To Feel Love Again … Ditto


 

 

“Remember everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something”

 

When you lose love in your life, there is a huge hole left, a gaping hole in your heart where love dwelt.  It doesn’t matter how that love was lost – natural causes, suicide, old age, accident … loss is painful.  Loss of love hangs over you as a black cloud, raining upon daily life.  And depending upon loss of whom – be it a parent, a child, a spouse, a friend – the damage to your heart can be long-term and feel endless.

“Real loss only occurs when you love something more than yourself.”

However, there is a glimpse of a positive aspect.  I know this first-hand after losing the love of my life, my sweet husband, due to suicide.  It has now been 28 months as of September 4th that he is gone from this world.  Too soon, too hurtful, too sad.  I faced so many unperceivable emotions during this time.  Yet there is happiness in my life now.  The light is brighter in my heart and my soul can breathe again.  It was a lesson in breathing which began to teach me I could live again and be truly alive through the sadness.

The term “light at the end of the tunnel” is something which makes you believe that a difficult or unpleasant situation will end.  I’ve lost love through several situations in my life.  Loss of husband, parents, siblings, friends all feel just a bit different; the loss of my husband being the worst ever.  Suicide is devastating and you never, ever get over it.  I have learned, however, that you can live through it and “yes” you can even allow happiness to shine on you again.

My writing back nearly two and one-half years ago was what I call black writing.  It was meaningful and important, yet bleak and dark.  My life was altered forever.  With the love of friends and what I believe are my angels surrounding me, I purposefully brought life back into my heart.  Life trailed along in the form of furry pets, my three beautiful girls.  These girls are three dogs I’ve rescued, or really who rescued me.

 

Fast forward to present day and I am profoundly happier and feel so much love through these lovable creatures from God.  Love shows through and takes hold in so many ways and not just from furry creatures.  My friends have been guiding beams of light as my ship sailed without a compass for a while.  Many a stormy night presented itself during these 28 months, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that I still have “those days” or “those nights” when sadness consumes me.  After all, when you have real love and lose it in this world, is it forgotten one day?  Then again, I must ask you is that love you feel you’ve lost truly lost?

 

 

Many, if not most, reading this right now have seen the movie, “Ghost” when Patrick Swayze says to Demi Moore, “It’s amazing, Molly.  The love you have inside, you take it with you.”

 

 

That love is what I miss in the here and now.  But it’s NOT gone.  It’s still here in my heart and always will be.  And I believe Swayze’s quote – Martin did take his love and mine with him!  The part I miss is the physical Martin in this life.  He was gone all too soon.  Although in life, we are never guaranteed what forever means.  We have no guarantees other than to LIVE life.  And that, my dearest friends, is the key element to life.  We “must live life” in order to love and feel and be happy again.

“If you’re alone, I’ll be your shadow.  If you want to cry, I’ll be your shoulder.  If you want a hug, I’ll be your pillow.  If you need to be happy, I’ll be your smile.  But anytime you need a friend, I’ll just be me.”

 

How Do We Heal a Heart And Life Lessons


 

It is one of those evenings when sleep eludes me and yet I feel a need to create.  Usually this occurs in writing.  And although the hour is late, from a gathering of thoughts I am posting in the hopes that I will reach someone out there who will be touched and will understand. 

When we are affected by a serious loss, be it a loved one’s death, loss of a job, financial conflicts, an accident creating loss of limb or mental capacity, there is always a life lesson to learn. 

Both love and loss gift us with extraordinary life lessons.  Some of these are elegant; some shatter us and bring us to our knees in devastation.  They’re all necessary to open our hearts to wisdom and faith.  Often we are stronger than we think!  I know this firsthand as a survivor of suicide – my husband completed suicide May 4, 2010 and I have healed so much, yet there is still further to go.  And suicide is something you never ever get over completely.  You merely learn to live through it. 

And I believe in the words of Winston Churchill who said, “If you think you’re going through Hell, keep on going!”

 

We all know that hearts are healed in time, but I believe that there are things we can do to make the process of inner healing just a little more tolerable.

