Grieve – to feel grief or great sorrow to distress mentally.
Grief and I are not strangers. As a matter of fact, no one I know is a stranger to grief. We all experience grief differently, and the duration of grief is also different for everyone.
I am 22 months into grieving for my husband, and honestly, I have not seen the light at the end of the tunnel. But I have been told it is there. Others may not understand, especially if you have not experienced a loss of a spouse/partner. I am grieving my husband’s loss, and I am also grieving the future that will never be.
Some, in their attempt to help me move on, tell me, “Just pray about it” or “you need to read your bible” or my favorite, “just choose to be happy.”
Well, I have been praying about it for 22 months. I do read my bible to receive comfort and hope. And if I could flip a switch from sad to happy, I would.
It’s not that I am not happy because I am. I am now seeing, as each rite of passage goes by, the love of my life will not be there. Eric was always there even if he was in uniform.
Eric and I had so many plans and talked about the future often. He talked about the day he would teach Kaleb to play baseball. He would think out loud about the day that our daughter would have a boyfriend and how, like most fathers, he would be on the porch cleaning his rifle. He couldn’t wait to teach them to drive or shoot a gun (Eric was a Marine, and he loved his firearms collection). We had so many plans. Living life without the other was not a part of that plan.
I am here to tell you that grief is a monster and cannot be controlled. Triggers are everywhere all the time.
Triggers like seeing a couple walking hand in hand – Eric and I use to do that. Triggers like shopping for groceries together, playing with the kids at the park, well I could go on. This is why grief stays around for so long. I’m now grieving for my husband and everything I, or the kids, will not get to share with him. It is not only scary; it is painful to think ahead, knowing that Eric will not be here. Grief is an entirely different level of fear.
When I lost Eric, I lost the person I spent every day with, and we talked about what the next 40 years would be like. I use to tell Eric, “when the kids get into high school, they will have it made. We will be too old to hear them sneak out.” He would reply with, “and too old and slow to run after them.”
Many widows/widowers mistakenly think losing their spouse is the only loss they will experience. I am sorry to inform you– there is more. So much more.
I struggle with:
The loss of who I am. I gave my heart to Eric; therefore, he was also a part of me. When he passed, he took a part of me with him. In a sense, I lost the feeling of wholeness. I was a wife. I was Eric’s wife. When I left that emergency room on May 16th, I left a different person. I will never be the person I was on May 15th. Now, it is just me.
Loss of the lifestyle we lived. Eric’s passing has forced me to change my way of living. Living without him. Living as a single mom. Wow, I am now single. I am not part of a couple. This is the first time I have seen that written. It put a knot in my gut just now because I do not feel single.
I have lost the sense of security or feeling safe. My routine and life have changed; therefore, my anxiety and insecurity have increased. The feeling of loss of security and feeling safe has nothing to do with feeling physically safe and secure. It has everything to do with not knowing what to do when issues come up. What do I do? How do I act? What do I say? Eric’s passing instantly changed the family structure, and it forced me to make a new, or another, level of adjustment. How do I do that or this? I tell people, “I could do this new life if Eric were here.”
Loss of how to relate to family and friends. When a loved one passes, family and friends do not know how to respond to someone who is grieving. When family and friends see their loved one grieving, they do not know how to react to the sadness, anger, fear, or other emotions that surface. Friends and family may feel awkward and avoid being around.
A moment that is burned into my memory the day my husband passed took place after telling the doctors and nurses to stop lifesaving measures. I somehow walked to my husband’s side and held his hand. While I was sitting there, my mother-in-law came up to me and said, “no matter what, we are family, ” she hugged me. I needed to hear that.
There is even a loss of how to communicate with my children. Now I struggle with jealousy between my children. Before, if one of our kids showed jealousy, two of us were there to handle the situation. Two of us to kiss the owes away, two of us to tuck the kids in bed, two laps to sit in for story time – now there is one. Dealing with jealousy as a single parent is challenging, exhausting –but most of all paralyzing because my kids, in a way, are screaming for their daddy.
Other grief moments will come soon, and my heart will ache again. When our kids turn 16 and then 18, when they get their drivers licenses, vote for the first time, go on their first date and sadly have their first break-up, graduating from high school and then college, when they get married, have their first baby he will miss all these moments, and I will miss sharing them with him.
So, yes, I still have moments of waves of sadness and grief that have nothing to do with my faith or whether I am happy. It has everything to do with what I no longer have: my husband or our future.
Eric has missed the first day of school, birthdays, snow days, Halloween, Christmas, and the list goes on and on…..