Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Feeling Adrift ......

...... like someone alone in a canoe ...... with no oar, no compass.

I feel as though I'm living in some kind of in-between layer of life.  It feels like I don't belong anywhere anymore ...... like a tree that's been cut away from its roots.
No place feels like "home" right now, or whatever "home" used to feel like.

My house in Texas is on the market and most of the time I feel like that's the right decision.  But then the shadow of doubt creeps in and starts to cloud my mind and I don't know what's right for me.

I love NY, but I wonder if I'll be too lonely in the long run.  I know that sounds crazy to most people ...... how can you feel lonely in a place where almost 8 million other people live?
I also know that I don't have to explain that feeling here.  You get that.  You have most likely felt the same dark loneliness in a room full of people.
I used to feel that way often in the first year or two of grieving.  I thought that it had passed.
I was wrong.

I seem to feel lonely no matter where I am.  Not all of the time, but definitely more lately.  Home is no longer "home", but then ...... neither is anywhere else.
I miss my roots.

I have no doubt that I'd be feeling something quite like this if Jim were alive.  After all, our youngest child left for college 2 months ago.  I know that this is partly "empty nest syndrome".
But I also know that this "rootless" feeling is another result of his death.
In a world full of couples, of shifted relationships, of empty bedrooms ...... the person I most belonged with is missing.  The one relationship here on earth that I knew was as solid as stone no longer grounds me ...... no longer helps me feel that I belong.

Experience tells me that this feeling will most likely pass.
It also tells me that it may take some time.
It does not, however, tell me what I should decide.
Or where I should put down new roots.

That's where hope comes in.
I hope that this loneliness will fade soon and that I'll be able to decide what my next step should be.

And I hope that I will once again feel a sense of belonging.
Wherever my canoe lands.


  1. oh janine. you always manage to hit the nail on the head. thank you so much for sharing this, and for knowing how this feels.

  2. That conundrum 'where do I belong?' is at the core of my confusion, even eight years out. I make every effort to recognize I have a home within my heart, and within the heart of God. I tell myself 'I'm in the right place at the right time', and anticipate this faith will lead me to a level of comfort in my own skin. The ground sure did shift beneath our feet, in cataclysmic ways, at widowhood's birth. Though I'm well past the disorientation of early widowhood, I'm still inept at building round me a base that supports me in the his presence did. True, I count on my family and friends' support system but I have my own path and destiny beyond theirs.

    So, eight years in, I have settled for having a sense of equilibrium from moving forward, welcoming my circumstances as a gift. However, I thought that by now I'd have established a new life that would wrap me in the same kind of love and comfort I found in marriage. Who'd have thought it would be this challenging?

    I wish I had answers. I don't. I just have faith that forward motion will result in acceptance and gratitude for what I have in my life.

    Hang in there. Take heart. Courage.

    1. I am 8 years out also, still love to read this blog! If someone would have told me I would still need and want all of the validating words of these women, after 8 years, I would have not believed them. Yet, here I am. Recently, I too have been trying to see my present life as a "gift." After all, I answer to no one, I am my own boss, I can do as I please, etc. Yet, wow, I still wish I was more satisfied with my life. But, hope springs eternal, and there is always tomorrow. And the next day, and the next. You are right in that forward motion is the key.

  3. I got up and felt lost so I turned to widows village and then here. Still feeling untethered, but less alone. I never feel peaceful about the big choices I have to make alone. I too hope for the moments I am less lost, maybe they will ease the fear.

  4. Janine your posts always resonate with me!
    Sitting with a group of close friends at dinner I had an urge to get up and walk away. I couldn't get over the "I don't belong here" feeling and when I sat with it I realized it was two things - I am lonely and I am lonely for a person I can never have back with me - my husband. I also realized that as much as I keep trying to make my new life fit me, it never quite does fit.
    There are things I am content with, I travel and have friends to dinner etc. But . . . these things I do for pleasure I was supposed to be doing with him. So - even though I love them, they don't feel completely mine. I am afraid of becoming bitter. I am afraid of losing the ability to make new friends - I am the shyer one he was the gregarious one and loved by many. I want to make new friends and I have no idea how to do that.
    So at three years - I hear you. . .
    I keep telling myself - make your own life. I know I have to stop saying to myself "if only . . . . " and "I wish he was . . . " It doesn't help me. He's gone.
    I have to find my way but thankfully - there are people like you, we help each other navigate the unknown waters.
    Thanks Janine.
    As always.

