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.

Image result for self care quotes

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.

Image result for self care quotes

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, 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, living forward, widow

Indecision and unhappiness

I have been unhappy lately. And in trying to figure out what is making me unhappy I do what I always do….I think and analyze, and reanalyze and over analyze and drive myself crazy until my head is completely messed up and I don’t know which way is up anymore. And then I stop and have a moment of clarity and things make sense again.  What I realized this time is that I simply don’t know what I am doing.  I have a lot of thoughts, and dreams and ideas, but I have no plan.  I am afraid of a plan; of taking the step into really doing and living.

I had a plan once.  In fact I had my life all planned out and it was amazing.   I knew what we wanted, where we going and what we were doing…as much as one can.  I was happy with the plan and working towards all that we wanted.

But that plan was demolished the day he died…actually it was over the day we received the diagnosis of cancer, I just didn’t realize it yet.  Everything I had planned for my life was tipped over on its side.  At first it was just that…a bit shaken. A bump in the road… something we were going to get through and then continue back on to our planned route of life.  But as time went by and he got sicker and sicker and eventually died, my life and plans were not just shaken but my world was turned upside down.

I’ve spent the time since his death trying to get back on my own two feet and feel a sense of balance or control over my life.  At times I think I am feeling secure in my position, but then I get knocked off-balance again and taken to the ground.  It’s like spinning in circles and getting dizzy.  When you stop you can feel like you are on solid ground, but your head keeps spinning and you fall to your knees.  That is how I feel.  The world just keeps spinning and I keep falling down.

I keep getting back up though.  I keep pressing on and trying to figure it out.  But I what I figured out today is that I don’t have a plan for my life because I am terrified of it being taken from me.  I am afraid of setting out on another path and having tragedy destroy it again.  I am scared of losing again.  Maybe if I don’t plan on anything or have  no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed.  But I am.   I am disappointed in myself.  This isn’t me.  Not even the new me.  I set goals.  I make plans.  I work towards something.  I dream and I live.  But I am not…I haven’t really since he died.  I’ve talked
about it, but I haven’t really done it.  I haven’t really done anything.  I haven’t been able to decide which direction to take or where I should go.

My epiphany today:

My indecision with life is a decision for my life and I am not happy with that decision…at all.

So what do I do now?  That is the part of my clarity that always
gets me…now I know what the problem is and why I am feeling a certain way, but I must do something about it.  I am not going to sit herindecisione knowing what is making me unhappy and complain about it or feel sorry for myself.  I have to do something about it… Not just think about it, or read about it, or even talk about it. I need to make a decision and whether or not it succeeds or fails, at least I got out there and did something with my life.

Though, I feel like I could stay in this place I am in forever.  My life could pass along quickly and I would be fine…but I want more than just fine.  I want amazing.  I want an amazing life.  All the pieces are right in front of me.  There are a lot of opportunities and possibilities and people in my path that I simply need to embrace.  I know this.  I honestly have known this for some time.  I was just happy with indecision and fear and being stuck in this place.  I have been justifying where I am at and making excuses for myself and for  my lack of motivation.  But that has gotten me nowhere but a place of unhappiness.

I am in control of my own destiny and happiness.  All the opportunities and possibilities and pieces can all be brought to my door,  but if I don’t make the move and do something with them, they will simply sit at my doorstep wasted forever or even worse,  move along to someone who is willing to take the risk.   I want to be that person.  I have to be that person or what is this life I have been given really for.

I know what I want in the big scheme of life.  It’s the little steps I am unsure of.  I have to start putting my focus and heart into reaching for what I want.  I have to realize my strength and see all that I have overcome already.  I can handle if things don’t go perfectly…because I know they won’t.  I may make some bad decisions but I can survive that and learn from them and try again.
Losing Pat has taught me that much.  I am strong and determined and I am not going to be held down forever.  God has a plan for me and instead of just sitting here waiting for it to be handed to me, I am going to start trying to find it.   He won’t lead me wrong.

I need to see what is right in front of me.

I need to make a plan and go after it.

I need to make a decision and just see what happens.

