Wednesday, December 19, 2012

So Year Five ......


...... hit harder than I expected.

But what else is new?

Actually, as I've written before, this month has gone more smoothly than it ever has during the last five years.
And while that's been a relief, it also kind of set me up ...... to think that THE day would also go more smoothly.

So I wasn't looking for the wave that came in the night before.  I wasn't standing there, watching the horizon, bracing myself for both waves and undertow.
I tend to face things much better if I'm able to brace myself beforehand.
I should've known better.

But here's the thing ...... if I'd braced myself and waited for the wave ...... then I would've given up the hope that I had ...... the hope that this year, this day would be different, would feel differently.
In looking back ...... I'm glad that I held onto hope.  I'm glad that I didn't see that wave, no matter how much it hurt.  Because I think that the hope I held helped me to recover more quickly.  I was knocked down, to be sure.  But I stood back up, dammit.  And I did it faster than I have before.
So ...... this day was different.  In the end.

Yes, it did hurt.
And the memories of that day hurt.
The missing of him continues to hurt.
But none of it paralyzes me anymore.
None of it sucks me under and threatens to flood into my lungs and drown me.
I am now stronger that "it" is.
Most of the time.
"It', being grief.

So right now, as I'm writing this and year 5 is coming to an end in less than an hour ...... I see myself standing on the shore, looking off into the horizon with the wind whipping around me ...... my right arm stretched out and the middle finger of my hand firmly extended ...... as I yell at the top of my lungs, "Fuck you, Grief!  I'm still standing!"


  1. No words except yes, I get it.

  2. Janine, you rock! There is not much more to say! Your total honesty is so refreshing! You continue to give me hope yet you don't dismiss the obvious pain associated with the loss of a spouse.

    I join you in your finger solute to grief and send hugs for making it through the 5th anniversary!

  3. love that - still standing!
    You give me hope Janine. Year 2 was brutal.
    I am starting year 3 and I want to look ahead and know I will be standing in three more years.
    Thank you

  4. My only question at 8 months is what does "still standing" mean? I am alive. I am breathing. (not that I have not often thought of ending it all). There is no joy in my life. Am I "still standing" and if so, what has been accomplished?

    I'm not trying to take away hope, but it is an honest question.

    1. I know exactly how you feel. I'm at 10 months, it's Christmas for everyone else, and "love and joy" no longer mean much to me.

    2. yes your still standing and as long as you are there will be hope and with hope will come joy not this year and mabey not next year but eventually you just have to keep getting up keep standing and keep trying to move forward im at 16 months and still standing and starting to step forward

    3. Yes, you are still standing and looking back now, at almost six years, I can see that just living was an accomplishment. Your hope will return, maybe not for a while, and definitely not all at once, but it has for so many of us and I think it will for you also. Keep reading and keep making connections. It does get better.

  5. To Anon at 8 months - I carried this quote with me for the first 18 months.
    Joyce Carol Oates book, A Widow’s Story, says “of the widow’s countless death-duties there is really just one that matters: on the first anniversary of her husband’s death, the widow should think ‘I kept myself alive.’ ”

    You have done that. You are still standing. You have kept yourself alive. That is enough.
    There will be joy - someday.
    There will be hope again.
    There will be moments where you do not wish to end it all.
    They will come.
    Believe me.
    I was where you are.
    I lost my love after 36 years of marriage.
    I thought I would die.
    Somedays - I was certain I would. Other days I wished I could just "wish myself to death".
    But I am still standing.

    It has been two years.
    I am better than I was.
    I struggle but I stand again and again.
    When I feel I can't - I come here and read the wisdom of other widows. Widows like the bloggers and commentators who remind me of the most important thing - LIVE.
    Live despite not wanting to.
    Live because they can not.
    Live in order to share with someone your unique perspective, your sorrow, your small triumphs - the rest of your story,
    Live because surviving a death of someone you love is something everyone will face and you have done this. Not because you had to but because you have.
    Live because you have a story to tell that is important.
    Trust me when I say there is someone who needs to hear it.

    Come back.
    I promise - it will get better than this.

