About Me

My wonderful husband died when I was 44 years old. Being widowed this young happens to less than 3% of married people. Writing through this loss one word at time helps me understand what I've lost and helps me continue to grow. It is how I have gradually recovered from such a severe loss. Research shows that you can benefit from taking just 15 minutes a day to write out your deepest feelings as a way of healing. On the right side of this blog, you'll see a tag for Exercises to Try. If you need some help knowing how to use writing to help heal yourself, I suggest you start there.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Death of Husband is Not Recommended

I'm going to write a gloomy post for a change. Normally I try to be upbeat about the havoc death brought upon me and mine. Generally, I aim to be filled with perspective and humor: after all, everyone dies. Death isn't special; it's expected. You can learn lessons from it! It can make you appreciate simple things, like waking up in the morning with your heart still pumping and your brain synapses still firing!

Today I want to tell you that I hate that more than six years have gone by since Ken died. Some days now I can go all day without thinking about him. Is that a relief? I don't know. I think it's sad. Not thinking about Ken makes me feel as though he's lost to oblivion.

I've met so many people in these last six years who will never have known me as the married woman I once was, as a mother with a husband who was my partner in a life we chose to make together. I am meeting people, more and more of them,  who will never know who Ken was. Maybe people who meet me think I'm divorced or that I decided to have children without ever having a spouse. Maybe nobody really cares why I'm a single mother at all.

Last night I attended a benefit for Willow House, a wonderful, big-hearted organization that offers free grief support services for families. If you've lost a spouse or a child, or if you're a child who has lost a parent or a sibling, you can participate in a support group with others who have had someone in their nuclear family die. These are people who understand that losing a spouse, or a child, or a father or mother or a sibling when you're young, is a loss that shapes your whole world and colors it a shade darker than the life you had before the loss.

The main speakers at the benefit were a husband and wife whose seven month old daughter died six years ago. The woman talked about how before you have a loss like that you walk on the surface of life and then after the loss, you enter a world below the surface and you come up once and a while to breath. I didn't lose a child, so I don't know what that feels like. I don't ever want to know what that feels like. But I will say something that our death-denying culture makes me feel a little ashamed to say:

Even though I can now go for a day, perhaps, without thinking about Ken, I don't know if I will ever make it through a day without thinking about the future I lost when he died. I know I will always feel bad that my son and daughter don't have Ken here with them to be their father.  What they are missing by not having him here cannot be counted or measured; it is a vast emptiness where years and years of his amazing love, wisdom and patience could have been.

I am not the person I used to be and I don't believe there's any way to get her back, no matter how many years go by. Like the bereaved mother whose baby died,  I live in a darker world, even when all the lights are on, even when I am loved, even when I am happy and grateful for the life I get to live. That's what the death of my husband did to me.


barbara said...

tristesse, i believe is the italian word, one i have often taken carefully off the shelf. it means, beautiful sorrow. your sorrow pulses through me, from your heart, through your words, to my heart. i ache for your loss, and i stand and applaud the beauty of your laughter on the days when i see you laughing, the sparkle in your eyes that is nearly always there, the tenderness with which you embrace your two beautiful gorgeous strong brave children. i am achingly sorry for all the loss.

i was only 24 when my papa died. and i have watched my mother be a widow since she was 50. she misses most the life they thought they would have had, and when she speaks of it -- the carefreeness, they KNEW was right around the corner, after raising five kids -- it pierces through me like a sword......
i am holding you in my heart today.....

Alicia said...

Your last paragraph says it all. The woman you once were is gone, as is the woman I once was. It's why my blog is titled what it is: "Forever Changed."

At nearly 8 years since my husband's death, I sometimes forget that the woman who used to be even existed. Her life seems so far away to me now.

As you have written, my grief is also sharpest as it relates to my children, what they have lost. I, at least, have had a husband who loved me. I know what that beautiful relationship is like. They, on the other hand, don't know what a father-son relationship is; my older son has vague memories of his dad, but not of the relationship, of the love and trust and bond. The younger one remembers nothing about his dad except what he's been told.

That is where my heart breaks for them. How different would their lives be now, if their father were still alive? Who will be their role model when they start building their own families? Whose example will they follow as they one day learn how to love a wife, how to be a father?

It's all so hard, and it continues to be hard. But we do get stronger and better at doing the hard things.

Thank you for this post, for the truth and the reality.

Jill Schacter said...

Barb, thank you, your words of appreciation mean a lot to me...and you've introduced me to a new word: Tristesse.

Alicia, we do get so much stronger and better at doing the hard things, because we've already done one of the hardest things we'll ever do. (At least I hope so.) Thank you for your comments. Hope you and your beautiful boys are well.

Anonymous said...

very helpful comments from everyone. I've only been a widow for 13 months but I don't think I'll ever be the same without m husband. I'm also new to blogging like this so I'll just end here.

Allen Green said...

Yes, we live in a darker world and there is no going back.