I am not going to let indecision be my decision.  I’m going to take control and pray that eventually the spinning will stop and I will once again find myself back on solid ground.

destiny1

 

 

Posted in grief, living forward, widow

After the wedding vows have been fulfilled…

“In sickness and in health, til death due us part”…I lived my vows through and through.  I loved my husband, I cared for my husband and I was there until the very end.  I was by his side during every test, every appointment, every treatment, every moment.  There is no doubt that I loved him.   And yet as I have become a widow and have started to try and live forward in my life, I feel as though my love for him is being questioned, or doubted.  Me finding a life for myself does not take away anything from the love I had and still have for my husband.  Finding happiness and a new path is honoring him.  He would have given anything to  still be here living and loving.  Wvowshy would I simply curl up and mourn him forever and not live a life that I am lucky to have?  He would be screaming at me if I did.

We did a lot of talking to each other throughout his sickness and especially after the 6 month to live moment.  We talked about everything you can imagine.  We talked about the past, the present, our regrets, our hopes, our fears and we talked about what was heading our way as he was dying.  He told me everything he wanted for me.  He wanted me to take risks and do what I love.  He told me to get out of a job I hated and figure out what I truly believe in and spend my time doing that.  He told me to find happiness and live freely.  He wanted me to find love again, he wanted me to find my passion, and he wanted me to do this for him.  And so that is what I am trying to do.

It’s not easy though.  It’s really pretty damn hard.  It’s almost too much pressure for me at times.  I don’t want to disappoint him.  I don’t want to not fully take advantage of the gift of life I still have.  I want to see and do everything for him…in his memory.  But I am still unsure of what I am doing.  It’s been almost two years…in one sense that seems like a long time and in another it doesn’t.  I have accepted that my life that I had before is over.  I have acknowledged that I am no longer the same person who wants the same things out of life.  I have let people go and I have let people in.  It hasn’t been an easy two years in any way that you look at it.  I am still scared of losing…people I care about, things I love.  I am still scared of screwing up and taking risks and not finding my path.  And parenting….I can’t even begin to tell you how hard this is.  Doing this solo is practically breaking me.  And I do break…but I get up.  Each time I get up and dust myself off and figure it out.

That’s what we widows do….we figure it out.  People need to understand that our past life with our late spouses, and our new lives we are creating for ourselves are two separate entities.  We carry the pain and the love and the loss and everything that went with our former life forward with us into our new life, but we can never go back.  It is not an option for us.  We can not live as though it is or else we are destined to live a sad, lonely life.  And I am not going to do that.

My struggle on this day is that I am doing the best I can and yet I don’t feel like I am doing anything.  I am going through the days trying to make the right choices for me and the boys and trying to figure things out, but at the end of the day, I feel as though I am right back to where I started.   I am stuck at that starting line trying to figure out which foot to put in front of the other in order to get going.  I see many paths laid out in front of me and  I am full aware that it is up to me to make the choice, and start heading down the road of life again.  For some reason, I keep making a u-turn just as I am getting started.

So that’s where I’m with the on going battle in my head.  I am still making a couple more practice laps around the track of fear before I really strap on my running shoes and start living.  But I will do it.  And that is something that I keep reminding myself.  There is no timeline for this grief process or the healing process or for that matter, the whole process of life.  I just need to keep getting up and remember that I loved my husband and I gave him everything and all of me…and it is time for me to do the same for me.  That is what he would have wanted.

 

Posted in grief, living forward, widow

Come out of the shadows and live your truth

Finding my passion was the easy part.  I think I’ve always known that I wanted to write…I just never knew what to say.  Now I have something to say, but finding the hard part is living the truth of this passion.

Living your truth is a tough thing to do in our society where expectations of how you should look and how much money you should have are constantly shoved in your face.  People have their opinions as to how you should be and how you should be living your life.  But if you are truly living your truth than those things don’t matter.  You know who you are and how you want to live.  You listen to your heart and desires and let them shine through you.

This isn’t easy. I still have obligations and responsibilities to take care of.  For example, I have three boys to raise and a home to keep up.  Let’s just say a paycheck would come in handy.  But I am determined not to settle and to not stray from the path I want to be on for this journey of life.  I keep trying to remind myself that I am doing what is best for me and my family.  I feel balanced right now.  I feel content.  At least I have been, until this week.

This week brought on the pressures of the world.  I started feeling the shadows start to surround me again.  The shadows of fear trying to stop me in my tracks and make me turn around and take a safer path.  Yes, things would be easier financially if I went back to teaching or found a full-time job that paid the right salary.  But everything else in my life would fall out of balance.  My boys need me at home as much as possible.  Simple logistics would be messed up if I went back to a conventional job.  Not to mention the time I have given to myself would be lost.  This year of me is only in its fifth month and livefreeI feel it has served me well so far.  I have become so in touch with myself and my wants and needs in life.  I am just starting to feel at peace with life and settling into this new normal that people talked about since Pat died.  I am finding my center and I am discovering the wonders of life.  I don’t want to settle on any ol’ job just to make some money.  This week I have been spending the time I want to be spending on writing on searching for a job…a job I don’t want or need at the moment.

