A Young Widow’s Point of View on Grief and Sex

Loss of touch is an unexpected and painful secondary loss that not many are so bold to speak of.

That door is slammed shut, usually in an instant.  It’s another type of grief in of itself at times.

This is not the same kind of longing when you are in between boyfriends in high school.  Alot of us by now have spent half our lives with our partner.  And for the ones that haven’t been blessed with that amount of time- the pain is still, and should be, justified.

Sure, you could easily go find someone next door, online or at a bar.  And you certainly can, without any shame!  More power to ya sister!  I say that with unconditional and full support.

But for many of us who were truly in love and committed to our marriage or relationship, our loyalty didn’t die with our spouse.  Unfortunately, our earthly desires didn’t die either.

Yet another paradox in our grief.  This is why some of us feel like we are going insane at times.  In desperation.  It happens to the best of us as I have so humbly encountered.

In time, I wish you to realize that this is ok.  To feel admiration or love with a new connection.  To go after your desires as you embrace the rest of your human life.

Nothing can ever touch what you shared with your spouse.  And you deserve every bit of life left that you can squeeze out. You deserve chemistry, growth, confidence…

I was proud to become my own rock after my husband passed.  I wasn’t scared to ask for help but I also found I was pretty capable.  I could also take care of and love myself.  It knocked me off my rocker when I was enlightened with the discovery that we really aren’t supposed to do so much on our own.

Babies in an orphanage were dying once.  They were fed and sheltered.  But they were not held.  Graphic I know.  But true.

Touch is a basic human need.  You do not grow out of this need.  Ever.  Do not be ashamed of your basic human need.

It is ok.

Most importantly.  Do not not lower your standards because of loneliness. You are your own light.  You are whole.  Don’t settle for someone who only sees you as half.

I wish you courage to keep an open heart and to be both strong and vulnerable.  And to allow yourself to experience a new level of electricity.

Go feel alive again.

From Caregivers to Suicide Survivors

When someone close becomes ill, by means of any kind of mental instability or disease, it’s incredibly difficult to comprehend what you are witnessing; as they begin to deteriorate.

To be honest, it was like waiting for the show ‘Punked’ to come running out, because there was no possible way that this could really be happening.

Hallucinations, panic attacks, suicide idealtion, their loss of positive memories due to complete cognitive distortion… sometimes they don’t even remember loving you.  Or maybe they even believed you were committing adultery.

You learn quite about yourself when faced with something so horrific.  You just do the things necessary.  You just get through.  You fight your ass off for them because they can’t.  You can forget about showing emotion in front of them because it only makes them feel worse.

Then there is the guilt when you watch yourself behave in such a way that is selfish because of your own human shortcomings- when you are under your own pressure cooker of distress:

Anger when things don’t get better.  If they fight or cannot accept help.  Remorse or shame from seeking attention, in the hopes of one bit of affection from the man you still desire as he is quickly slipping away.

The grieving process begins way before the death.  I can’t even begin on what’s it’s like to, almost overnight, yearn for the man you hear in the videos that your 4 year old is playing on your phone.  The “before” pictures are too hard to look at.  Keeping the “after” pictures to yourself.  Except for one.  Because it doesn’t look like much is wrong.  So you share it on Facebook.  And no one knows.

You want to scream.

This kind of grief is just as hard.  Knowing that things will never be exactly the same as they used to.

After the death is when it all hits.  You’ve kept it together.  Now there is so much room to breathe and too much open space to now to process everything you’ve just observed and endured.  And suddenly.  You can’t remember the way they were before.  Before the illness.

This kind of trauma has to be addressed before you can even begin to think about proccessing and accepting the death.

I only took care of my husband for 3 months. It took me 2 months to remember him not being sick. I couldn’t find the good memories blocked behind the trauma.

Children who have taken care of their parents, or spouses who have endured alcoholism, addiction, PTSD or other illnesses for much longer- this can take years to even begin to understand what’s really happened and work through healing.

