Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Now Find Myself ......


...... as the "old kid on the block".  I am the writer who's been widowed the longest here, now that Michelle has moved onward.

I'm not quite certain how I feel about this.
I guess I'd have to say that I feel more "unsettled" than anything.

I have been widowed for 5 years ...... and have been writing on this blog for four of those five years.
It has mostly been a very good outlet for me, and I have been told that it's mostly been a good place for widowed folks to come and learn that they're not alone.  Or crazy.
Or doomed to a life a living in a cold, black pit with no way out.  Ever.

But there have been times, more lately, when I wonder if I've run out of things to write.  Or if my usefulness on this blog has passed.
Every day we get new "members", as horrific as that is.
And I would hazard to guess that we lose "longer widowed" people every so often.

I think that's because the newer you are here, the more you can relate to the newer writers.  Their pain is still raw and overwhelming, much like yours.
I get that.

But my pain isn't so raw any longer, thank God.  Our pain can't stay that raw, that intense, that ...... life-sucking, or we'd never survive it.
I'm still not quite sure how I did, but I'm glad that I did.  Now.
During those first couple of years I wasn't glad at all about that.  And I was as pissed as hell that death doesn't come as easily as it did in "The Notebook".  Puh-leaze.
I now hate that movie.

But I digress.  Often.
I find that I have less pain to write about.  Where once there was only despair and blackness ahead of me, there's now hope ...... and the courage to try new things on my own.
But if I write about how good things are ...... very few of you seem to relate.  There are far fewer comments which leaves me wondering if anyone's reading, or if I'm failing to connect with you now.

If I write darker posts, and write about the pain that still sometimes comes ...... sometimes ...... it seems to hit home with more of you.  Or at least more of you comment, letting me know that you connected with my words.  With me.

So I find myself in a dilemma ...... a quandary, if you will.
My life is good.
After 5 very long, very hard, very painful years.
I am happy.
I am content.
And I am happily and contentedly single.
And would like to stay that way for a long time.
The thought of being in a relationship makes me nauseous.
I have learned that it's better to be single, MUCH better to be single ...... than to settle ...... for anything, or anyone.  Ever.
I will never, EVER again settle for less than what, or who, I had.

No, I don't miss Jim any less now than I did back then, it's just that his absence has become my new normal.  I still miss him.  Too much to describe, which is probably why I still cry every time I talk about how much I miss him.
I still wish he were here, but I no longer spend hours a day wishing that.
Because no matter how much I want it, that wish is not coming true.  And I'm tired of spending that much time and energy wishing for something that won't happen.
I have learned to move forward.
Without him, even though I never wanted to ...... never planned to.

It's time for me to enjoy the life I have, to enjoy my children and to share as much time with them as possible.
It's time for me to be happy again ...... because that seems the best way to honor Jim, and our relationship.
And I aim to honor him as much as possible, and make him proud of the woman I've become during these 5 years.

Maybe that means that I'll need to move on from here, to make room for someone you can relate with better.
Maybe not.
Maybe some of you need to know that life does get better.
After a while.
Maybe some of you need that hope.

That's the only reason I continue to write.  And if one day, it becomes clear that I'm not giving you Hope ...... my time will be up.
And that will be OK.


  1. Janine,
    I am coming up to my 2 year mark (2-15-11) without my Marty. I still have my share of pain, tears and seemingly hopelessness. However, I am having what others on this board have said happens - more good days than bad - I NEVER, EVER imagined this would be true for me, my pain has been so deep. Deeper than I ever would believe, scary deep. But lately, things seem to have shifted for me. Almost, as if the veil of my grief is not as thick. I still feel the need to qualify, I still miss my Marty from the depths of my being, I still want him to be here alongside me esp as I continue to face new, hard things without him - like a new medical thing that has come up with me, resulting in a "procedure" that my daughter will be accompanying me on. My daughter should not be the one waiting in the waiting room and caring for me, that should be my husband.......I WANT my Marty to be there, but that is not my reality. One of the things I can now admit is "if I have to be a widow, and that is definitely the truth because Marty's dead, then I am a blessed widow." UGH - who says that? I never thought I would, BUT, I look around me and I see that it is true. I have learned that as humans the truth is we adapt, we get used to our new, pathetic routine. Hate it, but we do adjust.
    Recently, having lunch with a friend who is his friend, now my friend, I found myself saying, "I made a promise at his sudden death bed, that I would honor him forever and if anyone else does not honor him, I would quickly point out that this is not acceptable in no uncertain terms; and recently, I have found that the best way for me to honor my Marty is to keep on living life to the full, just like he did."
    I never would have, thought I would say that. In my grief I don't say things I don't mean, so those words are not just what was expected, those were from my heart.
    What a writer who is more mature in their grief, like you, offers me is HOPE. While I may not "get it" or be able to comment, or may feel like I want to puke when I read how you are moving forward, it gives me HOPE that I might get there one day too. Because if I make a decision to tie up my shoelaces and start walking everyday, I might just get there too. Thank you.

  2. Janine: at 4 1/2 years I STILL come here every day. And with the exception of one writer (and it's not you!!!) I find that there is rarely a day that I don't connect with something that is said. Even tho I am finding myself in a very similar place to you, feeling more "content" with my "new normal" it is reaffirming to see that others have those same feelings. In the beginning of my feeling better days I think I felt GUILTY that I wasn't crying all the time or that he wasn't my only thought 24/7. It is incredibly helpful and hopeful to see how you can move forward (not on, I HATE when people say move on) and feel better while still missing and loving your spouse/partner with every breath and every fiber of your being. So I for one hope that you don't EVER stop writing! I love you my friend. and I feel a little more sane every time I read your words (or I realize that we are both insane but at least I am in good company!!!) xoxo

  3. I've been widowed almost six years, and I'm remarried, and I still come here and I still grieve. It's certainly a different type of grief than it was, but it's still there. Thank you for continuing to write.

  4. Personally, I need that hope. That happiness is NOT a pipe dream. That you really CAN move forward, ever so slowly. Please continue to write.

  5. Janine,
    When I started reading, I thought oh boy, here it comes, she's leaving. What am I going to do? I have been on this site for just over two years, so I am kind of in the "middle group". I read EVERY morning, kind of my ritual to start another spin on the hamster wheel. Sometimes I comment, but most days I just nod and smile, or cry in agreement. I can relate with every post in some way. Please know that just because people don't post that doesn't mean it didn't help. This blog needs you! The reader need to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you are the one holding the lantern, letting us know that we will find joy again. As a side bar, thank you for writing that you get nauseous as the thought of a relationship. Yep, I am there, exactly. I just wish I had the perfect answer to the "so are you seeing anyone?" question. So, Janine, please keep writing and leading the path for all of us.

  6. I do read and treasure your posts. My husband passed away 16 months ago from esophageal cancer, and I gather hope and peace from knowing I am not alone on this journey through all of the writers on this post....but I am starting to cling to the assurances I read from you and those further down the road in the journey. It does give me peace and hope for the future even when the pain is sometimes still so sharp. There are many of us who need you and your viewpoint also....we need to know how the journey will change for us no matter where we are at right now. I have never commented before, but I appreciate and love hearing your 'voice' in this broken but healing widow's world that none of us wanted to be in. Thank you!

  7. Please don't stop writing! I need the hope and view that you provide. I pulled a quote from a post you did a few weeks ago and taped it to my computer at work. It was about finding joy. I need to know that you are up there ahead of me, even if I often only watch you from afar to have faith that I will be truly happy again, I just need to stick with it.

  8. I do need to know and to keep being reminded that things get better, or at least not so painful, so I do appreciate hearing a voice from further along the road. As you know, it can be difficult to believe that things won't always be like this when you're in the initial or even middle phases of grief.
    Thank you.

  9. I'm nearing two years and read these blogs almost daily. But, I find I'm spending less and less time with widows groups generally. The pain of those newly forced to our "club" is so big and so black and I find it more and more difficult to be around even the edges of that hole. In those moments I can see and feel myself as I was then and having barely survived it -- it's just too hard to be around it again very often.

    I need to know that there's hope and life and that the steps I'm taking aren't away from him - that he's always with me - but that in this physical world I can/must build a life of my own. I sometimes feel confident that I am doing just that and pretty well, but appreciate the voice of others just a bit farther on the path knowing that the struggle continues, but so does the success.

    I hope that helps...

  10. Just to give my two cents worth...I have been widowed 1 year 2 months and 15 days. I have been reading every day for about a month now and 'catching up' twice a week before that. At this point, I can still relate to the new and raw feelings of those just beginning this awful journey, but like others have said, it does my heart good to know that moving forward is both ok and even good...that the new me has a chance of surviving and being happy and finding that joy again. So thank you so much for your words. And for keeping an eye backwards as you continue to help us appreciate life again.

  11. Hey Janine, I'm going into my fourth year, read here several times a week, and...where you are relates. It is a long path returning to a sense of self and happiness. A path that early on seems impossible on many levels. Thanks for continuing to take us along.

  12. Anonymous January 23,2013 at 9:34 AM I My husband passed away almost four years ago. I read these blogs daily. I always look forward to Wednesday. I also have a large family,five kids ages 25 to 13. I do relate to your posts very much. Thank you

  13. I love that there's hope with the grief no matter how much time has passed.... keep writing until you get a clear signal to move on... looks like it's still yellow, so looking fwd to next wed!

  14. Janine, I am with the rest of the crowd here... please don't stop writing, unless, of course, you find it is dragging you backwards. You deserve SO MUCH happiness in your life.

    I am approaching 3 years. Although I believe our progress on this horrific grief path is marked more in terms of events then time. That is exactly what you bring to this cyber following.... experience, hope, reassurance and all those things we need to keep going. I just need to continue to hear that it is okay if I still cry and it is just as okay if I laugh or even don't think about my husband 20 times a day.

    So, stay, just a while longer....

  15. My husband passed away 13 months 5 days ago and reading your blog has helped to remind me that there is a light in the black abyss. Today, I had to deal with death benefit issues so I will be in the bed this evening, eating ice cream between my tears. I need a blog like yours that helps me remember that there is still a light there for me. Don't go just yet, OK?

  16. I've needed to know and I'm starting to see. It's been 3.5 years since Michael passed 4.5 since he got sick. In the past 2 months there has been a change in me. I call it hope. I call it life. I call it being able to go on without thinking of him every minute of every day.

    On the night of the hurricane, I lay on the floor after falling off a ladder. I had a broken hand and because I fractured my back last year was afraid to move. I lay on the floor of the darkened house with the wind howling outside and the rain pounding against the windows. It was about 2 a.m. and it was pitch black and I was laying on a hardwood floor staring up at the ceiling and wondered, "Where are you?" I did not realize, at the time, that was about to be me literally hitting bottom.

    I realized I couldn't ask those questions any more. I couldn't get frustrated and throw the tools across the room every time I tried to put something together. I couldn't freak out every time the garbage bag broke or the faucet stopped working or I had to go to the store and get my own damn cold medicine.

    I needed to hear, all along, there was hope that one day the hole would not seem so gaping, the loss not so tremendous. We had a great relationship and I think the one thing I miss is someone who understood me as he did. With no words needed. And how he always thought of me and how he always cared more about me than anything else. How he put his own life in my hands when he got sick and told the doctors and nurses to do whatever I said.

    I miss someone trusting me that much and loving me that much. But my life can go on and I need to hear hope of others who have turned the corner I feel that I'm turning. Finally. I never thought I'd get to a place where I started to think that I will accept he's gone and not coming back. I used to choke on those words even if I just said them to myself.

    I applaud all who help each other on their journeys and I understand when part of their own healing is to move on and live their lives without loss as the focus. I respect whatever you decide but you are a power of example to all of us and if you stay, that would be wonderful and if you have to go for you, I respect that. But don't think you have to leave because you are in a place far ahead of us. We all want to get to that place and to hear you.

  17. I can't agree with Beth's words more. I had a hard night last night and my saving grace was "oh, it's Wednesday, at least I can read Janine's blog). I share many of the things Janine has gone through, mostly about children who make bad choices. I hope you stay and continue helping those of us who SO TOTALLY RELATE TO JANINE. Thank you for all you have done for me.

  18. Please stay. You help more than you will ever know.

  19. Ditto what everyone else posted!

  20. There isn't much I can say that will be profound or important. So many ahead of me have said things that I just could say ditto to and that would be enough. I don't think I'm going to change minds or hearts but I do want to put in my 2 cents. I lost my Ron 1 year 1 month and 1 week ago. Somedays it feels like yesterday and I need to hear the words of the newly widowed and other days it feels forever ago and I need to hear from those with experience and hope. I have found myself that I seldom comment on the posts that touch me the most because those are the ones I take away with me and think about for days. I feel a deeper connection to you then many of the other writers maybe it's because I believe we are closer in age, I don't know. But I hang onto your words of happiness and for the first time allow myself to believe that there is the possibility that someday just maybe I will be okay with the world again. I was thinking about it today, about how I am at a place where I don't make plans for dinner let alone for the future. The future without Ron isn't pretty or inviting to me, but your posts let me see that there is hope even for me to be happy. Not happy that Ron is not here but happy that I had the chance to be the person he loved most. Keep posting and keep giving us hope but don't think you always have to be hopeful because when you have bad days you let us also know that it's okay to have bad days even years later.

  21. Please keep writing I need a glimpse of the future. Thank you!

  22. Janine,
    Thank you for your insight into our future as widows. I'm only at 6 months and need to hear what you have to say as the months slide by. I can't yet accept my loss, I look everywhere for details and memories. You give me hope. Thank you from the depths of my heart.
    I agree with what one said that even though we read the blog we may not comment. I read it at night before heading to bed and sometimes am just too tired to write back but cherish how much the blog soothes me. Thankyou.

  23. To each and every one one of you:
    I am so overwhelmed by your comments and support. T.A.N.W. (There Are No Words).
    You have brought me to tears. I wrote this post last night, feeling a bit adrift and not sure about my role here. I left this morning to go to a funeral (which brought all kinds of emotions, for many different reasons ... none of which I'll go into here, but will address on my own blog) and I didn't get home to sit down at my computer until now, at 10:30 p.m.
    And I was blown away.
    When I wrote this post I was really just thinking out loud (which isn't so very different from most of my posts) and I really didn't expect many comments.
    I often feel that it's my job to write the truth of what I experience, and have experienced, (and nothing but the truth, as ugly as it sometimes is) as a widow. And it's also my job to tell you the truth about how much better it has become ...... finally. It's more than a job though ..... it's my passion. I feel passionate about widowed people ...... and giving them hope through the words I write.
    One problem with being a writer is that you don't always (and sometimes rarely) know how your words are being accepted ...... or not accepted. And yet you keep writing. Because if you can make a difference in the life of just one person ..... one person who has been thrust onto this path ...... into this club no one wanted to join ...... then the work of writing has been worth it.
    Today ...... you have all done that for me. You have made a difference in my life. You have given me hope. And encouragement. And love.
    And the knowledge that I am making a difference. One post at a time.
    Thank you so much.
    I will continue to follow my passion. For as long as it is ...... my passion.
    And with your support and encouragement, that may be a very long time.

  24. Hello
    Hope is the only ray of light you have when your spouse dies. So keep writing about the light

  25. Janine I am late coming into this conversation ( I was out last night speaking at a Hospice) I want to say - you are the reason I kept coming back! You are one of the reasons as two years I am "doing so well".
    You held out hope like a candle in the pit of hell.
    On the night I contemplated suicide - in the depth of grief and feeling like not only could I not go on, I couldn't breathe! I found widows voice and you responded with hope.
    Please - know that it is easy for us all to respond to the darkness because it is a common landscape. But we need your light.
    We need to be able to know it gets better. You posts are so honest, so open about the path, so forgiving of others, you rant, you share, you tell us where you think you made mistakes and how you can't get out of bed on a given day and then suddenly you find you can - you make me feel like the grief I had was normal not crazy.
    Because it was making me feel crazy - then you helped me to understand I was not crazy.
    If you need a break that I understand but please know we don't need a break from you!
    Thank you for all you do.

    1. Anon,
      I'm sitting on a plane, getting ready to head to the annual Board retreat for Soaring Spirits, where my passion carries me to work with people i love ...... people who love to help other widowed people.
      I just checked this blog and ...... I'm at a loss for words. I'm so thankful that you're still here. As one who also contemplated(and beyond) suicide, I know what a miracle it is that you ARE here. To know that words helped you through that hell ...... is to know that if I never, ever impact anyone else or give them the hope I so want to give, I have still accomplished what I hoped to.
      Thank you for that. Thank you so very much for sharing yourself with me.
      I am honored.
      And apparently not as much at a loss for words as I had thought.


  27. I echo what everyone says, "Please don't leave." I never miss Wednesday post. Like you said there you are the only one not new writing blogs. But know that there are readers,like myself, that are past the raw, profound sadness still needing your wisdom, insight, compassion but most of all hope. I am 5 years and one week out.
    As we continue to hear, this grieving is a lifelong journey. Your sharing where you are on this journey has so inspired and helped me. It reminds me that I am normal, that the feelings I have from time to time are normal. That life will never be the same but it can still be good maybe even great. But always with a tender scar. Please stay and teach us how to live with that tender scar!

  28. Although late with my comments as well, I am newly widowed and your posts have been so helpful to me as well. There are times I feel as though I can't make it without my husband. Your posts as well as all the other writers have given me so much HOPE that I can get through this by sharing my feelings with you all. PLEASE STAY WITH US, YOU ARE MUCH NEEDED!

  29. Hope you keep on thinking out loud for us, Janine, we are still listening. No, we don't always respond, sometimes it is just too hard to try to accept what you are saying, but we still read and ponder and learn so much from all of you who are in front of us. I'm hopeful, but not so much on many days, and need to keep hearing that it will get better over and over, so keep pounding that into us, maybe one day it will happen for me.

  30. Janine, I look forward to your posts every week. They give me so much hope. I am at 18 months. Even when the road earlier was darker and foggier than it is now, each week I looked forward to that lifeline of hope that you extend to each of us trying to find our way.
    I am sorry if I have not let you know that.

  31. I appreciate your being here so much, and at 3 years and 4 months, am finally able to relate to looking forward with hope. I have spent so much time looking backward. I am adjusting. Our kids continue to grow and change. It still pains me enormously that their dad isn't here to participate in all this, but his absence is no longer my first thought. We are OK. I trust that we will be OK in the future. We will never stop loving and missing him, but I feel we are continuing to live our lives fully, just as he would tell us to do. Thank you for leading the way through this dark forest. I respect the honesty of your writing, whether it's anger at God, suicidal thoughts, issues with kids, other relationships, or hope and happiness! You keep it real. You make a difference. Thank you.

  32. Please
    Keep writing! You give me hope that there is hope and better days in my future! I have been widowed 3 years! Read this post everyday when the I first started this journey. I always looked foward to reading how this would get easier. I too use the term my new normal, because that is so true. I will never be the same, ever! I will always miss him, but like you I remember to try not to dwell on what could never be. I am still here reading, because sometimes I need to know what the journey is like ahead of me at 5 years! So do not stop, unless you feel you should for yourself!

  33. I was widowed just 4 months ago and at 58 years old it is hard to believe I will every feel better. I just found this website tonight and I can say that your words give me hope. I think it is important to know how we can feel after 1, 2, 3 or 5 years. It brings perspective to our situation. There is no road map for this new chapter of our lives. Thank you for continuing to write.

  34. I relate to pretty much everything you write. This, in particular, strikes a chord with me:

    And I am happily and contentedly single.
    And would like to stay that way for a long time.
    The thought of being in a relationship makes me nauseous.
    I have learned that it's better to be single, MUCH better to be single ...... than to settle ...... for anything, or anyone. Ever.
    I will never, EVER again settle for less than what, or who, I had.

    AMEN to this! I have finally found "this" place, and it's actually a huge relief. I've finally accepted the fact (and embraced it) that our little family unit is complete with the three of us.

    I hope you continue to write, Janine. XOXO