… if I feel like I need to chug a couple of drinks before spending time with a friend.  I haven’t seen her in a long time and felt like I should see her, even if just to give her the baby blanket I made a while ago.  But I don’t really want to tell her about my life and I don’t really want to hear about hers.  So I feel like numbing myself to it would be easier.  Yep, I have issues.  Good thing I am in therapy. 

Being widowed sucks.  I don’t recommend it. 

Maybe I will just have one glass of wine instead with dinner, before the movie, and drink to all of you widow/ers out there who are doing something tonight that they would rather not do.

Jordan

June 7, 2012

Petra + me = Love 4 Ever

I just got back from a mostly great trip to Jordan! One of the reasons for the break in posting.  I have always wanted to go to Jordan and see Petra (think Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).  Some friends of Chris’s told us they were moving to Jordan before he died and we decided we would go visit them. After Chris died I went back and forth about whether to go or not.  I tried to find someone to go with me, but didn’t have any luck. 

There is nothing I find more frustrating than feeling like I can’t do something because I can’t find someone to come along. I felt this way before I met Chris, but it has gotten even worse now.  It highlights how much I have lost.  So one particularly bad night in April, I said fuck it and booked a plane ticket and a few weeks ago I traveled to Jordan.

It was awesome. Petra (picture of me in purple to the left), Jerash, the Dead Sea … it was amazing to see these sites and check something off my bucket list.  I enjoyed seeing my friends and they were great hosts.  There were times where I was on my own and rather than just hang around their house, I ventured out on my own. 

With the help of a hired driver, I went and saw the ruins in Jerash and a medieval castle in Ajloun.  It was the middle of the week and neither site was crowded.  Often I was the only person in a particular ruin, exploring. It was kind of cool. I felt almost like Indiana Jones. The picture below is a ruin I explored on my own. It was so quiet and peaceful.

Temple of Zeus in Jerash

But like a lot of things with grief and widowhood, it is a double-edged sword.  The independence gives me strength and confidence, but it highlights the loneliness. This is an experience I will never share with someone. There will be no joint retelling of what we did and what it was like. If I don’t remember it, no one will.  It is a strange and sad transition from my life with Chris.  

This was exacerbated by the fact that I know Chris would have loved this trip.  Seeing the site, eating the food, spending time with his friends. It would have been a trip he remembered for the rest of his life.  So there was significant sadness tingeing the edges of this trip.

But I did it. I traveled to the Middle East by myself and had a memorable trip.  I have thought for a while, that if I can just get to a point where I don’t mind traveling alone, then I can do this. I can live another 40, 50 years on my own and still have an adventure filled life.  Maybe even one that has more adventure than if Chris were alive and we had started a family.  I don’t know.  I go between the loneliness and  hope.  For right now I am hopeful and I will take it.

Another Heartbreak

May 6, 2012

I have been avoiding pictures of Chris for a while. They were just too painful, jarring even.  My denial wrapped conscious couldn’t handle the visual reminder that Chris existed and now he doesn’t. 

Chris and my younger niece apple picking

Recently, however, I have been looking at them agian, generally when I am already upset.  Can’t make it much worse, so better to really dive in and get it out.  So I was just looking at some pictures from 2007, when I took Chris apple picking with my sister and her two daughters.  It was such a great day.  We all had fun and the girls loved Chris. That was the day I finally admitted to my 26 year old self that I wanted to marry this man.

Looking at them now brings up these emotions, they are familiar and happy yet painful.  But there is a new emotion with it or maybe it is more of a realization.  When I look at these pictures, I know that Chris is no longer mine.  Ugh, this BREAKS MY HEART.  I still love him and I know he still loves me, but it is a different love. It isn’t the possesive, committed love of man and wife.  It is a more spiritual love.  And it  BREAKS MY HEART.

Most of me hates it.  It makes ms sob and cry out. There is a small part of me, that knows it is true.  Knows that the love has to change, just as our existances have changed.  I have been fighting this for two years.  I loved being Chris’s life. It was the most important thing to me in my life.  But it is, what it is.

Rings

May 4, 2012

Our Rings

Our Wedding Rings
Picture courtesy of Larry Runyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know that many widow/ers agonize over what to do with their rings.  I was no different.  I loved my rings and when Chris died I had only gotten to wear both the engagement and wedding band together for six months.  I never wanted to stop wearing them. Chris was so proud of my engagement ring, that he picked it out by himself and how he totally surprised me when he proposed. I never wanted to let that go, I never wanted to remove that tie.

About a year later, as my grief shifted, I noticed I started hiding my hand.  I did this to avoid painful/traumatic questions. 

“How long have you been married?”

“What does your husband do?”

“What beautiful rings, where did your husband get them?”

Each of these type of interactions caused panic attacks and could throw off any forward progress I had made.  So  I started to think about taking them off.  It took me three more months before I did.  After not wearing them around the house to practice I didn’t take them on a trip to the beach and then never really wore them after. 

At first I felt a bit freer, like my hand wasn’t being weighed down, but it didn’t feel right.  I felt so vulnerable, unprotected. No longer could I know that people assumed I had someone waiting for me at home.  But I left them off as this was better than the questions.

I began to think about what I wanted to do with the rings. I have thought about combining our wedding bands together and adding some stones to wear on my right hand.  I have thought about turning the engagement ring into other jewelry or saving it for my nieces or to sell if I needed money some day.  I haven’t decided what to do yet.  I keep saying I will go to a jeweler and brainstorm ideas, but then I don’t want to, so I haven’t yet.

One other thing I have thought of was finding a widow’s ring.  I have always bemoaned the lack of societal practices for grieving people today.  I longed for the old traditions of wearing black clothes and jewelry.  I thought about getting a black diamond eternity band to wear on my ring finger, but again could never follow through because of price or indecision.

Then when I was at Widow Camp, a jeweler who I had seen online before, had a booth.  She had rings, necklaces, and earrings that all fit the needs of a widow.  I was instantly drawn to one. I tried it on and it felt right. You can see it here http://www.expressionsofgrief.com/WIDOWS-the-3rd-Ring-4mm-ETR1108.htm  

It felt appropriate and that it reflected where I am in life.  I am not married anymore, but I am not single either.  Widowhood is a distinct phase of life that is for me the most life changing of any phase of life I have been through. It should be equally acknowledged and honored as marriage.

I did a quick search on widowhood and this is what came up first from answers.com:

“Widowhood refers to the status of a person whose spouse has died and who has not remarried. Women in this situation are referred to as widows, and men as widowers. In the United States and other Western nations, approximately 6 percent of the total population is widowed and this proportion increases to about one-third of the population sixty-five years of age or older. Recent trends indicate that widowhood is becoming less common, largely because more people either never marry or are separated or divorced.

Widowhood is commonly viewed as a life transition. A transition is a major change in life circumstances that takes place over a relatively short period of time but has lasting effects on large areas of a person’s life. It requires the development of new life habits or ways of coping. Widowhood is one of the most stressful life transitions, although most people adjust successfully over time.”
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/widowhood#ixzz1trTVQ34W

If you read on it brings up some interesting points, but what rings most true to me is that:

1. It is rarer and rarer for people to be widowed, especially if they are younger than 65 (try 28)

2. That the transition happens relatively quickly

3. That widowhood has life long affects

So I am glad I have a ring to honor it now.

2 Years …. Now What?

April 30, 2012

I survived.  2 years have passed since Chris died.  Even just writing that on “paper” brings up a lot of conflicting emotions and reactions.  On one hand it feels like forever ago, like another lifetime. In many ways it is a different lifetime, like it happened to a different person.  On the other hand, it feels like yesterday that we said goodbye for the last time.

Chris and I grabbing beers a few weeks after we started dating
Summer 2006

This year was a lot easier though.  Last year I made myself sick trying to mark the anniversary with a bbq and making all the special gestures.  This year, I made no special gestures other than wear clothes that reminded me of him.  I spent a quiet weekend with my parents trying to focus on the present. I can’t change the past.  I can’t bring Chris back with big, love focused gestures.  All I can do is make the most of my present. 

Today, I felt it a bit more than yesterday.  There was more anxiety and depression, distraction and dissociation.  It wasn’t like it has been.  It was just a feeling that said loudly “Holy Shit! It has been two years. What the Hell do I do now?”.  

I don’t have an answer.  I don’t think I ever will.  But maybe continually asking myself that question will take me somewhere interesting even if it isn’t very far.

Our Last Night Together

April 25, 2012

This night* two years ago, Chris and I spent our last night together. We had both had early dinner plans, I with a friend from work, he with the lacrosse team he coached.  We had talked about cancelling and just going home, but I am glad he got to see his kids one more time.

A shirtless Chris, napping on the couch

I beat him home and I remember being so impatient for him to get home.  Once he was home we did our standard cuddling on the couch watching tv, snuggled under a blanket.  I remember so vividly how we held each other and talked about how happy we were and how much we never wanted to be apart.  That we were meant to be together forever.  I asked him never to leave me and he said “Where would I go?”

We had no idea that was our last night together.  That as we lay there full of love and joy, he was dying.  He had less than 12 hours to live.  Dear God how can that be?

Even now I still cannot believe he is gone.  How could we be parted?  I know our last night together was a gift.  That God wanted us to be certain of the strength and joy of our love.  It is excrutiating to remember how happy we were and how much Chris loved me.  The loss is beyond words.

Baby, 

I love you.  I miss you every minute of everyday.  I can’t believe it has been two years since the last time we shared an evening and a bed.  How are you dead? I still do not understand.

All I know is that you live on in another form. That you haven’t really left me, just transformed. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

I will be beside you in time.

Your wife,

Meredith

 

*The anniversary is techincally Saturday (28th), but Chris died on a Wednesday and in many ways I feel the anniversary is tomorrow

 

Changes?

April 24, 2012

So I haven’t posted in a while.  Probably for many reasons, especially because as I said before I have been stuck.  Falling into the pit of dispair, lying there for a while, slowly pulling myself back up, just to fall back down. It made it pretty hard to do anything other than function, like writing this blog.   What energy had I used to try and make small changes in my life.  These changes have helped some and given me some momentum that I hope is pulling me along.

Change number 1:  Still in progress – going through Chris’s stuff.  On New Year’s weekend, which was shitty anyway, I started tearing through his stuff.  Clothes, coats, old pictures, everything got pulled out and categorized.  If you have seen the Iron Lady, there is a scene where Margaret is sitting admist all of her husbands clothes and things sobbing.  That was me.  It was hard and I still have piles that I have to decide what to do with.  But in many ways the several bags and boxes I have given already make me feel so much lighter. I had felt for a long time that I was drowning in his stuff and I could no longer breath.  That has lifted a lot and my fears, that I would lose more of him, have been wrong. I haven’t lost any more of him than I had before and in many ways has freed me to feel his presence more strongly and with less static.  If that makes sense.

Change number 2: Ongoing? – focusing on new things and new people. I have made an effort to spend my time on doing new things and meeting new people.  Just living in my old pattern was trapping me in the pain of my loss, so I joined new organizations, took a photography class, and made some new non-married friends. People who share interests and want to talk about things other than being married and having babies.  I went to Widow Camp East (http://www.campwidow.org/) this past weekend and felt at ease and more myself than I have since Chris died.   For you other widow’s out there. If you can swing it, you should go.  I was a little terrified of going, not knowing anyone and generally being an introvert. But it was amazing and inspirational.  All of these activities have gone towards making me feel a little more in charge of my life and like I have regained some of my independence.  It opens up hope for a future full of adventure.

Change number 3 – complete – I cut my hair!  It is about shoulder length now.  I haven’t had it that short since 7th grade.  It might not seem a big thing, but I just felt like I needed to look different. It was weird to continue to look the same so I just went to the salon one day and had about 7 inches taken off.  It felt good. I felt lighter and it takes so much less time to dry and style. 

For me some small steps have helped.  I still have lots I could do, should do, need to do to try and make my life easier and new.  Some times I don’t have the energy for it and just sit at home and watch TV.  That is ok too.  Those are my recharging days. A few of those and I start to feel like I can take on another change, however small.

I’m Stuck

December 2, 2011

04/28/10: The Day My Life Ended

I’m stuck.  I don’t know how to explain it other than that and the picture here. 

 This is the calendar in my kitchen that we used to coordinate our schedules.  Most of it is in Chris’s handwriting.  The “Vegas” at the bottom is the trip we were suppose to take to his cousin’s wedding the day after he died.  I am stuck in April of 2010. That is when my life ended.

