I am told how well I am doing and how strong I am. People commend me on the adventures I take and my drive to rebuild my life. The world looking in sees some one who is figuring it out. My kids are well adjusted (to their credit, not mine) and I’m focused on work and learning new things. I keep doing the next right thing, but this widow life is hard.
The reality is because I don’t want pity or to exhaust people with my “darkness” I am not always as authentic about my grief as I could be. It is not that I am ever “fake”; when I am with others I am distracted and happy; it is that I hurt less when I am task driven or socializing. Reality sets in at home or sneaks up on me when in the presence of other couples and intact families.
Being a widow is hard. Sometimes I get so tired of just how hard it is. Doing life while constantly having to push through and truly be intentional, about not giving in to the desire to let my sorrow overtake me, is very hard. Some days the amount of energy it takes just to be “okay” is the only energy I can muster up that day. This would be expected in the first year of death but for me it has been almost three years. I knew it would be like this – how does one ever be okay after losing someone so extremely vital and connected to me – however after three years of struggle I am exhausted. I desperately miss my best friend and I might have 60+ years to go!
Every challenge I now face alone. Small challenges like putting in an underground dog fence or trying to hang a very heavy mirror on my daughter’s wall to bigger challenges like leaking chimneys and broken hot water systems, are mine alone to face. I would give anything to have his opinion and insight into raising our kids and financial decisions. I should probably get my furnace ducts cleaned, my truck windshield needs replacing and both of my vehicles currently have recalls on the airbag systems. All of these things feel so difficult to do now for a variety of reasons. Finances to afford the everyday challenges and then the means of needing to ask someone to pick me up from the service shop. These things use to not be a big deal but, now on top of everything else, they can feel like mountains to climb – and I’m tired.
I miss having someone to share my memories with. The stories, milestones, laughter and tears that build a family are held only by me. I long to have that other half to remember, laugh and smile with as I remember. Not having that feels so very lonely too. Having him to gather with in the evenings and talk about our days is so dearly missed. I plan so many adventures but each one I spent wishing he was here with us.
I notice other couples and can’t help but feel so very jealous. It isn’t that I just want someone to do things with – it is that I want HIM to be here doing those same things with me. I often avoid social media because my heart can’t handle seeing so many people have what I couldn’t keep. I also struggle to see unhealthy marriages with an unhealthy person making poor choices – yet they never get cancer – sometimes it seems like only the best ones die young. I know that is not a fair assessment and completely ignorant of me to think one life is more valuable than the next – however in my human nature my husband’s life was the most valuable to me. It seems so wrong that someone so incredibly good for the world has been taken so soon while so many toxic people get to live. I would give anything for this to not be my story.
But it is my story and the only thing I can do about it is choose how I will respond. It would be easy to have a pity party every day. I deserve one after all – being a widow is damn hard! But that is not what God is calling me to do. I am tired, but will continue to fight to be okay.
I do not yet know what God has planned for my life now. I keep trying to fix my brokenness myself. I read A LOT of self-help books and books to further my career. I am always thinking and planning of ways to not hurt quite so much. I have learned that I fall exactly into my enneagram personality type by always having some sort of adventure on the calendar that I can look forward to. COVID has forced me to slow down, however, I still struggle to really stop planning how to be okay again. This week I heard God telling me yet again to just stop. I can stop planning how to fix my brokenness, stop worrying about whether I am okay or not, stop diving into ways to change and grow and just be. Be me. Whatever me that is. God has the plan, I certainly do not. I don’t need to fix myself or be better. Wherever I am at is exactly where I should be. Each of our grief journeys are so unique that they all look different. My journey three years later is still full of pain, tears and loneliness but it is also full of new great memories and a lot of success.
I am going to do my best to give myself grace for the times and days I really can’t muster the energy to be okay. To accept the days that melt downs need to happen and acknowledge it is still okay to be crying almost every day despite it being three years. It will take however long it takes. I will remind myself that the tears don’t last as long as they use to and even if I take a step back for every two steps forward that is okay. Some days I may just take 3 steps back and that is okay too. I am strong and I am surviving even though this widow life is hard.