A word of caution . . . about dating

Dating as a widow has been extremely challenging — nothing is the same as it was before, no one really and truly seems to measure up to what I am looking for, and I’m tired of the judgement of others.

But I do have a cautionary word for those of you out there deciding to give it a whirl.

Be prepared for a weirdly excruciating heartbreak. That’s it, that’s my caution.

Here’s why the heartbreak can be so weird and excruciating: okay, so you try and date someone, thinking they are pretty great and it is cool that someone is into you (especially probably after having been with the same man/partner for so many years). It is intoxicating, heady.

Then it starts to head downhill: you begin to notice glitches in the relationship and realize that this person is really and truly not right for you, for the life you have already known and for the life you want ahead of you.

The problem is that after the breakup comes a really strange type of emotional heartbreak, almost like a grieving that just goes on and on — after all, you probably haven’t broken up with someone in decades — and your heart is still wrapped up in the grief for your life partner.

I am not saying you shouldn’t try dating — and definitely go ahead and enjoy those wonderful early times — perhaps your situation will work out — mine didn’t. So just be a little prepared, as I wasn’t, for a weird and painful breakup . . . and now where does that leave you/me?

 

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“People will never truly understand . . . “

widow picture

I read a blog about a woman’s widowhood experience lately where she spoke of others not seeming to remember her deceased husband. She felt badly that they never spoke of him, never seemed to mention his name.

This kind of sentiment is very familiar to me — I remember the first Christmas when I received cards and I was so hurt that Allen’s name was mentioned in only something like four out of twenty cards.

The following year is was two mentions . . . and you know the rest — now no one mentions his name, hardly anyone.

And today something happened that made me feel such a kinship to the sentiment of thinking others forget about a deceased spouse.

My friend, one of my good friends, said something like, “has it really been three years since Allen’s passing?”

Well . . . no, actually it’s been four years, four fucking long years, if you really want to know.

It’s weird and hurtful when others don’t seem to really remember or care about loss, about the husband I loved . . . and it just makes me realize, “People will never truly understand something until it happens to them.”

 

My homesick soul

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Many, many times in these past four years I have experienced an unfamiliar emotion: homesickness.

Sure, when I was young, I may have felt homesick when perhaps staying overnight with a friend or when I was away at camp. This is the kind of homesickness that seems familiar to most people.

I became homesick for Allen’s familiar presence very soon after he passed — this happened often.

Now I have left our family home, the one we lived in when Allen passed away four years ago — and I am homesick for that home, for the family who once lived there (mine) and for the life I had.

Feeling this sense of being homesick is sad and lonely — thankfully I am not feeling this way all of the time. But when it hits me, I know just what it is.

My soul is homesick for the love I had in my life, for my wonderful husband, for the life we had created together and for our lost plans for the future.

Losing the future you had planned

Album 6 (48)Allen and I had enjoyed RVing for many years, ever since our boys were quite young. First we had purchased our brand new truck and camper in 1996 — lots of great trips followed in that beautiful unit.

Finally we decided to sell it because we just didn’t really need this big V8 truck and so we sold both (separately as it turned out) and purchased a motorhome. That was terrific — travel was so easy and comfortable — and we had many trips in that first unit.

Then I decided we should sell it, perhaps not have an RV for a year or two, and then purchase another motorhome as we looked toward retirement (well, I think it was 2010 or so when we purchased our 2006 Jayco and Allen was to retire in 2014).

Sadly, he never made it to retirement. And I was heartbroken and so confused, neurotic and in shock that I sold this motorhome pretty much right away. It was the right thing to do at the time — taking it out on the road alone would have been all wrong for me — truthfully, all I knew how to do in terms of the services was how to operate the slide!

Anyway, with the sale of that motorhome went all, or at least so many, of my plans for the future, in retirement, that Allen and I were going to enjoy together. Gone, lost, no more.

Becoming a widow meant that those plans vanished — pretty much overnight.┬áStill trying to figure out a way to bring back some of those plans I looked so forward to. Maybe someday . . .

 

 

Grief as a random universe

grief_after_long_goodbye_shutterstock_1600x500In my former life I was organized — not like some OCD nerd, just more like keeping on top of things by having schedules. And I did have lots of them — I liked to do certain things on various days of the week — I liked to mark things on the calendar and know what was coming — I liked to plan each day around accomplishments, even small ones.

Then I was blindsided by the sudden death of my husband, Allen.

