I push to move forward and reclaim my broken life. I want to thrive and build a life full of good memories with my children despite being so shattered by death stealing from our home. It was three years in September, but I still struggle. I am healing a lot but I continue to have that soul crushing grief wash over me. All it takes is half a second if I allow it in. It is kept locked in a box until I have the time, energy and resources to deal with it. While it is in the box, I live life rather well. I am learning to build a happy life around the ache of missing Chad in our day to day lives but the box is always there. Locked tight.
I have healed enough to be aware of how tightly locked that box needs to be for me to function. I have healed enough to know I need to begin opening that box and peering inside if I truly want to build a new life for my kids and I. Which I do. I want to feel peace in my soul with my life as I did before. Not just happy times but have a relaxed joy washed over me. I still have walls built around a desperate ache in my heart. I build new life around those walls, but now I think the walls need to begin to come down. It is time to face my grief head on. Not running away from the pain but entering in with where I am at now with it.
My husband’s closet is still as it was 3 years ago. I don’t need the space so I have left all his clothes hanging in their spot. Every so often I spray them with his cologne. I opened up two containers of his deodorant to leave sitting on a shelf. Sometimes the kids and I will wear one of his shirts to bed or lounge around the house. We love to smell him on these clothes and it helps us feel close to him again. If a shirt needs to be washed, afterward I gently rub some deodorant on it, spray it with his cologne and hang it back in his closet so it can begin to smell like him again. When we run out of his cologne I buy more. I had a bear made for each of the kids and I out of his shirts. We sometimes keep our bear in his closet so it too can smell like him.
When I am having an especially hard day, I open his closet and sit there. The picture boards we made for his funeral are stored there too. I can open them up and look at pictures of our lives while smelling and feeling his essence. Every shirt is sacred. Every item including his socks and underwear remain untouched, frozen in time, reminders of the man who wore them.
I want to be able to “move forward” as they say. Not so lost in wishing for what we had but truly planning a future of hope. I know I will always miss and love Chad but I don’t want it to be so all consuming. Packing up his closet is my next step. I am not ready to do it at this moment but I have begun the process of thinking about it and believe I can do it by the new year. Through prayer, I am going to start this conversation with my kids to see if they can be ready for this next step too. I am going to run toward the pain, push through the ugly in order to come out the other side more whole again.
Every person’s grief journey is unique. Some widows may need to pack up closets right away. Others like me, may need some more time. Healing looks different for different people. After his closet, I will begin thinking about my next step with all the wedding photos that remain on our walls. I have learned these past three years that I am strong enough to open the box and let the pain out. I have now decided it is time for me to run towards my pain, sit with it, cry and wail, to maybe one day call it friend.