grief

I’m excited about life

Posted on August 12, 2017. Filed under: grief, Health, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , |

I have so much to do and accomplish. I’ve done an incredible amount of work this summer on myself, and I think it has been valuable, productive work.

But I felt guilty. Did my husband have to die for me to realize all this potential? Am I using his death to serve me? Is that wrong?

I realized that he taught me incredible lessons about life that I can take forward. He may have completed suicide, but really, that was a single moment in time and doesn’t erase an entire era of living according to his values that I can keep close as I grab ahold of everything that is new again.

These values include:

  • Preserving working class values and addressing income inequality
  • Volunteerism
  • Commitment to education and ongoing learning
  • Questioning authority, finding independent validation
  • Appreciating and protecting nature
  • Doing the right thing, even if it was against rules or guidelines
  • Seeking help when you need it
  • Travel, exploration
  • Voting, active participation in the political process, local organization and engagement
  • Being neighborly, helping each other out
  • Creating and maintaining distance from toxic relationships
  • Honesty
  • Financial planning and financial responsibility
  • Following through, keeping your word
  • Investing in relationships, putting in the time and work necessary
  • Health and fitness
  • Animal rights, loving and valuing and respecting them
  • Sustainability in everyday practice/ life

Despite his death, he lived his values every day. Those who knew him know this is true. I don’t need to feel guilty about moving on and loving my life, if I keep the values close.

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My daughter’s process

Posted on July 28, 2017. Filed under: Family, grief, Parenting | Tags: |

My charming, delightful 4 year old is processing her father’s death in very normal and healthy ways. I think.

Mama, will we get a new Dada? Can’t you just buy one?

No, honey. That’s illegal.

But who’s going to shave and make popcorn?

I can do those things, kiddo! But yeah, Dada was the BEST shaver and popcorn maker ever, huh?

I follow you around the house because I don’t want you to die and suddenly I’m in a house of ghosts.

Ghosts can be cool, so if you see one, let me know because I’d like to meet it. But you can certainly follow me around anytime. You’re my mini-me!

I’m sad because Dada’s spirit hasn’t visited me yet, like Moana’s grandma visited her.

Sometimes their visits are just a feeling. Does anything remind you of Dada? Guess what – he’s there when you think of him. It’s MAGIC!

Mama I’m afraid of the dark because of ghosts and monsters. But I can defeat the monsters. Will you take care of any ghosts?

I’ve got your back, kiddo.

Kids are so cool.

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Conditional support

Posted on July 21, 2017. Filed under: Family, grief, Parenting | Tags: , , , |

One thing I’m learning in the aftermath of my husband’s death and navigating this new life of single motherhood is that friends’ and family members’ grand declarations of, “I’m there for you,” is TOTALLY conditional.

I’m there for you…

  • If I don’t already have plans
  • As long as it’s the same way I’ve already been there for you in the past (this is a big one, it turns out)
  • If you pay me to babysit
  • When I suggest/ offer the interaction in question, like dinner out at a restaurant or something starting at 7pm (but I decline when you make the suggestion, like an hour at the park in the afternoon or just hanging out in our backyard)

Each and every one of these conditions has come up for me. It is beyond painful because it expands the feeling of aloneness that I already have because my husband/ partner/ lover/ roommate is dead.

It is embarrassing, too. It takes a lot of courage to reach out for help. I have no problem doing it, since you never know unless you ask, and especially after my husband’s death, I needed a lot of help, and I asked all over the damn place. It still doesn’t mean that asking is easy. So when I go to the people who most emphatically told me that they’re here for us, it’s because I really need it. I’m not going to abuse your offer. I’m not asking in the same way your other friend down the street might ask you to check on their cat while you’re on vacation.

Actually, that might be a good reference point. If you would decline someone who asked you to watch their pet, don’t tell me you’re there for me and my kid, whatever I might need. (And especially don’t add at the end, “And I really mean it!”) I would have been 100% fine with, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Leave it at that.

And whatever, I get it. This is really on me. I misinterpreted the offers of support to mean that these people are willing to have their lives disrupted, when that is absolutely NOT the case at all. My bad. The healthy way to look at this is (1) they are perfectly within their rights to do whatever they want, they do not actually have any obligation to me or my daughter, and (2) disappointment and hurt is what I feel, but I can choose to have different thoughts and feelings about these rejections.

BUT. In case it would ever help anyone reconsider what they tell someone after a tragedy, or how they respond to a single mom who just asked you for something, then this post. I’m going to have to work on the other stuff about resetting my expectations and managing my other emotions on my own.

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Moving on

Posted on July 15, 2017. Filed under: Family, grief | Tags: , , , , , , , |

This has been a summer of self-discovery, healing, learning, family and friends, and – let’s be honest! – lots and lots of therapy.

And you know what? It has been FANTASTIC! What a fun summer, full of love and making memories. We’ve traveled, we’ve experienced new milestones, we’ve hosted lots and lots of people from out of town at different times, the list goes on. My daughter is thriving, learning about death and spirit, lasting love, and facing fears. I’ve certainly had my incredibly sad moments after my husband’s death, but I cry my cries, and I wake up the next day and live. He’s dead, but I’m alive!

Now, I’m preparing to go back to work. I met with my bosses, CEO and CFO, in order to plan out my priorities and re-entry to the office and our clients. And that night, I cried from 8pm to midnight.

Full. Stop.

What happened there? Turns out that going back to work triggered an emotional windfall about my husband’s death that I hadn’t experienced in 4 months, and that is the concept of moving on. I thought I was moving on all along. I’m ALIVE, remember?

Nope. Moving on is *actually* going back to regular life, a normal routine, basically the opposite of this summer. And that routine will be without the one person I’ve had a routine with for 14 years. Everyone will go back to their lives, and so will we. So I cried for 5 hours.

In my despair, I reached out to him, and you know what? He sent me a lot of soft green bursts with smatterings of pale pink. And as long as my eyes were closed, I could experience the color. I hung onto it as long as a I needed it, standing there alone in my kitchen at midnight, for I knew what those colors signified. And soon, I was able to breathe through the emotion. I am grateful he would expend the energy for a little something to comfort me. It was enough.

And now I must do the hard work of determining what I want this Fall to be like, how I should define our routine as a family of two instead of three. Others who didn’t have the luxury of taking a few months off of work might be forced into dealing with this issue after a loved one has passed sooner that I had to. But it doesn’t matter. I just need to do it now.

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What I have learned

Posted on April 26, 2017. Filed under: grief, Marriage, Suicide | Tags: , |

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.

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