  6. Anon, At 8 months out you're doing well to be breathng, let alone standing.
    No, "still standing" means something very different to me now than it did two, three or even four years ago. At that point in my life "still standing" would've meant "existing" and that's all. (And I did think about ending it ...... several times.) I saw no future ahead of me, only blackness. I didn't have, nor did I want, a future without Jim.
    But now, five years (and one day) down the road, "still standing" means so much more that I could write a book. I am much stronger than I was then.. And I am happy. My happiness is different than it was/felt "before" but it's still happiness. I found joy again. Actually, I realized that I always had it, I was just too buried under all of the grief and surviving and parenting that I couldn't see it. But I eventually did ..... after a long time.
    I wish that could give you a time line for how long you're going to feel this way, I truly do. But the timing on this road is different for each of us. It's like snowflakes: no two are just alike.
    But I can give you this: a promise. I promise that you will not always feel this way. You will not always hurt this much. The pain will not always slice through your heart so coldly that it knocks you to your knees, or face. I promise.
    You will smile again ..... really smile, with your eyes. You will laugh again without catching yourself and then feeling badly for it. You will look forward to things again (other than being dead). promise.
    But it will take time. Your time. You will move forward at the pace and time that is best for you, and you only.
    You will expected to be magically "all better" at the Year One date. You will not. Mostly likely, not even close.
    Non-widowed people are blessed with a certain kind of ignorance, so they will think (and the truly blessed will even ask) why you aren't "better" yet.
    You have permission to tell them to go screw themselves.
    Or to get lost. :)
    I've written enough, probably too much. But above all, be kind to yourself and have no expectations for yourself. You will feel how you feel for as long as you feel it. No more, and certainly no less.
    And one day, you will get here.
    And I will gladly offer my hand to pull you up beside me.
    I promise.

    1. Love your post! Love it! And in this comment, I am so encouraged to hear that you are happy and have found joy, because those two words are not in my vocabulary. I am doing better now at 22 mos, but I lack zip and zest; Marty made everything fun it seemed and now I have some brief fleeting moments that appear funny, and also some that are pleasant; but happy and joy? Foreign to me now.

  7. Janine, thank you for this: I found joy again. Actually, I realized that I always had it, I was just too buried under all of the grief and surviving and parenting that I couldn't see it. But I eventually did ..... after a long time.

    Thank you for giving voice to my current, 13 months experience. I do catch glimpses of joy, mostly with my kids, but I am buried under surfing, parenting and grieving. I will hold your hope that someday it will be better.

  8. Thank you all for sharing your heart and soul. Those of you who have walked the path of grief hold a candle out for the rest of us so we can manage better when the time comes.

    I just uploaded onto YouTube video called The Widow's Winter Solstice presented by my dear friend, Dr. Betty J. Kovacs. Within a little over 3 years she lost her mother, her only child and then her husband in 3 separate auto accidents. I hope you don't mind my sharing this video with you. I'm trying to get it to those dealing with grief and the people supporting them along the way. I'm wishing you all the best, Janine!


    The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year when the earth begins its journey back toward the sun. This process of moving into darkness and returning to the light is symbolic of the widow's journey. The widow sinks into the darkness of grief and loneliness, but it is in this darkness that she plants the seeds of light. The Miracle of Death Video Series is presented by Dr. Betty J. Kovacs.

  9. great post Janine, and good discussion as well. I only wish my non-widowed friends understood how much efffort it takes to survive widowhood. Just a little.

  10. I will be hitting my 5-year mark on Saturday and try as I may, I've not been about to not think about it. The entire month, my dreams have been interrupted and it's ruined my waking hours. I know that Saturday is going to be pure hell, and I'm OK with that. I just hope that next year I have better results with the whole "don't let it get to you" plan in the lead-up to "The Day".

    How I've survived this long, I'll never know. But I'm sure I'll manage to survive many more years of this ... (And there will be more happy days than sad ones!)

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  11. I just hit 4.5 years as a widower and have been wondering whether the "magic threshold" of five years is any different from the "magic threshold" of one year...(I am a bit too sarcastic sometimes.) In some ways, it *is* strange to still be standing, but in others, I suppose not. I think my sense of humor has helped me, as have friends and family. I have yet to figure out just what the hell it *is* that I should be doing, but I haven't given up.

    "Fuck you, Grief!", indeed! Thanks for a wonderful post.

    1. Our Widow's Voice blogs have moved to the Soaring Spirits International web site. You'll find them at