I am scared of the future.  I am scared of failing.  What if people don’t like what I write?  What if I can’t make any money doing what I love? What if my dreams aren’t successful?  What if?  What if? What if?  That is all that has been running through my mind the past few days.  I am driving myself crazy worrying about the future, when I want to live in the present and do as I am. When the fear sets in it paralyzes you and you can’t make a decision. I can’t make a decision.   I can’t listen to my heart.  I can’t live my truth.  It has to stop… now.

One day more.   I  believe that if I take this one day to refocus…refocus on my truth, then the shadows of fear will retreat yet again.  I will give myself one more day to hide in the shadows before I step  out and send them packing.  I see that this is an ongoing battle I am going to have to face again and again if I honestly want to live my passion, live my truth. I am terrified to face fear, but I need to live the truth I have discovered.  It’s worth the risk to live again.  Pat would expect nothing less of me.

Posted in grief, living forward, widow, widowhood

The gift of widowhood

In the first half of my life, that is before Pat died,  I thought I knew what life was all about. You grow up, you get a job, you get married, have kids, raise your family and someday if you are lucky to retire together as you grow old.  Obviously there are a few pieces of the puzzle missing from that story line, but that was the gist of what I thought life was about.  I always thought there would be time to do everything I wanted to do, or see.  I thought that I was too old or already on my path so that I couldn’t go live my dreams..if I was even sure what those were anymore.  Somewhere along the line in growing up, I think I lost touch with what I wanted as an individual…what I wanted out of life. The things that mattered to me got mixed up or something.   I think I slipped into the conformity of the world and thought stuff was important, and status was important, and a someday would come along when the time was right and I would get to do all that I ever wanted to do.  In short, I had my priorities all messed up.

As we all know, my life didn’t exactly turn out
the way I had thought it was going to.  Instead my husband got sick and died.  My life got turned upside down and I was left in a ball on the floor trying to figure out what to do next.  This was a terrible tragedy.  It was a nightmare of pain and suffering.  This was unfair…

This was a gift.

Now this took me a while to see…a positive coming out of losing the love of my life?  But I can see it now.  Something good did rise up from the ashes of my former life….my new life.  My new perspective.  My new attitude towards living.  My meaning of life has changed and for the better, in my opinion.

giftThis second chance or second chapter of my life is different.  I see things in such a different way.  I want to live and fully embrace the meaning of life.  I want to explore this world and experience it.  I want to do what I want to do.  I want to follow my heart and my passion.  I don’t want to settle.  I don’t want to give in.  I don’t want to worry about the little things.  There is so much more to life than things.  This leads me to living more simple.  I have been purging my house of belongings…of things I never needed.  I don’t want stuff anymore.  I want experiences…I want memories.  I want to do and I want to be.  I understand that life isn’t always that simple.  I am going to have to go back to work and do something to pay the bills eventually.  I am still going to have the mundane chores of life, but I see those different now too

Even though I won’t get everything I want,  that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up dreaming.  I am dreaming big these days and putting it out into the universe to see what comes back to me.  I am focusing on being positive and living my truth.  I know who I am.  I know what I want.  And I deserve to have it all.  We all do.  My all has simply changed since Pat left me.  It’s bigger than before.  It’s connected to my soul more.  I loved the life we
had.  I loved the plans we had together and would give anything to have him back to see them through.  But this is not an option we widows get to have.  I have to accept the change that was given to me…I need to embrace it and run forward into it.  This gift of a second chapter is an opportunity to truly live.  I am working on that principle.  I am listening to my heart and reaching for the stars.   Live life with passion.  Live life with love.  Don’t just simply exist in this world…Go live it.

 

Posted in grief, living forward, widow

A Widows Christmas: Part 2

 

This is my second holiday season as a widow.  Last year  I spent the holidays just trying to get everything done and make sure the boys had everything they needed and that they felt comfortable without their dad.   I tried to keep it as “normal” as I could under our circumstances.  See last year we were not in our own home.  Not only had we lost Pat, but we had to leave our home for six months due to some major construction to the foundation of the house.  We spent the holidays in a rental home.  We didn’t have access to our Christmas decorations, or anything.  We didn’t have lights, or stockings, or anything that made us feel like it was Christmas.  We were living out of boxes and in a mess of things.  But the holidays come no matter where you are or what state of mind you are in.