Suddenly, all of those routines seemed pointless, all of the planning just kind of a waste of time. My future had disappeared basically overnight, so what was the point?

Randomness came into my previously organized universe — and it has been here to stay.

Some of this is okay, good in fact — I have learned to be a little more spontaneous and not to give a shit about most of the small stuff — I have learned that not straightening the papers on my desk, for an example, doesn’t matter — I’ve learned that not cleaning the bathrooms on a schedule won’t make me a huge slob.

Even with money I’ve become more random — I used to take a certain amount of cash out of the bank every Wednesday — now, well, I spend as I need or want to — as long as my monthly account is not depleted too shortly before the end of the month!

I am not saying that random feels good — but it has been one of the survival skills I have learned to get through these years of grief and loneliness.

Grief has actually forced, perhaps encouraged would be a better word choice, me to live in a more random way — for better or worse, it is the universe I’m presently living in.

Who says grief is like a pie chart?!

missing-you-honest-quotes-about-grief-every-time-i-pause-i-still-think-of-youEarly after losing Allen there were a couple of people who gave me little books and leaflets containing bits of wisdom that had helped them. One friend gave me a bundle of photocopied pages from some grief workshop she’d been to. I still remember the pages describing grief as something of a pie shape.

In the beginning of your grief, if you could translate what is going on into a pie shape, most of your time would be taken up with your grief — probably 80 or even 90%. This, apparently, doesn’t mean you are just sitting in a corner crying and feeling overwhelmed; it means that everything you are doing for the majority of your day is wrapped in feelings of loss and sorrow.

Yes, you might be going about your daily chores, going for a few groceries, brushing your teeth, feeding your dog — but the heaviness of your grief is with you, always so very close to the surface, ready to bring tears to your eyes or that heavy, heavy lump in your chest.

As time goes on, as the article explained, gradually the numbers will reverse and your grief will really only consume 20% of your time.

I remember thinking that this seemed rather simplistic and that a person could not possibly be grieving for 90% of their day — but I came to understand this pie chart analogy very well — and it did bode a lot of truth for me.

Now, after nearly four years, I still think of Allen daily — lots of times daily — but less and less time is spent on being consumed in the pain of grief — yes, it is still with me, and often my loss feels overwhelming — that’s right, still.

Thankfully, for the sake of my sanity and for my own life, that overwhelming grief is taking up less of the pie chart of each day.

 

 

The chapters of widowhood

Feb 2015 (4)

Sometimes I think about doing some serious writing about the long and arduous road of navigating sudden widowhood — and by serious writing, I mean working on something organized and logical in its format — so much of what I have been doing these past few years has bordered on the random, which was very foreign to me in my previous, my former life, the one I am frequently homesick for.

Anyway, I was just thinking about some of the topics, or chapters, which would be included in my writing — so here are some of them, of course they are just in random order at present (formerly my life, my personality was anything but random — but now everything just seems to happen as it needs to, in whatever order presents itself — I am still somewhat surprised that widowhood has enabled, or it is disabled?, me in this way.

1 RANDOMNESS — my former life was orderly and I was very good at sticking to the organization of everything, whether it was cleaning the bathrooms or looking after the banking — now I just tackle things as it seems appropriate or necessary.

2 LONELINESS — this has been the most crippling part of becoming a widow — never before had I felt loneliness or that deep-wrenching despair that hit me so frequently and harshly in those early days, weeks, months — I could, and do mean to, write tons on this subject for it was such a hardship for me.

I think I’ll just list the items and go back to expanding a little bit on them later.

3 (LACK OF) SUPPORT NETWORK

4 TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: the yard, the finances, the roof replacement, etc

5 CONFUSION — mostly about how to move forward or even to just move period

6 LOSING THE FUTURE YOU HAD PLANNED

7 BEING STRONG FOR YOUR CHILDREN, either little ones or adult children

8 DATING — now that is opening up a huge kettle of fish, and I have a few tales myself

9 LIVING IN THE PAST — just how much time can you or do you want to spend browsing through those old photo albums

10 DEALING WITH ALL THE COMPLEXITIES OF GRIEF — the good (there isn’t any), the bad, and the ugly

I do have a lot to write about — for these 10 ideas are really just scratching the surface — I also want to write about THE PIE SHAPE OF GRIEF — perhaps I’ll begin with that next time.

For now, my wish is to enjoy a little something every day, even if it is just that ice cream bar I covet every evening.