The concept of acceptance would not be applied to David’s death – I decided, and it would never become a part of my journey. You see, because I perceived “acceptance” as a combination of giving up – giving in. A signal [a white flag] to all the world that I was all better – “over” the death of my remarkable, loving husband. Needless to say, it created a long struggle between my desire to overcome the daily challenges and my need to adjust to the new realities of being a “widow.” What would I have to let go of? -in order to fall into the proper category of acceptance. And IF I accepted his death – did that mean I didn’t love him as much as I said I did? would he still be remembered? Would he begin to fade from my own memory? was I being disloyal to him? I have struggled with the notion of “acceptance” in the grieving process – struggled to find my answers and what it means to me … struggled to find my balance of letting go and holding on.
I poked along at a snail’s pace, I busted and barreled through the barricades, scaled the obstacles, I have been quiet – withdrawal, obnoxious, driven and outspoken. I was going to figure out the best way to tackle my grief “head-on” … but I was really just running fast and furiously away from anything that I thought would anchor me to my grief – my feelings of loss were so intense that fear drove me and the appearance of “strong” took it’s place. I was afraid that if I stood still long enough my grief [pain] would take hold of me – my life and I would never find my way out of the darkness. On the rare occasions that I did stop to catch my breath – I read. One day I stumbled onto an article, I had no way of knowing then that it would someday become my own truth; … “when I am surrounded by either the pain of loss or the loneliness after the death of my husband, I allow myself to “rest in the riddle” I allow myself to not know the answer, to sit in the stillness. I give myself the permission to not ask the why, when, what or how.” – obviously “resting” was a foreign concept to me, and so I thought inconsequential in my healing process.
It is the identity theft that I have encountered in the wake of David’s death that was the most confusing and a very difficult transition to make. Your life is no longer joined with another person – the one that you’ve spent most of your life with – building and creating a life together where you first learn to make concessions because you’ll find change always happening within your marriage – individuals who are ever changing and growing in effect grow and change in all areas of their life. I missed my counter balance – it was always true for us that when one was weak the other was strong. There is no more “us” – I am not a part of a couple anymore. The bank accounts, insurance policies and car registrations no longer bear his name – You no longer make that call – just before leaving your office, nobody is there to greet you at the end of your day. You’ve nurtured the needs of someone you love, applauded his successes – supported him during his defeats, you’re considered and are considerate – one day it all ceases to exist.
Comparison eliminates perspective, your awareness and self-acceptance. I was once told that what I needed to do was power through, ironically she had not experienced the death of her husband [thankfully]. Other widows, one who was now 10 years into her own journey – showed up with a “how-to” list. What I know today, with a less emotional [wounded] perspective – people are not replaceable and pain is not comparable. Once I was able to step away from the less then favorable input [toxic relationships] in my life I could be clear and find the confidence I would need. I have learned that my inability to be vulnerable in my own grief was simply ME leading in fear. It wasn’t until I could be “still” that I was able to hear the cries of my own heart and find the courage to live through the pain. I had to let the memories flood my heart like the ocean waters that sweep the shore line – making the sand soft and pliable. I had to allow myself to feel each ache of every emotion that my memories evoked deep within my heart and my soul.
… I was learning to embrace my pain and deal with my grief.
My choice to move boldly into my future is not diminishing my love for David, I am choosing to honor it. I have given myself the permission to not ask the why, when, what or how. For now, it’s enough for me that my memories are rich and full – laughter and love filled our life together.
“To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness” – Erich Fromm