Monday, September 19, 2011

Voices of Experience: He Died Two Years Ago

Photo courtesy of renjith krishnan
The human organism knows how to heal itself, once it knows its symptoms are normal. ~ Gail Sheehey, in New Passages

This moving post was written by the mother of two teens; she was suddenly widowed when her husband of 17 years was killed in a tragic accident in the summer of 2009. It is reprinted here with her permission.

He died two years ago tomorrow. Sometimes it feels like he surely can't be gone and at other times it seems like a century since we last held each other.

Two whole years. I have been trying to figure out what I've been doing for two years. The first month or two I was numb and I only remember cleaning everything over and over again, trying to keep busy and needing to escape reality. I didn't dare sip a glass of wine, I was so sure it would lead to a fifth of tequila. I sold my husband’s business, filed for social security for the kids and learned that I might be losing my job. Oh, and my husband’s father found out he had cancer and almost died too. In my spare time I remember spending a lot of time curled up in a ball on the floor or screaming in the shower hoping the kids wouldn't hear me. I was wrong.  They heard everything and I probably have scarred them for life.

At month three and four I knew I couldn't survive the pain--it was just too hard. I spent hours begging God to take me to be with my husband. I couldn't sleep and lost 25 pounds, which put me at 5'8" and 105 lbs. Everyone begged me to eat and I refused. I was pissed off and knew that NOT eating was one thing I had control of. I lived off water and occasionally gagged down a salad. I couldn't sleep and the doctor prescribed something mild and made sure I only had a month’s supply so I couldn't kill myself. He had the gall to chastise me for not having had my mammogram, and I remember telling him he was nuts if he thought I was going to do anything to prolong this hell. It was the first time I had smiled in weeks.

By the fifth and sixth month I had returned to work but didn't talk to anyone and spent most of my time researching ways to die on the Internet. I knew I couldn't blow my brains out and I didn't want a mess for my kids to find. I shared with a friend that I couldn't be the mom that my kids needed me to be and that they were suffering watching me day after day unable to function. That if I could figure a way out that was fool proof then I would be content to go. I really thought my kids would understand and would be better off with relatives. I know he thought I was crazy and he was right. When you contemplate suicide you are not able to see anything except the pain and you just want it to STOP!!! The weird thing is that once I found a fool-proof way to do it, I started to get a break in the pain. Knowing that I had control over whether I lived or died was a relief. I was in the driver’s seat again. Now the choice was mine. If I felt bad enough, I had my way out.

By the seventh and eighth month I realized I had survived his birthday, our anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. It was spring and I planted a garden, went for walks and took my kids white water rafting. I started to realize that maybe, just maybe, I would survive. But I was still pissed because I really wanted to be with him and I felt torn.

The first year anniversary was hard but the day itself wasn't as hard as I had built it up to be. I sat down and wrote a letter to my friends and told them that I was stronger and yearned to be happy again. I started to fight my way back.

But that second year in many ways was worse than the first year. I was truly on my own. I had no idea who I was and I had no idea who I wanted to be. I couldn't be me anymore because my world had been destroyed. You see, Mark and I were as one. We were so intertwined. There had never been a me or a him once we were married. We were one. He went to work one day and never came home. No warning, no preparation, no fears. Just, poof. Gone!

I spent most of year number two trying new things all alone. And for the first six months of that second year it pretty much sucked. I did everything angry and resentful but I kept doing things. I also rested a lot. I lay around the house a lot. I let things go that I had never let go before. Most things really didn't matter to me. The windows covered with dog nose-prints stayed that way. The fish tank didn't get cleaned often. I was easily distracted and felt like my life was forced. If you asked me if I was happy, I would have laughed at you and then bit your head off.

So now I am at the end of year two. I'm still not "happy" but I can tell that I will be happy someday. I can go out and have fun with friends. I'm not uncomfortable with people and I feel a lot better. I still cry a lot and I just accept the pain now. I never fight it anymore. I have plans for fall that include a hiking club, exercise, a Spanish class and hopefully a date with a man. But it will have to be someone totally different than my man. Because no one could compare to him. But I'm not ready to look, just open to the opportunity now. No rush.

Tomorrow I'm going to buy myself flowers. I'm going to write a letter to me from Mark. He's going to tell me he's sorry he died and that I deserve these flowers. Then I'm going to get a manicure and a pedicure. I'm going to cry with the nail lady who lost her husband five years ago. I'm going to come home and cry some more. Listen to a meditaton CD. In the evening we will make tomato basil bisque soup and toasted cheese sandwiches. Then we will go out for a big ice cream sundae at The Sugar Bowl. Then I will watch TV until I fall asleep and then year number two will be over. 

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  1. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I wish you the best with everything and know you will be able to see him again someday. I'm just a Home Care Franchises guy, but I understand the pain that comes from losing someone your close to. My prayers go out to you.

    God bless.

  2. This was a very touching story. My condolences go out to whoever it was that wrote this.

  3. I will cry with you.

  4. I am at month number 10. I am not sure if I will be feeling any better at 110. At times I feel as if I am doing better and right in the middle of it I run face first into a brick wall, or at least thats what it feels like. I hope that someday things do get better

  5. Thank you for this honest and heart-felt post. I hope you are feeling new possibilities in the third year. My husband died four years ago and I didn't have the complications of having kids still at home or a sudden loss. My husband and I were extremely close for 42 years and we knew what was coming. By 2 1/2 years, I felt interested in life, curious about my future, and willing to help with other people's struggles. At 4 years, I carry my grief close to my heart, but a new life is being created with opportunities to discover the new person I am becoming. I wish you and your sons the best.
    Elaine Mansfield


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