young and had your whole life ahead of you.  Back then you had nothing but time to hang and be together.  You had nothing and started a life together.

 

 

You went through the struggles of day-to-day life together and created something new together, just the two of you.  You made plans for the future, you tried and tackled the hurdles together and you always had the other by your side at the end of the day.  Just having their presence was enough to help in the smallest way.

Jump ahead 20+ years: two established careers, two homes, two sets of routines and traditions, learning to be a single parent and oh yeah, six kids.  This is just the obvious challenges dating as a widow brings.  There is so much more.  For one, there is nothing to establish together.  You both have your lives.  You have built all that with someone else.

You both have children who are demanding your time and energy with all their needs and wants.  You both have jobs that have their own time demands and energy suckage.  And at the end of the day you are all alone dealing with the aftermath of your day and the day to come tomorrow.  Yes there are phone calls throughout the day and brief moments for small conversations when dropping off kids or being in the same place at the same time, but actual interaction with one another is lacking.  There is no peace and love at the end of the day when it seems like I need it the most.  This is a huge challenge I face.

Sharing my life with someone is something I want.  I want a partner, a best friend; someone to have to lean on and to simply be with.  This isn’t something I expect to come easy.  If it is something I truly want, I need to be patient and stay the course.  I am well aware of this. precious

I just keep waiting for something to come easy for me.  This whole new book of my life hasn’t started out with any exciting plot twists, or simplistic undertones.  No, this new book has been a lot of tragedy.  A lot of crazy nutty things happening all at once.  Maybe that will make for a good middle where the main character learns her strength and what her purpose really is in this life leading to a very exciting, unexpected end.    I could handle that I think…as long as the unexpected ending isn’t another tragedy or cliff-hanger.   I need some time of peace and calm.  That is where I am hoping this story is headed.

See, I miss the comfort of having my person.  Just being able to be with him whenever I wanted, whenever I needed…every day.  I always got to just be with him.  I think people take that for granted.  They get to be with their person all the time and don’t remember what is like to not to be able to be in that position.  When I have the opportunity, if even for a short period of time, to be with my new person, I take it.  I wish people could understand that and see that I am not being selfish, or pushing them away or putting him before them.  I am really on my own the majority of the time.  When the opportunity to put in some writing on my chapter 2 shows itself, I want to take it.

We have stated that we are dating backwards.  We have everything and we have the children.  We will have to wait to get our time together on the other side. I hope we make it to that time and place.  Life is a struggle and I don’t think anyone should have to face it alone.  Being alone and being lonely in life is not something I want or wish upon anyone.  I have stated before that I believe the purpose of life is to love and to share it with others.  That is all I am wanting to do.  Just want to be giving the chance to really see this through.

I have found my chapter 2…This I know.  I thought that would be the hard part.  But writing our story together is turning out to be the next big hurdle in my story.

 

Posted in grief, widow

Barely Breathing

dandiI try.  Every single day I am doing my absolute best to hold it all together.  But I am not doing so well.  I feel trapped.  I feel like I am suffocating.  I am barely breathing.  I’m unsure as to how this has happened.  Somehow my life took a turn that left me completely out of control.  I feel powerless to all that is happening to me.  I feel stuck in a place I am unsure as how to get out of.

All day, everyday, I keep it together.  I put on a happy face and I do what I have to do.  But the second I head home, I break.  The mask comes off and the truth is revealed.  Unhappiness overtakes me and I cry.  I’ve done a good job at holding it together, but it is getting harder and harder.  I am unsure how to get out of this one.  I don’t know how to escape the pain; the confusion.  I don’t even know what the problem is.  I just feel so lost..so alone.

When will it all end?  When will I find my way back to a life of happiness?  Is this even possible?  I can’t do it anymore.


I wrote this some time back and just recently came upon it again.  I was in a bad place.  I was not happy with anything that was going on and I was basically pissed off at the world.  I was lost in my own mind and in my own world and it left me feeling utterly hopeless.

Hope is something we all must continue to have in order to fully push forward in life.  Without hope, without a chance of there being something better, the future seems bleak and meaningless.  I know this feeling intimately.  Sometimes we get so caught up in all that is swirling around us that we stop to see where we are.  I do this all the time.  I get lost in the midst of the daily grind of life.  I get caught up in the discomfort of my world and lose perspective.  It doesn’t seem like it is all just flying around me, but rather that I am being thrown about with the mess and out of control.

hopeBut I have hope.  I honestly believe there is a reason I am still here.  I know that tomorrow will bring me something new as long as I keep reaching for it.  Hope is what keeps me getting up and doing what I have to do each and every day.  Hope is what motivates me to try again and again and again.

I hope for so much.  I hope to find my place in the world again.  I hope to find peace and comfort and joy.  I hope to find love and happiness.  I hope to find my purpose and feel the passion that comes from living that purpose.  I believe it is all possible.  I believe that as long as there is air in my lungs and blood pumping through my veins, I have a chance at an amazing life.

