Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Every Now and Then ......

...... a thought pops into my head.
It used to pop into my head all of the time.
In fact, it didn't so much "pop" in there ...... as it took up residence.

That thought?
"I can't believe this is my life."

I'm very thankful that it only visits me once in a great while now.

Back in the early days (weeks, months) of my grief that thought would almost paralyze me with it's cold slap of reality.
I really couldn't believe that the life I was living, the reality that was a living nightmare, was really happening.
Every time that thought reared up inside of me it seemed to knock all of the air out of my lungs.  It was as if that thought was so large and so all-consuming that it pushed the air ...... and the little life that seemed to be left ...... out of my body and my mind.

This is a very difficult experience to put into words.  I feel incapable of describing it in a way that really conveys the huge impact this thought had on me.  I feel incapable of making anyone understand the immenseness ...... and the cold inky blackness ...... that invaded my being when that thought moved in.
Anyone but you, that is.

I know that, with you, I don't have to search for words to help you understand.  I don't have to struggle to make you "get it".
With you ...... I don't feel as if I now speak a completely different language that no one else understands.

And for all of that, I'm so very sorry.
But grateful, too.

I'm sorry that you understand.  I wish that you didn't "get it".  I hate that anyone else has to go through this hellish experience ...... and that none of you can believe that this is your life.
But I'm relieved that you do.

And I hope, with every fiber of my being, that one day, sooner than you think ...... you, too, will find that that thought no longer resides with you.  I hope that you will soon realize that it only pops into your head once in a great while.
And that when it does ...... it no longer has the power to paralyze you with its cold darkness.

 I hope that I can give those of you who are new here even a small piece of that hope ...... and remind those of you who are not-so-new to hold on to this:
"I can't believe this is my life" ...... as well as all of the other dark thoughts and waves that come at you relentlessly ...... really do start to fade in their strength and occurrences.

It's such a relief to find that those things, and that thought, are much easier to deal with ...... when they only come every now and then.

We all need that hope.
And those kind of reminders.
Every now and then.


  1. I'm at a point now, 6+ years later and now remarried, that I sometimes think "I can't believe that was my life." I don't compare the before and after, because they are so different and my late husband will always be a part of me, but when I have these thoughts, I realize that I am now truly "beyond active grieving."

    1. GG, Thank you for sharing what your point of view looks like now that you're 6+ years out. I, too, know that I am beyond "active grieving", and that is such a huge relief.
      That doesn't mean, however, that I will never feel grief again. Not at all. I still feel the impact of one of those waves as it crashes down over me and threatens to pull me down with its undertow. But most of the time, I remain standing, strong enough to withstand the pull.
      It means so much when those of us who are further down this road comment here and tell others how we're doing.
      It gives them hope.
      And hope can help them move mountains.

    2. I didn't mean to suggest that I'll never feel grief again - it definitely still comes and goes, at the predictable times and sometimes triggered by totally unexpected items or memories. But now, even when it hits hard, I know that I'll get past it.

    3. Exactly! I knew what you meant (and didn't mean :)
      My reply was to say thank you to you, and to also tell those "behind us" that while grief never goes away, it does get easier to bear. Which really just echoed your wonderful words.

  2. At two and a half years . . . I feel some relief.
    Sometimes the "I can't believe this is my life." has some wonder in it, an element of what now but without so much doom. I think there is a level (not wholly but some) of acceptance. That I can't fight against the tide any longer. I have to step in and say "this is my life"

    The disbelief will always be there at some level.
    This week I received good news. Something I wrote is being recognized and when I heard the news I burst into tears because my husband, my greatest love and supporter is not here. I can't tell him. My immediate happiness turned to grief. I was alone in the house. I thought "I have no one." I really meant I dont have him, because in many ways he was "the only one."
    Yes I have children and I called them and they were thrilled but a part of me ached to say "Look." He would have been so proud and so happy.
    I had to think of that and know that I wouldn't have got here alone.

    We all need hope.
    I needed it this week. A reminder that someday "I can't believe this is my life." might become "this is my life." and the second half won't be terrible just different.

    Thanks Janine. You are the best.

    1. Thank you, Anon, for commenting and sharing your feelings and experiences. Yes, there are still days, every once in a while, when I think, "I can't believe this is my life."
      But to be truthful, sometimes that thought has a completely different meaning now.
      "I can't believe this is my life." has changed from something that fills me with cold, black fear and dread, to sometimes feeling wonder at how far I've come in these past 5+ years.
      And it's been very, very far.

  3. Janine,
    Thanks for giving me hope. It is almost two years for me and yes it still hurts, but the heaviness is lifting and the days are brighter.

    Take good care.

    Maria O.

    1. Oh, Maria ... I'm so glad that you wrote and shared with the rest of us how much better your days have become, even as the grief still hurts.
      I expect it to hurt, to some degree, for the rest of my life. That's how long he was supposed to be here, or so I thought.
      Keep hoping and keep breathing ...... one step at a time.

  4. Janine, such a very special and inspirational post! You have given me "hope" every Wednesday for the last 3 years. I am so blessed to have a great friend who is also a widow and we constantly remind ourselves that as much as we miss our old lives, we can't go back. Thus, we have two choices either to embrace this new life or to dispise it and be totally miserable. Most days we pick the former but I must admit, and sadly after 3 years, that some days I can't help but dispise this new life.

    Hope is important and just knowing that others "get" it makes everything else possible. Thanks Janine! YOu are the best!

  5. I am so grateful for this blog.

  6. It's funny - it's been six years now and I've been married for the past 2.5. I woke up one morning looking at my new husband and said, "I can't believe this is my life" and that wasn't a good thing. In February I left...I could analyze all day long why it wasn't a good thing, but the fact of the matter is, I was...not...happy. I thought I was, but I wasn't. My own daughter who at the time was ten said that I don't smile anymore or laugh. Funny, but she was right. And so here I am again thinking, "I can't believe this is my life." I'm just gonna be a mom for awhile and go to camp tomorrow and concentrate on ME for once, no one else, just ME. Thanks for this post, Janine, I needed it.

  7. Thanks, Janine. So "get it" and needed to read this today- how did you know?

  8. Perfect for me to come across this today - would've been our 19th wedding anniversary had he not exited to heaven 3 years ago next month. Missed him several times today - little flits of him in my thoughts, not the knee wobbling kind. More like background noise rather than full-on focus.
    Yeah, I 'get it' but sure wish sometimes that I didn't. Certainly recognize that I definitely did not get it before then. And now at almost 3 years out, the waves that come aren't always the Tidal variety any longer; just mostly the 'regular' sized, when they come. Looking forward to when they'll be just mostly ripples in the pond of my life... getting there. Today, thank you for the reminder and the reassurance that I'm okay in this journey, that there are others who 'get it'. Wish you all didn't; grateful you do.

  9. At just 3 months, it helps tremendously to hear from those much further along. this open raw wound that is my grief will in time allow me to think of him without that knife in the heart. thanks for letting us know it does get better

  10. August 31 will be a year for me and I'm dwindling down to being a wreck. I woke up one day and realized that if anyone had told me my story a year ago I would have felt so bad for that person. But that person is me! Widowed at 30 with 3 kids and mostly, that just makes me angry. Angry because I want no one's pity, angry because I never planned this life, angry that he isn't here and yet a year has gone by because though my world ended, the world didn't.