Friday, March 11, 2011

the best before date

Photo from here....

As a widow, when does our license to actively grieve expire? Is there a time limit to our sadness? An event that signals the end of our foray into melancholy remembering? An experience that renders the act of longing for our spouse void?

As I drag myself along this road of the widowed person, I know that I am not done. Almost three years and I am not finished. Not completed my grief. I don't know if I will ever be.

Is this longing sadness a luxury? Is it just there because I allow it to be? If I were someone else, or had someone else, would it be over?

I don't know. I do know that I miss him and grieve him everyday still. Even though I have physically moved, changed our lives monumentally and healed enormously....I am not done.

I don't know if this means that I am not ready for another love to enter my life. I don't know if this means that I am broken. I don't know if this means I am honest about my mourning.

I wonder if other people feel that I should be 'finished' by now. That the expiry date on my feelings of loss have long since passed.

I hope not....because I am still feeling them. Even if the expiry date has passed.


  1. Me too. Even my best friend for decades spoke of how it is “taking twice as long as anyone else” to stop the daily breakdowns after Teri died. It’s not yet three years for me either, Jackie, and I know there’s still processing and weeping to do. We will be done when and if we are done and not one minute before. Perhaps never and this will just become the new normal way of life.

  2. I have wondered if I was "broken" . I get though each day but my grieve is always with me . Its still hard to see past each day ........Maybe someday ,just not today.

  3. Jackie, I have asked myself the same question. But I have come to the realization, that I will always miss my husband. I do not think that means I am not ready for another relationship,I believe you are ready when you will not settle for a relationship just to be with someone. You will still expect to be treated like the wonderful person you are. I think it is something that we must llearn to live with and not let it stop us from finding joy and love, because we can feel both of these things, Even before we lost our loves, we had both good and bad feeling.

  4. I agree - I don't think there is a "done" when it comes to grieving.
    I think we never finish it, we just live with it.

    But - I do truly believe that there is this unconscious and societal pressure to continue intense grieving as a way to "prove" we really loved them and also, yes, right along side it - the equal pressure to "get on with it". All of this comes from judgment about the right way to do it.

    Can grief become destructive? if it stops us from living, I think so.
    Can denial do the same? If it gets in the way of going through grief and therefor setting aside the memories (because they are too painful to feel)

    I don't believe there will ever be a time where we will not want to see their faces again, hold them, talk together, love them all over again. The longing will remain.

    But knowing it can not be and being able to live with it, is something.

    Each day - every moment, I remind myself to live.
    Just live, because life truly is shockingly short.

  5. It has only been a year for me and I am no where near being done. Be kind to yourself Jackie. Take as long as you need - 3 years or 30 years. I know in my heart I will forever miss my beloved husband and I don't think I'll ever experience a day without thinking about him.

    Thank you for your honesty and letting us know that it is okay to talk about our grief whenever.

  6. I'm at 2.5 years now and I just had a breakdown this am. It made me realize that I am still greiving and that there is no expiry date because even when things seem "better" something expectedly will bring me back to that place and feeling of missing, wanting, needing, crying, wishing...

  7. I don't think the grief or sadness will ever go away completely. Atleast, that is what I am going to believe because I can't imagine how it is possible that I will stop missing him. I am only 8 months out, but I do believe those moments of sadness will always crush me from time to time. I don't think it will matter if there is another person in our lives, or if it is a special occasion. I believe every sweet moment we experience in life, every happy occasion, will bring on the sadness too.

    I was skiing this weekend with my kids. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, warm and bright. We had the mountain to ourselves and we were just happy and energized. I was riding up the chairlift by myself and my kids were in front of me on another chairlift. I was so happy and feeling so great, then I was just smacked with a wave of sadness that John was not there, enjoying this incredible day with us.

    Nothing is 100% joyful or 100% fun anymore. As long as he is not here to share those incredible moments with us.

    So for me, I am not wondering when I will feel better or stop grieving. I know this will be for the rest of my life. I am going to accept those crushing moments and ride the wave again and again.

    There is just no way anyone who has not lived this would understand. They expect you to stop grieving in a year, then after that you are not moving on. It just is not true. We have no choice but to move on. We are all moving on with our lives because we have to, whether we have no kids or 8 kids, whether we are young or old, crying every day or not, despite what others think, we are moving on.

    I loved the "my friend grief" post a few weeks ago. It was a perfect post where the writer just learned to let grief in when she came knocking, don't push her away or ignore her, just accept her. She will always be there, sometimes her visits will be short and other times they will feel like forever.

    There is nothing wrong with wishing that your loved one was by your side again and feeling sad that they are not. We just have to try to not let others make us feel guilty or wrong about missing them because we will always miss them.

  8. Thank you Jackie for stopping by my blog this week.....I always enjoy what you have to say so much. You are beautiful.

  9. No, it would not be over if you had someone else.
    No, it does not mean that you aren't ready to date.
    We will always be widows/widowers. That will always be a part of who we are and our spouses will always have a place in our heart. And yes, sometimes that place will bring sadness. Always, I think.
    But we can continue to love. In spite of.
    You're heart will grow bigger .... just as it did when you gave birth to your second child, after worrying for 9 months if you could love another child as much as you loved your first. :)
    Hearts are an amazing organ. They can break over and over and over.
    And yet they have the powerful ability to heal, but with scars. And the ability to keep growing with love.
    Love you. :)

  10. Yes, I'm sure "other people" think that your expiration date should long be past, over and done with, by three years out. But if you haven't gone through this, how the hell can you know what's actually realistic? Ignore "those people" the best you can and focus on the people who are supportive and listen, even if they haven't experienced such a loss themselves.

    Will the grief ever be done? I think yes, in many ways. Yes, in the sense that, eventually, little of the grief will be new or unfamiliar…and yes, because you will eventually feel a LOT better than you do now. I don't mean that you'll never feel any more sadness again or that you won't have bouts of 'grief flare-ups' from time to time--particularly as you have to face things in your kids' lives that are painful, pointed reminders that their father isn't there--but the passivity and remission (so to speak) of the grief will become the norm.

    No, it doesn't mean you'll ever go back to who you were, or possibly be quite as happier. (But who knows? You may be able to eventually find yourself with a greater store of happiness to appreciate…even if your "happy" isn't as high or big or all-the-time as it may have once been.

    Would you still feel this way even if you were dating someone or remarried? Yes, absolutely. It's not just because you're alone: it's because you're grieving a very specific person. Only one part (or several parts) of the grief process are about being alone and lonely; the rest is for missing a very specific person, who'll you'll continue to think about and grieve even in a new relationship. Does your continuing grief mean you're not ready to date? I don't think so. You can be in a new relationship, even be excited and thrilled about it, and it's still okay--and NORMAL--that you'll still grieve. I believe you can love another person while still grieving your spouse; they're not mutually exclusive.

    I think you're completely normal, Jackie…but just how long it takes to hit the end of active grieving isn't talked about a lot. I know it took me a good 4 to almost 5 years (or just over) before I felt I could say I hit the end of active grieving. I still think about Charley all the time, still miss him terribly at times, but I do feel differently than I did even a year ago.

    Hang in there…it DOES get easier, and better. Hugs, my friend.


  11. I loved the way you explained that grief means just missing a specific person and grieving that special someone. It takes a long time to heal...only in my second year and I could not think of remarriage until I heal myself.

  12. A big fat DITTO to Janine who said it better than I could have!

  13. I met girl widow of 6mos at time would do anything for her and accept that she had wonderful loving marriage before he passed.
    Hopeful someday she will open her heart.

  14. Janine was 100% correct