It helps to remember that the pain is in the resistance.  It really is true that what we resist persists; I know that I have.  For the first six months after my husband’s death, I didn’t live; I merely went through life as a dying soul .  The more we fight reality, that which we cannot change, the more pain we experience.  The more we surrender and let go, the more we open ourselves to the natural flow of life so that the power of love can transport us to a new space of peace and acceptance.

I love the healing words of Achaan Chaa, who reminds us:

Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a great tree in the midst of them all. 

 

You Really Want a Lifetime of Nothing Special?


 For the first time since his wife’s untimely death in March 2009, Liam Neeson spoke out about dealing with his personal pain in a candid interview for Esquire magazine.  In the interview, featured in the March issue, Liam spoke openly of the day his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, died following a skiing accident near Montreal at the age of 45.  In the wake of her death, Neeson said he coped by immersing himself in one of the things he knew best – work.

 

“I just think I was still in a bit of shock,” he told Esquire. “But it’s kind of a no-brainer to go back to that work. It’s a wee bit of a blur, but I know the tragedy hadn’t just really smacked me yet.”

 

“I think I survived by running away some.  Running away to work.  Listen, I know how old I am and that I’m just a shoulder injury from losing roles like the one in ‘Taken.’  So I stay with the training, I stay with the work,” he continued.  “It’s easy enough to plan jobs, to plan a lot of work.  That’s effective.  But that’s the weird thing about grief.  You can’t prepare for it.  You think you’re gonna cry and get it over with.  You make those plans, but they never work.” 

However, as the actor explained, it only postponed – not prevented — the pain from setting in from losing the woman he married in 1994 and had two children with.

 

“It hits you in the middle of the night — well, it hits me in the middle of the night.  I’m out walking.  I’m feeling quite content.  And it’s like suddenly, boom,” he said.

 

These are candid remarks from Liam.  I know these feelings all too well from the loss of my husband by suicide – anyone who has  suffered  a tragedy losing a loved one from an accident, a malignant illness, or a suicide knows how he feels.  If you or someone you know shares these feelings and reactions, remember that you are not alone.  And sometimes the best feeling in the world with loss, especially from a tragedy, is to know that you are not alone. 

 

 Suddenly, without notice, your whole world changes drastically and completely.  Much like Liam, you fight back tears every second and wonder how in the world you can live without your loved one.  You are numb and yet feel every emotion simultaneously. 

 Being alone some days is more comforting than forcing yourself to be in a good mood to have coffee with a friend.  Friends struggle to say the right things to help, but they feel helpless as well.  It’s an invisible barrier that separates even family. 

A remedy for heartache is to lead as happy a life as possible.  Genuine friends understand that you are doing your best to work through your grief and trying to reinvest in life itself.  If others don’t understand, don’t worry about them.  Surviving and rebuilding your life is what is truly important and is what your lost loved one wants for you.   Don’t lose sight of that … it will help see you through!

Remember to start slowly and move carefully with friends who are supportive and understanding.  Meet for lunch or dinner; take a walk on the beach at sunrise or watch the sunset with them. 

Recognize that you’re living through a terrible tragedy, yet still have to survive.  It takes practice, lots of it, to take one moment one day at a time.  You had no choice and no control over the suicide but you now have a choice to survive and live through it and even have moments of happiness and joy.  It does take practice.  Ten months after my husband Martin’s death, I’ve finally realized:

 

 Now is the time to dance because the longer you wait, the easier it is to keep waiting, endlessly, and then life passes you by.  Regrets form and you spiral further downward.  Dance while things are unacceptable and imperfect and things will get better, I promise you.  Take baby steps, and it will create more smiles, give you a brighter outlook and make it possible for you to enjoy life again, with all its inherent flaws.  Happiness will develop little by little.

 

I feel this loss so enormously because I had amazing love.  While I miss Martin terribly, “I’d rather have three minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”   

Start dancing in the rain – life is too short.  What are you waiting for?

 

 

 

 

 

Life Without My Husband


You’re not alone within your experience and feelings.  And sometimes the best feeling in the world with loss, especially from suicide, is to know that you are not alone.

