“It gets better.”

Let me begin this post with an honest disclaimer: I never thought I would ever say those words.

How does the death of a spouse ever get better?

I never would have believed it either. I never would have thought there was anything past the darkness, the gloom, the depression, the sadness, the hole in my heart that never seemed to fill, the pain in my chest that never seemed to subside. I never thought it would lessen. I never thought I would wake up one morning feeling okay. I never thought I would be okay ever again.

Your spouse- the person you thought you would spend a lifetime with- dies. How do you come back from that? How do you get over that?

Well, it’s simple: You don’t get over it.

You’re never going to miss him less. You’re never going to love him less. You’re never going to get over his death.

However, one day, you’re going to notice that the pain hurts just a little less. You’re going to realize that you made it this far, and that it’s amazing because you didn’t even think you would make it here. You’re going to realize that even though life isn’t at all how you pictured it, that it’s okay. It is life. One day, you’re going to realize that you are okay, at least most of the time. You’re going to wake up without tears in your eyes or the face of a dead man in your mind. You’re going to look forward to the next day, instead of dreading that you must live another day without him. You’re going to smile without also wanting to cry. And believe it now or not, you’re going to begin to dream again.

It gets better.

For me, it was almost a year ago, when one day I decided that I was tired of not wanting to live. I was so tired. I simply made a choice. I wanted life to get better. I needed life to get better.

I’d like to say that on that day, life miraculously became easy and fun and full of sunshine and happiness. I would love to tell you the pain goes away, and you do get over it. However, if I said that, I would be lying. I have spent the last eleven months working my butt off. I have struggled and cried and yelled and made mistakes and spent days curled up on the couch in my pajamas. Some days I relived the night my husband died, and other days it felt like it was a lifetime ago. Back and forth, up and down. The rollercoaster of grief is a crazy ride.

I didn’t truly notice the change until one day a few weeks ago, I woke up and I felt it. I felt okay. And I assure you that nothing in life was “okay!” My husband was still dead. I was still a single parent. I still had no life plan. My son was still sad going to bed most nights. I was still trying to make new friends and rekindle old friendships. I was still trying to figure out where I fit in. I gained back all the weight I had lost over the summer. My cat was still peeing on all the white towels. Life was hectic and lonely and awkward and not at all how I imagined it.

Yet, one day, I felt it. I felt the peace I had been working so hard for. I felt the comfort I had been longing for. I felt okay. I felt like I could do this life. No- I knew that I could do this life. There will always be ups and downs. There will always be the grief. But in the process of healing, I’m learning to handle the ups and downs much better than I was able to before. I’m learning that there are a lot of things I cannot change, but I can change my perspective and the way I live. I’m learning that it is okay to be okay, and it is also okay to not be okay.

And it took a hell of a lot of Hell to get here. But it all began with a simple choice. A choice to change. A choice to heal. A choice to put in the work and time. A choice to live again.

It does get better.

Just hang on tight.