Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Winnie the Pooh on Grieving

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”

-Winnie the Pooh

Always be with me….. I really hope so. But I know her and her curious, wandering ways and know that it’s much more likely that she’s off exploring the wonders of wherever she may be. Sure, I’ll bet she checks back occasionally but she’s busy, busy, busy learning, reorganizing, teaching, and talking. I don’t take any offense to that. Heck, no, that’s part of her special sauce and part of why I fell in love. She was so… alive.

Time has smudged up my memory of her and I’m sad for reasons that you can understand but others can’t. But rather than be sad or deep or whatever is my proclivity, I have a list of questions that have been on my mind lately:

- Is she really with me always, hanging around, watching what I do? Or is she off doing her own thing and I really am alone?
- Do our puppies remember her? If they do, do they miss her? Do they recognize her smell on anything and wonder, “Hey, where’d Mom go?”
- If she’s with me, can she hear my thoughts or do I have to talk out loud for her to hear me?
- Can she change things or make things happen? Does she?
- What would her life be right now if I was dead and she was me? Would she be dating? Would she have thrown my clothes away? What things of mine would she have kept? Would she be happy?
- If she’s seen all that I’ve done (because she’s been hanging around checking on me) is she upset with anything I’ve done or not done?
- Are my memories of her going to continue to fade until she’s just a reflection of the pictures that I have of her?
- If/when I find another love, will my mind confuse how it felt to hold her with how it feels to hold my new love? Will my hands remember what it was like to hold the back of her neck or the small of her back? Can I let go enough to ever be ok with that?
- What do I do with her shoes? Purses?
- Why don’t any of our friends mention her name?
- Why is it worth living if when you die no one talks about you anymore?

I miss her so much. It makes me even more sad that no one seems to miss her as much as I do. And the people that know how much I miss her act as though my continued pining for my sweet wife is a sad failure, like I’m not doing my part to move forward. Maybe I’m not.

What would Winnie say? Oh yeah:

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
-Winnie the Pooh


  1. Chris, How funny life is and how it seems our love ones seem to speak to us through each of ud that grieve. When I first started this journey, I found "Ypu are braver....than you think" while looking through the solutions catalogue and felt like my late husband was telling me that I could do this go with out him, he alweays commented on how I did not believe in my own abilities. I am been feeling unsure again and very alone of my ability and here this is again, but with the added words it means more than ever.Especially since today is my youngest daughter's birthday and she tells that that her father had said to her one day that he would always be there for her. It was like a message to both of us. We, all, both loved Winnie the Pooh! my husband was like your wife and lived life. The same questions and feelings you speach of have been in my head too. As for friends not mentioning her, speak of her yourself, I have and it helps people to know that speaking of her is the best gift of healing they could give you to know others feel the same and she is not forgotten!

  2. perfect for today, thank you.

  3. Chris,
    Thank you for your words. My husband passed away 1 year and 2 months ago. I was pregnant at the time and have that Winnie the Pooh quote above our son's crib. The words/questions you wrote could have been my own. I always find commonality with your words. Thank you.


  4. I have the same questions! There are SO many questions and so few answers.

    It hurts when our friends don't mention his name, even purposefully avoiding talking about him. I often wonder if they ever think about him anymore. It also makes me think how easily I will be forgotten, especially now that I have no spouse to share my life with anymore.

    To make it worse, I've never felt his presence anywhere since he died. I only hope that means he's content to be where he is and he's at peace.

  5. Great questions that I have asked myself many times. It's always good to know that others are wondering the same things, when those around us would look at us strangely if we voiced these questions out loud. I found this quote very soon after my husband died and I framed it for both of our sons, like a voice from their Dad cheering them on. May we all find moments of peace today. Thanks for your post.

  6. Thank you Chris! I , too, can relate to your thoughts in words. It's almost six years now since my husband passed away from an auto crash. How suddenly our lives can change and there's nothing we can do to prevent it. Somehow we just meander through and do the best that we can to "live." Thank you again for your heartfelt post!

  7. I am always amazed at how you are able to put exactly what I'm thinking in your blog. I know how you feel. Your wife's face says it all. I can read it in her eyes. I can read it in your blog what you had. Don't stop feeling it. It will never go away.
    -she is always with you
    -the puppies will remember for a while....not as long as us
    -she doesn't hear your thoughts....you have to speak to her
    -she can't change things but I'm sure she wishes she could
    -she isn't judging you
    -your memories stay alive as long as you let them
    -your next love will hold a different "job" in your life....they will have a different "application" to fill out.
    -People are uncomfortable and you can help them be comfortable by talking about her.
    -I don't know the answer to how she would be if the roles were reversed.
    -as far as shoes etc....I'll let you know when I figure it out...it's already been 2 years and my husbands are still in the mudroom.

