What is this?

What is this? I don't really know, other then a continuation of my updates and writings that I was sharing previously on Caringbridge of this journey through cancer and now widowhood and single parenting.

Maybe it won't end up being anything at all, or maybe it will be a glimpse into my heart, my life, my current situation, my testimony.

Whatever it becomes, I am touched that you are interested.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Widowhood FAQ: How are you doing?

Q: How did you get out of bed in the morning?
Q: What did you do with his stuff?
Q: When did you start dating?

You know you're curious, and that is very much ok.  It's the human condition. People's stories of trial are intriguing.

I've had the random nail technician ask me how I could still sleep in the same bed without him in it.  Fellow widow(er)s inquire on how to know when you're ready to date? Friends of friends ask if I've taken all his pictures down. 

So I want to share more about this experience. I hope it can help other widow(er)s to put words to the chaos in their mind knowing they aren't the only ones thinking crazy thoughts or doing downright stupid things.  Maybe it will give those supporting others in grief to know better how to help. Or maybe it will just quench some curiosity. 

God created me to have large holes in my filter, be incredibly blunt and sarcastic and share my life like an open book...unashamedly.   (Sometimes I really should be more ashamed...) And I just hope I can use these traits to bring something out of an incredibly difficult experience. 

So - send me a message if you have something you're curious about and I'll try to answer it. 

And I'll start with a brief disclaimer. I am in no way representing anyone else's journey through this. Grief, like love and like a fingerprint, is completely unique to each of us. There are absolutely commonalities, but what was right for me to do is not right for everyone to do. And generally speaking there is no "right" or "wrong" way to do it.  This is just my individual story.

Also, I may share things that can lead to painful judgement.  That's fine - I know who my Judge is, and it isn't you. (Sorry!)  I'm not proud of a lot of my ways of coping, but I am continuing to do the best I can with what I have.  (Thank you therapy for allowing me to finally accept this truth!) 

I am only human.  Would I do things differently?  Yeah - probably.  But it was a journey I had to take, mistakes I had to make, and victories I had to experience.  

The truth is that no matter how many times you put yourself mentally in a situation, until you are living it you truly do not know what you would or wouldn't do.  I proved my own preconceptions wrong over and over and took myself by surprise.  

Even when asked a very common and simple Frequently Asked Question:

"How are you doing?"

Well - in grief that changes day to day and minute to minute.  Most often my reply would be generic:  "Fine.", "Getting through.", "Tired."  

Believe it or not, it is a very hard question to answer.  Everything in me wanted to say "Awful.  I'm a brand new mom with lupus grieving the death of my 33 year old husband while trying to keep a newborn alive.  Daily I wish for a Mack truck to take out Aria and I while driving so we can just be done with all this.  Or you know what - maybe a carbon monoxide leak while we are sleeping would be less traumatic for those we will be leaving behind.  Whatever the method, I don't care, just make sure to take us both at the same time, and soon.  Everyday is like the movie groundhog day and I hate my life.  Thanks for asking, and how are you doing?"

However, I don't think that's the response anyone is prepared to hear!

And it's not a bad thing to ask that question, whether out of true concern or out of just not knowing what else to say.  

But here is a little suggestion I learned along the way.  Instead when conversing with someone going through a really hard time, ask "How are you doing today?"  It breaks it down into a manageable chunk for the grieving brain to attempt to process and answer.

And if you are in that person's inner circle, don't be afraid to say, "No-really, how badly are you doing today?" -if you can handle the truth.  Just know, we don't expect you to know what to say or how to fix us.  I often just wanted to tell someone the shit I was going through and just say to me, "I am so sorry.  Yeah - you're life really sucks right now." and just allow me to unload the chaos spinning in my mind.

These days, 2 1/2 years later, I can answer that question much easier.  I am not in shock anymore.  I have accepted that Brandon died.  Accepting does not mean I am OK with what happened, this is a common misunderstanding.  For me it meant that I knew it was real.  Denial and disbelief are very real parts of grieving.  And once I got beyond those feelings I knew I had a choice with what to do with that reality.  Pretty much solely for Aria's sake, I knew I had to find healing and live life not death.  

Some days I did "Fine.", some days I just "Got through", and some days I was "Tired of trying so hard."  

These days I have been able to answer with, "Really good, actually.", and it still surprises me. I hope that brings hope.