It’s been a while since I checked in about my grief and my life as a widow.
I thought it would be helpful for me to look back at where I’ve been and where I am today and give everyone out there a reality check of what I’ve discovered so far.
The Stages of Grief can fuck off. I’ve said it so many times, and it appalls me that so many still don’t know this, but those STAGES? Those are for the ones who are DYING, my friends. When people know they are dying, they go through these pretty predictable phases – and pretty much everything they feel will naturally fall into one of the stages’ definitions. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told “you’re going through the (fill in the blank) stage”. Um, no. I’m not going through your neatly defined stages. I miss my dead husband. I’m angry. Tomorrow I’ll be sad. Tomorrow night I may be sentimental or filled with happy memories. The next day, I may actually forget about him for a while. And then I’ll get angry again. These stages are bullshit. You can experience a wide range of emotions on any given day, minute to minute. The difference now, is that I’m better at managing those waves. They come less often but equally as intense, and I know enough now to ride them out. Let myself feel whatever I’m feeling and ride it out. If this helps ONE person to understand that the stages of grief are NOT for the survivors, hallelujah.
Here’s another reality check. Everyone in the WORLD will tell you to take your time. Grief has no timeline. Everyone grieves differently. I’m here to tell you, they’re lying. They don’t mean it. They might mean it when they say it, but once your invisible non-existent timeline expires, they’ll drop like flies if you keep talking about it. Now of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone. But I will tell you this. My best friend for many years is no longer in my life. My sister is no longer in my life. And my closest friends now are the ones who were either background characters in my life before, or people who I didn’t know until after Michael died.
As more time passes since my loss, I’ve been surprised at the love I’ve received, and the love I didn’t. I choose to focus on the love I did receive, and I’m more able to leave toxic people and incidents in my past where they belong.
Something else is new. I’m in a brand-new relationship. More on that in a future blog, but I wanted to talk about this purely from a widow perspective. I have read so many articles, blogs, and books about this and apparently it’s REALLY common to feel guilty – especially in your first relationship after loss. I’m finding quite the opposite is true. I feel incredibly supported by Michael and in fact, I believe Michael may have led me to this relationship. It feels real and right and true. I have zero guilt. Yes, I know he wants me to be happy but beyond that, I deserve to have happiness and love in my life.
My boyfriend Scott is very understanding and supportive of my “relationship” with Michael. We talk about him openly. I share memories and experiences. He’s handling it like a champ.
I never thought I wanted or would be in a relationship again. But like most things, that changed over time and I realized that what I was missing was love. It’s not necessarily about “needing a man” or “needing” anyone really. I have proven to myself that I can do this alone. But it sure is more joyous when love is in your life. The cheesy truth I have learned through ALL of this has been that time is short. Love and forgive and play and don’t take yourself too seriously. Let go of toxic forces and stop doing things that suck joy and time away from your life. You don’t need everything you think you do. And ultimately when your person shows up in your life, you don’t wait. You jump.
And if you’re in the depth of grief right now, please know you won’t stay there. It’s something that every member of this Club Nobody Wants to Join learns. We walk with loss every day. We can let it define us, or we can let it inspire us to live full lives – whatever that means. And for the moment, I’m using the painful lessons I’ve learned to allow me to truly experience today. And today, I’m happy. ❤