Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Should I Write .....

                                                  Picture from here
.... if I Feel "Happy"?

Ahhhhh ..... an interesting question, and one I've asked myself several times when considering what to write about on this blog.
I've never come to the conclusion that I should stop writing here ..... but I do sometimes wonder.  Especially after comments like those that were written yesterday.

Am I, and my grief, less valued because my husband died in 2007?  Do I not "get" someone's grief if their loved one died last year ..... last week ..... yesterday?

Should I only write about the inky, black, suffocating days/nights of existing in the nightmare of my grief?  Will those of you who are newer in this club-no-one-wants-to-join relate to my words better if I only write about the times I struggled to survive .... literally?  The days when I knew that there was no future for me without Jim ..... when I looked at a calendar and saw only blackness ..... no hope for even a pinpoint of light to ever pierce the black?
Those were the days when I knew that I physically could not bear one more day of living with that pain ..... I was too exhausted to eat, sleep, talk, cry .... breathe.  The days when I had to continually make the choice to stay ..... or go.
And I could not imagine having to live another 40+ years like that.

But the thing is ..... I haven't.
I haven't lived every day since then with that amount of pain.
I did manage to wake up one more day ..... and continued, in spite of my wishes, to breathe.
I have learned how to survive without Jim ..... learned how to live again, rather than to just exist.
And I've learned how to be "happy" again ..... both alone .... and in a relationship.

So, in learning how to do all of that ..... did I forget my grief?
Did I lose the pain of living without the man who was supposed to grow old with me, retire and travel the world with me, walk our daughters down the aisle on their wedding day ..... share the joy of one day experiencing the miracle of grandchildren?  The man who was supposed to help me navigate the waters of raising teenage boys ..... who was supposed to be here when I was surprised to hear the words "major surgery" .... and "cancer"?

In a word ...... no.
No, I haven't forgotten.
No, I haven't lost the pain.
And no, I don't think that's all I should write about because that's the only way you'll be able to relate with me.

I write because ..... well frankly, because I was asked to.
But aside from that ..... I write because I AM surviving.  And I am surviving with my grief and with the pain.
And to show you ..... to prove to you ..... that if I can survive with that ..... if I can learn to live again .... in spite of living with that .... if I can learn to be "happy" again ....

I write to tell you that "hope" is not just a four letter word.

I write to let you know that you are not crazy.
You are not grieving wrongly.
You are not supposed to process through any stinking "stage" at any certain time .... or at all.
You are not alone.
And yet you are.

And that ..... (and the reason that you most likely found this blog) .... sucks.

No matter when it happened.
Or how it happened.
Or if you're single .... or dating .... or re-married.

It sucks.

And it always will.

And yes, the timing of some of the events in our 7 different lives is strange (we do not communicate with each other about our posts .... we write what we write) ..... and hard to deal with when the timing in your life is so very different.
And that sucks.

So does the fact that Jim .... and I .... and our children .... and you .... were robbed of the dreams of our future.
And so much more.

But I will not let it rob me of the living the rest of my life, however that looks .... the way that Jim would want me to live it ....
with contentment.
I will not let it rob me of the hope I've found again .... or of the ability to be "happy" with myself, by myself .... or not.

Or writing about it.

At least ..... not this week.


  1. beautifully descriptive and from the heart genuinely. thank you Janine.

  2. Janine ~ I am one who wait for your posts.
    I am someone who feels like you - because my Jim asked me no pleaded with me to keep living, to do the things we wanted to do together, to travel, to build our family and keep it close, to explore my creative side and yes, to love again.
    Since being widowed I have never felt more pressure in my life "to be" a certain way and to do things "the right" way. Not even when I became a mother and a young grandmother. I have never felt more eyes upon me as I am not yet 60, it is like people think because my greatest love died - i should live like I did.
    I have had more moments like this ( Those were the days when I knew that I physically could not bear one more day of living with that pain ..... I was too exhausted to eat, sleep, talk, cry .... breathe. The days when I had to continually make the choice to stay ..... or go.) Then I could even admit too. I had a moment where I actually started thinking about how I would make that happen. I had read a blog entry where someone was 4 years out and it was so dark that I thought "I will never make it. I can't live another four years feeling like this". You posted something that helped me see it wouldn't always be that way. I just passed my first year anniversary of his death. The week leading up to that day was horrible, I realized that kind of "bad day" is still there, still a possibility.

    Your posts - your happiness - your ability to light the very darkness of those deep days of grief are why I still come here. I stumbled upon widows voice in the early days of my grief. I often wonder if I would have made it this far without you.
    I tell people over and over - my Jim so desperately wanted to live. He died at 56 from a inoperable brain tumour. I will not waste one of my days, I will do everything I can to have hope not just for me but because he so desperately wanted life. How can I waste a day, when I know if he was here how I would feel.

    The other night my son was asking if I could love again - and my answer was "it will never be like your Dad. I am smart enough to know that what we had was unique to us, a mad love affair that lasted over 35 years. But if love comes to me again, I will embrace it because that is what he asked me to do and life is all too painful to live without it".

    Like you - i can be alone. In fact I am quite happy to have solitude sometimes. I have never lived alone in my life so I am learning new things about myself and learning what I am capable of. I am not desperate for a relationship.
    But we are "human animals" - we long for connection and love and family and community. Declaring that I will "always be alone" does not honour my husband and our love in any way.
    Please do not stop telling us the truth. Please continue to shine that light so that we too can find our way out of those dark desperate nights.
    Please don't ever feel shamed about wanting love, finding love and being happy. If after everything we all have lived for - we don't deserve those things again . . . then we are really in hell.

    I choose to live my heaven on earth. My relationship with my late husband was the grandest love of my life and unforgettable. I still hope there is a little bit left because I am still here.

  3. There is no easy way to walk this walk. For myself, the perspective of reading the writers' posts here changes as time passes. As a reader I find some posts mirror my experience and others do not. But then again, I would not wish my pain on anyone.... Each one of us--reader and poster--has a unique experience I think. And I believe we come here to know we are not alone (when we feel so alone) and to get comfort (when the memory of a hug is almost too painful to recall) and to share (because we understand what others are feeling).

    We have certainly learned that life isn't fair: how intimately we have that experience!

    Yes, some writers appear further along on the walk and have taken paths that lead to new relationships; others have not. Sometimes reading about the path taken is wonderful, sometimes it isn't easy, sometimes it gives me hope, and sometimes it just isn't relevant to what I am experiencing on that day, and sometimes (because for some writers years have passed) their present path seems so very far in the distance.

    But seeing that happiness has been allowed to coexist with the pain: Priceless!

    Thank you all. This is indeed a refuge in a storm and a welcoming place!

  4. Loved this post! One of the best things here is reading about the mirad of people who are in different stages to grief is that there are very different outcomes to our lives can turn out in the moment after our spouse's death. I for one was new only one year year ago I was two days in to hell on earth. One of the best things I did for myself was to go back and read every single post since this blog started. I know these writers understand and lived a similar pain to my own. Do this for yourself so you can feel the words of painful emotions wash over you and then you will understand why so many of us love and appreciate posts of happiness in their one way it has been found for them.
    And to the writers...thank you, thank you, thank you. You have been a source of strength for me through both happy and sad posts. And I am not dating, I do not plan to, I don't think I will ever find what I had before, but I've learned here that if it happens to find me...then grab on because it will surprise you. I am simply learning to live how to live without the love of my life and the other half of my soul. Thanks!

  5. As a widow [32] who lost her husband in a motorbike accidend on the 03 September 2011 I'm still very new to grief. At the moment I prefer to read about the pain of grief because I can relate to that part very easily. I do however want to read about the good parts as well because I want to believe that after all this pain there will be a reason to live again and have motivation and life purpose again. I think I'd literally die if I knew I had to live in this pain forever.

    Thanks for sharing, Audrey

  6. Janine,
    Thanks for the posts. There are days that my grief, almost at that year pt., is drowning me, the day goes & I wonder what I did, how did I interact w/ my students, my sons? At times I spend so much energy working, trying to help my sons work through their grief, I don't get to work through mine - I feel "stuck".
    But... there are those days it's not all consuming. There are those occassions that I do feel almost - happy, get the boys to laugh - I need to see, hear that those days will increase, that it's ok.

    I like how you use the "choice" and live how your late husband would want you to live - I know Dave would want me to as well, he was so spontaneous and full of life, but its that just as I start to do something, the fact that I'm doing it w/out him, alone - it eats me alive - all the firsts of my sons who need their dad for those firsts - first date, first formal date, getting license, etc. I hurt for them and am angry too as I know they want to be sharing that and should be sharing that w/ their dad

  7. First of all, you and the other writers should absolutely keep writing, continue your honesty and your gift of helping others in a very difficult journey.
    I have to say that I am a little sad to see judgement in some of the comments. So much that some of you wonder if you should continue writing or not. It doesn't happen very often, but I always feel for the writer when someone comments a bit harshly on that persons empathy, or journey of a new love, I remember seeing one comment a few months ago that criticized a writer on her level of grief because she was young and attractive. As if her journey was easier because of her youth and looks.
    I have always posted comments with my name and picture attached. I think it is good practice to never say online what you wouldn't say in person. However I have pulled my own profile because of fear of being judged on my own journey. I am fearful of sharing too much with anyone even in person, because I know the more people you let in the more you are vulnerable to criticism. However, I love the honesty and courage of the writers here, to continue writing, even after the harder comments are posted. I am not so brave, I have retreated and will stay in my little shell of safety. But all of you, please continue to do what you do, you all help more than you know. Love to you all

  8. My husband died a year ago. I attended Widow Camp in August and my biggest take away was the hope I got from seeing other women who not only survived being a widow but actually were contributing to the world again. I don't just want to survive but I want to live a full life again! My husband made me a better person. A part of me died when he did. I want to be whole again.I need examples of people who not only survived but are living happy, successful lives. I want to wake up every morning excited for the world has to offer..instead of reaching across to his pillow to see if the night mare is indeed true. I will never forget the amazing man who I got to be married to for 28 years and I do want him to look down from heaven and say, "You have the best life! I am so proud of you" My husband made me a better person and I want the world to know it but that's really hard when I hurt so much. So I need you to show me how to go beyond the hurt. I think that should be a main purpose of Soaring Spirits. We need you to give us hope.

