Better…That is a loaded word for me. I am doing better than last year, I am still broken but I can see what my future looks like again. This month my writing your grief prompt focused on what does better even look like. Since I read the prompt last week it has been on my mind how will I determine when I am better and what that even is.
Do you resent the idea, the word, the suggestion, the expectation?
At first, I resented the idea that someday somehow, I would magically stop missing Matt. That I would no longer want him on my bad days and that he would no longer be the person I wanted to tell when something good happened. I wanted to be better and to stop missing him but at the same time, I didn’t want to let go of my love.
When people would say I am glad you are doing better or say you are not better, yet I wanted to punch them in the face. I hated the people that thought that a few months could pass then I would magically be okay. The ones that pointed out that I was still grieving made it worse. At one point I looked at people and said you will never understand my pain until your spouse dies.
I was angry and I did not think there was going to be a day that I wouldn’t feel that anger. That was my energy source. One day I decided that being angry was not what I wanted, and I know that Matt would have not wanted that for me. Self-care became important to me.
When I did Writing Your Grief class at the beginning of the year it was something that helped me the most. I was able to write my feelings down and not feel judged by the people that were reading my work. Often, I did a drawing to go along with the prompt, and slowly I felt better.
Have you lived your way into a working definition of “better” that feels true for you?
At the beginning of grief, I didn’t want to do anything. On weekends I would not change into clothes unless I had to. Sometimes I did not take care of myself. Brushing my teeth or showering were not things I did if I didn’t have to. On weekends I was not better but only my family saw that.
I went back to work right away never took a day off. Many judged me for that. My husband died on Friday night and Monday morning I was at work barely holding on, but I was there. The alternative was not something I could do. To get better I had to keep going and never slow down.
Fake it to you make it was my saying when people said you are doing better. My staff saw the times I would break down and they understood. They protected me from some things. In July about the time, I started writing for this group I was broken in a way that I was not sure what to do. My best friend told me to come home. I went to visit her, and, in that trip, I healed a bit. I came home better.
Better was not longing for him all the time. It was learning that he is with me always and I carry his love. When I want to talk to him, I can just talk. Better is looking forward to the future and making plans. It is not believing my life is also over. Better is figuring out how to still have my dreams even without him.
I am not one hundred percent better and I am not sure I ever will be. You can’t just forget the years you had with your love it is not possible. Better does not mean you forget it means you learn to live with the pain and sorrow. Knowing what you can handle and what might leave you reeling in grief.
If it’s unacceptable both to be in constant searing pain for the rest of this life and have your grief soften and recede into the far-off distance, what is the middle way? Is there one?
I know that I don’t want to live in the constant pain of grief. And though I am doing better I still have pain. I live in the middle. During the day I am okay, I can go to work and out and not think about it. I don’t think about my grief twenty-four seven. I don’t see his name on my phone and just freeze. I am better during the day.
At night that seating pain comes out to play sometimes. In the last few weeks, it is almost nightly. It sits on the couch with me, it reminds me something is missing. I end up crying and just missing Matt. I know this is not forever and it is a temporary setback that I will be better again. Grief is here for the long haul. There will be times I don’t remember that it is there.
Better is what we make it and there is no timeline on being better. No one can tell you when grief has to end. I tried to put an end date to mine and I can say that was a mistake. But on the bad days where I feel like I am completely failing, I remember that last year this time of year I refer to as my dark days. Mostly cause I don’t remember October to about May. My grief made it so I lost about six months of my life.
I lived but didn’t live I was living in the past. My mind was working against me and I lost hope that I would get better. Today I have hope for my future. A future where I carry my love for Matt with me but I move on with my life.
For people not living my grief, they think that better is moving on and finding new love. I realized a few weeks ago that is not my better. My better might not have me dating and finding love. Better is looking into being a foster parent and giving the love I have to give to a child. My better is making it through stressful days without having a breakdown and crying cause I want him.
Better is continuing my self-care routine. Drawing almost every day. I have filled three sketchbooks in a year. It is writing my blog especially on the days were crawling up and crying seems like the best option. Better is living my story and not letting anyone tell me what timeline I need to be on. Somedays I will miss my husband and that is okay because my better is still wishing he was here while living without him.