Widowhood changes us.  It changes our view of the world and everything that goes on, but what I am finding to be most important is that it changes our view of ourselves.  I think this can be one of the more difficult parts of the grief process.  For some reason if we face the loss of our spouse head on and go through the darkness of the tunnel and somehow manage to come out the other end, we can find acceptance with their death.  Not closure, not forgetting, not letting go, but acceptance that they are gone and that is how it is.

I grieved the loss of Pat.  I understand that he is gone and I have been heartbroken and sorrowful and miserable.  But I have found that acceptance.  I understand the reality and although it absolutely sucks, I have come to terms with that being a part of my story.

But what I have not done is to face the grief towards the collateral damage that came along with his death.  I am not the same; my life is not the same; my dreams are not the same…everything changed.  And even though I can roll with things and see that it is different and try to make a new life from the pieces that are left, I have not faced the anger and disappointment and grief that I feel towards losing the life I had and the life I had planned.

This is my main focus now.  I have always used the phrase moving forward rather than moving on because moving on sounds like once you have dealt with it you forget about it forever.  I will never forget Pat and our love…hence moving forward.  But what is holding me back now is something I think I need to move on from.  The anger, the disappointment, the resentment towards people, things and circumstances that are far beyond my control.  I need to face them head on and then let them go…and move on with my life.  Otherwise I may stay stuck in this place forever, and who would want that?

hopesI am happy with where I am now.  I read what is written above, which was written not that long ago, and see how far I have come; how much I have grown.  I have a plan laid out for my future; for the things I want to do and things I will do.  The darkness isn’t as blinding as it once was.  I see the way to what I am looking for and I know it is just a matter of time.  Each day, each positive thought, each moment of hope brings me closer to the life I never knew I wanted.

 

Posted in grief, living forward, widow

Tomorrow’s happiness does not erase the past

double heart

I love Pat.  I have loved him since I met him at the age of 21.  I spent half of my life with the man.  I fell in love with him, I married him,  I carried his children…I took care of him when he was sick, I held him as he took his last breath in this world, I love him still today.  These are the facts and there is no denying any of them.

But time keeps ticking.  Life continues on.  You have a choice to continue to live without your love beside you and search for a new path…a new future, or you can choose to sit in sorrow, missing your late spouse forever feeling alone, lost, confused and desperate.

I have decided to live and find a new path.  I opened my mind, and more importantly, I opened my heart.  I took the risk and put myself out there and I found someone to let in again.  I didn’t think this was possible.  I didn’t think I could ever open myself up to someone or be able to have loving feelings for anyone else…I didn’t understand how this is possible when my heart is filled with so much love for Pat.  I have read about others having what the widow world calls a chapter 2.  I have heard others stories about being surprised by falling in love again.  But I couldn’t possibly wrap my brain around how this could actually happen.  I didn’t believe it.   I think that is what people who haven’t lost their spouse thinks as well.  It doesn’t make any sense…until you are there, living it and then it all makes sense.

 

replacing

I read it somewhere that loving again is like growing a second heart.  I get that now.  Loving someone new has absolutely nothing to do with loving Pat.  It is absolutely amazing and so hard to explain to someone who has never experienced it.  A new love is completely different, completely separate from the first.  It doesn’t replace the love or erase it or mean you are even healed.  It simply means your heart is still beating.  You are still alive and capable of so much.

 

I believe that the meaning of life is to love, as simple as that.  To love and grow and share it with others.  Without love there is no reason for anything.  There is no purpose greater than to love.  I have love in my heart and have enough room in there to love more than one person without taking anything from either one.

I don’t believe that my past defines me.  And I don’t believe that my work towards having a new path in life erases anything I had with Pat.  My future can’t take away anything from my past.  Everything that has happened to me, and everything means Pat and his love, has led me to this exact moment and place in my life.  It has brought me to the door of new possibilities and new love.

Some say it is too soon.  Some say I couldn’t have really loved Pat if I could find another.  Some say I should be alone and in mourning for much, much more time.  Some say a lot.  But the reality of it all is that I am not some.  I am me.  I am living this.  This is my story, my life.  I have experienced it.   They don’t understand…they don’t understand anything, even though they claim they do.  There is no way they could possibly.

letting go

And I am happy that they don’t understand.  I wish on no one the pain and loss I have experienced.  I believe it is time for me to find some happiness.  Let me have love,  let me have my life.  I don’t need to be weighed down with judgments, or thoughts, or opinions.

 

I am tired of trying to make others understand the unexplainable.   This is my chance at tomorrow’s happiness and it does not in any way erase my past.  It only adds to my story.

 

Posted in grief, widow

What a widow means when she says “I’m fine”

I’m fine, I say, smile and look away.  This is the way I have answered people hundreds of times since Pat has died.   Fine is the staple of my conversations and my go-to answer.  Fine makes people feel better.  They receive the word fine as meaning I have gotten it together, gotten over the loss of my husband and I am moving forward.  Unfortunately, fine means none of these things.

