Friday, July 30, 2010

When Will You Be Done?

Lately I have been asked by more than one person when I think I might be done with this whole, "widow thing." Hmmm...done. Well I guess that depends on the definition of done.

See the thing is, I will always be widowed. Remarriage doesn't erase my widowhood. Being happy doesn't erase the memories I have of lying in bed dry heaving as I screamed in agony over the news that the man I loved was dead. Loving a different man doesn't make me stop loving Phil. There is no such thing in my mind as replacement, and I can't figure out what done would look like.

Maybe I struggle with this concept because I have fallen into the trap of being done more than once. The first year was done, which meant all those awful firsts were done, right? I have lived through five holiday seasons without Phil which means I am done being sad that he can't complain about all the Christmas boxes, right? Phil hasn't ever stepped foot into the gym I now belong to, which means I am done thinking I saw him around that corner, right? Here's the big one, I will be getting married in seven weeks, so I should definitely be done, yes? Done crying? Done mourning? Done wishing Phil weren't dead? Not exactly, because done and healing or healed are not the same thing for me. Happiness, rebuilding, getting married, facing the world with a little different shade of lens...all these things coexist with my widowhood.

One thing I am done with is trying to predict the course of my life. I can promise you that I never thought I would lead a group of widowed people through an amazing weekend designed expressly for them. I never thought my kids would understand the nuances and subtleties of grief before they reached adulthood. And I definitely never would have imagined that I would walk down the aisle of the grocery store wearing a tee shirt that I created simply stating,"Death Sucks."

What I know for sure is that my widowhood has changed me. I can't tell you if or when I will be done, but I can say with confidence that I will never again be the same.


  1. Michele, People just do not get it! We will never be done unless, we somehow got amnesia. When people ask you this you should ask them if they are done with the memories they have of people they have lost. I lost my grandparents, my mother and my brother and sometimes I still cry about them when something hits me. I spent more time with my husband in life than I did with any of them how could I just forget my life with him. In my next "life" the person I have a relationship, will have to be a vey special person since they will have to understand we will never be totally done. We will always hold a special place in our heart for the one we lost. It's like saying we must forget our roll as a son or daughter. It can never be erased! Our widowhood has played a huge roll in who we are now. They are the one's who need to get over it! They are the one's who do not have to live with the death that changed our lives and dreams forever. Would they tell someone who lost their eyesight to get over it? Our disablitilty may not be visible to them, but it is still there.

  2. Wow... this really helped me get all my thoughts more in line. My husband died 3 months ago, however, by no means am I ready to "move on" or "be done" but the thought crosses my mind. How will I ever love someone as much as I loved Dan and will anyone ever love me as much as he did? It is scary to continue with life without knowing what your future holds especially when the love of your life is no longer here to hold your hand!

    This blog has helped me somewhat understand how I am going to live life without Dan. It makes me realize that life will continue even when my pain is unbearable. Thank you very much!

  3. When will I be able to get on with my life? My richard passed away one month ago - I'm doing things for all his friends and family. I miss him so bad - memories have taken over my mind.I'm afraid of the new life I have to face !
    I can not do it yet, but I worry about it everyday

  4. Well said! I'm approaching the five month mark myself... trying to take time to reinvent myself, slowly, to discover what my new life will be. The only thing I know for sure is that everything changed when Mike died. I am not the same person I was before that day, and I never will be again. All I can do is go forward. And I will never be "done."

  5. "co-exist within widowhood"? Makes it sound like widowhood becomes a person's biggest definer and I don't think that's true. Widowhood exists within the larger boundaries of who we are and it's a big detail but at some point, it's just a detail.

    As far as active grieving goes, I think eventually most people are done.

  6. What does one mean by beibg done? If it means going on to live your life- then yes I think you are doing that, but if it means not ever talking about it or making it the center of your life, I think most widow/ widowers do that, but it still a significant part of your life gone. I think I just resent the words "done", because although the person is "done" gone. I do not think the love you felt for them is done, it only changes forms, because it has too in ordere for you to survive. Your lost one influnce on your life is never done even when the active grieving process ends if you think it does one is only kidding themselves.

  7. There is no way that someone could be "done" grieving this kind of loss.
    No way. I think grief ebbs and flows over the years and it does change shape, but done? Whatever.
    Even as I love another man, I grieve for Jim. I always will. I may not be curled up on the shower floor heaving and sobbing, but I grieve. I may be happy and busy living my "after" life, but I grieve.
    I am moving forward, but I am not leaving him behind.

  8. I too get tired of the dumb things people say. Are you all better now? You should smile more. I didn't have the flu, so I just don't get better, and I'll smile when I feel like it. The best when will you be done being a widow? I will always be a widow in my heart, because my husband was my heart and soul and part of me is lost. He will always be a part of me. I think it changes but its never done.