What I have learned

I learned that love actually doesn’t conquer all the way I believed. I thought my love could save my husband from his bipolar disorder. It feels foolish when I actually type it out, but whatever, it’s what I believed.

I learned that trusting my instincts and listening to my inner voice doesn’t lead to happily ever after. I wouldn’t do it differently – there’s a satisfaction and a peace that comes with making life choices that way, and that doesn’t go away. I just know now that doing so means I’m on path to learn lessons, not to achieve some culmination of happiness or an ideal. I guess life doesn’t work that way.

I’ve learned that I still held onto very childish, overly simplistic ideals of life. I’m still an optimist. I still believe we have incredible power over our destinies. I just no longer believe it plays out exactly the way we want or hope.


I’m alive

Husband’s funeral is over. I survived it. Waking up the next day was a good feeling. He might be dead, but I’m ALIVE. My daughter and I, we’re going to try moving onward (somehow). 

I gained another pound this week. (I’ve lost 25 pounds in the last year, but I fear I’m gaining it all back.) I’m going to try to slow/stop the backpedaling. Today, I went back to tracking my food. I’m drinking water. I did some reps on the resistance bands. Just one day at a time of self care, so my little daughter can see how it’s done. 

I have intense, incredible, immutable sadness, but I can’t just throw away my own life because I feel sad. 

Grief makes me feel ugly

An unusual thing I’ve experienced is that my self esteem has taken a serious hit after my husband took his life. I didn’t expect this. I don’t even know what it stems from, or why I would even feel this way. 

But in her book, Second Firsts, Christina Rasmussen describes this exact concept. 

The voice of grief is rather convincing, isn’t it? It tells you you’re “too old,” “not good enough,” or “not worthy enough” for another chance at life, that starting over is impossible. This voice in your head is the first thing you hear in the morning and the last thing you hear at night. It drives with you to work. It stays with you at lunch. Its message is so consistent that, because of its repetitive power, you may be inclined to believe it. But, as persuasive as the voice of grief is, everything it says is a lie. It’s all a pack of lies. Do you want the truth? If you do, then start listening to life calling to you inside your grief. How? Every time you are yearning to be held and loved, to laugh again, listen to your yearning. Do not listen to your fear . . . Listen to life calling you: “I am here, come on over. Take a chance on me. I am your life, and you’re all that I’ve got.”

I’ve felt inadequate in the most simple and the most fantastic ways since my husband died. When you lose a spouse, someone you met in what felt like the prime of your life, someone who basically agreed to love you whatever happens, and then that person dies – kills themselves, no less, you sort of feel like the gum on the bottom of someone’s boot. Not good. 

The prime of my life feels a long time ago, and I had settled into love, comfort, reliability, consistency, and being intimately familiar with known demons. 

All the demons are suddenly unknown, and I feel woefully unequipped to wield the sword in the dark against the invisible.

Rasmussen claims to have gotten out of this inadequacy. I hope to, as well. 

My husband’s sentimentality

My husband was a pack rat. A very neat hoarder. Everything was always in its proper place, stacked and organized well. But he had boxes upon boxes of random cards and notes and books that he never cracked open after the first time he received or used them. 

I threw everything out. The only things I kept were the love notes he wrote to me randomly, in his own handwriting, which he tucked into my purse or backpack or book to find later. 

Besides those love notes, if something was especially nice, I kept it, but usually not. I took the lovely sentiments and kept them with me, but not the physical items themselves. 

But now, with him gone, I realize I would have only ever received 6 wedding anniversary cards from him. Do I have them all, those precious few? What about my birthday cards? I’d only have 13 or 14 from him. A teeny stack! Do I have them all? 

Maybe, maybe not. I don’t have the energy to turn the house upside down looking for them. But I go through his things, and I see his many stacks of orderly cards from friends and family going back many years, and I’m struck by his sentimentality. It’s a sentimentality I don’t have. Instead, I carry some regret. Not a great trade-off.

I hope there’s no afterlife

My husband had considered suicide a few times over the last 25 years. What always stopped him was thinking, “What if it’s exactly the same after you die?” Might as well stay here and soldier through it. 

I don’t believe in any afterlife at all. No heaven, no hell. I believe our energy is just released back into the universe, essential particles doing something different than they did when they made up us. That the spiritual sides of ourselves follow the equivalent of the physical sides of ourselves after death. This gives me great comfort to believe it’s just a natural cycle for what we know to be our souls. 

But everyone around me is talking about getting signs from beyond and feeling his presence and his soul doing this or doing that. It’s actually somewhat upsetting to me. Because my #1 concern is that if it’s true that our souls are intact after death, he’s struggling and in pain and alone. 

I haven’t felt his presence. I’m glad for that. I really do hope everyone’s “signs” are just coincidences and that my husband just doesn’t exist anymore and that the pain truly is over.

Where are his friends? 

My husband’s friends have been largely MIA since he died exactly a month ago today. No calls, texts, emails, visits beyond the first few days. I feel totally abandoned by them. Am I wrong to expect to hear from them? 

And now friends are not making it to the service. His two closest friends who were in our wedding will be there, but I’m shocked that others have given me all sorts of reasons why they can’t. The only thing I can think of is that guilt is keeping them away. 

But I’m so terribly upset and disappointed. I feel so sad for my husband. He ended his life, and now things are playing out this way after his death? My heart is breaking. 

My 4 year old lost her dad but it seems now she’s lost all her “uncles” and I’m scared and concerned that many of the men in her life just vanished.