The loss of a spouse or partner can be devastating and life altering.
It can also be suffocating. At least for me it was.
While I was in shock and trying to wake up from a nightmare, there were notifications to be made and a service to be planned. Our three adult children and my stepson and his family arrived in quick fashion and split up the work, but they were also in shock and emotional pain too.
My sisters kept the kitchen full of food and made sure everyone ate something, and that everyone had a place to rest at night.
Despite being surrounded by people I love, I still felt alone.
My daughter stayed ten days with me after the rest of the family had to return to their lives. But she also had to get back to life as her husband was deploying soon.
The morning we said goodbye was almost as painful as the morning my husband didn’t wake up.
It wasn’t simply that I was saying goodbye to my baby and was anxious about her returning home safely, but when I walked back inside and closed the door, for the first time in thirty-eight years, I was alone. I crawled up into his favorite recliner and cried for the entire day, believing life couldn’t hurt any worse than it did at that moment.
Of course, I was wrong.
Life doesn’t care about anyone’s personal grief. The legalities of death have to be dealt with and there are time constraints and deadlines. Over the next few days and weeks, I had to present legal documents and death certificates to change/remove names to comply with the law. I had to erase a lifetime and restart alone.
I died a little each time I had to remove a copy of the death certificate from my file. But it was a visit to our doctor’s office that sent me over the edge.
I’m sure the receptionist meant no harm or disrespect, but as she updated the file, she asked if I now wanted to be addressed as Ms.
I had a meltdown.
Seriously? You want me to erase any evidence I was ever a Mrs. and that the Mr. is now gone? Why don’t I just wear a sign that says, “ALONE?”
I was a total mess and the office staff went above and beyond that day, assisted by two patients who were “seasoned” widows.
One of the women shared a link to the Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grief—which I’ve received one-hundred gazillion times—but the other woman had a more salty nature and said after three years as a widow, she was tired of being told her feelings about her new life alone were valid and normal.
I understood her words that day, and they still resonate with me.
We take for granted being married or in relationships, but no one ever misses a chance to remind us we’re alone.
On May 30, 2019, I lost Dennis, my husband of over thirty-five years. Ten short weeks later on August 18, 2019, I lost my eighty-four-year-old mother. My grief journey has not been an easy one. While we know grief has five stages, there are many situations and feelings some bereaved never get to express, and I’m using my first AtoZ Challenge to say things I’ve never been able to give voice to. I hope you’ll follow my journey.