“Maybe I shouldn’t write for other widows as my audience.”
“Because my narrative isn’t about missing my husband and the tender moments we shared in the end. I feel like an atypical widow that way. Maybe that ‘suicide’ piece kind of throws a kink in it.”
“Even if it touches one widow or fellow person in grief, it will help. At the very least, let it help you. Writing taps into your truth.”
If I’m being honest, the pain, sadness and trauma of loss started long before my husband’s physical death. This, I suppose, can relate with the widows (and widowers) who witnessed and stood alongside their spouses battling fatal diseases before their untimely passing. I can also relate to those who lost their loved one suddenly, in a tragic accident or instantaneous cardiac arrest, that left no time or space for preparation or good-byes. My heart grieves with and for those in the midst of processing their loss.
Where it diverges for me is the point and nature of the missing. Or not missing.
Truth: I miss the man I married – the one who made me laugh when he broke out in random song and dance while walking with me out in public or back spun into breakdance moves at every wedding we attended. Including our own.
I miss the friend who told me he believed in me, in my dreams and let me cry on his shoulder after a long day at work or after petty girlfriends’ drama that happened well into my 30’s.
I miss the dad of my kids who enthusiastically coached both kids’ sports teams and championed their lives.
I miss the family of four we once were that fit perfectly – logistically and energetically – in a minivan set out for a road trip equipped with all of our luggage and snack bags to boot.
I miss the co-parent I could turn to when one of the kids was hurt or sick and we would game plan “Best Way to Make Them Feel Better”.
But that version of Steve died years before I became a widow 6 years ago. Before the imbalance in brain and body chemistry, as explained by my therapist, took over his cognition and relatable functioning.
Truth: I don’t miss who he was in the end. I don’t miss him from the point of widowhood. At all.
I don’t miss the rage and erratic behavior that was spiraling out of control; his vehement name calling, sneers, and cryptic comments about “my ending”.
I don’t miss the gaslighting, where dialogs no longer followed a linear or logical path and I questioned my own sanity, tumbling in a mental tornado. Daily.
I don’t miss the way the kids started acting up when they sensed uncomfortable shifts of energy in the house and I’d see their widened eyes flit back and forth, deciding how best to self-preserve.
I don’t miss for a second the shell of a mom, wife and woman I became by living atop eggshells, looking over my shoulder, quietly screaming for help in survival mode.
I don’t miss holding my breath.
I feel guilty sharing that. Especially to fellow widows and those already hurting in their own lane. But like my friend encouraged, if it reaches even one person mired in what feels like isolated grief, it can be worthwhile.
The truth is most people had no idea what was going on in my marriage behind closed doors. Likewise, I have no idea how others are grieving behind theirs. Only in cracking mine open can I begin to invite the connections perhaps I’m meant to find with those who I might be able to support on our individual healing journeys.
The most authentic space I can offer to anyone, especially through writing, is my truth.