I thought I was doing okay.  I was getting all the shopping done, staying on top of school parties and making sure Christmas morning was just as it always had been before Pat died…like that was even possible.  But I was trying.  We always had a breakfast casserole and cinnamon rolls for breakfast after opening presents.  And we always had spaghetti dinner.  I was prepped and ready for the day.

The boys came down and were happy to open presents and give me the gifts they had made.  It felt okay.  We were doing okay.  And then it was time for breakfast.  I took all the ingredients out to get cooking but didn’t have a pan to cook it in.  We had a house full of rental furniture and dishes and stuff and there was no casserole dish to cook breakfast.  This was what broke me.  I left the house in search of a store to buy a pan, crying the whole way.  I couldn’t do this on my own.  I wasn’t cut out for this.  I had messed up and ruined Christmas.  I ended up at my friend’s house in the neighborhood crying on her couch as she quickly found me a casserole dish to help me out.  I was a mess.  It pretty much summed up my first Christmas as a widow.  I had been shoving down all the pain, and sadness I was feeling just to push through the days with the boys.  I was putting on a show for everyone, including myself, that I was doing okay.  I wasn’t…  What a joke.

So here I am in the middle of my second Christmas season as a widow.  We are less than a week away from the big day and all I can say is what a difference a year can make.  I don’t feel that agonizing pain and loss.  I don’t feel alone and overwhelmed.  This year it seems people have gone away, as they do, and so we weren’t pulled in as many directions as we were last year.  There weren’t the parties or get-together we use to have to attend.   And last year I felt obligated to go to everything and see everyone.  I was worried about hurting other people…  I’ve gotten over that.  Now I worry about the four of us and what we need.  So I am sure that has helped me out this year.  I can focus on what is most important and that is us being together and making memories together.

Now don’t get me wrong. This is no Norman Rockwell painting here.  I do have three boys between the ages of 13 and 10…there is a lot of chaos and fighting going on in this house.  But it is something that just is.  It isn’t a result of Pat not being here.  It’s just the fact that there are three boys filled with testosterone fighting for their place in this house.  It just is.  We aren’t weighed down this year with the sadness.  Yes we miss him.  Yes we wish he was here to celebrate and be with us.  But that’s not our reality.  We can’t live like it is.  I am glad that we aren’t .  We are all trying to turn the page and start living forward.  We have started to make new traditions.  We are changing some of the old traditions too.  It is a part of becoming the new us.  The Mahoney 5 is gone in the physical sense and so we can’t expect everything else to stay the same too.  We have created our new family and our new way of being.  It has brought new challenges, but it has also brought us new happiness.

I think that this year is better because the fog has lifted.  I don’t feel that weight holding me down.  I can see where I am headed and I know we will figure it all out.  Each day is still a struggle, but it is not the same struggle as it was last year.  Now it is more of the struggle to raise these boys and help them to succeed in life.  Parenting alone is the struggle this year…not the holidays.

So as the days bring us closer to celebrating Christmas,  I am hoping that I truly am doing Okay this year.  I am hoping that this year will not end up as a rerun of last year.  I don’t feel as though it will.  But hey, this widowhood thing always has a surprise waiting around the corner and sometimes you just don’t know what is coming your way.  I am just going to try to keep on moving in the right direction and pray for a peaceful, Merry Christmas.


 

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Merry Christmas   2016

 

 

Posted in grief, living forward, widow

One Last Good-Bye

I never said good-bye to Pat before he died.  We said a lot of things to one another, but I refused to say good-bye.  It was me and him forever and therefore there was no room for good byes.  I would see him again.  I will see
him again.  But since he has died, I have had to say good bye to a great deal of things from my “former” life.

Right after he died our house had some major issues to it and we had to move out in order for a complete renovation to occur.  I was forced to pack up all his belongings, everything we had accumulated together for the past twenty years, and put it into storage.  Pictures came down off the wall, his clothes came out of the drawers and my physical memories of him were taken from our home.  And we when we moved back in it just didn’t feel right to put his stuff back in the new house.  It was a new start for us and I couldn’t see hanging everything back up in the closets when he wasn’t here to use them.  It was a difficult thing to do especially so early on after he died.  But we did it.empt

It seems to me that most everything in the physical sense that was Pat’s before he died has been packed away, and said goodbye to.  Everything except one. .. His car.  For the past year and a half I have had two cars.  My car, which my parents have taken over thankfully, and Pat’s car.  I could have turned his car in after his death because it was in his name, but mine I had to keep since it was in mine.  But I didn’t want to give up his car.  I liked his car.  It was his.  He only drove it a couple of times before he died, but it still had all of his things in it.  It was a physical connection to him.

