No five-year plan. No three-year plan. Not even one year. I’m living in the moments, in the pause, in the space between my thoughts and actions.
I didn’t expect the holidays to be as hard as they were. It caught me off guard. I was doing so good. So, so good. And then, out of nowhere, the sadness and all of the loss of the past few years came gushing up like Old Faithful. But not “really” like Old Faithful- she’s always on time. You know precisely when she’s expected. Spectators are standing by, ready to see her burst. But grief isn’t like that. You never know when the sadness will show up. Instead of rushing too, everyone is running from, not knowing what to say, when really… words are not necessary.
Come and sit.
Grab a box of tea, a cuppa coffee, a bottle of wine, something or nothing, and just show up. You don’t have to say anything. We don’t know what we need, either. Other than company. Another person’s presence.
Is it any wonder that isolation is so prevalent in the world? Have we lost the ability to be with each other? It seems everyone’s afraid… of something. What if we let go of the fear we’re holding so tightly and just started to be in the world? With all of our flaws and fumbling around trying to figure it out. Why can’t we just be that?
And then, life is busy. I often wonder if it’s worth it. Not living—of course, life’s worth living. But I’m referring to the things we’re so busy doing… are they worth giving up being with family, community… friends? What are we so busy doing, anyway? Has life always been this way, and I didn’t realize it because I had company?
I’ve been living on this earth now for over two and a half years without Joe. I’ve experienced a lot of alone time to witness my pain. That has expanded me and made me even more curious than I already was. I’m questioning EVERYTHING. I’ve recognized that if I allow my pain to move through me, however, it shows up (tears, anger, sadness…) and I don’t try to “bright-side” it or “positive think” it away, but instead, acknowledge, accept, and love it, then I’m more compassionate to myself and others.
Then… after acknowledging my feelings I do look at the bright side of life and I do think of all the good that has happened on this incredibly wild ride. All the fun, all the joy, all the experiences, all the love, and all of the life in front of me that has yet to be lived. How exciting!
And that’s what I want more of. Showing up as we are not pretending those feelings don’t exist. No pushing it down (think of holding the beachball underwater—it’s a lot of work to hold that sucker down.)
Instead… I let it come to the surface.
I’m with it.
I feel it.
No numbing out. What we run from pursues us, and what we face transforms us.
Are people tired of me talking about grief? I don’t know. Probably. If they are, it’s probably because they have never known the LOSS of their beloved, and have maybe never known LOVE- because that’s what grief is… our LOVE. Many believe that grief is something you get over—the movie version…something that goes away. Something you move past…and quickly, too (please hurry!). But nothing could be further from the truth. But these are things I don’t have to tell anyone experiencing grief…they know.
My heart is big. I’ve done a lot of reflecting, bingeing, writing, talking, sleeping, eating (you name it) in my (now) weeks of solace, and I’ve found some things that have really helped; I’ll be sharing more about that another day.
But for now, I’ll stay in my cocoon a bit longer. The warmth and the coziness of being home in the winter feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket (which I have been…a LOT!) Candles are lit and there’s a glow that I can only find here… at home. Nostalgia and presence both reside here—both residence and evidence of a deep love and a deep loss. Healing, just like life, is a journey, not a destination.
What if you are exactly where you’re supposed to be…right now? This is your best-self, right now? No need to worry. No need to rush. I am grateful for every experience I’ve had. Sometimes (maybe all the time) being broken open is just what we need to propel us forward.
People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
To your healing and to mine.
xo, and peace.
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Pam Holland says
I can’t thank you enough for putting your words to paper and sharing with all of us! As you know I am in a similar boat as you in the fact that I also lost the love of my life suddenly and unexpectedly on 7/09/19 after 40 years of marriage. That has been the HARDEST thing in my entire life! And as you said……I can go along doing good and then BAM – out of nowhere come these overwhelming feelings of loss & grief!! When you lose a love like we both had with our husbands it’s HARD!!! Your words have helped me so much!! They hit so close to home for me and they also let me know that I’m not alone.
THANK YOU for sharing your thoughts and feelings, because they do help me!!
You are a beautiful soul, Pam. Thank you for reading and for sharing your thoughts, too. Joe and I spoke of you on several occasions after your husband died. I knew you personally, and he felt like he did too because you were one of our loyal customers. I am so glad that my words have helped you… there is no other reason to share such raw and personal pain. Love you so much… and you are not alone.
You are not alone in your grief. Others know and can feel the pain you feel. This, from my journal entry this morning…
Entry: Wednesday, 15 February, 2023, 10:00 AM, EST
Morning comes and morning goes with no regret
Evening brings the memories I can’t forget
Empty rooms that echo as I climb the stairs
And empty clothes that drape and fall on empty chairs…
Never knew how much I needed you;
Never thought you’d leave until you went.”
The Valentine Day messages on Facebook yesterday were sad reminders my lifelong Valentine is no longer with me. As I passed the display of cut flowers in Wal-Mart yesterday, for just a split second I had an impulse to grab a bouquet for her on the way to the checkout as I have so many times before. Old habits die hard. Just as quickly as the impulse came I was smacked in the face once again with the stunning realization I no longer have someone for whom to buy bouquets.
It seems moments like these can bring me crashing down into an abyss of grief in a microsecond. It lasts for a while, but then I shrug it off, climb back out and get on about the business of living. Sometimes I honestly wonder why I am still here. What is my purpose? For forty-eight years, well more than half of my life I have lived for them. I lived for us as a family, secure here under this familiar roof.
Now I am alone. It’s almost four years since she squeezed my hand in our last goodbye and her heart stopped beating. It’s now more than three years since Jeff followed her into Eternity. Sometimes it’s still a struggle to adjust to my new reality.
I suppose it will always be that way, but it is slowly, agonizingly slowly, getting better. The down times are becoming fewer and though intense, they are more often fleeting than hanging on.
I think everyone needs purpose in life beyond simply living, getting from one day to the next. For now I live for my cats who do need me and for my children that love and need me, though they have lives of their own and are many miles distant. I am forever thankful for friends who care for me, and I remain hopeful for a happier future.
Bob, Thank you for sharing your raw thoughts and journal entries. Until we are in it for ourselves we simply cannot understand… much love to you.