Since Phil's death, grief has created a long struggle between the desire to overcome daily challenges and the need to accept the realities that widowhood has brought into my life. The concept of acceptance when applied to Phil's death was not okay with me. Somehow I felt that accepting Phil's death was a horrible combination of giving up and giving in to the pressure I felt to be "better." The way people said the word always sounded so FINAL to me. So, instead of heading toward the horrifying land of acceptance...I stubbornly planned around any roadblock that would slow what I thought was forward life progress, but I trudged forward with no clear destination. I think I believed that if I kept moving I could outrun the need to accept the fact that the man I loved was not coming home.
One woman I met just a few months after Phil died shared this idea with me, and I have never forgotten her words. When she was surrounded by the pain of either loss or loneliness after the death of her husband, she would challenge herself to "rest in the riddle." She allowed herself to not know the answer; to sit in the stillness; and gave herself permission to not ask why, when, what or how. This was a foreign concept to my stubborn, planning, determined mind. I remember wondering HOW exactly she did that. Since resting would require being still, would acceptance sneak up on me unbidden while I wasn't busy doing? What I can see now, that was not so clear then, is that I was terrified of being frozen in grief. IF I stopped what would happen to me. Would the darkness swallow me up? Would accepting Phil's death mean he was forgotten? What would I have to let go of in order to meet the acceptance criteria?
I have struggled with this answer for five years, and it has taken me every bit of that time to find a path towards acceptance that didn't feel like giving up, or somehow failing Phil.
Eventually I embraced the concept that my life is a tapestry. By making my every relationship, word, effort, endeavor, friendship, challenge, and tragedy a part of my life work...nothing is ever left behind.
Accepting Phil into my life tapestry, and weaving a pattern with his love so beautiful that it becomes a piece of the whole that is noticeably more vibrant than many others gave acceptance a purpose. His love shines through my weaving, but only if I can allow him to become part of me instead of an idea outside of myself. That thought turned out to be a form of acceptance I could live with...and a worthy place for the kind of love Phil and I shared.
Every day we are faced with choices about what to add to our own piece of life art. Your loss will color the final product, but so will your love. The lost moments we so long for are often the smallest gestures, the quietest moments, the most unimportant seeming details...you are still creating those every day, and are slowly stitching them into your own personal tapestry.
Stitch with flourish.