The boys and I have taken some great trips in this car over the past 20 months.  We went to Florida, Kentucky, Chicago, Traverse City, Grand Haven (twice), and many other local trips filled with amazing new memories.  We haven’t touched Pats stuff in the console…it’s just as he left it so it was like we were taking him along with us.  But the lease is up now.  The time has come to turn his car into a memory too.  It is our final goodbye.  The last physical item we have that belonged to Pat, that belonged to my “former” life.  It is leaving us today and we are starting a new…again.  .

I’m having mixed feelings about this.  I am sad about letting another piece of him go.  My mind is fully aware that it is only stuff and not him, but my heart feels like I am losing something more than a car.  I miss Pat.  The car is just something else I have to let go and learn to live without.  We will make more memories and travel to great places together in the new car, I know this.  The future has so much for us.  We already have our first trip planned over the holidays.  A new adventure.  Another new beginning.

So even though good byes are usually sad and beginnings are usually scary…I know that in the middle, all those memories we will make, is where the good stuff lies.  Just because I am letting go of Pat’s car, I know that doesn’t mean we are letting him go.  We aren’t losing him anymore than we already have.  We are simply making room for something new and hopefully exciting to come our way…the future.

Posted in grief, inspiration, living forward, widow, widowhood

To the new generation of widows

Since I have been writing I have connected with a large community of widows and widowers.  What I have noticed and learned about it is that we are a new generation of widows.  We are not the picture you think of when you think of the word widow.  We are no longer the little old lady or man dressed in black walking around broken and alone.  We don’t hide out and depend on others for everything because we are broken in two.

The new generation has a passion for life.  We have been broken but we will not remain that way.  We are empowered.  We have a voice and we want to be heard.  We no longer want to hide away and suffer the rest of our lives.  We want to find a way out of the darkness and live again.  Sometimes it may take a while for this to happen and sometimes we slip in and out of the darkness, but the difference is that we want to find a way out.

Thanks to social media and the internet we can find a place where we can see that we are not alone.  There are others just like us and what we are going through is normal and okay.  We can lean on each other, whether it is through a simple email or reading someones blog about their experiences.  When we connect with each other we take another step out of the darkness.  I am thankful for this.

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I don’t think the widows of the past had this.  They had no way to find one another.  They were alone in their suffering and others looked on them as broken and were either forgotten or pitied. I don’t want to be either.  I want to be a part of the world again.  I want to burn the fire that still lives inside me for all to see.

We need to continue to listen to each other and share with each other without judgment.  We all have our story and our own road to healing.  There is no one right way.  Just what is the right for you.

Another difference is that it seems to be us widows are getting younger and younger.  There is a large group of us out there that are under the age of 50 and have lost our spouse.  We still have a lot of life left to live.  It isn’t the life we had planned on, but there is still life out there.  This new generation of widows now have to grieve for their loss, find their new life and start to live again.  It isn’t the same group of widows who were married for 50 years and will spend the rest of their lives alone.  Not they all do either.  Not that they don’t feel the same pain.  It’s just different.

I have found that being a young widow has its challenges.

  1. the challenge of having to continue to raise young children.
  2.  figuring out where we fit in this world of couples as a young single person.
  3. trying to navigate the financial world on your own and plan for the unknown future
  4. finding people to connect with that understand
  5. navigating family situations both nuclear and in-laws
  6. not having a partner to lean on
  7. and so much more…

I never imagined I would be a 40-year-old widow.  I never thought it was even in the realm of possibility.  But here I am and here you are.  We are widowed.  We are young.  We have a life left to live.  I have to believe we are still here for a reason and there is still more for us to do.

So to this new generation of widows I say we stand tall and stand together.  We are strong in who we are and what we want in life. We can make decisions for ourselves based on what we want and what we need.   We can have the life we deserve without others judgment or disapproval.  We do not have to suffer in silence or dress all in black…though I do enjoy wearing black.  We can go out with friends.  We can laugh out loud.  We can have a good time.  And in time we can find happiness again…