 

 When your loved one has committed suicide, your entire world changes completely.  The man I love and shared my life with, died through suicide.  Days fly by quicker than you’ve ever known.  They are consumed with nonstop thoughts and visions of your past memories together.  It’s a matter of days on end of grief spasms, trying not to cry too hard, yet realizing you can’t stop.  You keep remembering the way he held you, a million kisses and hugs, his holding your hand while walking or just watching a movie.  Saying I love you and hearing him tell you, “I’d do anything for you.”   

The first day not together after his death, you fight back tears every second and wonder how you can live without him.  You’re numb and feel every emotion all at the same time.  You struggle to walk to your car and drive away from home without him, only to pull over moments later to break down in tears.  Your home is just a house now.  Every day revolves around thinking about him.  You try to stay busy, but the stress doesn’t go away.  It’s a roller coaster ride and life won’t let you get off.

Being alone some days is more comforting than forcing yourself to be in a good mood to have coffee with a friend. Friends struggle to say the right things to help, but they feel helpless as well.  It’s an invisible barrier that separates even family. 
Doing laundry and realizing there are none of his clothes to do, and wishing there was. Trying to figure out something for dinner even if you don’t feel like eating.  Sleeping on the couch because you can’t bear to sleep in your bed when he is not there and it’s just not the same without him next to you. Leaving his slippers and sneakers next to the front door because it comforts you, and because he left them there.

 

Feeling guilty for enjoying a sunny day, a good movie or just a ride in the car.  Avoiding phone calls because you just can’t talk about it again and break down endlessly.  “I’m fine” is never enough, but you can’t make them understand no matter how hard you try. Alienating yourself so you don’t have to fake a smile or conversation. 

Wanting to just scream and yell until you have no voice left, and wiping away those endless tears.  “Snapping out of it” will take a long time.  The word “why” is the first word in everything you think about.  No matter how hard you try, you’re always thinking the worst case scenario.  Wanting to sleep the whole next year because it’s the only time you get a break from worrying.  In reality, sleep is only a couple hours here and there. 

Avoiding your favorite CDs or TV shows that you enjoyed together because you have no one’s hand to hold or arms to lay in.  Wearing his clothes while he is gone and using a shirt with his cologne as a pillowcase to snuggle up to.  Trying to pray double-time, but feeling like a hypocrite because right now you may be angry with God.  Walking around with a lump in your throat and a pit in your stomach. Truly feeling lost, scared and powerless every single day.  You’re just going through the motions of getting up, getting ready and going through your day.  When all is said and done, you’re proud of the woman you are yet you miss the man, your soulmate, whom you love now and forever.  

A remedy for heartache is to lead as happy a life as possible.  Genuine friends understand that I am doing my best to work through your grief and am trying to reinvest in life itself.  If others don’t understand, I don’t worry about them.  Surviving and rebuilding my life is what is truly important.

I’m beginning to think through some activities that can bring some degree of purpose and focus.  Remember to start slowly and move carefully, with friends who are supportive and understanding.  I’m so fortunate to have good friends who understand and are trying to be patient with me.  We meet for lunch occasionally and have a girls’ night out for dinner.  It helps that they support me and show their love in this way.  And I’m hoping to take the first steps in going to the doggie park with my friend and her dog, and maybe take a walk on the beach.  It will be difficult for me as walks on the beach, especially at sunset, was a favorite for my husband and me.   

 

Each day I have to say to myself that I’ve decided to live.  Recognizing that I’m living through a terrible tragedy, yet I still have to survive.  It takes practice, lots of it, to take one moment, one day at a time. 

I had no choice and no control over the suicide but I now have a choice to survive and live through it.  It is by far the hardest task that anyone will ever have to perform but I will survive.

Experience Borne of Personal Grief


I have been going through a grief process from the sudden, unexpected loss of my husband.  I didn’t realize there was such a thing as grief spasms and a grief process and I knew far less how to deal with suicide.  There isn’t much understanding of grief in this society.  Many well intentioned people think we should “just get over it” and get on with our lives. 

