#CharlieMike, grief, Grief Milestones, guilt, Life After Loss, Rebuilding, survivors guilt, Uncategorized

Five Things I Learned In My First 6 Months as a Widow

6 Months…

  • 15,724,800 seconds
  • 262,080 minutes
  • 4368 hours
  • 182 days
  • 26 weeks
  • 49.86% of 2018

It feels like its been so long, and yet, I remember that day like it just happened. It rips my heart out over and over again. Its been the most painstaking 6 months of my life, but everyday I get a little stronger. I wish there was a manual for all this, like when I walked down the long cold hall of the hospital that night without my husband that they would have handed me a magical guide that told me what the next 6 months would look like. Of course, that is not how this works, that’s not how any of this works. There have been several times in my life when I wished this, and looking back I made it through every single one, and I’m stronger for it. As I write this, I am sitting in the airport, on the second leg of my impromptu vacation because I thought if I ran away I could skip July, its not working. I didn’t have a manual, so I thought I’d share a couple things that I have learned in the last 6 months. Hopefully it can help someone else.

 

IMG_0412-2bw

  1. Grief can make you do some really crazy things, things you never imagined yourself doing, things that other people probably think you are out of your mind for.  Let me give you a full picture of my current situation; I am sitting in an airport, on the second leg of an impromptu vacation, wrapped in a blanket that is very generously sprayed in the cologne of my husband. I remember the night this became a thing, I was on the phone with a friend and my daughter had gone into my bedroom and pulled a t-shirt out of Daddy’s drawer like she always did, but this time she sprayed his cologne. I walked out of the room I was in and the whole house smelled like him. It caught me off guard. I couldn’t breathe, it consumed me. I got upset with her, I didn’t mean to but it was my reaction, she didn’t know it would upset me. I didn’t expect to smell him like that. It made me cry, and then it made me feel close to him. And then I got mad because that was all the cologne we had and she just sprayed a ton of it. I panicked, and I ordered a lifetime supply, thanks Amazon. The next day I felt a little buyers remorse because that was weird. The list goes on for days, but just know that if it brings you some comfort in that moment, do it. 

 

2. You absolutely CANNOT do it all on your own. Surprise. I have had to ask for help. My super human abilities only go so far apparently. I am about as stubborn as they come, I like to do things on my own, I like the sense of accomplishment, and you could probably say I like to learn things the hard way, this is one of those things. In order for me to function, I have had to ask for help. I had to ask people to cut down trees, and figure out my child locks, and help me remember things. I have had to have help with simple things, and complicated things. Grief has a way of making the smallest task seem huge, and the biggest things seem not important, sometimes you need outside perspective. Accept help, ask for help, its crucial.

3. You are Not the same person you were, and you never will be. This was a hard lesson to learn for me, I hold myself to an incredibly high standard, and I am not meeting it. The person I have become is a little bit unreliable, a little bit angry, she’s unsure of herself, and then moments later she is as sure as they come. The person I have become doesn’t quite know where she fits. I am no longer part of a couple, and yet, I don’t consider myself single either. Single but not available? No, thats not it either. I am Nate’s wife, but what does that mean now?  Somedays I want to talk, and others I don’t. That old person, that old life, it’s not coming back, and in order to begin to find some happiness, we have to let go of the idea that we could ever possibly be the same after going through something so devastating.

4. You will break down and ugly cry at the most inconvenient times, let it happen. In an airplane, at church, in Target, at the beach, driving in traffic. No one tells you that you will spend entire days crying. No one tells you that you will cry over things you didn’t even know you remembered about them, and no one tells you that its also okay to not cry over something you feel like you should. Give yourself some grace.

5. You HAVE to LIVE. Its hard, I don’t want to do anything without him, I didn’t want to eat, sleep or breathe, let alone have fun. I’ve let guilt consume me at times, for having fun, for living my life. Nate wouldn’t want me to be miserable, he would want me to live the life he can’t, to live the life I want, just like I would do if he were here. Its not easy, but forcing myself to do things anyways, to make new memories, to have fun and find peace have been whats pulled me through.

We are doing this, friends. One day at a time, and if we can’t do that, one minute. Forward motion, no matter what it looks like is still forward motion.

Fathers Day, grief, Life After Loss, Loss, Single Parent, survivors guilt, Vulnerability

Fathers Day after Loss

The start of summertime means pool days, bbqs, family vacation, and Fathers Day. The day we celebrate all those amazing Fathers in our lives. I couldn’t have created a better Father for my children if I sat down and wrote out a list of everything I wanted him to be and somehow manifested him into human form. Literally. Nate was patient, and kind,  and yet, he was consistent and firm. He taught them that life wouldn’t be easy, but provided them with tools to navigate it. He was working hard to shape them into strong, independent little people who love God, and love others. Their Father was busy, but he tucked them into bed every single night with prayers and heart to heart conversations. Every.Single. Night. Not going to lie, I was sometimes jealous. By the time he made it in to me, sometimes hours later, he was ready for bed. I knew Fathers Day was coming, and yet, I chose not to acknowledge it until it was literally crumbling me. I seem to have a way of doing that.

I remember our first Fathers Day together. It was around the time we had just found out I was pregnant. I was terrified. This was not how my life was supposed to look. He wasn’t terrified at all. He had the same calming ways about him that he did until the day he died. I remember going to my first appointment, he came to pick me up and brought me the book “What to expect when your expecting,” professing that he had already read the part talking about what to expect today, and presenting me with our baby’s first outfit, an orange striped Tigger character onesie. I was 19, still very much a child, but I knew in that moment that with this man, the Father of my child, I would be okay. Celebrating your first fathers Day was easy.

Celebrating this first Fathers Day though, is crushing my soul.

What now? Here we are 13 years later. Two children, and me. Alone.

Im tired.

I’m overwhelmed.

I can’t be him, and me.

So what do we do now? How can we celebrate Fathers Day when our hearts are shattered? This is just the first of many, and I know it isn’t going to get easier. I tried to buy Fathers Day cards for the other Fathers in our lives, to celebrate them, and I couldn’t.

I

couldn’t

even.

walk.

down.

the aisle.

I realized days later that wasn’t fair, so I went back. I cried the whole time, ugly cried, publicly. No one bothered me. They just went about picking their own Fathers Day Cards.  I didn’t want to be bothered and yet, it made me feel even more alone. The kids picked out their cards for Grandpas, and uncles, and a few others.

Without a beat, they also picked out several for their own Father.

I guess this means we will celebrate Fathers Day, as we always did. It will just look a little bit different this time.

IMG_3094.jpg

#CharlieMike, grief, guilt, Loss, survivors guilt, Uncategorized

Guilt is Destructive

The guilt is consuming me today. It’s overwhelming. I feel like I could have, and should have done more, I feel like I should have known this was coming. He didn’t feel good, and I left anyways. I feel like I did this. Did I cause too much stress? I am a difficult person, I am needy, and I put a lot of pressure on myself and others to be more, and do more, to push the limits. I’ve always put that on him, I’ve always pushed him. Was there more I could have done? I don’t know, I’ll never know, I mean, I do know, I know my own brain is playing with my mind and heart, and there was nothing I could have done, he was surrounded by the most capable people, and they couldn’t even do anything. They tried, so hard. I don’t know that I could have been here anyways, I don’t know where I would be if I were there and couldn’t save him. Ultimately, I couldn’t save him, but physically being here and being unable to save him, I feel like would have crushed me more. I am trying to draw on my own strength. I know it’s there because I’ve been able to find perspective in hard times my whole life, granted, things have never ever been THIS hard, but nonetheless, at the time, what I thought I was dealing with was the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with, and yet, hear I am. I feel like looking back, so many things foreshadowed this, that sounds absolutely nuts, but my whole married life, has been documented, in many ways, my own thoughts and words, written for me to see, our story, captured by so many. We always seemed to grab the attention of someone, we’ve always had so much favor. It’s overwhelming and powerful at the same time. I have all this to look back on, all of this to revisit, my own strength and his to draw upon. My blogs, our documentary, news stories, random pictures that people took, random stories shared about him, all of it. There is a bigger purpose, there always has been, but it’s really hard to see right now, it was then too, but now I know what that purpose was, so it kind of smacks me in the face when I’m down. Flipping through old blogs this morning, I found this, it was referencing a scene (notice I said scene, like I live in a movie or something, must be a lifetime movie, honestly, I want my 2 hours back,) at our kitchen table where Nate was having trouble with a school assignment, it was not the work that was challenging, it was simply copying something from the screen to the paper, as I sat there with a kid in my lap, eating, with my phone, and doing my homework; I was multitasking and he couldn’t, something I took for granted.

“I learned two very important lessons just  sitting there last night. 1.) Determination.  He kept trying no matter how frustrated he got, no matter how many times he didn’t get it right, he was going to sit there until he got it right. If he needed to take a break for a few minutes and come back to it, he did, but he never gave up. 2.) Appreciate a little more. In this life we tend to say don’t take things for granted, but most times we mean family, friends, life in general, we never really take the time to think about the small things. Appreciate EVERYTHING, even if it is a simple thing like the ability to do math, or copy from a notepad to a computer. Appreciate that you can hear, that you can see, that you can hold a pencil. Appreciate that you can run, and jump, and swim. Everyone has an amazing skill set, use it, perfect it, and never take it for granted. Things could change in an instant, and you will wish you had.” 

Things did change, again, and in an instant, again, and here I am. Trying to find the strength, trying to find the perspective in all THIS, that I did in all THAT. 

reflection.jpg