Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It Wasn't Just My Life ......


(This is a post that I've been reflecting on for a while now.  It's not in response to any post or any comment that's ever been written here.  It's just my thoughts.  Honestly.)

...... and the lives of my children that changed when Jim died.
His death affected more than our families and closest friends.

It affected everyone who knew him ...... everyone who knew me ...... and everyone who knew us.

It's difficult, if not impossible, to see that when you're in the midst of the deepest, darkest days of grief.
It's difficult to see that when you're just trying to make it through each minute of each hour of every day.

But at some point, when you finally feel like you can breathe without sobbing, you're able to look around ...... and see how much of an impact the death of your loved one made.

Jim was the first person in our wide circle of friends and co-workers to die.  Some of our friends had lost a parent during those last few years ...... that's the stage of life which we were approaching in our mid-40's.
That was a fact that we hated, but to which we were slowly growing accustomed.
People expect to one day lose their parents.

No one expects a friend/co-worker to die suddenly, un-expectedly, shockingly ...... in their 40's.
No one expects their life to suddenly change overnight.
No one expects that last "care-free" weekend ...... to really be the last one like that ...... for a very, very long time.

Our friends will never be the same.
I find it difficult to put into words, but it's like our "innocence" was lost that Monday night/Tuesday morning.
For many of us, it was the first time we really lived the phrase, "when bad things happen to good people" (which is also the title of a very good book).
Our worlds, not just mine ...... not just my children's ...... were turned upside down, torn asunder.  Changed forever.

I would guess that my friends held their husbands tighter that night, while feeling guilty that they could.
I would guess that each of them felt some sort of shift in their relationship ...... in their home.
And I would guess that no one had a guide book about dealing with the sudden loss of a friend.
We were all living one breath at a time.
For a while.

Why am I writing this?
Why am I posting this here?
I guess, in a way, I'm acknowledging my friends ...... and the change they each felt in their own life.
And ...... I'm reminding all of us on this path ...... that not only are we not alone here ...... but that we're not alone in having our lives changed with our loss.

No, our friends, co-workers and relatives may not always "get it" ...... but I don't think we always get their grief either.
Or at least I didn't.

And no, there's no comparison of losing my husband with losing a friend.
But someone was still lost.

And it wasn't just me who lost him.


  1. I relate with you completely. My husband died in a Car accident(with me!) at the age of 42. It wasn't just my 3 kids and I. Our families, our friends, coworkers and neighbors mourned with us when Hils died 2 months ago.
    With a broken and bleeding heart, head on overdrive, wounds all over me and very little experience in organising a funeral, kids looking up to you for answers and comfort, I had to burry my soul mate and best friend ever.
    I am still trapped in wonderland but acknowledge the support of all these wonderful people who assisted me.

  2. Thanks for this reminder. It feels like my husband has been "replaced" in so many areas except for our family. He hasn't been replaced, just his empty positions have been filled-at our church and at his work. Thanks for reminding me that others are surely still missing him as well.

  3. My feelings are with you. My wife was a person that everyone enjoyed being with her, she had many friends. From Church groups to coffee group with people she graduated with. She done hospice for 10 years. I went to Florida this year and the group there isn't the same. They all hurt losing her, and I understand their feelings. For me it's' hard. I done things with her mainly with her friends, well my life got flipped. Many still stop me and say how much they miss her and not able to pick up the phone and talk. Quite a journey for all of us.
    Enjoyed your post. Grace be with you..

  4. Yes, death of a loved one changes everyones life! My prince charming passed away on April 10, 2011 and my life will never be the same. We had two wonderful children and three grandchildren and was blessed in our marriage for 31 years! He passed away at the age of 53 and was the first of his siblings and the first of spouses to pass. I think of him every second of everyday! I have been upset today to think none of the inlaws cared enough to call or text me or my children to see if we were ok or to say I am thinking of you! I thought we were forgotten but after reading your message I see that maybe they are also grieving the loss of a very special brother. Thank you for you message. Everyone faces the loss of a loved one in their own way. I dont wish this journey for anyone it is a very lonely and sad road without your mate!

    1. Your comment resonates with me bc I lost my husband of 31 years in 2011 and he was my soul mate, best friend and lover; and the wonderful father to our three children and "Papa" to our two then, now three grand children. So very, very hard! One thing that has worked for me, on his Sadiversary date was the first year we had a big "Celebration" party and I invited everyone on the Christmas card list to join us for pizza, salad and beer - it was the perfect plan as I spend that day with people who loved me but more, they loved him! The second year, I debated a long time what to do, bc I just knew I would be very sad and mopey and miserable just being with this year we invited his brothers over; kept it small and simple with bbq sandwiches. So it was his brothers and their wives, our one adult daughter who lives in state and her fiance'. It was the perfect mix bc making the meal gave me something to plan and do the "day of"; and then sitting with those closest to him meant the world to me. The brothers naturally shared memories (not forced) of "Yeah, your dad would try to boss us around, but he was the little brother and we weren't having none of that. I remember the time when....." It was a great way to spend the evening, even for our daughter too. I know everybody has to do it their own way and I know that planning something requires energy, but that propels me when I consider the alternative of being alone on yet another night - too much of that already. It frustrates me too when I feel forgotten or that he is forgotten and you are right that is not always the case, even though it may feel that way. I do so appreciate when others take time for a simple "thinking of you." Just because the years go by does not mean we forget - NEVER! I agree on not wishing this journey for anyone!!!

    2. mjay, that's a wonderful way to remember your husband. I was thinking on the "DAY" the 1st one, I should have a cookout and invite all the people that have helped me do so many much needed repairs to my house. I don't see most of them often, but they are there if I need them. Nobody knows how to grieve. We all have to do it our own way. Thanks for your insight. A great idea to get my mind set on something other than dreading the day

  5. another beautifully written post Janine. it took me quite sometime to acknowledge that other people missed Dave (well other than the kids) and how it affected them. Like the anon above I felt that so many people had "forgotten" us and him. And when they would say something it would sometimes hurt even more than the silence. I ran into his best friend on his birthday the first year after he died, and his friend said "I was thinking of you, but I couldn't call, it was just too hard". At the time I was so angry, but over time I realize that everyone has to grieve in their own time and way and I take those comments less to heart. Thank you for once again sharing - love you (and I STILL think you should write a book!!!!)

  6. It's a tough one. Your post came at the perfect time. I've organized a memorial do for C's 1 yr saddiversary and his best friend called to tell me yesterday that he isn't going to come because he can't take the thought of doing a memorial with lots of people. I'm a little annoyed that he won't be there to support me, but at the same time I need to understand that this friend knew my husband far longer than I did and he's hurting as well.
    Sometimes it really feels like no one else misses my husband, but I have to believe that that isn't true.

  7. Janine,
    so very true.
    I lost a very close friend to the fact that his grief is so bad around my husbands death, he can't even talk to me about it. That means I can't talk to him either. So we no longer see each other. I just see his wife.

  8. So true. I think sometimes I forget this, and at times I almost have a hard time spending time with "our" or "his" friends. I think in the beginning, it's impossible to try to comprehend anyone else's loss when it was your spouse, but as time goes on, we realize...and it's not like our friends forget or "move on" either as time goes on. I mean, in some ways they do, but I know our friends are always thinking of him.