  8. Chris, I am sorry you lost such a wonderful woman. I know this may sound really odd but I can help with some of your questions. As for if she is with you and watching what you do and do you have to talk out loud so she can hear. Yes, she is with you and watching. No, you can think thoughts to her and she will hear them. After my husband died, all I wanted was to talk with him. I found some people that can tune in and communicate with the dead. As true as I am sitting here, this happened! It was about the 2 year mark and I was so frustrated and angry that Ole died and left me here in Denmark to take care of everything. I would have hissy fits and scream at him that if he truly was here as so many people tell me he was, then the least he could do is take out the garbage. Around that time, I found a lady in the USA that could connect with Ole and she asked me what did I do with my garbage? I said nothing just take it to the curb and it gets picked up. She asked a couple more questions and I said no it is just as simple as that. She said she could not figure out why Ole was showing her the garbage and saying, "I would take the garbage out for you." That was such a random thing and there was NO WAY she could have known this. So he is here, watching me. A small comfort but it helps through the tough times.
    As for people not talking about her, they don't because they are not able to handle their own feelings. It is not that they have forgotten, but they are not able to deal with your pain and theirs too. I know it doesn't make it any easier but until they experience what you have, they will continue to shy around the subject of your wife. But don't let that stop you from talking about her. I love talking about Ole and always will. He was the half of me that made life fun to live. I miss that feeling.
    Lots of love to you Chris.

  9. My husband has been dead for three and a half years. I have forgotten what his voice sounds like...I have it on VHS tapes but can't bear to listen to it since it will only make me miss him more than I already do. Maybe someday.
    I have not forgotten what he was like and what our relationship was like. We were married for 20 years and together for 26. There are days when I would give anything to have him with me again, whole and without cancer. It amazes me how quickly everyone else has forgotten about the giant hole that was blasted into our lives when he died. The results of that death surface constantly in every milestone that passes.
    No one talks about him other than my sons who are 18 and 15, and then even less than they did several years ago. I can't help but feel that when I die I will be so quickly forgotten as he has been.
    As widowed people we are forced to conform to societal expectations that are often beyond our capabilities. I'm convinced we would all go made if we did not have each other. These days most of my energy goes into "putting on the game face". I am becoming as internal as my husband was keeping many of my feelings to myself.
    I understand how much you miss your wife. No matter how many years pass, you still miss them just as much...no matter what is going on, whether or not there is another relationship in the picture. That never changes.

  10. It's been 4 years, 2 months...and I still pine. Just goes to show you that love never dies. I have remarried, but the love I have for Greg will always be there. Love knows no boundaries and lives forever.

  11. Our dog was 2 when Dave died last year. After a few months I noticed that his smell was disappearing from the clothes in his closet. (Yes. I would open his closet from time to time and just smell.) Although I had discarded most of his toiletries, I had kept a can of his body spray. I decided to spray it into his closet one day. (Not the same, but better than nothing.)
    The dog was outside at the time. When I let him in later, he stared at me briefly, and then bounded through the house - looking for Dave. He finally stopped - at Dave's side of the bed. I felt so bad afterwards, but happy that he remembered Dave's smell.
    Dave loved flying and traveling. I'm sure he's exploring too! Stopping in occasionally - wishing we weren't so sad.

  12. "- What would her life be right now if I was dead and she was me? Would she be dating? Would she have thrown my clothes away? What things of mine would she have kept? Would she be happy?"

    I was thinking this exact same thing earlier today. I'm happy for the company, I guess.

    Someone asked me once what my husband would have said about a decision I was making. I had to think about what person we were talking about: pre-cancer Ken, post-treatment Ken whose view on life had changed, or the Ken who exists now in a place where I can't touch him? Who was I asking because that would have a dramatic impact on the answer. I've thought a great deal about the Ken who is with me today - and, yes, I do believe he is with me even if he is out wandering most of the time - and that being is not judgmental.

  13. My husband, Allen, and I had a huge network of biker friends from all over the country, that we rode with, and kept in constant touch by e-mail and newsgroups. It helps me so much when someone mentions his name in a post. I post pictures of him on FB, and talk about him often. The replies I get show me that people haven't forgotten. And, yes, it is very painful when you're with people, and no one says his name. Sometimes when I talk about him, people don't say anything. That just sucks.

  14. Thank you! Thank You! Thank you for this post! Now I don't feel like I am stuck and losing my mind. These questions are ones I ask myself everyday. What would my husband be doing on this sunny day? Would he sing to the radio? If I do (absentmindedly)is he watching and does he think my distracting hum means I don't miss him? Would he let the mail pile up in this mess surrounding me at the laptop? Would he have cooked for himself or end up eating grapes and takeout strawberry shakes like I am? Is he mad I am not taking better care of myself? If he can see me, is he right beside me? If I close my eyes and stay very still and don't move and I ask - will he put his arms around me again. Can he hear me?
    I always say goodnight and tell him I love him out loud. Just in case he needs his name to call him closer to where I am. And yes - if I had died and he was here what would he be doing? How would he be grieving? How would he have coped? I feel he would have worked and worked and kept himself busy - so I do what I think he would do and then people look at me and say things like "you are so strong< doing so well < you hardly cry< good for you!" and I think - I just want him to be proud of me and see that I am trying my best not to fuck up the life the two of us worked so hard to have. Because I can't have it with him, I carry on so the rest is not wasted.
    so thank you for helping me understand I am not the only one asking myself 20 questions every day.

