Monday, July 16, 2012



My 9th wedding anniversary was July 9. Just as in my life before, when Dave was alive, I forgot to think about it coming up. Dave and I would occasionally forget about it and celebrate it any old time we felt like it whether we recognized it on the actual day or on another day. We didn't care. We lived with the motto that every day was our anniversary. No reason to wait to celebrate for that particular day.

So, the 9th approached and I didn't realize it. Consciously. As I look back now, I can see how my subconscious was probably aware all along.

Prior to, I'd say, the 5th of July I was feeling really good. The 5th through the 8th? Not so good. I went from crying briefly a few times a day in a bittersweet way (normal status) to crying for hours and hours at a time. A good, pounding crying headache became a constant. It became a chore to take care of myself and get out of the apartment. Sleeping? What's that?

The missing him got bigger and bigger until it blotted out all other small joys and excitements. The world grew gray and threatening.

When I tried to think of the cause, I came up with some theories. It was the let-down after the fun and magic of the fourth. It was the summer love in the air all around me that was making me feel extra lonely and envious.

None of the theories really rang true, though. On the evening of the 8th, someone reminded me of the significance of the following day and I realized that maybe all along, though I didn't acknowledge it consciously, the rest of me knew it was coming.

This has happened a few times since Dave died and I wonder if it's a protective strategy. A touch of denial: What anniversary? Don't know what you're talking about. What birthday? Nah, couldn't be. A special holiday? Nope.

As my conscious mind goes offline, my subconscious mind never stops churning away and the symptoms are a return of the grief monster, insomnia, and general misery.

So, things are getting a bit better now, but general, everyday stresses are getting the best of me and good sleep still eludes me most nights. When I don't sleep I become a miserable person. I think terrible thoughts, make regrettable decisions and grump around in a funk.

So, sadly, the one way I could deal better with the grief monster is to sleep and that's the one thing I can't quite manage. Yeah, I have sleeping pills, but they don't seem to help me. I generally notice that I get tired enough to finally crash and then I sleep so much that I hit the reset button and feel a lot better. But in the meantime, I have to be really gentle with myself, which is a challenge for me.

I just keep thinking that the only sleep aid that really ever worked for me was that wonderful man who loved me so much. I slept easily and deeply every night he was physically in my life. When he was by side, everything was right in the world.

I have hope that it won't always feel quite like this, but the fact is, he made me feel so safe, the safest I've ever felt in my life, and the loss of that is shattering.

If I have to go this road alone, though, it looks as though somehow (not sure how, yet) I'll have to be that for myself. That way, no one else has to provide it for me. I'll have to become the hero of my own story and make myself feel safe.


I'll let you know how that goes.


  1. Ugh! So understand this.
    This may be a really silly reply. But when I could not sleep for months after my husband died and I was at the physical and emotional breaking point a friend (and also a widow) told me she heats up those beany bag things (for sore muscles you can get them at the pharmacy) in the microwave for 3 minutes tucks them in her bed while she takes off her makeup. When she slips in, she puts one at her feet and one either behind the small of her back or in front tucked into the bend at her waist (make sure it is not too hot, it should be cool by then) and she sleeps like a baby.
    Well I thought "there is no way in hell this is going to work for me" but I was so desperate that I tried it and TA DA! I slept better than I had in months and months. I still use this method most nights I can't sleep. Perhaps having someone in bed with us to sleep every night our subconscious is always aware we are in there alone now.
    The heat seems to let my body relax and sleep.
    I don't know if it will help you, but what the hell it won't hurt to try and it is a non drug way of sleeping.
    I know when I don't sleep my memory is almost zero. That could also be the forgetting.

    I also got a dog. He is a dream. He doesn't sleep in my bed but just knowing he is in the house I feel so much safer.

    Wishing you sweet dreams - dreams of Amazon Widow warriors - saving their own lives every day.

    1. That's genius! I love those beany bag things. They always comfort me.
      I'll try it.

  2. My best friend recently had sleep issues for a few days, she commented that she now understands (sort of) my 2 1/2 years of lack of sleep, and how it affects me in living and decision making. I guess I assume it will always be this way. I'll have to try the warm bags, mine have cherry pits in them as I live in northern Michigan.

    In regards to the significant days creeping up, there is always one lurking , and the day itself is not bad, it's all the days leading up to it. Next one is his birthday late July, several folks have already reminded me of it (why, I don't know, do they think I will forget it? ). You can't get away from them, they just keep coming, so I plan something for me those days, a get away even for a hike or exploring a new place, anything different from what we once did. The missing him never goes away...we completed each other, and half of me is gone. Still painful, thinking it always will be, to a lesser degree.

    You are a hero in my book Cassie, even though you may not think so.

  3. Cassie, I very much agree with Anon above on two counts. Most importantly, you are definitely a hero to me!! You appear each week and reveal your deepest, how heroic is that! Secondly, the days leading up to the "day" are always so much more traumatic that the "day" itself. I have been trying for 2 1/2 years to really sleep and nothing has helped. I just might try the bean bags!!!

    Thanks to everyone!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. Posting here and feeling the support from all of you keeps ME going!

  4. Cassie, I go through those rounds, too, of restless nights. I can't sleep. I pace the floor. I try reading a book. I try watching TV. I try non-prescription sleep aids. Almost since the beginning, I've put pillows behind me where he used to sleep. It helps fill the space, but that's about it. Maybe I need the heated bean bags, too!
    I'm not afraid to be in my house by myself, but I guess I never really thought about how safe he made me feel, especially in bed. The feeling was just there. And now it's not. Maybe that's part of my problem. Thanks for the revelation!

  5. Cassie, The bean bags are a great idea, especially during the cold winter nights. During those early months, I would also put pillows behind my back to create that 'snuggle' feeling. Not quite effective because right today I actually put off going to bed. I sleep better now but being alone is magnified at bedtime.

  6. Melatonin helps too, gets me through the worst nights. Just don't take it after 3 a.m. or you are liable to sleep till noon.