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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