Monday, February 6, 2012


from here

I drove home from the apartment yesterday having spent the day waiting for the new furniture to be delivered and coming to terms with the fact that there was suddenly an offer on my house and I accepted. The loss I've suffered suddenly felt brand new again.

On the ride home, I was on maybe the fourth hour of steady crying and trying to breathe with a chest turned tight and claustrophobic with fear. I remember coming to a rolling stop somewhere south of Longview and looking over at the traffic speeding easily by in the other direction. Only a small strip of grassy median separated me from that traffic and the thought crossed my mind that ending this kind of pain would require a quick left turn, a bump or two over the median and to launch the car into the oncoming traffic.* There was even a big semi coming. The thought did not recur and did not last long (and hasn't recurred since, I swear). Maybe a few seconds. But it was there. And it scared me. I knew at that moment that it was time to be honest about how much help I needed. I began to send out requests for help.

I continued to cry and a recurring thought I battled the rest of the way home was "I am no one's most important person". I am no living person's mommy, kid or wife or daughter.

I thought for the millionth time about chosen family then. About how maybe I don't have a living mom, dad, or husband, but I do have sisters and brothers. Maybe not siblings by blood, but I have them. And though they have Most Important People (their kids, spouses, parents) who am I to say where I rank on their list of MIP's?

I thought of the actual blood family I haven't had the chance to become close with over the years but who love me still. From afar. Without reservation. I am someone's cousin, someone's "auntie", someone's niece. 

I thought of how even when Dave was alive, there were other people on the planet I loved almost as fiercely. I couldn't really rank them with Dave. There's no ranking when it comes to love.

The next day, today, has been hard too. But I sat down in the midst of my darkest feelings and thoughts and wrote up a help request to my closest friends. I wrote them a list of tasks that I have to complete before the house closes and asked them to let me know which ones they could help with. All the while, I was battling the fear that my needs are so numerous right now that they will overtax my loved ones' energy and get in the way of their needs. But then a sister reminded me of the way that they can each pick and choose from the list I'd made to suit their needs and that asking for help was so important.

And the help came flooding in. Along with the help came relief and a glimmer of hope, a reminder that although I am no one's mom or daughter or wife, I am loved and cared for. And I'm not alone.

Then, I cried some more but the tears and sobs came from a place of utter gratitude and relief.

 * I urgently wished to be with Dave again and for my old life to come back. I urgently wished for a little break from the seemingly unbearable pain I feel when the grief monster strikes. I think this is very different from actual suicidal thinking. Suicidal thinking is believing that dying is the only way to solve your problems or end your pain. My beliefs about life after death aren't even enough to convince me I'd be with Dave if I died, anyway, so dying isn't something I think will solve my problems and I would NEVER put my loved ones through such an ordeal. Especially, now, knowing exactly what it feels like to be left behind by your MIP. In addition, losing Dave has made me ultra aware of the gift of life. I get to live and experience things and Dave doesn't. I will not waste that gift. Dave would KILL me if he knew I did (ha ha). I just needed to be honest about the depths of the pain I experienced so that others can feel connected to my experience. If I'm not honest, I don't honor how hard this is or how real this is. Forgive me in advance for making anyone worry about me more than they already do. I wouldn't have mentioned it if I didn't think it was important to.


  1. WOW! Cassie, I am so glad you are here.
    I had the exact same feeling this weeking. It has been 14 months since my husband died. I have grown children and grandchildren. LOVE all of them. But the weekend came - I decided to go for a drive. Lonely didn't even begin to describe how I felt. I couldn't shake it. The sun was shining and I was thinking of all of the drives "we" took together, vacations, errands, our weekend coffee and a drive. I pictured him in the car with me, laughing and talking, solving the worlds big problems, debating, everything.
    It seemed everywhere I went there was some middle aged couple, laughing and talking and walking holding hands. I felt knifed every-time I saw them. In my mind I try wishing them well when I pass. I try saying "i hope you have a long life together".
    But - I got back in the car and started to cry and couldn't stop. I kept thinking I can't do this. I don't want to.
    Be here without him. I can't do this for another year, ten, thirty.
    I thought about the time he was joking (yes joking) about me changing the carpet when he was gone (something he wanted me to do) and stupidly I said "oh, I wont be thinking about carpet. I will be thinking about hanging myself".
    I have never forgotten the look on his face - he burst into tears grabbed my hand and said "Please swear to me you will never do that". I felt so terrible. The truth was I had thought about it. Because I didn't think I could live without him. We had 36 years together.

