#AtoZChallenge B is For Be

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Phrases I have come to hate.

“Time heals all wounds.”

“Give it time.”

“Death is a part of life.”

“The pain will eventually go away.”

“Just let it go.”

“Have you thought about taking up a new hobby?”

These things are said with the best of intentions. But it’s also said the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

It’s a sad Catch-22.

The loss of a loved one is a difficult time, even for those who care about you and want to reach out and let you know you’re on their minds and hearts. Communicating those feelings can be awkward and misunderstood… especially when the person who suffered the loss is in a downward spiral.

It was only days after losing my husband that I began to pull away from people, more so for their sake than my own. I felt guilty as they stumbled over words, trying to find the right ones. I’d smile, thank them, and say I was fine.

But I wasn’t, and I didn’t realize at the time the harm I was doing to myself.

Before she returned home, my daughter found an online support group for me. I wandered in one night and found a long-time member I’ll call Millie.

Well into her eighties, Millie joined the group after losing her husband of more than fifty years. She said she was a retired elementary school teacher, but I believe she would have made a great prison warden! When Millie spoke, you listened, end of story.

I got more insight into myself and the grief journey that night than I’d thought possible.

Millie told me to: stop letting people off the hook, stop apologizing, stop hiding my true feelings.

We talked for hours, but in the end, she made me see all I had to do was BE. Happy, sad, angry, confused… it didn’t matter.  Instead of suppressing feelings and emotions, I should just follow them to wherever they took. I didn’t owe anyone anything. This was my personal journey and I had to travel it the best way I could, and that didn’t include hiding from others or myself.

That twenty months ago, and while I have had some huge, horrible bumps in the road, when I allow myself to simply BE, I always find my way again.

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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.

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atoz badge 2021

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Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

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#AtoZChallenge A is for Alone

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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.

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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.

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atoz badge 2021

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Image by chezbeate from Pixabay

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Holding On, Letting go

The running marriage joke is men never remember wedding anniversaries.

In our case, I was the one who’d remember at the last minute.

In his techie, geeky way, Den configured the date we were married, September 17, 1983, in some base language or mathematical equation he used daily… for something.

He’s not here to remind me anymore… which is why I’ll never forget it… or stop counting.

Today would have been our 37th anniversary, but instead, it’s my second without him.

The photo is from the last anniversary we “celebrated” – our 34th, with a surprise dinner from our three children. We should have known something was up as David, Drew, and Lindsey were rarely in Tucson at the same time. 😀

Den and Fle

Ironically, the next two times we would all be together were for Den’s mom’s funeral… and then his.

The last seventeen months feel like an eternity and yesterday at the same time.

Platitudes like time heals all wounds or it will get better in time are false, useless and should never be spoken again.

The only one that is true is life goes on… and we have to go with it.

Happy Anniversary, My Love.


Reality Bites

I know you’re gone

I’m not Deluded

Or in Denial

Dread is a constant companion

Because I know you’re gone

And each day is more of the same

And no you

Yet , my senses come alive

When I see the things you loved

When I hear the music you loved

I get excited and can’t wait to tell you about them

Then my heart skips a beat

Because I know you’re gone

Despair and Depression grab my hands

And I’m caught in a tug-of-war

Where losing is the only option

Because I know you’re gone.

 

©2019 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

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holding on

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Image from Pinterest