Grieving Alone

Christmas comes, then my birthday, then the new year. At this time of the year, I’m always acutely aware of the passage of time. I’m looking forward to all things new, missing much of the old, and wondering what it all means in the overall scheme of things.

It’s been almost two years since the love of my life died quite unexpectedly while I was out of town. It still hurts. But I am past the very worst of it. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it, but I’m becoming used to it.

As supportive as people try to be, everyone grieves alone. It’s a deeply personal experience, and one you can’t really explain. But I came across a really interesting document on my hard drive the other day. For a about a month after Chuck’s death, I wrote daily about what I was feeling. I’d forgotten I’d even written it. I’m a little surprised that I had the presence of mind to do so. But then, writing has always brought me comfort, and I knew there were things I couldn’t really say to others. They wouldn’t understand.

I entitled it “Grieving Alone” and tucked it away. I’m glad I did, because with the passage of time, I can barely remember just what a devastating emotional desert I had been walking through. In retrospect I’m rather proud I survived.

Here’s a little tiny bit of what I wrote:

  • It feels as though I’ve been struck by lightning. More than anything, I feel utterly, completely, and totally alone.
  • He died all alone.
  • That can’t be right. No. That makes no… wait. What?
  • I will never travel without Xanax again.
  • I woke up, and for a few precious seconds it seemed like just another day. Then the reality of everything came crashing in. Chuck was dead and I was now a different person than the one I had been 24 hours ago. I felt like I had been dropped from a great height. I felt battered and bruised.
  • It’s all so fragile. It can pop like a soap bubble.
  • Between chest heaving tears, I feel like I could sleep for a thousand years.
  • I can’t breathe. I want to go home. But he was my home. There’s nothing to go home to, now.
  • Suddenly I was a person who couldn’t listen to love songs without crying.
  • Oh, look at that sculpture! Chuck would love that. I can’t wait to tell him about it. Oh… wait.
  • Tell me what to do. I can’t think. Do I sit? There? Okay. Now what?
  • I’ll never feel his leg hooked over the small of my back again. I’ll never feel his body heat. He’s cold. I wonder where his body is now? Are they treating it with dignity?
  • I’m looking at everyone around me, with their cares and concerns and their… lives… and I realize I’m on the outside. I’m looking in and I can’t feel.
  • As we pull into the driveway, I see that Chuck didn’t get around to fixing the side view mirror on my car. Figures. “You always were a procrastinator.”
  • I wonder when I’ll be able to speak about Chuck to people without them looking uncomfortable.
  • Just get through one more work day. Then I’ll have days off. To what? Sleep. Blessed sleep. But also a huge, yawning mass of time to fill up with Chuck-less stuff. Too much time. And not enough time.
  • So many things we worry about don’t matter.
  • Sleeping is the hardest part. I miss his snoring, his body heat, the feel of his leg on the small of my back. I started crying, wailing. “Take me with you!” “I don’t want to be here without you.” “I can’t do this.” “I’m so alone. Please, take me with you.”

Hoooo. All of that is very hard to read. But it was harder to live. I can tell you that if you’re going through something like this right now, it does get better. It really does. It never goes away completely, and I still have rough moments at unexpected times, but it gets better. If I could do it, you can do it.

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21 thoughts on “Grieving Alone

  1. ‘It shouldn’t be this way.’ Why? ‘Because I would like it to be different.’ So what you’re saying is that if you would like 2 + 2 to equal 5 then the correct answer to this sum should be 5. ‘I don’t understand.’ I’m saying, that by choosing to allow either desire or preference to tell us how things ‘should be,’ as opposed to a more realistic guide such as the law of cause and effect, we are also choosing, unwittingly, to create unnecessary misery for ourselves. ‘Hmmm, well I wouldn’t wanna create any unnecessary misery.’ Then abandon it

    1. That almost sounds like a logical answer.By that argument, grief wouldn’t exist. We should all just snap out of it. Humans have emotions, at least mentally healthy ones do. They can’t turn them off like a light switch. By writing this, I’m hoping to help others who are having similar feelings to know that they’re not alone, and that their reactions, which feel so strange, are in fact quite normal under the circumstances.

      1. I liked that response, and you’re absolutely right. But I still believe that allowing desire to be the guide when it comes to our sense of how things ‘should be’ is very dangerous to mental health

  2. Powerful. Thank you for sharing such a tender part of your soul with us. I feel your pain, and I see the incredible, resilient person you are, and I bow in deep reverence of your being in this world. Loving you from afar! xo

  3. Amy

    I know it’s not the same, but my marriage died, and I had so many similar feelings. It’s nice that time lets us forget the intensity and the immensity of that initial pain. It’s also good to remember, because we grew into new forms of ourselves. Thank you so much for continuing to share yourself, the laughs and the tears and the discoveries, in this forum and elsewhere. You touch so many.

  4. Sam

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful piece of writing. Someone once told me that everyone needs to grieve in their own way….some may grieve for months, years, etc. Some grieve the end of a close friendship, a goal that was never really reached after years of dedication and struggle, a dramatic change in their lives, and of course the death of a loved one. Sometimes I grieve things that perhaps I should’ve let go of years ago. But, then again…everyone grieves differently. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Barb.

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