Friday, January 31, 2014

Grieving for Two

After two and a half years of feeling this soul-changing, earth-shattering loss, I just realized something sort of huge. Well, I always knew it,  but I just stopped and actually thought about it, and now I am able to put it into words. It is this: I grieve on behalf of my husband more than I grieve for my husband. 

I hope that makes sense. I miss Don more than anything. I miss him and our life together literally every time I take a breath or walk a step or speak a word. I miss him in the rhythms of everything that I am, and some nights and some days and some moments are still horribly painful and intensely emotional.. However, after two and a half years, I have finally, (sometimes) started to actually believe that I might be sort of, kind of "okay", and that a new brand of joy and life will happen for me again somewhere. It is already happening, at times, in very small pieces. As I continue to process and heal through the loss of the love of my life, I am beginning to feel things other than pain and despair and roads to nothing. I am beginning, slowly, to be able to see the colors inside my own world again - and to know that not only will I survive this, but that I will also create and build a new world for myself, while always proudly taking my husband and our forever love with me, blending him into my future. 

So there is that, and all of that is good. It is progress. A lot of hard-earned progress. 

But lately, and probably always, I have noticed a pattern within myself and the way I grieve. A large percentage of the intense pain that I feel, the really tough pain that I cannot seem to let go of, is pain that I am feeling on behalf of my husband. When I get really sad about the fact that I will most likely never be a mom and we will never have the family we wanted together, that sadness almost immediately turns into sadness for him. Suddenly, my heart aches and pounds with thoughts of: I am 42 and will never be a mom, but at least I get to LIVE. He will never be a dad, AND he doesn't get to be alive anymore either. His life was just taken from him, in a flash, in a few seconds, without warning. 

When I get scared about my own future and growing old or getting sick and being alone, that fear eventually turns into feeling pain on his behalf: Maybe I will be alone forever and grow old alone, but he will never get to retire or be a grandfather or even a father. He will never get to move back to Florida like he wanted to one day. He will never be the old curmudgeon he was so looking forward to being. 

I find that I spend a LOT of time feeling my loss on his behalf, almost as if I were him, and I'm somehow feeling it from the insides of his heart. Instead of thinking: "This is so unfair, why was he taken from me?", most times I am thinking: "This is so unfair, why was his life cut short? Why doesn't he get to live anymore?" I carry the grief for me and for him, and it feels extremely heavy. There is no sense of peace or logic when your partner dies so suddenly. No warning. No goodbye. No good morning. No goodnight. He was not sick. Not ever. He was in no pain. Not ever. Our lives were only beginning together. He was just here, and then, he wasn't. How can that ever make any sense? 

He was ripped off. Life ripped him off. He got screwed, and that is just how I feel, and I know that is how he feels too. I can just hear him saying with that dripping sarcasm of his: "Really? That's how it all ends for me, huh? I collapse on a Petsmart floor and just die? That fucking figures. What a rip-off. I want my money back!" He would be smiling and joking as he said this, but to me, it isn't funny. It isn't funny at all. It is endlessly unfair and cruel, and I am forever feeling the cruelness of it all, through his eyes. I travel into his soul, and I hurt for him. I sob for him. I ache on his behalf, and I don't know how to stop. These emotions make me feel crazy and manic and strange, but they keep forcing themselves inside me, and they play like a broken record, and I feel all of the hurt for him that he can't feel.

I can come to terms with having to live the rest of my life without him here on earth. 

Somehow. 

But how can I ever come to terms with the idea that he died at all? And how do I stop feeling pain for him? Where my sadness ends, his begins. 
And so it goes on ........ 

15 comments:

  1. Kelley - I can relate to this a lot. My (first) husband died suddenly almost 7 years ago. I am now very happily remarried and while I still have moments of grief, most of it is centered not on how much I miss him, but on how much of life he is missing. I have to believe that he is in a Heaven where he is able to enjoy the things he enjoyed in life (music, baseball, friends) and that helps.

    ReplyDelete
  2. wow- I can so relate to this - my partner died very suddenly and I have gone through all the emotions, etc. as have been identified...but a big thing for me is that he struggled with life and who he was for so long and had some failed relationships, etc. and strained family relationships (just sort of fell through the cracks in a large, single parent family). He struggled in what we had in feeling that he didn't deserve it. However, he had come to the point of acknowledging how deep my unconditional, total and complete love was for him...and that he loved me in the same way. He often told me he had never felt so safe, secure and loved as what he did with me (and after he passed, I found out from a friend that he had confided in her that he had never been so happy...). Then, all that was take from him (and me) - all the things we had planned to do and explore and enjoy together that he would never get to enjoy and embrace. I feel so sad that he was cheated out of life as it should have been and would have been for him. The only comfort I can take is that he did not die alone or unloved...even tho it was so hard for me (I had to authorize the life support disconnect), I was glad that I was able to be with him as he took his last breath and (hopefully) felt my presence and love (he was in a coma)....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Kelley Lynn -- I want to thank you for putting this feeling into words, and very eloquently, too. I feel the same thing. I will be 4 years out in April but I still sometimes have those feelings. When I see certain things that he would have excelled at or enjoyed (technology, travels, music, just spending time together), it makes me wonder still....WHY? Why did he have to suffer and die? He loved life so much. I waited so long to find him and then, he's gone? Why didn't the treatments work for him, when they did for others? Then I remember -- he fought really hard to stay with me, he wanted me to be happy, he wanted to provide for me. I think we will always have these thoughts and maybe they help us to allow our husbands to live on through our new accomplishments. I am happy to see how you are taking steps to live again, even with the dark thoughts that still enter our minds.