  9. You can't please all of the people all of the time. This site is what it is, people who are willing to share their experiences along their journey. As in most things, it all goes back to expectations. I have been reading here for quite awhile, some days a blog will resonate with me and some days I can't relate at all. But I don't expect to have a home run every time I log on. One thing I do to contribute is to try to respond to a fellow commentor if they seem to be looking for something I can help with through my own experience. This is a community, and part of that is reaching out to one another. That's all I have to say....keep up the good work. Let's not minimize someone elses' grief because they are further down the road. To those of you dealing with very fresh grief, I recently hit the two year mark, and I am so much further along than I was last year. I still have a way to go, of course, but it does get better, the acute grief eases up, even thought it is impossible to believe in the beginning. It gets better. Again, let's just be there for one another, respond to posts if you have something to offer that can help someone else.

  10. First thank you to all the bloggers. I am 14 months out and this site has been my saving grace. My friends, family and co workers really can't relate, guide or push me. My shrink gave me insights but also can't relate. Only someone else on this path or member of this club can help us see the light. Please keep it up. I need you all.

  11. Please keep posting the happy and the sad, because for me when I felt at my worst- it gave me hope that someday I would have those days too! It gave me hope!

  12. Janine, please don't stop your blogs. You ( along with all the other bloggers) have given me the courage to keep going. If I didn't know there was light after this darkness I would have ended it all. Thank you.

  13. Keep writing. It is possible to reengage in life without forgetting. People new to the grieving process need to hear that even when they don't believe it. None of us do believe it in those first few days and months but we all need to hear it anyway.

    One of the reasons I am such an advocate of ongoing support groups (vs the 8 week variety) is that those who are new to grief can see that those further along are doing better and those who are further along can see how far they have really come.

    Thank you for your contribution.

  14. WOW! Thank you very much! That was very beautiful & well said! I lost my husband in 2006. He was murdered. Chris was 36 & I was 26. We had just gotten married 3 months before he was murdered. But, we were together for 5 1/2yrs. An it was so damn hard after he died. Ive had a lot of death in my family, but none could come as close to what I had experienced when Chris died. An how I felt all the time! Thank you!

  15. HOPE!!! Isn't that what it is all about! Hope that one day we all will be able to be away from that angst and grief driven pain. I have just hit 20 months and was doing so much better. But in the last couple of weeks with the holidays approaching, I have hit a major relapse. And yes, the days are very dark and yes, I don't eat or sleep but truly only survive.

    I need to see, hear and feel HOPE as can be expressed by those more senior in this widow world, than I.

    So thank you, Janine and please keep writing.

    But I have to hear all the good stories of H

  16. To anon above...just want to reach out and say I'm sorry to hear you have been thrown back into the pit of darkness at 20 months. I just hit two years. It is so much harder around holiday time, birthdays, etc. I am much better than I was a year ago, I even took a trip this summer, which I never could have done last summer, when I deep in the grip of grief. I have been through not sleeping/eating. I am still struggling to recapture my identity, suddenly alone after 28 years. Sometimes I really have to force myself to do the things that came as second nature to me most of my adult life...even simple things like cooking and grocery shopping. Everything seems to magnify the loss. But I have pushed on and although I'm not where I'd like to be, I'm not giving up. I think healing takes awhile and it's an internal process...our brains trying to adapt to a new world of being, as well as sometimes us having to take the bull by the horns and decide this isn't going to take us down. It takes energy, which isn't always there. I hope I win the fight, and I hope you do, too. Try to go with the flow and just get through one day at a time, no more, no less, until you feel a little better. Try to nurture yourself in whatever way feels right to you. The worst is over, we have lost our loves and they rest in peace. Now we have to try to find some peace for ourselves and whatever life has in store for us. Prayers for you from a fellow traveler.

  17. I went back and read Tuesday and Wednesday after reading Michele's post from today (Saturday). Janine, I've met you in person and have heard you speak. Your writing is honest and it is needed. Keep doing it. It is all about hope. I think Michele has done a great job of conveying that. Everyone is different and so is everyone's grieving process. God bless each and everyone of you on this blog and those reading it. You come here for a purpose, whatever it may be. I am grateful this blog is here today and will be here tomorrow...THANK YOU!

  18. I have been reading this blog daily since about 2 months after my husband died of an accidental overdose. It gotten me through hard times and has allowed me to know I'm not crazy. I met a man 7 months after I became a widow. It was by pure chance that we got together. I often wonder was it to soon, but then I think about taking the chance to love again and to be loved. Life is for the living and that's what I am going to do.