The other day I was organizing all of my art supplies and miscellaneous stuff in the closet in the basement, and I ran into a bag that I have avoided looking inside for over two years now…A bag I hid in the back of the closet hoping to forget because I couldn’t muster up the ability to throw it away like I really wanted to do.
Inside this bag is everything the funeral home sent home with us the day after we buried Nate, including 10 dvd copies of his funeral. A similar thought went through my mind upon rediscovery of this bag as it did when I first received it…why on earth would anyone want even one dvd copy of their loved one’s funeral? I can just picture it now…”Hey guys, the popcorn is done. Ready to view the footage from one of the worst days of our lives?”
But finding this bag made me reflect upon my grief journey thus far. I feel like while some things are still difficult to process, for the most part, I have definitely taken some major strides over the past two years. When Nate first passed, I was barely able to look at a single picture of him without getting sick to my stomach and spiraling down that rollercoaster of heartache. Though time will never heal everything, it has gifted me with the ability to not only look at pictures and videos of Nate, but I can also do so now with more of a smile on my face rather than tears.
However, despite these major strides, there are some areas I still refuse to go when it comes to my grief. To this day I try to avoid any and all thoughts about the night Nate died and the week that followed. The memories of planning his funeral and then standing next to his casket for two days appear in my mind so vaguely…Almost like it was a dream. Was I really there? Did I really sit in a conference room with my husband’s family and pick out his coffin? Yep, that definitely happened.
Maybe it’s my mind’s way of putting up a defense mechanism to keep me moving forward…Or maybe I was just so sleep deprived and numb that my mind shut down completely during that week…No matter what the reason, the only firm memory I have of that week is sitting in my dad’s recliner in the living room and just crying and crying for days as people came in and out of the house. I don’t remember many faces or words that were exchanged, I simply existed that week, and I think that’s why I have such a hard time allowing my mind to go back there. It’s too painful, and truly does nothing to help me focus on moving forward. I now find comfort in Nates life…Why would I want to spend more time on his death?
Funerals, man. They suck. And my husband’s funeral was the suckiest one I’ve ever been to.
Nope, still not popping that dvd into the player anytime soon.
Another area I haven’t quite mustered up the ability to go, is the spare basement of my parents house where all of Nate’s clothes are packed away in boxes and bags. Nate was always the more practical one out of the two of us, and he was constantly telling me that I had too much clothes and should start donating anything I wasn’t wearing. So I know realistically, he has probably been rolling his eyes at the fact that I have kept all of his belongings safely boxed up for the past two years instead of donating them to someone who could use them. It’s not that I’m trying to keep Nate alive by holding onto them…I realize he is gone. It’s just for some reason I can’t get up the courage to open those boxes.
I think I’m almost scared it’s going to put a dent in all of the progress I’ve made…which then makes me worry, is it really progress if I still can’t even open his belongings? It’s just in my mind, even though he isn’t here, they are still his. By getting rid of them, I feel like I will be parting with the final piece of him. And it kind of feels like a betrayal, which I know sounds ridiculous…Even writing it feels ridiculous especially since like I said, Nate was always the practical one.
My ultimate goal is to not only be able to go through the boxes eventually but give Ian and Nate’s parents and siblings the choice of keeping anything they may want first and foremost. After doing that, I hope I will be ready to donate the rest.
For me, just like our life together, Nate’s death has unfolded in chapters…And while I have been busy writing new chapters in a new book, there are some I still go back to…and I suppose his belongings are still apart of one I’m not quite ready to fully turn the page on. I have to keep reminding myself that there is no correct way to grieve and no set order of ways to do things after a loved one passes…We have to do things in our own time. Just like time has given me the ability to open myself up to different opportunities and experiences…to find healing in many ways, I have to believe that time will eventually help me to develop the courage to go through those boxes.
Until then, I will keep them safely packed away in the basement in a completely unpractical manner.
Give me some more time, Nate. I’m a work in progress.