I don’t know if this will help anyone, but here are some words I’d like to share. If they do help you through the days looming ahead, then I will feel an additional blessing. I want everyone in this grief journey to survive. I want joy to live within you again. You are very special men and women and I feel so fortunate that among all this ruin, your light has come into my life.
I’ve talked with many who have walked this journey before you took your first steps in your journey, about playing the what if game and about searching for answers. In my opinion, progress can and will be made when you reconcile yourself to the fact that you may not receive the answers in this earthbound lifetime. This journey takes time and it requires patience. And what you do with the time, how you manage it, how you let it serve you, your determination, your patience, your endurance…all those qualities of fortitude will help you reap the benefit of time.
While I felt I knew what I needed to do to survive losing my husband nearly from the moment he passed, I didn’t know how to do it. I tried to reach back into my archives to find the tools to help me. From all the losses I had experienced, my brother, my parents, other family members, close girlfriends, I thought I had gained knowledge, survival tools, but I was sorely mistaken. I was disappointed in myself. I felt I was disappointing my husband. I felt guilty that I couldn’t use our love to manage my days and my nights. I wouldn’t do anything about it, but I didn’t know why I was alive, I didn’t want to be alive. I felt guilty about those feelings. I was and am in conflict, but it”s less so now. I had our son and you must know how very much I adore him, but he wasn’t enough, he wasn’t what I wanted. I needed intimacy, I wanted and needed my husband. It would incense me when people would say “at least you have your son.” I knew that, but I also know that my responsibility as a parent is to prepare our son to leave, to make his own way, his own life. My responsibility as a wife was to stay, to grow old together, to return to the relationship of just the two of us when our son set out on his own. The life I now held in my hands was not as I had scripted it in my mind.
I muddled through. In the early days I buried myself into getting the ”paperwork” of my husband”s passing behind me. I was determined and I focused on not making a mistake, not letting something slip through the cracks. I was determined to help our son make an adjustment. I felt the sooner I had these things behind me, the sooner I could focus on me and how I was to navigate my grief journey. My husband and I did have a relationship as many of you have described you shared with your spouse. We had outside lives, but that consisted of our jobs. We had friends, a few close friends, but we rarely socialized as we preferred to spend our free time together or as a family. Our appetite for interaction with other couples was satisfied through our son”s academic and athletic activities. We were so close that “skin to skin” was not close enough, we wanted to be inside one another, and we said that to one another often when embracing – this is not close enough, I need to crawl inside your body, I need to live within your skin. We liked each other as well as loved each other. We revered each other. We were one another”s bestest friend. There are no words which alone or joined together can describe our relationship. We lived a charmed life and we knew it as we lived it and we showed one another appreciation and gratitude for the blessing of such good fortune. From what many of you have written of your marriage, I know you can relate.
Because our marriage was the greatest blessing of my life, I knew I had to live my new life in honor of and in gratitude for the blessing. There has to be a reason for me to be here; there has to be a reason why I was given the blessing of this man, this marriage, our son, so that became my quest and my purpose. I am a person of religious faith and it is very personal to me. I will not try to convince someone God is the way through this journey, but God is why I have survived. I look within myself to find the strength I need to tap, which will enable me to face each new dawn. I know the strength is placed within me by God. My attitude is a result of prayer.
I have always been among, maybe even the most positive, enthusiastic people I know. I have always been a calm, introspective, insightful, and rational person. I have always been honest with myself and have looked towards the role I’ve played in the good and the bad things that have happened in my life. I’ve always been independent and self sufficient and the love I shared with my husband enhanced all these qualities. My husband and I were so alike it could be scary at times. When he passed, I no longer knew who I was. I accomplished so many things in the days following his death, but I don”t know how I did it, I was mechanical, robotic.
I realized not only did I miss my husband and miss our marriage, I missed me. I decided I would try my best to gracefully and with gratitude walk through this journey. It would be beneficial to our son as well as to me. I decided that I had to build my future on our shared love. I knew that my husband would want me to find happiness – and he would not care about the type of happiness, just so long as it was happiness and was not destructive. That’s what I’ve done, I tried to find productive happiness. What my husband and I shared cannot have been for naught. I am a better person because of the years I spent with my husband. I don”t look for answers to what happened. I look to what is happening, what will happen. I believe my husband is in heaven and in order for me to rejoin him, I cannot disrespect the life remaining for me to live. I focus more on my gratitude for what I had, rather than my sorrow for what I lost. It is what I would wish for him, what I know he would wish for me, and I finally accepted without guilt, that it”s what I wish for myself.
It”s our shared love that fortifies me. It is my fortress, it”s the rock upon which I will build my future, the force that will lead me to happiness. What we had was too rare a gift to let it die along with my husband. It must continue to live within me and through my example and through how I try to teach our son, it too will live within him. And, if I and he do it right, it will live as long as my husband”s and my genes are passed down through the generations.
There are so many ways to look at things, and I choose to look at things in the most positive of ways. I try to do the things that will best serve me. Anger does not serve me, sadness does not serve me. I”m trying to find me. I”m trying to live my life the way I would have wanted my husband to live his life had he survived me, for I know that is what he would want me to do. He loved me. He made me extremely happy. He wants me to be happy. So while I have conflict with my grief, I try to let what I know my husband would want for me, win the conflict. I try to remember I made a choice from among the three I felt I could choose – 1) to end it all by taking my life, 2) to live, but live in sorrow and bitterness, 3) to live a life of purpose and joy, with respect and gratitude for the blessings from my past.
My reconciliation did not come overnight and I know it is not complete, so I work at it every day. There is so much more to it but, possibly the picture I”ve painted tells the story.
My method for coping is not for everyone. We have to find our own method. Finding our way is labor intensive; we can”t be passive and we can”t be passive-aggressive. We have to give it everything we have; we have to aggressively seek our way.
As I wrote in the I Wish letter a long time ago, I would take on your grief if I could so that you wouldn’t hurt so badly. If sharing time with you through a written exchange is the next best thing, then I want to do it. You need to talk with someone or you need to write. You have to find a release for all that is pent up inside you. In my opinion, it is the way to peace and reconciliation.
Holding you in prayer and wishing you well in your journey.