A Jumble of Emotions

On this Maundy Thursday, I am a jumble of emotions. I found a photo that sums that up quite well. I posted that photo from Pieces of Soul on Facebook that said:

“Please know that I am trying the best I can to push myself through the pain, the fatigue, the fog, the insomnia, the guilt, the judgement, and particularly through the fear.” That sums it up quite well along with some funny times and some lovely memories.

The pain continues to come in waves and makes for some hard days. This week I have been working more on paperwork and calls of things that have to be resolved by me, a surviving spouse.  It is hard since these are things that Kirk and I did together and planned for our long-term future. It is hard to continue to realize that is not to be.

Thankfully I am sleeping better than I had been and that is helping with fatigue.  Still I seem to need more sleep that I used to and am still tired in the mornings. I am dreaming more now so the sleep is better and for that I am thankful. I am also dealing with emotional fatigue and the weight of this loss. Some days I can handle that and other days I can’t.

The fog of my brain seems to be lifting and that is good and bad. I am moving out of the shock and having to confront this loss head-on. That is very painful but part of the grieving process. The first week, I could barely answer someone when they asked me a question. I would just stare blankly at people. Now, I can answer, sometimes with crying and sometimes not. So, this is improving.

I still sometimes have insomnia but it isn’t as frequent now.  That is good since I don’t function well without a good night’s sleep.  I still usually wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Sometimes I can easily go back to sleep and other times it is difficult. So, I will then think of all kinds of things — a fun memory, how sad I am, our loss, and so much more.

Guilt is starting to fester for me now and I don’t like it. I continue to wish that I could have done more for him that morning in November. I feel bad that I didn’t call 911 sooner, and wonder if I could have changed something, would he still be here?  I know that a lot of professionals tried to revive him and couldn’t, so I need to have peace with what I did do. Still, the guilt is there.

Judgement is not something I have been feeling yet, other than of myself and what signs I should have seen in him that we could have looked into. Still, I know that he is in a much better place and is no longer having any issues. He is at peace and is in a place of real and unconditional love and grace. And that is a comfort for me.

As far as fear, that is a very real feeling that I am trying to keep under control. Still, many days my fears and worries come up. I worry that something will happen to me and I worry that something will happen to our son. I so want to see him grow into a man, to graduate from high school, to have an amazing life and family of his own. I just hate that his dad won’t be here for those milestones.

It is interesting after a sudden death, the mind plays tricks on you that your fate will be the same. I hope and pray that will not be the case for us, but who knows. In addition, I worry that I cannot handle all of this on my own. I had a team-mate and life partner to go through it all and now he is gone. I am trying and continue to do so, but know I am lacking in so many ways. I just have to make peace with what I can do and try each day to do something.

Along with all of this, our son and I continue to talk, share memories of his dad, laugh about them, laugh about new things, and enjoy being together. The fact that we have each other is such a blessing. And, we have family and friends who have helped us so very much with prayers, with being there, with lunches out, with movies, with chatting, with gifts, and with support. Despite our pain, we are blessed.

Tonight we will be at church for our Maundy Thursday service where we will celebrate the Lord’s Last Supper. On the night he was betrayed, he broke break and shared it with his disciples. They then drank wine together.

At our service, we will partake of the bread and wine together. We will talk about Holy Week and the terrible things that Jesus suffered before his death and resurrection. We will be reminded that he didn’t want this fate but took it on anyway. Talk about love.

On Friday, we will listen to his last words on the cross, and then imagine his death and burial. The church will get dark and everyone will leave quietly and reflect on Good Friday.  And, on Sunday, we will celebrate his triumph.  We have a sunrise service at a local marina that I enjoy attending. The beauty of nature with the beauty of Easter is an amazing blessing.

This year, my love is in Heaven to celebrate this Easter morning miracle. I cry happy tears just thinking about it. And, I expect tears to flow over the next few days. I look forward to singing the amazing songs and remember the importance of them all. I know I will be emotional for this first Easter without Kirk, so I am trying to prepare. Still, I will cry as I need to.

Each Easter, we dressed up and took plenty of pictures. I am so very thankful that we did. This weekend with family and friends, we will take more photos.  And, I expect to have lovely memories with them, have some laughs with loved ones, enjoy those moments together, and live life to the fullest.

May those of you also grieving this Holy Week have hope for brighter days. May you have peace along with the pain. May you know the promise of Easter and life everlasting.  And, may you have love along with the loss.

The Grief Goes On…

Four months ago this week, we lost the man who I was privileged to call my husband.  In some ways, it seems like it has been longer than that. In others, it has moved ahead quickly with a big hole in our lives. And most of all, our lives will never be the same.

Yesterday, I read a blog about grief. The author shared that his father died on a Saturday morning, so that day of the week would never again be the same for him. That is how it has been for me each Monday since Kirk’s passing. This author also mentioned that after such a loss, you see things in terms of before and after the event. I have found that to be true.