  15. Few people understand how kind it feels and how dear it sounds when anyone speaks the name of your departed loved one, and how happy you are at the mention of and conversation of your loved one.

    They don’t understand that by not speaking of your loved one it seems to suggest your loved one never existed. They don’t know how painful that is and how it increases your feeling of loss and separation.

    Few people understand that although you may get teary eyed and even cry if they mention your loved one, that they don't need to fear they are causing you to feel more pain and sadness by talking of them; that in fact you feel more connected to humanity by their interest. They don’t understand that in spite of the agony of your loss that you may be functioning well and happy in many areas, otherwise.

    They don’t understand that you miss your loved one just as anyone would miss a loved one that had traveled afar and hadn’t been seen or heard from for a long time; and that the longer they’re gone the more you miss them. Just as anyone missing a loved one you enjoy sharing: looking at photos, reminiscing, and storytelling.

    They don’t understand that although you have other happiness’s, that who you are as a person is entwined historically forever with that person and that although you may not speak of them; the longer that person is gone, the more you miss the expressions on their face, the various nuance of their voice, their smell, their hugs, conversation, their companionship and sharing your thoughts of them with others.

  16. You are asking questions that people have been asking from the beginning of time. What happens after death? If only we knew. Some people have reported receiving signs or feeling loved ones around. Others have had nothing. I'm open to all possibilities because none of us really know. No one has ever come back to tell us. The picture of your wife shows a very beautiful woman and you have written of your love for one another. It is very sad that she was taken so young and your future was stopped in its' tracks. I admire your courage in sharing with others who have been widowed in our constant quest to alleviate the pain. I don't have advice for you, nor for myself; all I can say is that our soulmates live in our hearts and minds, and we gave our all in their last years. My belief is that we will reunite after my death, but that's my belief. I wish you the best. My husband suffered from colon cancer also, and I know how hard it is to watch. Thanks for sharing.

  17. I just reread your post and saw the question about why it is worth living if no one talks about you after you die. If I may share my opinion, it is for many reasons. There are millions of unsung heroes in this world, who go about the business of helping others, giving, doing what they can to leave this world a better place. They may not be famous or talked about, but they leave their mark, sometimes on many generations. Please know that life is not so hopeless that everyone does not have their chance to leave something of themselves behind, even if it goes unannounced.

  18. Chris- I cannot believe that you wrote about this. It is exactly what I think, feel and experience since my wonderful husband passed away almost 2 years ago. I, too, ask the same questions, feel the same disappointment in others whom I thought were close friends but who do not, cannot, mention him. On a brighter note, I went to a neighborhood party the other night (forced myself to go). My husband was the handyman of our block, had every tool anyone could ever need, could fix anything and loved doing it. One of my neighbors told me and everyone listening how he needed his shutter fixed, said out loud, "I'll get Michael" then stopped suddenly with the thought. He proclaimed to us all that he misses Michael so much- especially when he needs someone to fix something. We all laughed and IT FELT GREAT. I was so happy to hear a story about him and have everyone nod and laugh. It doesn't happen often but I will cherish that moment. I hope that you'll have "a moment" like that soon. I hope that everyone does.

  19. I have lost so many friends in my widowhood journey...the ones who never asked about my LH have quietly disappeared of my life. But, new friends who have inquired about him, whether they knew him or not while he was here on earth, certainly know him now, through me.

    Ironically, I just read a pooh book to my daughter tonight and explained how much her daddy loved Tigger when he was her age. Thanks again for the great post. God works in mysterious ways!

  20. Thank you for this post. It was exactly what I needed today.

  21. One of my favourite quotes, sent to me by another widow only a few months after Greg died....
    And I have almost that Exact Same List of Questions that I need answers to even though I know I'll never get them.
    and sometimes, on bad days, I have another question ... "why do I have to keep living without him?" Not sure I'll ever get the answer to that one either...

  22. I love this post -- I remember thinking the cats might be missing him and wondering "Where'd our Dave human go?" It's been nine years for me, it took me a long time to clean out closets and I finally donated the bins of clothes to make room in the garage a few months ago. I kept his Kona Coffee Hawaiian shirt though, and I still love the dreams where he comes to see me.

  23. I gave away all Keith's clothes right away--even his Hawaiian shirts I'd by him for his birthday ever year. I should have kept some of them, for me. I miss his smell as well. Got some Old Spice after shave and that works pretty well.

    the questions, I ask them too.
    the silence, yes it hurts. he was such a special fellow--why are they afraid of his memory?