You know me…I always try and look on the bright side if I can (except when it comes to Halloween costumes apparently), but there have been several times when I’ve jokingly said that there’s nothing wrong with a good wallow every once in a while.
But this was something I learned a lot later than I should have.
I’ve always known that I’m an impatient griever. Right after my husband died, I remember saying to my sister, “I can’t wait to be a year out and farther away from this whole ‘widow’ thing.”
I don’t know why I thought that. That was before I’d read any books about grief or before I even knew any other widows. But I had it in my head that if I could just get a year away from his death…I would be much better off. Maybe I wouldn’t even be considered a widow anymore!
Denial. Denial, denial, denial.
And I wasn’t just denying that all of this had happened. It was so much more than that. I didn’t want to feel angry because I didn’t think it would do me any good. I didn’t want to feel sad because it wasn’t on my agenda. I didn’t want to feel lonely because I knew that if I didn’t want to be alone, it was within my power to fix it.
How unfair I was to myself to not let it all in! And the truth is…it came anyway because you can only push it back for so long before it takes a battering ram and gets in somehow. Just because it was within my power not to be alone…didn’t mean that I wasn’t lonely. And just because being angry did me no good…doesn’t mean that I wasn’t. And even though I kept telling myself I was fine…the sadness was always there.
And little of it always will be.
It’s ironic, isn’t it, that the woman who couldn’t wait to get away from widowhood started blogging about pretty much nothing but widowhood? But for the first, I would say, 2 years after he died, I did everything within my power to push my grief away. I stayed as busy as I possibly could, trying to develop a life that had nothing to do with my loss. I tried to outrun it, out-shop it, and outlive it.
And now you have no idea how much I regret that I did that.
I wish with all of my heart that I had started blogging or journaling the day after my husband died. Oh, I had some things written down here and there. But the truth of it was that my life was so frightening to me at the time…to put it down in black and white was unthinkable. The anger, the confusion, the sadness, and…yes…the despair. With everything around me geared toward moving on and moving forward, I thought I was doing the right thing by not “wallowing,” putting on a happy face, and getting on with my life. And I know that it must sound so odd to you that I wish that I could remember every little detail about my early days of grief now. But I’ll tell you why.
It’s because I think that was when I was learning the most.
I was concentrating so hard on moving forward as fast as I could that I forgot to focus on the present and what I was learning. I didn’t know that my sadness was forming my compassion. I didn’t realize that my anger was fueling my determination. I didn’t know that my confusion was developing my focus and helping me put together a different life.
That all of those things…they served a purpose in shaping who I was becoming. And by ignoring them…I was denying a part of myself.