Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Bittersweet Progress

Date: 
Monday, February 9, 2015
Posted By: 
Kris Lukas

We all know the old adage, “two steps forward, one step back”. But, what if some days we move ahead two steps, and the next day two more, and two after that. Only to be sent into a tailspin of guilt and sadness, because we did move forward, and now we feel bad about that too!

My husband passed on 2/26/2012. Those first years, I braced myself every time the 26th came up on the calendar, regardless of the month. I was acutely aware of the date and always much more sensitive on that day, it seemed. These days, the 26th goes by, and I don’t make a big emotional deal of it. I don’t necessarily write the date every day, so on a couple of occasions, I didn’t notice and I felt terrible….that I didn’t feel terrible.

We haven’t forgotten Steve, not by any means. We continue to miss every aspect of his being, every single day. We miss what he would have been adding to our lives, the lives of his friends, family, co-workers. We miss his smile, his scent, his guidance, his hugs, his worrying, his mannerisms, his wisdom, his courage, his laugh, his honesty, his love for his family, his love for his teams, his love for Starbucks.

But this year, when Christmas rolled around – we didn’t visit the cemetery.

I went alone on Christmas Eve and had my cry. But, my kids never mentioned going or not going, or anything. I was actually waiting to see if they would bring it up, but they didn’t. Finally, one day before winter break ended, I casually said, “Hey you guys, we didn’t go to the cemetery. What do you think? Do you want to go?” My oldest (18) replied, “It’s not like he’s there, anyway.”

So there we have it. And now what? Does forced cemetery visitation make things worse? Are my kids moving through their grief and that is a good thing? Or after almost three years, are they forgetting their Dad? Have I avoided talking about him – thinking that dodging the subject will reduce the sense of loss on my kids? Are they dodging the subject, thinking their avoidance will put Mom in a better mood? Are we losing our connections to him? Or, are we doing a better job living in the present? If yes, is that a bad thing? Are we awful? These questions torment me.

We have our annual family rituals. We send up sky lanterns when we go to his parent’s cabin on the lake, release balloons on his birthday, visit his park bench, try to attend a Packer or Badger game every year. This widow/widower journey is a rough one, because as soon as we do start to feel a little bit better…we feel bad about feeling better. I guess only time will answer whether or not we have effectively balanced hanging on vs. letting go, for us and for our kids. However, I do have a source of inspiration for moving forward that I can share with all of you.

I have a quote taped to my refrigerator that was written by a widow speaker, whose name I don’t recall, but it says” Life is like a car windshield, the rear view mirror is one tenth the size of the windshield. This is like life, you need to reflect back from time to time, however do not stay in the past or you will hit a wall. What is in front of you is so much more important, to know where you are going.”

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