More than once, someone has told me about a friend who lost her husband and is not handling it well. That’s pretty much how it’s said each time. Not handling it well means not going out, gaining lots of weight, going into drug rehab…well, you get the idea
I immediately wonder, “are they being critical of me for not grieving enough?” Because of course, it’s all about me. Then I realize people don’t really care how I grieve and truly it’s not all about me.
I understand the not handling it well. I sure understand how you get there. For the first time in years, I recently thought perhaps I should go buy a pack of cigarettes. It would be easy to start drinking, I think, except that I have all of these things to take care of. I have a teen-age son, two dogs, a yard, a car, a house that needs a new roof. And apparently I have a strong sense of responsibility.
I now understand why some people get married so quickly after a spouse dies. It’s lonely going through this. I have no plans to remarry, especially no time soon, but I understand why people do it. I’d love to be able to turn some of this over to another person except that the person who I’d like to turn it over to isn’t here.
I also now understand why some people abandon their spouses during a critical illness. It’s so incredibly stressful to have someone ill and possibly dying. I confess that I felt so very isolated while Dave was in the hospital and then going through his illness at home. I know things happened in the world. I know that I was aware of those events but I can’t tell you now what they were. Well, I’m pretty sure that Michael Jackson died somewhere in that time.
So, we all find something to distract us, some of those activities being better than others. I’m busy working out. Really–I took a spinning class. I am paying for Pilates classes. I’m eating this healthy diet. I just returned from the produce store with both swiss chard and kale. If you know me, you know this is not me. Well, it is me. It’s me having a hard time dealing with my husband’s death. It’s just better to become distracted by exercise and the scale than a bar stool.
- Thanks to Svadilfari at Flickr
This morning I ran into Acme, our local grocery store, to pick up some produce to go with my hummus dip. Nothing too earth-shattering about that.
However, there’s a huge display of Easter candy in the front of the store. As I trot past, I think, “I better pick up some Cadbury eggs before they run out.” And then, “Oh. I wonder if Nick likes Cadbury Eggs as much as Dave did.” Because of course it no longer matters that I might not have them for Dave’s Easter Basket.
One year I didn’t buy the eggs early and then had to run all over town trying to buy Cadbury Eggs. I was left with the inferior caramel version.
All of this runs through my head and I feel such sorrow. It seems that this grief is never going to end. There’s always one more piece of glass being jammed into my heart.
Of course, I go on, buy my produce, and go off to the meeting that I’m now late for. And my day goes on.
I may go back and buy those eggs and give a couple to Nick and save a couple for myself and just eat them in memory of Dave’s Easter baskets.
My two dogs, Nessie and Nunu, now have to hang out with me though they like my son too. They both loved Dave a lot–Nunu was Dave’s dog but nobody had told Nessie that. She thought she was Dave’s dog too.
For several months after Dave’s death, when I would say it was time to go to bed, the dogs would come upstairs with me. Nunu, though, would always stop at the room where Dave’s hospital bed had been, stick her head in and look around, determine he wasn’t there, and come upstairs with me. I said this dog is breaking my heart.
I guess they’re adjusting. Both dogs now sleep with me. Well, Nunu takes up two-thirds of the bed and I get the rest. Nessie sleeps on a dog bed by Dave’s side of the bed.
That’s the only difference really about the dogs’ sleeping arrangement. Nunu would not have enough space when both Dave and I were sleeping so she’d start on the bed and then move to the floor to spread out. Now she just spreads out on the bed.
We’re all just making our way along as best we can.
I never know when I’m going to miss Dave. The smallest things can cause me to feel so sad and lonely.
The other day I went to a yoga class. I haven’t been to yoga for a while but I used to go regularly. So, while I’m supposed to be meditating and labeling thoughts as “thoughts,” my mind instantly began to roam.
I thought about how I used to go to a Sunday morning class and Dave would wake me if I slept too late to make it on time. I loved the original teacher for that class. She touched me one time and I started to cry. Why? I can’t remember. I know it was summer. Hmmm, it was when I’d just lost my job and I was very stressed…My first yoga instructor was Susan and she used to work with Dave at Roadway. I went to her first few classes when she was learning how to be a yoga instructor. Then she quit her job and taught yoga full time. I helped her get a job at the local YMCA and I went to her classes there. I always enjoyed her.
And remembering Susan and remembering Dave calling to me on Sunday morning, I was overwhelmed with grief. Then I recalled that I was supposed to be meditating and said, “thought!” to myself.
Maybe it’s not surprising that grief comes when I’m relaxed and clearing my mind. It’s only surprising to me because I’m so rarely relaxed with a clear mind.