Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

As the Fog Lifts

Date: 
Monday, September 9, 2013
Posted By: 
Jeannine Love

Today, we again welcome guest blogger, Jeannine Love.  Jeannine was widowed at age 35 when she lost her partner Aric to liver disease on October 31, 2012.  She now lives in Lincoln Square with her two kitties, Graham and Quincy, and dreams of a day when organ donation will be the norm rather than the exception.

Lately this grief thing has been getting harder. From the beginning I was told, “Time will not heal.” But, I had hoped that time would teach me how to cope. And, at first it seemed to be working. In the last ten months I have pushed myself to cope with Aric's death – to exercise, to move to a new apartment, to reconfigure my eating and spending habits, to focus on writing and teaching, to accept being alone, to do my own decorating, to meet new people, to socialize with friends, to try things that scare me, to work toward mindfulness, to be thankful for the love and support in my life, to honor Aric’s memory and love by taking care of myself.

It’s been a lot of hard work, and frankly, I’m exhausted. I’ve been struggling for ten months, treading water, just trying desperately not to drown. But, now that hard work is starting to slow down. Life is starting to slow down, to settle into what is apparently my “new normal.” I’m coming out of the fog of shock, the frantic survival mode and overwhelming fear that accompanies new widowhood, and finally have a moment to look around—and ahead.

You see there’s been no future for the past ten months. Odd, because before 2AM on October 31, 2012, I was controlled by the future. Every decision made went through the kaleidoscopic analyzer of post-transplant/pre-transplant/no-transplant thinking. I had no idea when or if a transplant would come, and no idea how sick Aric might get in the meantime. So, I had to think long term about protecting his health, about saving money (or trying to), about job security and health insurance and a stable home. And then, suddenly, Aric was gone and it was all I could do to exist from one moment to the next and thinking forward was impossible. I was in pure survival mode.

So now, survival mode is easing up, the fog that protects you from traumatic loss is lifting. And that should be good, right? But actually, it’s not. In survival mode there was no ability to really think, to see the big picture. Now that I’m getting my feet under me, I’m starting to look around, to look forward, and Aric’s absence is felt in a starkly profound and new way.

I’ve heard so many widowed folks talk about how the second year is worse than the first. And, I’ve frankly been puzzled by that statement. The first year is horrifying. How could anything be worse? But, I can see the second year looming on the horizon and the calm clarity of emptiness it promises.

And yet, at the same time that the loss is being felt at an entirely new and potentially more debilitating level, others around you expect that all is well—or at least better. Because, with time, it should get better, right? And because you cannot hold people’s love hostage with your grief forever, you smile and pretend that it is so.

And so, as the fog of the first year lifts you sink into your grief. You quietly cry yourself to sleep. You wonder just how long this pain will last and when, if ever, your life will begin to have meaning again. Because right now when I look into the future, I struggle to see more than an endless void where there once was love and companionship. I am thankful for how far I have come, and all of the people around me, but the long view still seems so very bleak.

 

Comments

This is such a perfect description of how I've been feeling since I hit the two year mark. Thank you for sharing this.

((((HUGS)))) to you. You write very eloquently, and capture what all of us have, or will, go though in continuing to "go forward" without our loved one. It's true that it does get harder before it gets easier. I think the knowing and understanding that it is to be expected will help you through that. Talk with others who have been on this journey, and don't be too hard on yourself when you struggle to make your way and find a "new normal." It is an ever evolving future. It will constantly change. And it's ok to feel frustrated, scared, uncertain, or lost. You will find your way. Be kind and patient with yourself.

This is so profound and incredibly accurate. I just recently made the decision to go out to dinner with all of our couple friends for the first time. I ended up spending a good deal of the night in tears. Looking back, it wasn't a very good idea, but I was operating under that "it's been over a year" mentality. I was trying to act the way one does after a year of widowhood. We and others push for things to get back to normal, and as you said so beautifully it's just not that easy. I'm right there with you. I know that doesn't help all that much, but I really do understand. XOXO

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