One of the most frustrating things I see still going around in mental health awareness or suicide prevention tactics is thinking that these victims could easily have picked up a phone to ask for help.  For many, by this point, their hands have been tied, their voice muted.  That’s what the disease does.  That’s the misconception.

And for the ones who really tried to get help, well sometimes the illness is just too strong.  Just like cancer.  And don’t you dare make it about yourself and say that suicide is selfish.  Would it be easy for you to end your life RIGHT now? No. I didn’t think so.  It takes incredible strength.  It is the most unselfish act ever committed.

I’d like to recommend a book called
Transforming Traumatic Grief
by Courtney Armstrong.  This book is for sudden or violent deaths of a loved one and moving from grief to peace.  Even if it was a longer progression of any illness, there are exercises to assist you in finding peace, transforming your trauma and establishing an ongoing connection to the one who’s passed.

This book along with talking therapy led to reconstructing my trauma.

It is important that you do not become psychologically damaged in which could lead to your own post traumatic stress.  You must be aggressive in your healing to lead a joyful life again.  This is what your loved one now at peace wants for you.  And you must work on believing it.

Below is written by an anonymous new friend in the recent aftermath of her husband’s death by accidental overdose after suffering from mental illnesses and addiction that had manifested from PTSD, triggered by traumatic events while serving in the military.

“I loved my husband so deeply, even when he became incredibly sick.  I would have done anything for him.  I’m proud of myself for everything we endured and part horrified at the things I did to enable him.  There was enough of him peeking through the insanity that my heart ached for the man I knew before the addiction and PTSD really took over our lives.  To be frank, I’m not envious of the way my life could have turned out had he not been able to beat his illness.  I think I started grieving for him way before he died, he was a great man that deserved more, and I think he would have always struggled.  I know I would’ve taken care of him our whole lives.  I’m thankful that I don’t have to.  I feel guilty for feeling grateful.  I feel as though I have this new opportunity at a completely different life, and I am thankful to have loved him for all the rest of his, even if it was cut short.  I wonder someone’s if that offsets my sadness, that he’s at peace and that I’m at peace too.”

Wake me up when September ends

September 2018

The month I had been looking forward to for 5 years.  Because, call me out all you like, but it was when my son would be starting kindergarten.  Before you ask how, I became a stay at home after my son was born and my husband normally worked two to three 24 hour shifts a week on the fire department. So he got to be home alot to recover.

My husband and I didn’t have babysitters.  So this meant getting more couple time again!  Laying around watching movies all day now and then.  It had been FOREVER.  Yes, Joey could watch movies at home.  I hear at the station he would stay busy during a movie.

I felt like we were getting closer to having that back and having more time.  To just be.  Like we used to.  We had made sacrifices for what we felt was best for our little family.  And the rewards should have been coming soon.  That was stolen from me.
Don’t ever wait y’all.  Get a damn babysitter.

September 2018

The month my husband should have been getting out of his staff position that he reluctantly was responsible to endure for two years.  The job that triggered something in him that there apparantly was no coming back from.
He knew this job was a possibility after promoting.  It always is.  I actually was looking forward to be depended on more at home during this two years. I also thought he would get better sleep for a little while.  Ha.

While it was technically less working hours it felt like more because he wasn’t on an overnight shift.  He was gone all day.  And then in a room alone when he got home because the job required more paperwork.  It ate into everything.  Family time.  Self care.  Unless you didn’t give a shit about the job and your performance these areas were going to suffer. Especially with an A type, driven, and high achievment personality.

Do you know how many people reached out to us after he was sent there?  Several.  Warning how isolating it was.  To a normal civilian this job sounded like a million bucks!  But it’s a major shift in lifestyle and identify to be pulled off the truck and away from your support. There was NO adjustment period.

I’ve seen other first responders and friends be teased on social media after reaching out and expressing themselves when there’s a job change they aren’t happy about.  I know it’s normal “brotherly love” slander.  But think first next time.