Grief is very painful and at times the pain is intolerable.  It is a mixture of many emotions that come and go, sometimes without warning.  Grieving is the period during which we actively experience these emotions.  How long and how difficult the grieving period is depends upon our relationship with the person who dies, the circumstances of the death, and the situation of the survivor(s).   Grieving is a process we all must travel through. 

 There is no escaping it.  Experts describe the grieving process and those emotions of grief in various ways.  The most commonon described reactions include:  shock, denial, anger, guilt, depression, acceptance and growth.  Some of us experience the grieving process in this order.  Although most often a person feels several of these emotions simultaneously, perhaps in different degrees.

When death comes suddently, as in an accident or suicide, shock is often our first response.  We may be numb or like a robot, be able to go through the motions of life while actually feeling little.  At the same time, physical symptoms such as confusion and loss of appetite are common.

Shock and denial are natural ways of softening the immediate blow of death.  Denial can follow soon after the initial shock.  We know our loved one has died, but a part of us cannot yet accept the reality of death.  It is not uncommon to fantasize that our loved one will walk through the door, as if nothing has happened.  

Anger is perfectly normal.  It may be directed at the deceased for leaving and causing a sense of abandonment, or at the doctors and nurses who did not do enough.  People of faith may feel anger at God for allowing so much pain and anguish.  Anger may also be directed at ourself for not saving the life of our loved one.   

Few survivors escape feelings of guilt and regret.  “I should have done more” are words that haunt many people.  Were angry words exhcnaged?  Most people are very creative in finding reasons for guilt.  So many things could have been done differently “if only I had known.” 

Sadness is the most inevitable emotion of grief.  It is normal to feel abandoned, alone and afraid.  After the shock and denial have passed and the anger has been exhausted, sadness and even hopelessness may set in.  We may have little energy to do even the simplest chores.  Crying episodes may seem endless.   These are grief spasms.

I want you to know that time alone will not heal grief.  Acknowledging our loss and experiencing the pain may free us from a yearning to return to the past.  Acceptance does not mean forgetting, but rather using our memories to create a new life without our loved one. 

Grief is a chance for personal growth.  Some survivors seek meaning in loss and get involved in causes or projects that help others.  Some find a new compassion in themselves as a result of the pain they have suffered.  They may become more sensitive to others.  Some find new strength and independence they never knew they had.

Getting over a loss is slow, hard work.  In order for growth to be possible, it is essential to allow ourself to feel all  the emotions that arise, as painful as they may be, and to treat oneself with patience and kindness.  Personally, I choose the quote of Winston Churchill as my mantra, “If you feel like you’re going through Hell, keep going!”   Give into it — even give it precedence over other emotions and activities, because grief is a pain that will get in the way later if it is ignored.  Realize that grief has no timetable; it is cyclical, so expect the emotions to come and go for weeks, months, or even years.  While a show of strength is admirable, it does not serve the need to express sadness, even when it comes out at unexpected times and places.

It’s important to take time to seek comfort from friends who will listen.  Let them know you need to talk about your loss.  People will understand, although they may not know how to respond.  Also important remember to forgive yourself for all the things you believe you should have said or done.  And forgive yourself for the anger, guilt and embarrassment you may have felt while grieving.

Bereavement groups can help us recognize feelings and put them in perspective.  They can also help alleviate the feeling that we are alone.  The experience of sharing with others who are in a similar situation can be comforting and reassuring.  Sometimes, new friendships grow through these groups. 

What grief is not?  Grief is not a mountain to be climbed, with the strong reaching the summit long before the weak.  Grief is not an athletic event, with stop watches timing our progress.  Grief is a walk through loss and pain with no competition and no time trials.

Just remember:  Grief is normalYOU are normal.  Surrender to the process which follows significant loss.  I’m still surrendering to mine.  Still grieving and still trying to be kind and gentle with myself.  Over time, I’ll share with you and let you know how it goes.  We are endeavoring to travel down a new path, a new life.  This is truly the hardest thing in life we have ever had to do and we will get it through it.