What this widow means when she says the word fine is:

  • I don’t want to even begin to try to explain to you how I am feeling
  • I have no words for the struggle I am going through
  • I am exhausted from the physical act of getting out of bed this morning
  • I will figure it out on my own
  • There is no way you could possibly understand how my world has changed
  • My universe has come crashing down around me, but I am still breathing
  • I managed to have a shower this morning and show up…physically at least
  • I have only forgotten three things I was suppose to do today because I can’t think straight
  • I have fifteen things I am suppose to be doing right now
  • I don’t want your pity
  • I am lonely
  • I am scared
  • I am lost
  • I am holding it together for the moment
  • I miss my husband
  • I wish my world could make sense again
  • We are making it through the day
  • We don’t have any major catastrophes happening
  • There are things happening behind the scenes that you will never understand
  • I can’t take my children’s pain away from them
  • I wish I could go back in time
  • I don’t want to do this anymore
  • I don’t know what to do next
  • I want to crawl back into my bed and wait for my world to get better
  • I’ve got this on my own
  • I can only count on myself
  • You don’t get it
  • You never will
  • I am all alone

I am sure there is so much  more that is behind those three little words.  There is pain.  There is sorrow.  There is confusion.  There is loneliness.  It is being completely alone and it is feeling isolated, not understood and lost.

I say I am fine all the time.

I say it’s fine, I’ll figure it out…because what else is there to say?

I am still here.  I am still trying.  I’m fine…honestly I am.

Posted in grief, widow

He is not on a trip, he is dead

There have been a lot of articles written about how widows get upset when people call themselves “football widows”, “racing widows”,  “hunting widows” or complain about how hard it is when their spouse is gone for the weekend and they are on their own.  Widows, like me, get upset by this because these people have no idea what it truly means to be an actual widow.

Yes, they think they can understand because they take care of things all on their own for a few days, or a few weeks even, but everyone knows it is not the same.  I think they even know it is not the same when they say it….they just say it.

What I have found to be even worse than this is the fact that people in my life, even after almost three years, think that my life has just continued on the way it was and the only difference is that Pat is no longer here.  Like he is out-of-town on business or something.  According to them I have always taken care of everything anyway, so therefore it really isn’t all that different now.  He just isn’t here.  Life should be continuing on just minus one.

Let me tell you, everything is different….EVERYTHING.

From the outside, I may have been the one who ran the house and took care of the children, but I couldn’t have done any of that without my backbone for support.  Pat always had my back.  He was my partner, my best friend, my support system.  He was the one who picked up the pieces when I fell apart.  He was the one who helped me get through the tough days, make tough decisions, and be the tough guy with the kids.   I didn’t do it all on my own.  Every step of the way  he was there.

I chose Pat to spend my life with.  From the age of 21, I built my life with him and around him.  Everything was done together and in hopes for a long life together.  The plans, the dreams, the day to day…everything we did together…just because others didn’t or couldn’t see our relationship from behind the scenes, doesn’t mean they know how and what our relationship was.

I am not angry with people… I’m really not.  Maybe they say these things because they don’t think things through before saying them, or maybe they say them because they honestly think that is the way it is.  They don’t understand the lives of widows.  They don’t want to understand.  I don’t want them to understand.  I think it scares people, or reminds them of what could possibly happen to them too.  So instead of just letting us live our lives or help us, they pass judgment or make assumptions based on nothing other than what they “think” they would do, say or feel.  As I have said before…they have no idea.

I do get upset when people complain about their husbands, or the fact that their husband is out-of-town and they can’t wait for them to come home because they are tired of going it alone.  Of course I do.  I don’t show it, but I do.  I don’t have that luxury and I am envious of the fact that you have it all and don’t even realize it.  I wish he would be coming home again to help me out.  But I have to go it alone, everyday.  I have to do it alone with no break, with no help, with no chance of a day when he will come walking through that day door again to help me out.  My support system is gone.  I am alone in this and that is the end of the story.  I am left to pick up the pieces, figure it all out and find a new path for me and my boys….no Sunday night homecoming when the trip is over.  That just isn’t a widow’s reality.

I have come to terms with this reality and I have basically learned how to go it alone.  I am not angry, though I know this post may sound a bit angry.  I am simply sorting through the multitude of emotions I have experienced these past three years and some I am more passionate about than others.  This happens to be one of them.  It is a tough road that I wish on no one, but I do it everyday.  I am sure there are widows and widowers out there who understand what I am talking about.  It just gets to me sometimes.  That’s all I am trying to say.

What I honestly want is for anyone who has someone to love, to actually love them.  Be thankful for all the little moments and all the little things you have with them.  All of that…everything can be taken from you in a blink of an eye.  And then you are left like me, wishing he was on a trip, and not dead.