Finding a good middle ground for grief is kind of like playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Just when you think you know where to go, life blindfolds you and spins you around really fast. Like our sense of balance and understanding, widowhood really changes. It has proven to bring challenges that evolve as the months go by.
In the early months of grief, I was most consumed by depression, anxiety, and total lack of interest in anything this “new” life had in store for me. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t take a deep breath, and I didn’t want to leave the house for more than about an hour at a time. I was trapped in my own sadness and loneliness that nobody could understand. I was broken, and I was a shell of a human.
As that year went on, the challenges changed from numbing sadness to anger with where I was in my life. This was my “scream and throw things” phase. If I’m being honest, I still find myself needing to release anger even now. I’m just not as in dire need of breaking wine bottles against a concrete wall (sidenote: I strongly encourage this activity for anyone going through an anger stage. Very liberating…10/10).
With 2020 came my wonderful Chapter 2, and as much as I found myself basking in the newfound joy, I was also faced with an entirely new set of challenges: guilt, balance, and fear. I had so much guilt for being even remotely happy. How on earth could I be happy if Luke was still dead? How could I celebrate love when my person would always be gone?
I struggled to find the balance between embracing the new love and life with him, while still honoring and commemorating my life with Luke. I wanted so badly to ensure that there were no hurt feelings on either side of the fence, and that just wasn’t a realistic goal. At the end of the day, someone is bound to feel that I have grieved incorrectly. Sometimes that someone is friends and family, but most of the time it’s me putting too much pressure on myself to please other people. Truthfully, I am still battling this balance daily. I think it might be something that follows me for the rest of my life.
Lastly, and probably most panic-inducing, is the fear that came with truly loving another man. What if he dies, too? How on earth will I survive losing another husband? You wouldn’t think that fear would be so palpable to a widow who deemed herself fearless just a year ago, but fear is woven into every nook and cranny of my love life. Luke died in our front yard doing lawn care on a beautiful, 80-degree spring day. This very fact taught me that any of us can die at any time without any probable cause. A large part of me took this information as a Carpe Diem, and the other part took it for fear of losing anyone that I love at a moment’s notice. The Angel of Death does not spare mercy for anyone, let alone widows.
These challenges follow me in every season, and I can only assume that there are more to come as my life goes on while his doesn’t. It encourages me to take every day as it comes, without jumping to conclusions about what tomorrow might bring. For someone like me, who has always been a long-term thinker, this challenge is by far my biggest hurdle. I have to force myself to slow down and focus on just today. Finding the right middle ground is the ultimate goal for us widows. Honoring the past while living for today is a hard balance. If I find the secret, I’ll be sure to publish it across all channels. For now, I’ll just listen to the wise words of Eckhart Tolle: