Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The language of grief

Me and my new husband, Steve :)

Ever since Jeremy's death, I've noticed how much more careful I am with my words.

The months after he died, I couldn't muster up the energy to write anything with feeling (unless it was deep and utter sadness). Even my texts were void of expression. I remember posting something about not wanting to misguide people into believing I was better than I was. No exclamation marks. No smiley faces. When good things happened, and a lot did, I expressed my gratitude but never joy. Never happiness.

All my widowed friends understand what I mean. Everyone giving you the head tilt and asking how you are....I could no longer give a general "good" - I was far from good. I shrugged my shoulders and said 'ok' or more commonly 'I'm still here.' To me, that was the worst I could possibly be.

I have since continually felt like I couldn't really breathe in pure joy ever again. Sure, good things happen and I smile easier and I can say I'm good again most of the time....but every good thing in my life stems from one horrible worst-moment-of-my-life event.

Yesterday, I came home from a 9 day honeymoon in Jamaica. It was fabulous. Beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, beautiful company. It was a trip I will remember for the rest of my life. In fact, because of grief, I take moments in so much deeper than I used to, writing things down, taking more pictures...I just know how priceless life is now. And even though the trip was wonderful, I still grieved. One night, I grieved heavily and it came at me without warning. The truth is, I can only enjoy this amazing trip with Steve because Jeremy isn't here anymore. I can't think about the depths of that for too long or it'll drive me insane, but every once in awhile, the heaviness of it sits on my chest and threatens to suffocate me. You can only imagine the type of man it takes to sit beside his wife who's shaking and sobbing uncontrollably while grieving her dead husband.

Steve and I talked in depth about the trip and our favorite pieces and how much we enjoyed it, but I expressed how awkward it is to feel like grief has stripped away innocence from me. I will never again use the phrase "best day of my life" or "the happiest I've ever been" or "worst day of my life" without feeling like I would betray my life and love with Jeremy. Even though these phrases can be over dramatized or loose within context, I'm very careful to use other language.

The smilies and exclamation marks have long been back in my texts and writing. When people ask me how I'm doing or how my trip was, I can say without lying, "great." I don't know if the day will ever come, though, where I won't use a different language than everyone else when I carefully compare and contrast life. I call it the language of grief.

I guess that makes me bilingual.


  1. This is such a honest post. I have lived it too. Loving a man so much, yet, the only reason I could is because of my love for my dead husband. To have the thought that it took his death to enable me to experience the love with another man and to think to myself "I guess it was worth all the pain to get to you." A paradox. It takes a very emotionally strong man that is willing to understand us and accept us as we are now. I am so happy for you to have found one!

  2. Thank you for making me still feel like I can grieve the death of my husband while making a life with someone new. This has been so utterly confusing and has brought on an entirely new roller coaster of emotions. Thank you for sharing

  3. I do kpow what you mean about what words you use. I am not as content satified as I once was. I long for a man who can handle such emotions as you have. It just feels like such an uphill battle! But thanks for letting me know that it is truly possible!

  4. The head tilt . . . that's what gets to me. I HATE when people do the head tilt and ask how I am. I know that what they want to say is, "how are you since you lost your husband?" Not just, "how is your day going" or "how are you doing". What they want to know is, "how are you since you spent a year watching your husband die?" It drives me crazy!

    Today is 17 months for me. I think I'm ready to start dating and yet I think about what you say here. How do I go on and enjoy being with another man, when it was at the expense of my beloved. That's a tough pill to swallow. I am slowly getting the joy back into my life. The piece that's missing is someone to share it with.

    I just told a friend a few days ago that I used to say, "I'll BE okay." Now I feel like I can say, "I AM okay." I figure that's progress and I'll take it!

  5. I can absolutely relate with this. You said so eloquently what I struggle to put into words.

  6. Ditto to what Sabrina said. I have felt this way since becoming a widow. I don't even know what I feel because I've spent so much time worried about how I come across to others.

  7. Thank you for your honest words. I have only been alone now for three weeks, but it feels like she has been gone for months. I have a two year old, and he helps me stay distracted, but nights are terrible and I still cry myself to sleep most nights. Seeing that there is light at the end of the tunnel helps, but I know she will never leave my soul. Thank you, I look forward to reading and sharing more as this endless process continues. Jason in Spokane