  5. Janine, I was born and raised in Texas and know that Texas will always feel like home. I know the kindness of Texans and the stability of the state. I no longer live there, but miss it. I, too, feel lonely everywhere I go. That feeling lives inside us now. The other half of me died 27 months ago and I know that piece of me won't be whole until my husband and I are together again. I've spent months making our home into my nest where I feel somewhat safe. Our friends have disappeared as has the busy life we lived for 16 years. I've slowly come to the realization that this hellish existence is part of me now no matter how hard I wish it to not be so and no matter where I am. We take ourselves, our memories, our pain, and our longing for our husbands wherever we go.

  6. I feel that same loneliness, no matter who or how many people are around. I know you all get it. Thinking about moving on from my house too, only I have no inkling of where next to I'm stalling until I figure it out. No one seems to understand that, the question is always "why are you still in that big house?" I'm here because it's still my "home", when it becomes just a house I know it's time to go. Just saw the hobbit hole in Oregon in the news, kinda extreme but kinda how I feel these days. Whatever you decide, Janine, just remember you can always change your mind again. That's kinda how I'm looking at it, no matter where I decide to go, it isn't a done deal until I'm satisfied with it.
    Here's hoping your canoe finds a suitable landing.

  7. Dearest Janine, I, too, hope that the lonliness will fade and I will experience a sense of belonging. Even after 3.5 years, especially with couples, I feel exposed and vulnerable and just plain odd. Something is just not right and it is obviously the absence of the person I spent 31 years with. Life can get pretty darn lonely even with plenty of people around.

    I am working toward downsizing my house in preparation for a sale, but where should I go? Two children live in two different states and I still need to work so the decision is very complicated, overwhelming and exhausting. One day at a time is my current pace......

    Thank you, Janine!

  8. Thank you Janine for sharing your journey with us.

    I sold my/our home of 18 years this summer and just moved into my new place last month. (After 3 1/2 years I was finally
    (mostly) OK with downsizing.)

    It was such a huge ordeal, getting the house ready for sale, and then listing & selling it, and then packing & moving. I didn’t have an opportunity to actually grieve yet another loss – that of losing our home – as it was happening.
    Now that the dust has settled, and I have time to breathe as I unpack my/our belongings, the grieving sometimes feels overwhelming again.

    But as you said, “Experience tells me that this feeling will most likely pass.”
    And this is what helps me keep it together.
    Recognizing that this is not how I always feel, or how I will always feel, helps me to just accept the grief.
    And let the wave wash over me. I try to just recognize it as grief. And recognize that it will pass.
    This helps me get through and not panic that I’ve made a mistake.

    I hope your canoe lands soon.

  9. I know this feeling all too well. I have had to move 2x since Don died just over 2 years ago, and I still dont ever quite feel "home", because nothing is home when what felt like home is dead.

    I know you will figure it out though, and you will follow your own intuition and heart. By the way, Manhattan is an island, so its a great place to land that canoe of yours. Just sayin.

  10. "Looking for a place to belong" has been my desire the past few months and I have been unsuccessful at it so far. I don't seem to "fit" anywhere; people try and make me feel welcome, but it's not something someone else can "do" for me, it just has to happen. I feel very incomplete without my husband. Not that we did everything together, but I always knew the other part of me (HIM!) was waiting for me when I got home. Now that is obviously not the case. Hard.

  11. I have been surrounded with people all day, people who love me and hug me and want the best for me. I am not lonely.
    But I am so, so deeply and profoundly loneSOME for my good
    husband--his hugs, holding his hand, laying my head on his chest at the just the right spot, hearing him say I love you, Jan.
    I have every blessing this life has, but I am lonesome, lonesome, lonesome for HIM. I miss him.

  12. thanks to Janine for her truly and simply eloquent expression of the foundation of my worries at 4 years. And thanks also to those others who have added the burdens of their hearts here, also eloquently and sincerely. That feeling of being so alone, in a room full of people with their own connections; of being home but somehow not feeling quite 'at home' there...wondering where I might make a new home for myself. Accepting that this IS the way it will be, forever separated from the future that might have been, while looking for the future that may be. Looking for a love given, and to return, in kind.

  13. After 41 years of marriage and three and a half years as a widow ,I am still trying to find my new "normal". I so appreciate hearing from those that are still not "okay" with their life after the death of their spouse. That is where I am still at. What I can't shake is that my family / friends (one spouse or another) will have to ultimately deal with this same incredible sadness.

  14. I too, lost the love of my life, suddenly, 5 months ago, after only 5 years together. An incredible man, it took me 52 years to find him, and in a blink, he was gone. Having left my country for his, I feel I don't belong anywhere. I have incredible children, his family, and friends who are a great support...but still feel bereft. I pray daily for strength, and peace

    1. PLEASE NOTE: We've moved our blog platform to our parent organization's (Soaring Spirits) website. You will find Widow's Voice here: