I suppose it’s better. I still don’t think straight most of the time. I’m still tired all of the time. I still have to make myself get up and get busy. I still can’t get through a day without screaming “I just can’t believe you’re gone!” in my mind. I still can’t get to sleep at night without my brain replaying those final moments together. Tears still pour unexpectedly several times a day and no matter how I try to bring color back into this life, everything is still mainly shades of grey. Sometimes, though, a pop of color will burst through and for a little while life seems, if not normal, peaceful and acceptable.
We’ve crossed many things off his unfinished to-do list. He’d be happy with the changes. Does that help? No. Not really, but it’s better than not having done those things for him. I want to slap myself most days and yell “Snap out of it! This isn’t who you are!”, it may not be who I was, it sure as hell is who I am today, and I’m not at all happy about that. It is amazing to me that 19 years ago I was self-sufficient, happy, courageous (well, except for flying), and content to be by myself. It is amazing to me that I fell so easily into the comforts of two, as opposed to the contentment of one. I haven’t even seen a glimmer, yet, of the woman who was once completely comfortable with only herself for company.
Many years ago I read a book that suggested that in order to become who we want to be or make a change in who we are or our perception of ourselves, we should pretend to be the person we want to be. The more we pretend, the more the positive actions become habit. When positive actions become so habitual we no longer have to remind ourselves to pretend, we have made the change. This has helped to make moments of the day happier. I tell myself “I should be happy about that.” Then I pretend to be happy. Soon, I’m smiling. One day, I hope this will work long term, but for now it’s good to have some happy moments.
My brain isn’t completely frozen any more. Just muddled. I am able to read and understand most instructions, but I can’t keep them in my head, so I have to constantly reread. I can attain absolute focus on a project for longer periods, but will still often find myself suddenly holding a piece of wood and wondering “Is this a leg or was I working on the apron?” A friend of mine came to visit yesterday. She said it took her about four years for her mind to clear enough that she could think straight after her husband passed away. Suddenly paranoid about the drastic changes in my face, body and hair over the past 10 months, I wonder if I have four years to recover.
I have, on the whole, found friends to be more accepting, or at least more tolerant and supportive, than most family. Most friends refuse to let me hurt alone if I dare make my pain public. Most family politely ignores, probably not knowing what to say. Some friends will do the same, some family members offer as much support as friends. You just never know until it happens to you, who will be there regardless of their comfort level and who will hide their eyes. People will hide their eyes and this can sometimes feel as if they’re kicking you when you’re down. This isn’t usually intentional on their parts and they don’t even realize the effect they have. Let yourself drift toward those who offer you support, comfort and encouragement on your worst days. Those who can’t take it, will disappear, but those who are willing to stand by you and comfort you during your nightmare will be counted forever as your most worthy friends and family. They’ll be the knights at your round table.
Hang in there! There is no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve, nor is there a timeline for you to “get over it.” I hate it when people say that! What they do is minimize what/how you feel. You have suffered a tremendous loss and however long it takes you to feel more like you/heal, that’s a process all your own. Good luck, and I hope your days become more colorful with time.
Thank you Jax. I tell myself this. I hope others will remind themselves of this as well. The reactions, or lack thereof, of friends and family can come as a bit of a shock, but it’s not their journey. It’s ours.
What you’re describing sounds pretty normal to me. I hope you feel better soon, my friend. I miss William, and I never even met him. I cannot imagine how losing him must feel to you.
I just got to your blog via the January Cure, and am astounded at how much your writing resonates with me. Thank you for sharing what must be some of the most intense and personal feelings you will ever have… and yet, what many of us endure, if we live long enough. I have been in a period of intense grief about losing a profession that felt more like a calling to me. I’ve honestly worried about my sanity sometimes — feeling like the brain isn’t working, making mistakes, not being able to focus on simple instructions. What you have said here is a gift to me, even though I know that was not its initial purpose. We are all in this life together, surviving the best we can. I am grateful for your presence, and awed by what you have already accomplished.
Actually, it is the purpose. I wanted to show others what, I hope, is normal. Grieving is a lonely business and those of us going through it always wonder if we’re losing our sanity. Always wonder “What if..” or “What could I have done differently?” or any of the billions of questions we interrogate ourselves with. Because they’re hard to share, there aren’t many of these posts, but sometimes I talk myself into shining a flashlight on them.