    Cathy

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kelley, I totally agree with you. There is SO much they're missing out on and it is SO NOT FAIR! We all got a bum deal and it breaks my heart. C had a very difficult childhood and life up to when we met and then we had 5 years of a lot of happiness and then it all went to shit when he got sick. He so deserved more than 8 years of us and he deserved so many more happy times and sad times and just time in general.
    I ache for all I've done and seen since he's been gone that he will never know and that we will never share - I figured out the other day that if all goes as planned, in the 2 years he's been gone I will have visited 26 states, 6 countries and 3 provinces - all places he would've loved to have gone to with me, and he likely would've been with me every step of the way. A locket with his hair just isn't the same.
    Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Kelley my heart breaks for you. I read your piece, and I understand it, but it took me a while to figure out why I don't have that kind of grief. Greg and I used to talk about one of us dying quite a bit. Greg being a motorcyclist and fairly extreme snowboarder (he was in the ICU for trauma no less than 3 times while we were married) I guess we just discussed it. And Greg always said he could die tomorrow with no regrets. That he had lived his life up until now just like he wanted. Not to say he had gotten to do everything he planned, but we were both happy with where we were in our lives. And so I don't have any regrets for him. I sure wish he was around for his niece and nephew's college years, and he could see his best friend's baby being born. But I know that Greg is OK. I don't think he is in "heaven" either. He just doesn't exist anymore, except in the hearts of everyone that knew him. But he's fine.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Kelley,
    That is exactly how I feel, and I felt that from day 1. We were both in our 30s, had lots of plans for future, and it all ended in a flash. I feel sad for myself but I feel worse for him. I know I can still do a lot of things in my life if I want to do them. The fact that he cannot makes me so so sad and angry. I even feel bad eating the things he loved, watching movies he liked, and everyday things like that. It feels really so unfair! Sometimes I wonder if the main purpose of his life was to show me how it feels to be in love so that I can do something meaningful with it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I feel the same way. My husband died suddenly just a month after his 30th birthday, this past August. I say that he was robbed of his life all the time! I think where ever he is, he's pissed.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My husband beat the odds so many times that when he did die from an injury after he survived his heart stopping it felt cruel. He fought so hard for so many years and he was happy despite the cards dealt him. So unfair, I spent months angry, very angy - you've put into words what I could not. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Here's my take. We were gypped out if the life we thought that we were going to have. No matter what I can still do, it will never be with the happiness and joy that it would have been because we are not doing it together. And there is nothing I can do about it

    ReplyDelete
  10. You did a perfect job of explaining how I feel most of the time. The sadness is almost overwhelming when I want to share something that he dearly loved. He cant enjoy it or experience it or share it with me anymore. I carry on day to day activities like he was still here. Nothings really changed except for he isnt here anymore. Then I panic when I realise that 9 months has passed without me seeing him, touching him, having him with me every day. It seemed like a cruel joke. He never got to see his grandbaby born 2 months after he died. He never got walk in his cap and gown for collage graduation just a week away. He never got to start the brand new job he was just hired for. Our 7 year old granddaughter still grieves so hard for him. Every weekend she is here is like ripping the scab off a sore wound.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm not religious, and I don't believe in an afterlife, so I can't find comfort in the idea that "he's in a better place", etc.. I don't think he can see me, because that would cause him pain, and I believe there is no pain for him after death. No more joy, but also no more pain of any kind. I am okay to be the one bearing the pain of losing him - instead of him bearing the pain of losing me. I don't know if that makes any sense to anyone else, but it does for me.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank You Kelley, once again for putting into words what I've been feeling lately. It's been over a year and half since my husband passed away suddenly from an undetected PE, leaving behind me and our two daughters, at the time they were only 19 & 15.

    We were very lucky in the fact that my husband traveled a lot for his job as a reporter and sometimes our daughters and I were able to go too on these trips. In the few months before he passed away in May 2012, we went on his business trip to Hawaii (that happened to be when our oldest daughter turned 19) and he took us to the beach during Spring Break 2012 (when our youngest daughter turned 15).

    But we were just planning on spending the summer at home with both our daughters out of school for the summer while I worked my part-time job and he worked at home. We were looking forward to driving around town in his black Jeep Wrangler, his 50th Birthday present, not realizing that he would have it for just two years.

    So as I take the steps to move forward, it's so hard knowing that he won't be here to see our daughter's graduations, internships, future careers, trips, weddings and their own children. Since it is going on almost two years, he has already been gone for major birthdays - 16 & 21.

    As I told a friend from work the other day who lost her father when she was 19, "It's not fair."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is absolutely, 100% not fair. xo ...

      Delete
  13. You hit two points that jumped out at me. First of all I still cannot wrap my brain around how you can be here one day and then just gone--gone where? Also, even though it is seven years since Dave's death and I am basically happy there is a sadness at times that I could not define. You did.I get sadness when I see our young grandchildren play. He would have loved that so much. Or when I go to a party with his friends and know the fun he is missing with his buds. Thanks so much. Hugs to you all. Sandy in San Diego

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Im glad I could help you to define that feeling of sadness, Sandy. I think it sits inside of us, giving us a new perspective on life.

      Delete