It has been six years since my husband passed away. It feels like yesterday and today all the same time. My grief has definitely changed over the years. In the beginning, I could not imagine surviving the day, the week, the month, or the year. And now I know without a doubt that I will not only survive, I will thrive. I have a life to live. I owe it to my late husband to continue living and making new memories. To ensure that he and his life are not forgotten. I know for certain Jared would not want me to let my grief consume my life. He made me promise to live and find love again. I promise I intend to keep.
I have learned many lessons over the last six years. Lessons that have changed me. Shaped my life. Made me into the person I am today
I learned that some people will stay in your life and some just cannot.
I’ve learned to forgive those people who promised to be there and haven’t. I’ve learned that for whatever reason, their grief and in some cases their guilt, made it hard for them to stay in our lives. And that’s OK. I wish them the best.
I’ve learned who my true friends and family are. Those people who are still by our side six years later. Those friends who support us. Celebrate our accomplishments. And remind us that our future is limitless. For me, those people are our forever family.
I learned that everyone grieves differently.
I learned that everyone grieves in their own time and in their own way. And who are we to judge how someone else grieves? There is no time limit to grief. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. We each have to do what’s best for us to get through the darkest days.
I have learned that people will say incredibly stupid things with the best intentions.
I have learned that most people have never suffered such an unimaginable loss. And because of that they say what they think is helpful without realizing how hurtful it is. Things like he’s in a better place or you’ll find love again. I have learned to forgive people because I know they truly are saying it with the best intentions. And I have learned to use my widowhood to educate people on what to say and especially what not to say when someone is grieving.
I have learned never to ask a widow what do you need or what can I do for you?
I have learned that early in grief, a widow is completely numb and has no idea what they need. Instead pick a task or chore and do it for them. Say I’ll be at your house on Tuesday to take out your garbage or I’ll watch your son on Sunday so you can face some time to grieve. And then do it. If you say you’ll do something, do it. Don’t wait to be asked because a widow won’t ask because her world has collapsed and she can’t think straight.
I have learned that grief and joy will coexist in my life forever.
For the rest of my life, milestones, holidays, celebrations will be joyous occasions mixed with a little bit of grief because Jared isn’t here to see them. That’s my new reality. My new normal. And that’s OK. Yes, there will be moments of sadness, but they will not overshadow the joy. Joy because I get to experience all the moments life has to offer. Joy because I get to watch my son grow up. And while I will always wish Jared was here, I don’t have to be sad.
I have learned that life goes forward.
I have learned that as much as we would like to go back and experience the love we shared one last time, we can’t. Life moves forward. We have to move with it. But we have the choice to bring those we love with us. Because we will always carry them in our hearts. So as I move forward in this life, Jared comes with me. He is in my heart. And he always will be. Because love never dies.
It has been six years. And I have learned, grown, and changed. But one thing is always constant. My love for Jared. And just because I am living, and on most days loving my life, doesn’t mean I’ve stopped missing him. Stopped loving him. I love and miss him every day. But I also know he would want me to get out there and live. Make this life count. Because that’s the kind of man he was.
I have learned a lot over the last six years. And I still have so much more to learn.