At first I didn’t want to erase it, to forget what we did in our last month together.  I didn’t want to forget that we belonged to each other.  I didn’t want to erase his handwriting.  Now, I haven’t gotten rid of it because I have been stuck in this cycle of “functioning”.  Getting through the day, waking up by myself, getting through work, coming home to an empty house, eating dinners alone, dragging myself to bed when I can barely keep my eyes open so I don’t think too much about how Chris isn’t in bed with me.  Doing anymore than this has been impossible. I haven’t had the energy to take any steps to adjust my environment, especially confronting anything particularly painful.

I have been living this life, well it isn’t really a life let’s be honest, half in my old one half in a new one.  I live in our house, I changed it some but it’s still the same house.  I go to basically the same job.  I have the same friends.  Rinse and Repeat.  Where I am is not good for me.  It is painful and heavy.  It is a life that was set up for being married, starting a family.  That is not my life anymore.

I need a change, but I don’t know what to change.  If I had some idea some big dream I put on hold to start a family, I could go after it. Do I want to write a book?  Do I want to go live in some exotic location? Sail around the world? I don’t know if I would enjoy those things. I don’t know if they would give me a sense of purpose and fulfillment that I don’t have.  I don’t have any dreams left.  My dream was Chris and our family together.  There wasn’t a single dream or plan in my life that he wasn’t involved in.  As I struggle with my “anguish attacks” and daily depression, I desperately search for something to do to make me feel like I am living again rather than existing.  Until I find something, where does that leave me?  Purgatory.  Stuck in April 2010.

Music from my past

November 8, 2011

For a long time after Chris died (about 14 months) I avoided music.  It was just too emotional and painful.  Recently I have been rediscovering music, but mostly from my pre-Chris days. It was part of my attempt to re-explore things I enjoyed BC (before Chris) which I posted about here: https://widowedowl.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/some-new-realizations/   So I am going back to childhood, high school, and college and have identified some new anthems that help with various moods or help me move through emotions as my subconscious pushes the worst of it away a lot.

So here are some of my new go-to songs

For anger/anguish/the need to scream out loud … I go back to my teen years (pre-teen too).  I once loved “alternative” music.  I went through a rebellious phase.  You wouldn’t know it to look at me now as I wear a suit most days.  I didn’t listen to this kind of music as much with Chris, it wasn’t his favorite and I didn’t identify with it as much as I was happy.  But now, the pain, the anguish, the screaming it really helps me out.  This includes music by Lincoln Park, Nine Inch Nails, Chevelle to name a few.  The main anthem right now though is Burn by the Cure from The Crow Soundtrack.  The chorus really expresses my anguish at losing Chris.

“Don’t look don’t look” the shadows breathe
Whispering me away from you
“Don’t wake at night to watch her sleep
You know that you will always lose
This trembling adored
Tousled bird mad girl… ”
But every night I burn
Every night I call your name
Every night I burn
Every night I fall again

“Oh don’t talk of love” the shadows purr
Murmuring me away from you
“Don’t talk of worlds that never were
The end is all that’s ever true
There’s nothing you can ever say
Nothing you can ever do… ”
Still every night I burn
Every night I scream your name
Every night I burn
Every night the dream’s the same
Every night I burn
Waiting for my only friend
Every night I burn
Waiting for the world to end

“Just paint your face” the shadows smile
Slipping me away from you
“Oh it doesn’t matter how you hide
Find you if we’re wanting to
So slide back down and close your eyes
Sleep a while you must be tired… ”
But every night I burn
Every night I call your name
Every night I burn
Every night I fall again
Every night I burn
Scream the animal scream
Every night I burn
Dream the crow black dream
Every night I burn
Scream the animal scream
Every night I burn
Dream the crow black dream

Dreaming the crow black dream…

For my loneliness … I have a random song from the 80s and a lovely band named Whitesnake.  I was with Chris for almost 4 years before he died, but before him I really didn’t have any serious relationships that lasted longer than a 5-6 months.  So for the 25 years BC I was single.  After I went to college I never lived at  home again.  I spent a summer working in Belgium, moving there on my own without knowing anyone.  I did a lot on my own.  I was very independent.  I have felt that if I can regain that sense, I will be able to make it ok.  In many ways it already feels like being with Chris was the exception, not the rule in my life and that maybe I was “born to walk alone”.  So this song really captures all of that, in its great hairband glory.  

I don’t know where I’m going
But, I sure know where I’ve been
Hanging on the promises
In songs of yesterday
An’ I’ve made up my mind,
I ain’t wasting no more time
But, here I go again
Here I go again

Tho’ I keep searching for an answer,
I never seem to find what I’m looking for
Oh Lord, I pray
You give me strength to carry on,
‘Cos I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

An’ here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known,
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
An’ I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time

I’m just another heart in need of rescue,
Waiting on love’s sweet charity
An’ I’m gonna hold on
For the rest of my days,
‘Cos I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

An’ here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known,
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
An’ I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time

But, here I go again,
Here I go again,
Here I go again,
Here I go…

An’ I’ve made up my mind,
I ain’t wasting no more time

An’ here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known,
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
‘Cos I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

An’ here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known,
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
An’ I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time…

But, here I go again,
Here I go again,
Here I go again,
Here I go,
Here I go again…

When I need to gain strength and serenity…. I go back to college days and the summer I lived in Brussels (mentioned above).  It was an amazing summer. I gained so much and had a great time.  There is so many euro-dance-techno songs from that summer I love, that bring me back and awaken those feelings again (hey I can be happy without Chris).  One in particular is Breathe by Telepopmusik.  The lyrics aren’t particularly complex, but there is something about the beats and the lyrics and the singer’s voice, that after my angry music, brings me back.  Almost like a prayer.

I brought you something close to me,
left for something you see though your here.
You haunt my dreams.
There’s nothing to do but believe.
Just Believe.
Just Breathe.

Another day,
just believe.
Another day,
just breathe.
Another day,
just believe.
Another day,
just breathe.

I’m used to it by now.
Another day,
just believe,
just breathe.
Just believe.
Just breathe.
Lying in my bed.
Another day,
staring at the ceiling.

Just breathe.

Another day.

Another day,
just believe.
Another day.
I’m used to it by now.
I’m used to it by now.
Just breathe.
Just believe.
Just breathe.
Just believe.
Just believe.
Just breathe.
Just believe.
Another day,
just believe.
Another day.
Another day.

What a week

November 7, 2011

I survived another hard week.  It started with Halloween, which I posted on, and then on Wednesday it was Chris’s birthday.  He would have been 32.  How is that possible?  There are so many thoughts I have on that, so many mixed emotions.  Much like your feel about your own age and disbelief at reaching a certain age.  I can’t believe Chris would be old enough to be 32, I meet him when he was 25.  But at the same time it just highlights how long he has been gone.  This is the second birthday I have been through without him. 

In some ways the worst part of it is that it doesn’t feel like his birthday anymore.  It is just another day.  There are no preparations, no gift buying,  no joy in finding something that will bring him joy.  Just dread at another day that is hard and painful. 

Last year I did something to recognize it.  This year I really couldn’t  other than a “happy birthday Chris” text to his parents.  I thought about going to a movie (he liked to go to dinner and a movie on his birthday). But it was too hard and I was out of energy.  I had one big breakdown and then I think my heart was on shut down mode.

But I survived it and the day passed.  Just like everyday.  It comes and goes. 

This weekend I held a fundraiser with some friends for two causes related to Chris’s death (a scholarship fund and the Myocarditis Foundation http://myocarditisfoundation.org/)  It was a good event with high points and low points.  Mostly I had to fight off the anxiety attacks (it’s really more of an anguish attack, than anxiety, but it has a similar physical response) to get through the night.  

But I did.  As much as I hate these kind of events, because it highlights my loss,  I also know that I am committed to supporting these causes, despite how painful it can be. 

So by yesterday I was exhausted.  I haven’t been sleeping well so I couldn’t even enjoy the extra hour.  I came into this week feeling run down and searching for a way to change my current situation so it isn’t so hard.  Not sure how to do that yet.

I saw this article earlier and wanted to share it: http://news.yahoo.com/loneliness-may-cause-fitful-sleep-study-211927698.html.  I absolutely believe it is true.  I sleep, but fitfully, because I feel too vulnerable to sleep well.  My body can’t fully relax.  I don’t think I will ever sleep as well as I did when Chris was alive.  I no longer have the same sense of security. I am sure it is the same for many other widows and widowers.

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