I can hold it together for much of the week, but each Monday morning, I tend to relive what happened, often in bits and pieces. The health crisis that he was in, calling 911, watching the police officers do CPR prior to the firemen and paramedics getting to our house and then taking over, and working on him until they took him in an ambulance to the hospital.

My parents then arrived at our house and Ian woke up.  We all then went to the hospital hoping and praying that he would be okay.  When we arrived, they put us in a side room which would have had me concerned if I wasn’t in such shock.  A nurse, a doctor, and a family liaison then came in and told us that although his heart had restarted a few times, it didn’t stay pumping and that he had died.

We screamed and cried and were in deep shock. I couldn’t process this. How is it possible? How could this happen?  He should have woken up and been okay.  We just had laughed and talked the night before going to bed.  We had just had a great and Happy Thanksgiving weekend with our family and friends.  We had just been enjoying our life.

After receiving this shock, I went to see him.  It looked like my love but didn’t feel like him.  He was cold to the touch. That was such a bizarre feeling that I will never forget.   He was always warm when I held his hand or received a hug. I knew physically that he was gone but my brain couldn’t begin to process it.

I then went back to check on our son to see how he was doing.  Our pastor was there as well and that was a great comfort.  The pastor went with me the second time I went to see Kirk and prayed for him and for us.  I looked at him and willed him to wake up, I begged God to bring him back, but sadly, that was not to be.  For some reason that I don’t yet understand, it was his time to go.

I asked the nurse for his wedding band and she took it off his hand. I have been wearing it every day since. This brings me some comfort to have a part of something that was precious to him — us and our marriage and our life together.  That is so deeply precious to me as well.

After receiving the ring, I said goodbye and then went back to check on our son who was still in shock. My parents had started reaching out to our family and friends to give them the news. I was also still in shock. They suggested going to have breakfast so we left and I tried to eat. I couldn’t process answers to questions from my mom. I was numb and lost and so deeply sad. .

Now, I wish I had stayed longer with Kirk at the hospital, but all I could think of was to be with Ian and try to be strong for him and share in his grief and loss. I have asked Kirk to forgive me for leaving him when I did. I am finding comfort in knowing that he was already in Heaven and his body was simply a shell that I could say goodbye to.

We spent the rest of the day at our house.  My brother and sister also arrived from out-of-town. It was so good to see them and share our memories. Later someone went to get food from a favorite restaurant. As we were together, I was able to eat. We talked, we cried, and we shared good times we had just had with Kirk. We grieved together and all tried to support Ian.

One of Kirk’s brothers and wife came over later to see us. Many of his family lives out-of-town and they were all there for the memorial service. Seeing them that Monday meant the world to me. We were all shocked and saddened to lose this man who meant so much to us. We didn’t really know what to say but it was helpful to just be together.

That evening, Ian’s best friend and his mother came to see us, had made us a meal, and loaned us some DVDs. It was great to see them and especially nice for Ian. Since then, we regularly see them, go to the park, have meals and watch movies together. And, the boys play together, talk and laugh, which means the world to me.

That week we were also visited by other friends, neighbors, church members, and the pastor who performed our wedding and gave us such a special message as we started our life together. We also received text messages, notes on Facebook, emails, and phone calls. These loved ones prayed with us and shared stories with us.

We are so very fortunate to have such a great support system to help us through this. People cooked us food or delivered it from our favorite restaurants. Others gave us gift cards, sympathy cards, and Christmas cards. Our friends and family have gone above and beyond for us and we are so very thankful for that.

I was married to Kirk for 20 years. Last week, we visited clients that he had worked with long before he met me.  It was nice to share stories with them about him, to hear what he meant to them, and to cry together. It has rocked them as well as my family.

That week, I slept well at our hotel and that was great. It felt good to be busy and have some purpose. I have been floundering for a while. Still, there was time to share the grief and acknowledge that it is a part of our lives. We also prayed together and also were able to laugh. So life was going on as well as the grief.

All of us will be touched one day by the loss of a loved one. Sharing that with others makes that burden more bearable. When you have loved and lost, the grief does go on.  But so does life, so we try to have good times and find the positive things that we can enjoy. At times, I feel guilty that we are moving forward, but I have to realize that is what Kirk would want for us.  He always wanted the best for us and I cherish that.

One of the things Kirk would say with some laughter is that Heaven wasn’t ready for him and hell wouldn’t take him. That Monday in late November, Heaven was ready for him. Just we who loved him were not ready. As I said earlier in this piece, I still don’t know the reason but am trying to live with the new normal.

Our son has his entire life ahead of him so I want to share that with him and celebrate it. We remember and talk about his dad. I tell him stories of times with his dad throughout his young life. And we try to carry out the plans and ideas that he’d had for our family with some adjustments.

