Sunday, December 16, 2012


I am calling myself out on my crap.

I've been doing it all week.

While talking to a friend, I realized I have commitment issues.

I’m not talking about relationship – commitment – issues.

I’m talking about committing to life.

I've realized I have a major problem seeing past today.

A friend will ask if I want to do something, go out and have fun, say, a week from now.

And I can’t really commit to it.

I think to myself “That sounds like fun. But that’s a week away. Today I just need to focus on today”.

This week I've been struggling with – is this the “grown-up” version of me, or is this the “widowed” version of me?

I've gone back and forth in my head, trying to figure out when this commitment issue started.
And why?

I guess it started about a year ago. A year after Seth died.

When Seth first died, I used to keep myself far too busy. I think to avoid my grief and pain. For almost a year straight, I was far too busy.

Then I crashed. Fell flat on my face in depression.

Suddenly I had to stop my life from spinning. I had to slow down, and just grieve.

I had to just stop. Stop everything.

Make my life stand still, so I could grieve and breath.

Now I’m afraid of being too busy.

I think the fear comes from “What if I have plans, and I’m riddled with grief, and I don’t feel like going??”. 

Then I have to pull the widow card, tell my friend I don’t feel up to it, and feel slightly embarrassed that something fun is too much for me to handle.

It’s embarrassing.

So instead of making plans, say a week from now, it’s easier to focus on just today. Because in a week I might not feel well. I might be emotionally sick next week.

So instead of dealing with the embarrassment of having to cancel plans, I have trained myself to not look past today.

Everyone says – “Take it one day at a time”.

I don’t think this is what they meant.

I think there is a silver lining in it. Stay focused and present with just today. Not next week.

Also allowing myself to be un-busy, and just be, with my grief. Rather than avoiding my grief.

But am I missing out on life in the process? Am I missing out on something amazing – a week from now?

I can’t tell if my commitment issue is a good or bad thing.

I do know not being able to look past today, isn't exactly a great thing.

But I realized that my brain and body have naturally figured out how to handle my grief, even if I don’t like the process.

It’s amazing what the human brain and body can do.

Forcing me to focus on just today, is ironically a good thing.

Thank you my dear, tired, body.

I appreciate it.


  1. I understand why you are doing this. I went through a period in my grief where all I could think about was how my future had been taken away with my husband. They were things I was suppose to di with him. It has taken me 3 years to now start to plan for my future. I realized that I had memories of the past that were keeping me from dreaming of the future and that was ok, because it was just part of the grieving process. But then I began to realize that I needed to develop new memories so that was when I delibrately started forcing myself to make some plans, not a lot, but at least once a month I committed to do one thing a month making my own plan of inviting friends to do something with me. I found I had fun and often did not have to cancel. It got easier to do as time went by.

  2. Melinda,

    I read your posts and my heart just breaks for you. I want to share with you some of the thoughts that help keep me energized to live life fully but I dont want to sound like I am being disrespectful of the real place you are in.

    My husband died at 50 years and 57 days of age...he died of natural causes and I appreciate the gentle interface that that fact allows me to have with the outside world. He also died of a condition that was treatable if he had gone to the doctor. He didnt kill himself, but he allowed himself to die. He had plenty of insurance to cover his bills had he gone to the MD. He chose to not seek treatment because he was depressed, severely depressed.

    I dont think I understood the seriousness of his depression until our adult sons became depressed too...and then I looked at his family-of-origin and one of his siblings had depression that was very similar to our sons'. They all suffered/suffer terribly .

    My husbands depression manifested itself mostly in anger...he was always mad...if he wasnt mad he was irked, annoyed, irritated or on a bad day he had white-hot blinding rage. I spent most of my waking moments trying to figure out how to keep the things in his life from triggering his resulted in draining most joy I could get from happy things away quickly. Anything, any event, no matter how joyfilled could be ruined in an instant by his anger.

    I lived like that for 29 years.

    I loved him, there was a sweet, loving, dear, feeling man under all that anger. I was devoted to him...if you gave me the choice at this minute to have him back but it would cost me my left arm, I would want to make that bargain and have him back. But for HIS sake, I might not do it because I think he is much happier in a place where his depression is gone and so are all the bad results of it.

    In some ways I think I can express my love to him by letting him be there and be OK with the fact that he is whole now. You and I both got cheated of good time...I had more actual time with my husband but much of it was horribly tainted in a way that likely gives him great grief now. We were both cheated of our futures with the men we loved.

    But I have already lost enough of my life to his depression and Im not giving up any more of it.

    I am young enough to still really enjoy life but old enough that I REALLY REALLY do see that it is finite.

    At risk of sounding trite, Im going to go out and have a really good time. Not stupid boozing, whoring fun...Im going to see the beautiful things in the world --- I am going to see the great cathedrals and the great art...Im going to shop the great boulevards (even if I dont buy anything). Im going to dance and sing and laugh and live and squeeze every drop out of life I have til I join him.

    I have short term goals ... tonight is a ballet & a party. Next week Im decorating a room to my preference (it was his office filled with his stuff and I dont need it to remind myself that he was real or that I loved him). I bought tickets to fly to London in the spring and I have a general idea of a trip I want to take in 2014.

    Please dont think I can have this attitude because I dont know pain, I grew up with an abusive alcoholic mother. I have 2 adult children with mental health issues. I care for the dying for a living and have had more people (mostly babies) die in my arms than I can remember (and I mean that literally). Depression f-ing cheated cheated me cheated me ENOUGH. It cheated you enough too...I know my coping wont fit everyone and not everyone can afford to go to London but there is likely an art museum within a drive of you...please consider going there and buy yourself a nice lunch and take the day and relish it.

  3. Wow, Melinda, I am lamost 5 years out and this really hit home for me. Hadn't thought of it in terms of commitment but you are right on. That is exactly what I am doing - just didn't get "called out on it". Thanks for the post and making me look in the mirror instead of hiding behind it!!

  4. OH YES!
    This is me. OMG.
    I didn't realize it was part of the grief. I couldn't think of why I was doing it. I started to think I was ambivalent toward my friends, did I not really love them anymore?
    They keep inviting me and i say "yeah, that would be great or fun or nice" but I don't commit.
    I think for me it is a way of not projecting myself into the future.
    The one I thought I was going to have with my husband and now is lost.
    I can't have that future.
    And because I had no idea he was going to get cancer and die, I find myself thinking "maybe I won't be here. Maybe I will get sick too."
    But if I don't go I get lonely.
    So I am making some of my own plans. Not waiting to be invited but trying to commit to myself and to my own happiness.
    I agree with anon above - make plans, live deep, even if you start small and work up.
    I am going to start calling myself out too.
    Time to live.
    Thanks so much for the post.

  5. Melissa, thank you for this post. I know all too well how easy it is to fear anything. It's been 5 and a half years for me since I lost Jon and I think I've tried just about all the strategies out there to distract myself from reality - I've thrown myself into work, into bad relationships that were doomed to fail, into memorial projects that keep me busy, and I've convinced myself that if I could only just keep my mind occupied with other thoughts, I'll be able to get through another day until tomorrow. But I'm so tired of living like that. I don't know exactly how to change it because I wonder all the time how I'm supposed to make it for another who-knows-however-many years without him. And yet I know I can't keep this up forever. There are so many things we missed out on, so many things we wanted to share and experience as a couple...and I potentially have a lot of live left to live until I see him again. "Life" and I haven't been good friends for a long time now, but I truly hope I can commit to life a little more in the future.

    Thank you for encouraging me to call myself out.