Does the pain ever go away?

Is it OK to start dating?  

When will I feel better?

These were the burning questions I had during those first 2 years after Dave died.  And I wish I had all the best answers, but I can shed some light on my experience which might resonate and support you.  So let’s take them one by one.

Does the pain ever go away?

For a year and a half, this question ran through my mind every waking hour.  My daily schedule of feelings went something like this:  wake up (grief), get the kids to school (loss), go to work (soul-crushing pain), make dinner (sadness), help with homework (misery), go to bed (heartache).  Repeat the cycle…

I was in such deep grief and I couldn’t carry it on my own so I reached out for help from a grief counselor.  She helped me make a little sense of what I was going through – that I had experienced trauma in Dave’s sudden death and to try and acknowledge the emotions to let them move through me rather than bottling them up.  This was hard for me but when I started to process my emotions I could see little glimmers of hope for my future and my kids’ future.

I remember someone early on telling me that “time wears away the sharp edges of grief”.  It’s so cliche and I wanted to puke when I heard it, BUT it does make sense when I look back on that time.  I have moments when the pain and loss of Dave’s death hits me hard – sometimes out of nowhere.  I also have moments of deep gratitude for the time we did have together on this earth.  I have learned not to control my feelings but let them roll through me.

Is it OK to start dating?

Good question!  Yes, it’s OK to start dating when you feel it’s right for YOU!  Sure, people in your life may have opinions – you’ve maybe heard that “Opinions are like armpits.  Everyone has them and sometimes they stink”.   I’m here to tell you that it is nobody else’s business if you decide to date or if you don’t.  You are the expert on YOU and you’ll know when/if it feels right to date.  No one knows what you are feeling right now but you.

If you do decide to date, it’s a good idea to get clear on why you want to date.  Is it for companionship, sex, fun, intimacy, loneliness?  There are no wrong answers here.

I like being in partnership – I feel like I’m good at it.  So, when I decided to dip my toe into the dating pool 18 months after Dave died, I spent some time with myself (and with a glass of wine) to write down an extensive list of what I wanted to experience in dating and in a potential new partnership.  

This helped so much!  When I met my “Chapter Two”, Sean, I was able to recognize him when he crossed my path because he hit all the marks on my list (except for the one about being a good speller 😉 – not a deal breaker).

When will I feel better?

I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all better, I really do.  What helped move me from a place of emptiness & sadness to feeling more whole & hopeful was this….Self-Care.

As I processed the numbness & grief in my body by walking, yoga, hot baths, stretching, deep breathing, and massage it gave way to flashes of hope.  The more I put myself first taking care of myself and “filling my own bucket”, the better solo-parent I was.  Self-care gave me the space to treat myself with kindness and compassion so that I could make confident decisions in caring for myself and my family.

I don’t know how far out you are but I do know that at first, it’s possible that nothing will seem like it could possibly help.  But wherever you are in your grieving process, the best words I can offer are: 

This is an unimaginably difficult time so go easy on yourself.   And if it feels too overwhelming, ask for help.  People want to help you.  That’s why we’re here.

About 

Melissa was widowed overnight at the age of 44 when her husband Dave didn’t wake up on a cold Saturday morning in 2011.  As a solo-parent to their two sons, she knew she had to take care of herself first so she could care for her kids - they needed her support more than ever - so she began the work of processing her deep grief and practicing radical self-care to move forward.

Melissa has rebuilt her life and established - for the very first time - a deeper knowledge of herself. She is a testament to trusting her gut and standing behind her choices.  She is happily remarried to her husband, Sean, and they now call the Oregon coast home.  Melissa’s purpose is living a joyful life, inspiring and influencing others.  You can learn more about Melissa, her book Filled With Gold, and other offerings through her website www.filledwithgold.org and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.