If you are grieving, I hope and pray that you have a support system, a faith, and the knowledge that you will be reunited with your loved one in the future. That is what I believe and it helps in the hardest of times. Blessings to you and yours.

Our Hardest Weeks

Over the past few weeks, my son and I have been trying to deal with the passing of my husband. It was sudden and unexpected but just how he would have wanted it just not for at least 20 years or more. (picture from Power Point clip art)

Since I am a writer, I realized that I needed to take some time and write down my feelings in order to start dealing with them. In the first week, I was up in the middle of the night for several nights in a row. During that time, I have been thinking of what I wanted to say. So here goes.

These have been the hardest several weeks for me and for our son but they have not been hard for my loving and sweet husband. He is in glory and there is comfort in that. My family and friends have also been an amazing comfort. So many people have reached out and have come through for us and we really and truly appreciate that.

But for me it hurts like hell. Parts of the day I am okay since he traveled a lot. I don’t think it has all sunk in yet. Other parts when it hits me that he is never coming back as we knew him, I want to scream. And, in fact, one of my friends whose husband died two years ago told me to do so. She said to wail when you need to. So recently while in the shower I did. I will again.

A few friends have mentioned that they are amazed at my strength. I feel I have to be strong right now for our son. There are times when I am strong but there are also times when I am very weak and ready to fall apart. So, I am taking it one day at a time, and sometimes, one hour at a time and even minutes at a time. And I am crying in front of our son and he is too. We are in this together.

The first week, my brain was in a fog and it was hard to do the normal things. I kept making mistakes and forgetting things or staring at someone. That is the pain and grief and perhaps a coping mechanism. I have worked as an editor so it is odd to not see mistakes that I could always see. It is frustrating but you know what, I don’t care right now.

I have several friends who have also lost their husbands. They have reached out to me. A few of them had a sudden loss, others have dealt with a longer term situation. No matter how the loss happens, it hurts so much. Some have younger children and others have children who are grown adults. No matter the time in life, it is still very hard to lose your soul mate and life partner.

With all of the pain we are going through, we are clinging to our faith in Jesus. That is a great comfort, as are our family, friends, church, school, neighborhood, and community. Imagining Kirk walking the streets of Heaven and making new friends makes me smile with tears in my eyes. There are so many who I imagine he is chatting with. That helps on the worst days.

My husband and I had talked about our plans and what he wanted when he died. He took care of us and did all he could so we would be okay. I will do my best to honor his legacy. Still, I am bumbling through all of the paperwork and things that have to be taken care of and people who have to be notified.

We had a celebration of life that was attended by both family and friends. We all cried and laughed as we remembered my dear sweet love. The outpouring from our loved ones has been amazing and has helped sustain us and helped us carry on. They say it takes a village, and that seems to especially be true in times of great loss and grief.

My advice is to talk with your loved ones about all of this hard stuff, arrangements, words for an obituary, your finances, and names of your relatives. It is just so hard to do immediately after the loss. Be sure that you both know what the other wants, and how and where to find the important papers.

There is a song that Tim McGraw sings that says to live like you are dying. I don’t like those exact words but he is onto something. I have learned the hard way how important it is to savor each moment with our loved ones and not take them for granted. We do often do that and get stuck in our own little ruts. My husband and I did that as well.

We had a great life together but it was by no means perfect. We would argue and annoy each other and sometimes fight, but we would make up. We made a point to do that. I cannot tell you how much of a blessing that is to me right now. And, with it all was love. I know he loved us and he knew we loved him.

We met when we were both a bit older than many people who get married and we knew it was right from the start. We had a wonderful 20 years together and a sweet son. Still, I want more. The fact he wasn’t here for any of December hit me last night and hurt again. I feel that I should have done more for him at the end but did all that I could.

I don’t like thinking of him in the past tense. I remember how vibrant and full of life he was. He lived his life full of love and laughter and also worked hard. We had our inside jokes and traditions that I want to keep alive for our son. We had annoyances with one another as all couples do. We complemented each other with our skills and abilities and we supported each other. We also had such a rich and treasured history that I will cherish and tell our son about when the time is right.

There are many of us who are grieving. My husband was also a father, a brother, a son, an in-law, a nephew, an uncle, a cousin, a friend, and a teacher and friend to his students. The people who had these relationship with him are also grieving and in shock.

Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking of a song “I Can Only Imagine,” that brought me to tears before all of this happened. This summer, the three of us watched the movie of the same name. We all cried and hugged one another. What a memory. It is one I will cherish for a long time.

Amazingly, now my love is experiencing all of this. After I cry some ugly tears, I try to imagine what he did when he arrived in Heaven. I then smile and cry some more. My love, you are missed and loved.

I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me (most of the words)

I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk, by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When you face is before me
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Surrounded by You glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine when that day comes
When I find myself standing in the Son
I can only imagine when all I would do is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine
I can only imagine