Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
The journey begins on the last day. March 9, 2019, the day my husband died. K., my husband of 22 years was at home alone that morning. He’d suffered for years with both chronic pain and Bipolar. Those two things had stolen a lot of joy and hope from K., but I had always seen a future with Kim in it, despite his medical problems. My son was at a friend’s home at the time. The majority of the day was spent with a steady flow of police, detectives, medical examiner and the EMT’s traipsing through the house talking to me me slowly in quiet voices. Finally when they all left I called my son to come home and had the heartbreaking experience of telling him that his dad had died. Your heart can break again and again in a single day.
That day marks the steep divide between before and after. In the before I was firmly grounded in who I was and what I was supposed to do. Before I was Jill: wife, mother, nurse, reader, woman of faith, singer, decorator, finder-of-lost items…. I suddenly became a widow, single mother, distracted, confused, sad, loser of all sorts of things from car keys, to my way while driving to places I’d been countless times, to my place in the world.
Thankfully I have friends and family that kept me connected to the world with phone calls, emails and texts. They also made sure that I was cared for and fed and navigating the necessities of life. I might otherwise have stayed in bed with Netflix and dined on the remnants of brown rice, canned peas and other items from the back of the cupboard until that ran out.
No one ever prepared me for the way that grief knocks you down and every time you get up and get your bearings it does it again and again. All sorts of things came shaking loose out of me every time I hit the ground: anger, fear, memories, bizarre humor. This is not what we are taught. Grief is supposed to look like this: sweet and loving person fades out and leaves us. We share wonderful memories at the funeral. Said loving person is buried. We go back to our lives and work after the 3 day bereavement leave is up. Gradually we feel better. We process our grief, get over it, move on and loving person is part of our past.
Here’s the kicker: grief doesn’t look anything like that to me. It’s not sweet and well behaved. It knows no timeline, stage or process. The intensity varies according to some baffling emotional algorithm that is indecipherable. So either I have become some sort of grief black sheep, I’m going mad or I’m not the only one and nobody is talking about it. I think the latter is true or I wouldn’t bother writing this blog. Grief is ugly, uncomfortable, politically incorrect and I am going to lay it all out in black and white.