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.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Cooler Now

Effects of death on young widow (now firmly middle-aged) almost seven years after the tragedy?

I am cooler.

Not hipper. (Hardly)


I just don't get as riled up anymore about "difficulties". Can't get so hot under the collar, if you know what I mean. I listen to people and their problems and I think about how the problems they are having now will pass altogether, or perhaps there will be worse problems down the road, or maybe this problem will lead to something positive, or maybe they'll have a good, long stretch with no problems at all. (Should you find yourself in this situation: Be Grateful. Don't be bored. Be grateful. A life without crises is a life to be applauded. Bowed to. Look up at the sun shining down on you and be thankful. Lack of crises=good.)

I think people like to make up problems. I think I used to be one of those people but that was before I faced THE BIG PROBLEM, that being death of my husband, my rock, my world, my source of inspiration and happiness. (And by the way, no more of that. No one thing or person is my world anymore. My world is what is happening around me on a day-to-day basis, good or bad.) Yes. People make up problems to fill up their lives, I guess. I don't want to do that anymore. And I try to catch myself now when I find myself making a problem. Cancer is a problem. War is a problem. Poverty is a problem. If you are sick or poor or living with a real fear of violence, I understand that these are really difficult problems that merit lots of attention, support and empathy.

As for me and my peaceful and currently healthy world: Cooler. I work to see no problem, if there's no problem. And most challenges aren't really problems. They're just unexpected events that aren't unfolding as we may have imagined in our minds.

I like this new version of myself better, the me that doesn't get troubled as easily. I've recently re-entered the workforce after a long stretch of child-raising and a long stretch of cancer and subsequent death world. So when I encounter challenges during my work, they don't feel like problems anymore, or the kinds of issues that used to give me headaches or make me angry, or make me go over and over what someone said or did in my mind. Maybe a lot of this new, cooler me is just new, older me. But I'd like to give a nod to my old frenemy: loss.

I firmly believe that if you're going to endure a major loss, like losing your spouse, you might as well get something good out of it (other than social security benefits, thank you government, death benefits help!). Find meaning in the loss. Is that too much to ask? For me, it is essential. I don't believe there is a reason Ken died, but I do think I can make my own meaning out of it. The meaning changes as I move through the years.

Today, the meaning is about how much cooler I am now. The meaning lies in understanding, finally, how to be grateful for daily life, even if everything isn't following the fantasy script of my own mind. The meaning for me is in taking it easy when life is easy to take. The meaning is in not making up problems to fill time. There are plenty of better ways to occupy myself.

My husband Ken knew all of this already way back when I met him in 1991 and he was Director of Residential Group Homes for a social service agency, dealing with very troubled children, with very troubled lives. He was cool, not only in his work, but in daily life. I just watched in awe as "problems" just woooshed past him. I didn't understand how he could do it. How could he be so unflappable? Isn't it awful that it took his death for me to become more like that? But maybe that's looking at it like a problem. Re-frame. Thank you Ken for showing me that most challenges are not really problems. Thank you for modeling a life of appreciation and light-heartedness.

This month would have been your 59th birthday. You have been gone almost 7 years. You are still teaching me things through your absence.

You were so cool. And now I'm just a little bit cooler too.


Carol David said...

I think that when someone we love very much dies, some of their essence passes into us. At least, I've experienced that with my parents. We carry them forward that way...

Alicia said...

I'm giving you an award ... Come and see!


Brenda Pokorny said...

My fun-loving, larger than life husband died way before his time nine months ago. It was very sudden and tragic. It happened the month before my 40th birthday and two months before our son's fifth birthday. Today I was sitting in my office, distracted and unable to focus. I did a Google search "unable to stop thinking about my dead husband" and your blog popped up. I have been reading your posts for the last hour. What a treasure trove for me. I feel just a little calmer now, my anxiety has lifted some. It's hard to imagine that life will ever feel normal again, and this heavy feeling I carry with me is such a burden sometimes.

Jill Schacter said...

Hi Brenda,
Thanks for writing. Nothing makes me happier than to think that my sharing of my experience could help someone else. The 40s are a very weird time to become widowed. Not than any time is any good, of course. Your loss is so new. I am very sorry you've joined the ranks of young widows, and I promise you it does get better. I never could have imagined it myself. You might be interested in checking out a very good on-line community of young widowed people. All kinds of things to read and/or share. www.widowedvillage.org I wish you peace and strength!

Abby said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. Glad to hear that you too are enjoying the ride and obviously wearing sunglasses to give you the "cool" factor.


HowardZen said...

I look forward to the day that I can look backwards like this. I don't want to be a widow. I keep operating as if I am not although I know that I am. My husband and I would have huge fights about his "not worrying" about anything and like you, it took his death for me to see the value in this attitude. I want to talk to him about it. I want to say I am sorry.

Jill Schacter said...

I bet your husband loved you anyway. Sometimes the non-worriers end up with the worriers for a little balance! I'm sorry you are a widow. It's such a long road to acceptance but I think once you get there, everything starts to shift. Good luck to you as you make your way through this tough journey.

Unknown said...

I just came across your blog by doing a Google search "my husband died 1 year and 4 months ago". I was looking for a reason or explanation of why I'm so angry today. 20cm snow dump not included.
I was reading some of your older posts and I thank you. Thank you for writing how you felt/feel because it makes me feel like I am a little bit normal. I feel like walking up to people and telling them that my husband died. He was 42 and he died in front of me. Massive heart attack. We have 2 sons 18 and 13 year old.
I know that he wouldn't have left us if he had a choice, he was such a great friend, father etc...that I felt and knew without a doubt that he loved us, which is why it was hard not to get mad at him. Until now.
We made it through another Christmas and we'll make it through another new year but I'm having difficulty figuring out why this angry feeling is taking me over. Any suggestions or food for thought?

Alicia said...

Michelle, my husband died at the age of 44, when my boys were 2 and 6. I thought I had managed to skip the "anger stage," because there was nobody to blame for the damned brain tumor, nobody to be angry at.

Until I was about 18 months out, that is. And then all hell broke loose, and I was simply a walking cauldron of anger. I wasn't angry AT anyone/anything in particular. Not even at God, who is a frequent target of widowed rage. I was just angry. Angry that my beautiful little life had been shredded from the inside out. Angry that I saw no way that anything would ever be good again. Angry that my boys would never know this amazing man. Angry that ... not angry at.

Like everything else on this crazy WidowRoad, the anger comes and goes in cycles. And now, 8 years later, it's less destructive, less intense. I think the important thing is to recognize the anger for what it is and to not let it wind up hurting innocent bystanders.

Sending you strength, and wishing you a measure of peace for the night. ~ Alicia

Jill Schacter said...

Hi Michele. I'm glad you found my blog and that it helps you feel a measure of normalcy. Being angry about losing your husband is normal and you have to experience it, and live through it. Losing one's spouse is a terrible awful painful event. Perhaps more so when you are young and it happens too soon. There's no getting around it. This is not to say it won't get easier or you won't be happy again. But a loss like this shapes you. Let yourself be angry. It's ok.
xo Jill