    Then he died. There were many nights when I thought I might, when I wanted to, one of those nights I was serious - I came here. I went on a suicide web site that said "before you kill yourself" and I climbed into bed with his sweater and held on to my life.

    Yesterday when I was driving. I thought of his face and how sad he looked when he thought I might. I thought of the people I love and the beautiful days I have had that he would have loved to have. I thought of the laughter of my grandchildren. The possibilities of my life expanding.

    And like you - I called someone and just said "I am so sad and I can't seem to stop crying" and we talked. She reminded me that I am strong and i have lived through so much. I may bend but I won't break.

    I know I don't want to die. I have been here before. It is just that the pain is so bad you feel dying might be easier. There are two things that save me always. Reaching out and telling the truth of my experience and remembering him - his love, how desperately he wanted to live.
    I promise myself that it will get better. I come here and read how others make it through. I don't think about the next life.
    I believe in this one. It is the one precious thing we have - our own life.

    We must hold onto that. I want life. In the end - I want my life to give meaning to our history and our love story. I don't want the tragic ending. I want to be the story people tell that "our love" was an inspiration.

  2. Oh, Anon1. This message made my morning. I'm in tears (the good, cathartic kind that have hope behind them).
    So many bits of it need to be posted where I can read them every day.
    "I want my life to give meaning to our history and our love story. I don't want the tragic ending."
    This is exactly it.
    "I don't think about the next life. I believe in this one. It is the one precious thing we have..."

    Absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. The one thing that keeps me going is the thought of the pain I would cause to those left behind (son, daughter, siblings, friends) who would have to deal with my departure. I could never do that to them, I know the depths of sadness and I would never want them to experience that. So, I, too believe in this life, it is precious, it may be all there is, so grab onto it with all your might.

    When he was dying, he talked about my life without him. I could barley listen through my tears, I couldn't imagine a life without loving him. I now know what he was trying to say, he was telling me to go on, he wanted to be there too, but that was not going to happen. So I must live this life for him, and I try to find joy in it for both of us. It doesn't always happen, the sadness is overwhelming when I think of all our of plans for the future and I want that old life back. But I believe the circumstances of my life are there to help me grow and heal, and I have to believe in myself, believe that I can go on and live without him. I carry him with me wherever I am, and although I long for him with such an intensity that I cannot explain, I have become more at ease with the prospect of my death someday. But until that day comes, be here now.

  4. Cassie,
    Thank you for writing this! It is almost identical to my weekend. Today is a year and a half since my husband passed. Saturday I moved out of our house, sobbing and throwing hissy fits and swearing "I can't do this, you can't make me, I don't wanna anymore".

    I am also not one to ask for help. But as the paralyzing fear and mayhem of moving came closer, I realized - like you did. That sometimes we all need help. To my surprise 16 of my friends/family showed up to help move. This is the most fitting piece for me to read especially today.

    Sometimes it is ok to break down/grow up and ask for help.

  5. I have not been moving, but this weekend had some of the same thoughts as the others above. I kept thinking I do not want tp do this anymore. I have 2 teenage daughters, but keep thinking how in a very short time they will be moving out to start their own stories, which I hope and expect them too. But where will that leave me. alone, lonely! I have been trying for the last year( honey's been gone 2.5 year) to date. I have only had a few coffee date and a few offers from people I am not attracted to! At 48 it is damn hard to find/ meet men my age- Tried match, eharmony, chemistry and have even hired a matchmaker! Nothing no great number of opportunities- never mind dates. Some might say it is because I still miss my late husband, but I always will just ask others who have gone on to find new love. I just feel like the universe is plotting against me, even when I am trying so hard to move on and find happiness- stuck in my job, my teenger's sometimes smart remark along with the 100 other things I need to handle- just looking for some fun!Gone out with girl friends, but that is not the same. But reaching out to see my friends does help. But only time sweet time will make this God wrenching grief fade and sometimes I feel like that is not good enough!