Well, the holiday season is almost over. I had a profound experience the other day. In awe, I realized that while I missed Dick so much, a sort of serene joy temporarily replaced the longing I have felt for so long. I want to summon that feeling at will, And I worry I will 'lose' him that way. Something is shifting in me, leaving me feeling
wary of changing emotions.
Speaking of change, let's shift to the subject of this segment.
Who has not said something awkward to a person in grief, and immediately wished the words could be unsaid?
After our dear friends lost their seven-year-old Johnny to Cystic Fibrosis, I thought it would be comforting to say, "At least you still have Billy and Susie." My friend stood up and with fire in her eyes let me know how she felt about my comment. "I want three kids just like you have!" I cringe at the memory all these years later.
Is there anything worse than avoiding eye contact and saying nothing? I've done that, also. A neighbor died suddenly. A few days later, I saw his wife in the grocery story. Not sure if she had seen me and hoping she had not, I turned away, thinking, "I wish I knew what to say." I had no clue.
While I created this site for the benefit of people who grieve, a wise man pointed out the advantage to any readers who wish to increase their knowledge of the grief process. They could be expected to learn more about what to say to a person suffering loss, especially in the early days after the death.
I have demonstrated what not to say. Obviously.
It wasn't helpful to me when people asked me how I was doing since I could never figure out how to answer that without crying.
Probably the most useful comments were not comments at all. A firefighter/relative showed up at my door with a bouquet. After I accepted and thanked him for the flowers, he sat down and indicated I should sit by him. He took my hands and just looked at me. I immediately began talking . . . and talking . . . and talking. He said very little. His eyes did not leave my face. He LISTENED to me.
Upon reflection, I think open comments are a good thing. Readers can talk to each other!
I guess it is possible that an inappropriate comment could be made for all to see. I will monitor the site daily and delete that sort of thing if it occurs.
Please accept my apology for misleading you.
My kind-hearted, patient publisher, Gale Chase of Two Cats Press, prevails when I make mistakes. My gratitude to her is boundless.
I'm not sure why, but it has been difficult for me to write about my experience with the holidays. Perhaps I have fallen into the trap of believing I should have done 'better by now. My best effort follows this section.
Despite what we may have been told, we each grieve in our own way and in our own time-frame. Grief ebbs and flows and I suspect some aspects may remain with us forever .be
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2015 marks my third holiday season alone. I would like to tell you that I have recovered, moved on, and that I don't miss Dick much. The truth? I have recovered some, I have moved on some, and I still miss him a lot, especially during holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays.
Unable to focus at times lately, I have reverted to making mistakes and losing things. I have not decorated—too busy. Maybe I 'should' have done so. Perhaps I still will.
More truth: I'm in no great hurry to recover, move on, and miss Dick less. Sometimes I worry I will forget the nuances of him. The process of writing Together Through Korea and Alzheimer's has kept me focused on him for eighteen months.
A friend asked, "Are you obsessed with him?"
I responded, "Probably. That's okay with me, for now."
My first holiday season alone in 2013 was blessed by an invitation to visit family in Washington. Our grandson and his wife urged me to participate in family and friend celebrations that week only to the extent I chose. What a relief! I would not feel tempted to fake enthusiasm when sadness threatened to drown my face in tears.
In my room, I comforted myself with items I had stowed in my purse: Dick's wedding ring and a few special notes he had written to me over the years. Studying photos of him consoled me even as I cried.
During my second holiday season alone in 2014, with no family present, I enjoyed the major holiday dinner with friends and then rushed home to 'spend the day with Dick' surrounded by reminders of him. I had put up lights outdoors but had done little decorating inside. I played Handel's MESSIAH for the first time and remembered listening during our holidays together. I scaled a hurdle by choosing to hear another piece of our favorite music on that difficult day.
After my husband's death in 2013, I didn't care if I lived or died. No, that's not true. Sometimes, at first, I wanted to die.
I spent 193 and one-half days of that first year as a widow, often remembering words that he wrote to me from Korea in 1954: I will love only you until the day I die. I only pray it is the death of a true lover and not the death of love. Darling, our love will continue long after the body has ceased.
Was he aware of me, still loving me?
I am less self-centered now─dear God, I hope I am─and capable of caring about the grief of others.
My blog will reveal some of my chaotic thinking and behavior during the brunt of my grief on my way to . . . what?
I hope to stimulate conversation with others who are willing to respond from their own experiences with loss, and to share what helped them find solace, particularly in the early days/the holidays, the anniversaries, the birthdays, and more.
Our culture does not encourage us to discuss feelings. We should grieve, get over it, and be happy again. If only it were that simple.