Monday, October 27, 2008

Yet another entry on grief

A few weeks after my husband died, a friend of mine lost her husband. Now, she's always had the kind of emotional calmness and social grace I've envied, but I know that her loss was just as hard if not harder to handle than my own. Her strength and poise helped me more than she knows.

No matter how I've tried to create a publicly acceptable facade, my real emotions stay close to the surface. If they get too close to breaking the public barrier, I go hermit to build up my protective shell. If I can't go hermit, I'll do or say something flaky that makes acquaintances go "hmmmm" and my friends say, "Uh, Cyn, how about a drink?" I'd love to be cool, but I know by now, it just ain't gonna happen.

I saw my friend for the first time in a couple of months and found out that she's dating. Whoa. Dating. It stunned me. That's a transition from thinking of yourself as a widow to being a single woman. Now, I think it's wonderful that she's out there again. I'm proud of her. I know that I'm not ready. Right now, I don't know if I'll ever be ready. I feel so old, and the idea of dating makes every body issue I've ever had spring to its feet and get into warrior stance. Just that I can think of my body in the context of being with another man though lets me know it might happen for me one day, but it still feels too strange.

Heck, I haven't even bought a headstone for R.'s grave yet. (That's been a nearly indescribably strange process.) I haven't put a period at the end of this particular sentence yet. I know I've come a long way. A lot of the mourning I've done has been about what's happened to my life, not just mourning the loss of my husband. (And that makes me feel really petty and selfish.)

One of the lessons I learned with my dieting journey has been not to put a defined timeline on big life changes. I intellectually know that I need to apply that to this change as well, but I still feel that I ought to be further along in the process. My depressive tendencies still want to suck me under, and I'm always going to have to watch that regardless of what's happening in my life. That's part of my desire to move forward faster. If I'm farther along, the backward slides won't be so devastating.

I tend to get hung up on the how-to's of making changes, and despite my wish for clear cut instructions, there aren't any out there. I no longer feel like I'm flailing, doing anything just to be doing something, but I'm definitely not clear on what I should be doing. I tend to focus on one little goal at a time but feel like I'm letting many important things drop in the process. This entry may sound self-pitying and sad, but those aren't my real feelings. I'm more in cool analytical mode, observing without unnecessarily cruel judgment. I cannot force myself to move forward before I'm really ready. I can exercise good manners and kindness to both myself and others. I can also acknowledge that things are different from what they were a few months ago, and while, I still don't really like it, I am handling it. Different though it may be, the transitions I've made still not quite recognized, I'm just still going through it.



Blogger Chris said...

I no longer feel like I'm flailing, doing anything just to be doing something, but I'm definitely not clear on what I should be doing.

Based on that sentence alone, I'd definitely say you are making progress, growing, and yes, even healing.

Reading through your thoughts on grief might be unnerving and scary for some people. But for me, I feel like I need to read it to be supportive, but from a selfish standpoint, I am trying learn from you.

October 27, 2008 6:35 PM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Chris, this may be the most moving comment I've ever received. Writing my way through this mourning has pushed me, but I've hoped that it would be useful for someone other than myself. Thank you.

October 27, 2008 6:56 PM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

Don't make the mistake of trying to force yourself to move ahead faster than you really can. I've found from experience that this kind of progress is not really progress, because you end up sidestepping things that you should really deal with. And they always come back to haunt you...

October 27, 2008 10:22 PM  
Blogger Gannet Girl said...

Grief definitely has its own timetable for each of us.
And the healing is so - so what? circular? upside down? one step forward and ten back?

If it is any help, my father remarried 11 months after the second time he was widowed. And my friend here who lost her husband about the same time you did has probably not even considered the word "date."

It's what it is. And many people are grateful for your words about it.

October 28, 2008 8:25 AM  
Blogger sunflowerkat321 said...

I don't hear self pity in this entry at all. I hear introspection. I think when we're grieving, there has to be a lot of that in order to recover (I don't use the word "heal").

I've learned to honor the baby steps. They are better than no steps at all. These losses have lifelong impact. The transitions can't happen all at once and they may be quite subtle. But, they lead to knowing we can continue to live...even enjoy life in spite of the impact. That's recovery.

October 28, 2008 3:39 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

a widowed friend of mine has told me that she has seen other widows move tooo fast and then regret decisions they make. Slow and steady is a good thing

November 01, 2008 10:58 AM  

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