The fire wives that reached out to me to warn about the soon to becoming changes in my husband and life were completely dismissed by me.  “Joey’s too strong.  It won’t happen to him.  He’ll endure with a better attitude.  We’ll be fine.”
F*cking idiot.

Sometimes I think I haven’t changed at all this last year and a half but then I look back at that time.  I want to be so angry with myself.  And I am alot of times.  But truth is that nothing had happened to me yet to know better.  I had no previous life experience for this.  There was no official training offered to me either.

Anyone going through any kind of grief is not only affected by the loss itself but the hindsight.  That is almost just as painful.

Forgiveness.  That word holds so much more importance to me now.  Because it’s become the key to moving forward.  And it’s hard to reach.

Endure.  Same affect.  Though I feel this one I’ve come closer to mastering, dare I say.  Accepting that this isn’t something I’ll just “get over” has made it easier.  And don’t ever let anyone make you feel you should be “over it already”.  Forgive them for not knowing any better.  Forgive them also for not being at a place in their journey that you feel they should be to understand.  Grace.  I have to keep reminding myself of this.  It’s not their fault.

And it wasn’t ours either ❤

The Journey Begins

Welp.  After 16 months of friends, family, and acquaintences continuously telling me to either write a book or start a blog.  I started a blog.

The time felt right today to say, “ok, let’s check it out.”  Anything to connect me to more fellow grievers like the beautiful souls I’ve met on my social media is welcome.  And worth it.

To be honest, in the first year (especially the early months) those comments, though appreciated, felt like a little too hard pat on the back.  I wanted my pain validated.  Not put on a pedastool.  I think it’s always hard for anyone who first enters this club to be told “you should write a book”.  It’s just like when we’re told “you’re so strong” or “I wish I was as strong as you.”  Over time I’ve given those statements much more grace and forgiveness.  Because honestly I would’ve said it too.  All they are really saying is that “Damn, how are you even standing right now?” in a much more socially acceptable way.  I’d prefer the latter though.  Acknowledgment is all we want.

I’ve unapologetically been completely forth coming on social media in what it was like to watch my husband suffer from work burn out, ptsd and other illnesses in a very short amount of time after being in the fire department for 13+ years.  What’s it’s been like to be a suicide survivor.  And how the hell I’ve made it so far.

I truly believe the lifestyle I adopted just a couple years before my husbands passing is how I’ve managed to cope and move forward in small ways so far.  I had joined a very large health and fitness community.  Fitness turned into therapy.  And they didn’t just focus on the body.  But on the mindset.  Personal development in self love, self care and self acceptance.  It’s never ending work.  But it saved me, they saved me, I LET it save me from the looming cloud of post partum darkness that was starting to consume me.  I’ve used the same tools that helped me escape from those clutches in the aftermath of my husband’s death.  Because I knew I couldn’t go back there.  I had a son to live for.  He became my purpose on a whole new other level than before.

I’ve said before I think the only thing scarier after losing someone so close to you is to then lose yourself… after you’ve worked so hard to get to where you are.

And of course, if I were to lose my son.  Or him, me.  Both are terrifying thoughts.

Trust me, there are times it’s been tempting to give in to thoughts that would send me into a downward spiral.  It’s a constant battle.  Even in softer waters there still has to be something working to keep your head up to refrain from drowning.  My hope is to one day find that it’s not such a struggle to stay afloat in the crashing waves as they come rolling high tide.  To not just survive them.  But to learn to surf them with ease.  And to make peace with them.

I want to thank everyone who has supported me in this journey.  Family and friends.  My fire family.  My fit family and team.  The warriors who know this side of the fence all too well.  The unselfish ones.  The broken hearts I’ve since connected with after sharing my story, because of their own tragedy that they have offered up so bravely and publicly.  Whom without I’d wouldn’t be here also.  My new friends.

Thankyou for joining me!

 

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton