Tag Archive | acceptance

Learning to be a Widow: Part IV: A Long Journey


Approaching the five-year anniversary of his death spurs so much reflection and realization. He’s really
not coming back. In my mind, I always knew that, but in my heart, a little part of me continued to hope. I’ve reached that important juncture, which most widows reach at some point. I have to accept reality and stop clinging to that little piece of hope left in my heart.1011893_650875218274935_1225401425_n
The reality is that I must complete this life alone. It’s taken me almost five years to accept that fact. I am not a young woman anymore. The most difficult part of accepting reality is adjusting what I believed most of my life. Like the indoctrination I often condemn – I, too, am indoctrinated. I’m indoctrinated to believe some part of the fairy tales I read, you know the kind. The kind of fairytales where everyone lives happily ever after and the future is bright and cheerful. That’s not reality. It may happen for some, but not for all. The reality is that happiness comes in pieces and all one can do is cling to those pieces and cherish the moments. They do not last. People leave. People change. People die. That is reality. Happiness is fleeting, and sometimes, all those pieces appear in one big chunk and that is all there is. There’s no fairytale ending; there’s no chance of a random piece drifting your way again. Acceptance, strength, and endurance replace bliss, love, and optimism.
I was one of the lucky ones. For nearly 20 years, I shared a love so special and so rare that many never find such a depth of companionship. For me, the only way to survive the emptiness that inevitably appears when it is over is to accept that it was the highlight of my life. Instead of whining about how there is nothing to look forward to, I should concentrate on looking back and recognize that something in my destiny allowed me to experience 20 years of happiness. And I should be grateful I had that. I was one of the lucky ones. But he is not coming back and it’s over. The future is merely an obstacle course that I must complete alone. No one can help me with that task.

goodbyeI’ve endured a lot of criticism for my extended grief and for loving someone so deeply that the two of us were inseparable, but I can’t change that. I can’t change the love I feel for a man who I’ll never see again, not during this lifetime. He is dead. I can’t deny that a part of me died with him. I’ll never again be the person I was before. I’ll never truly laugh again. But that’s okay because I laughed for so many years. I was happy and I was in love.
I was one of the lucky ones. Then destiny threw tragedy into the mix. I had it all, and now I don’t. The beginning reads, “Once upon a time there lived a girl who was in love with a man who loved her back for a long time.” The conclusion reads, “The man died one day and she was left alone. She knew happy times were over, but she realized that she was one of the lucky ones and learned to accept reality and focus on the memories.” ~The End~
©2014 Relinda R.

The 10 Best and Worst Things I’ve Learned after Losing my Spouse


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Best Things:

1. You learn which people are your true friends. (People who really care will show up, not to dispense advice, but to be there for whatever you need)

2. You realize to what great depth you loved someone. (Love deeply, you will grieve deeply)
3. You notice your loved one’s presence from time to time. (An important reminder that his or her soul continues to live)
4. You learn the truth about people. (People will show their true colors by their actions)
5. You learn to listen. (Listen to people, read everything—non-verbal behavior, verbal behavior, and between the lines, and you will see either their compassion or their annoyance with you)
6. You learn that cemeteries are sacred, and not to be feared.
7. You get to know yourself completely. (You may not like what you find, but at least you know the truth)
8. You realize how important love is during incarnations. (You discover that love is the only thing that matters)
9. You learn that people live to love.
10. You become strong. (Even if you were already strong, you become stronger)

Worst Things:
1. You learn which people are your true friends. (You realize that most people are merely acquaintances, and really do not care about your well-being unless it affects their life in some manner)
2. You realize to what great depth you loved someone. (Realizing the extent of your love means you also realize that your heart is ripped open and beyond repair)
3. You realize you can drink straight from the milk carton and it does not matter because there is no one there to care.
4. You learn the truth about people. (You learn that most people do not really care what you feel inside, but are concerned about what you reveal on the outside)
5. You learn to listen. (Unfortunately, while learning to listen—you develop an uncanny ability to read non-verbal clues)
6. You learn that people make assumptions based on appearances. (You realize that unless you are attractive, no one will ever get to know you)
7. You get to know yourself completely. (You may discover that it is impossible to function as yourself because people merely tolerate you)
8. You realize how important love is during incarnations. (By discovering that love is all that matters, you realize that everything that mattered is gone for the duration of this incarnation)
9. You learn that people live to love. (You realize that without love and affection, you cannot live, only exist)
10. You become strong. (If you were already strong, becoming stronger means that your heart begins to close, and eventually, it closes completely)

We all know that grief is different for everyone. We can read about the stages of grief, and the stories of grief, but ultimately, everyone experiences it differently. For me, losing my husband meant losing the best part of me. For nearly 20 years, I functioned on the premise that life was about happiness, affection, and love. For the last four years, I’ve realized that I was right—without those emotions, life is an unfulfilled journey. My husband and I were very passionate, and we laughed . . . we laughed so much. My personal experience dictates my list of the 10 best and worst things about losing a spouse. Everyone’s list is different.

You will note that many of the things on my “best” list are also on my “worst” list. It is all about perception. For instance, there is a positive and negative about learning who your true friends really are. If you think you have a wide circle of friends, you may realize that you only have a few. The true friends will not change the subject or ignore you. They will show up unexpectedly to mow your lawn or just listen. They will be there when you call them in the middle of the night, just to listen. And they never tell you that you are wrong to grieve. Treasure those people in your life, for they are few. On the other hand, finding out who your true friends are is a good thing because you realize where you stand with people. If they tire of your sadness, they tire of you. Those are the people who do not care about your feelings, but rather about what it is you can do for them. It is good to know where you stand. The cliché about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer is accurate. Know who your friends are and make adjustments accordingly.

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Realizing that you loved someone so completely that he or she was a part of you is wonderful, and equally devastating. You begin to know just how fully and completely you were loved and gave love, but at the same time, you realize that is gone and you will never have it again. For me, life has no purpose beyond that of loving. I can accumulate degrees and awards, but they mean nothing because at the end of the day—I have no one with whom to share those accomplishments. My life centered on affection—there were always good morning hugs, middle-of-the-day hugs, and night hugs. Now, I am fortunate to receive a hug once a year or so, and those hugs are usually forced. It is difficult learning to live life devoid of human affection. There are usually children and true friends to hug, but that is different, I am speaking of no holds barred, all-out partner hugs. Eventually, you learn that you can exist without affection, but that is all it is—existence. I continue to exist.

Learning the truth about people, much like learning who your friends are, is equally wonderful and devastating. You learn so much about people by reading their mannerisms and listening to their words. Unfortunately, you learn that the majority of people want to avoid you and just want to see you smile. They do not care whether those smiles are real or not; they just do not want to deal with the negativity or sadness. Essentially, you learn to wear a mask in public. Wearing a mask is not about deception necessarily, but about functioning in society. You must maintain a mask to work efficiently.

Learning that people live to love is a quandary. Love is the most powerful of all human emotion, and it does not matter how independent one is—when there is no one who looks into your eyes with total love, what is the point of anything? I’ve recently heard a lot about loving yourself, etc.—that is all great, but human beings still need to hear “I love you,” and not while gazing at your reflection. It is great to love yourself . . . to a point. When you love yourself too much, you become narcissistic and indifferent. I’ve always been independent, but I’ve also always believed that love is real. Ultimately, accepting that you will be alone for the rest of your days and no one will ever truly love you again is a pivotal point in life. For me, I have to accept it so that I can continue, but for anyone else—I would say never do this. Never accept solitude. Only the extremely strong will survive this way. Once you accept solitude, your heart begins to turn cold. I liked the “old me,” the person who loved completely and was loved in return. The “new me” has been alone so long that the thought of not being alone horrifies me. I am to the point that I look forward to coming home to an empty, cold, lonely home because for two days, I can be the “old me.” I can shed the mask and stop pretending, even if for just a few moments.

I was already strong. In fact, that was one of the qualities that my husband loved most about me. The “new me” has become even stronger. Colder, yes, but stronger—after all, the cold is a side effect of strength. You have to maintain a wall in order to build strength. You build a wall to cope and keep people out. Unfortunately, the wall eventually becomes so high that no one can penetrate it.

This list is primarily for me. I would never want anyone else to learn about grief in the manner I have. I will stop writing one day, I will stop talking about my loneliness one day, and I will completely accept solitude one day. I am still straddling the fence right now, with most of me almost there. “Hope” has all but taken his last breath inside my heart. When he gasps for the last breath of air, and I accept solitude completely, there will be no turning back. None. The “old me” looked forward to every day; the “new me” has nothing to look forward to, which is pointless. When Hope dies completely, I will have fulfilled my purpose in life as my heart closes forever. No doubt that it will be a great relief to most—they will no longer have to read about my grief or sadness, they will not hear negativity, they will see what they want. There will not be posts on social media sites, there will not be any more pleas for help; all will be silent. This is a good thing though, a good thing indeed, but not for those few true friends in my life, and certainly not for me.

©2014 Relinda R.

22 September 2013


“Solitude has soft, silky hands, but with strong fingers it grasps the heart and makes it ache with sorrow.”
Kahlil Gibran

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22 September 2013—what is it? It is the first day of autumn, signifying another end to the growth from the previous spring and reminding us that winter beckons on the horizon to wash away all that remains from the tears of summer. Twenty-nine years ago, my son was two days old, and I was young and naïve—believing that joy was coming and life was worth the struggles it spawned. Today, this day in late September reminds me that my husband has been in the ground for three years and nine months.

We would most likely be celebrating his birthday today, since the 25th falls during the week. Now, I celebrate alone. I tried baking a cake one year, but I threw the batter out because I could not endure the torture of knowing he would never taste cake again. I considered making banana pudding another year because that was his favorite, but I just could not find the strength. I have not eaten banana pudding in nearly four years. I will never eat banana pudding again. He would be 58 this year. Instead, he remains 54 forever. We celebrated his last birthday in 2009 and now he has been in the ground for nearly four years. I still find myself worrying whether he is cold during the winter months. He hated the cold.

The last few years have been a process for me—a process of grief, financial and emotional struggle, and personal growth. Work and education consumes most of my waking hours, so I have little time to think, which is a good thing. It is when I am idle that my mind wanders. Fortunately, I am seldom idle. Late at night, I wonder what he thinks of how far my education has come and whether he is proud. After all, his push got me started on this path. Then I wonder whether I chose the most comfortable clothes for him to spend eternity wearing. I chose his favorite worn pair of Levis and a soft flannel he wore a lot. He is barefoot. I don’t think I told anyone that before. Shoes are so uncomfortable.

I’ve made such long strides into the realm of the living—and yet avoiding living the whole time. I’ve learned how to smile when it is appropriate, how to be quiet when necessary, and how to laugh when the situation demands laughter. It is only during the last year that I learned to accept inevitable truth—that my destiny is to remain alone . . . Doyle is never coming back. I also realized that my grief does not disturb others, it is witnessing that grief they find disturbing. Simply put—they just do not want to hear the whining. As long as only the darkness sees the tears and the sadness only appears within the mirror’s reflection, no one is bothered. Those two lessons have been the most difficult to bear, but bear them both . . . I did.

It is also during the last year that I believed loneliness would consume me, but my strength endures. I cannot say how many times I picked up my phone to call Doyle and tell him some exciting news or something so trivial such as seeing a deer standing alone on the highway’s edge. Sometimes, I pressed the speed dial number to his cell, sometimes I remembered before pressing, but it always hurt, always.

My conviction to endure life on my own is resolute. There is simply too much pain in knowing that no one will ever love me again, and I hope that my suffering has fulfilled whatever crime I committed. I know that is too much for which to hope, but it remains one of those little lies I tell myself just to cope. I hope that my pain has been enough payment. After all, it is through coping that we survive.

Since I stopped concerning myself with the need for companionship, I find myself at peace with solitude. I expect it and that expectation makes it easier. As human beings, we crave companionship. Overcoming human need is one of the most difficult tasks I faced through my journey with grief.  But I remain determined, and once I am determined, it is nearly impossible to sway me from that course.

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When people ask me how I am, and I respond that I’m well or my classic ungrammatical response—I’m good, I’m not really lying. I’m not telling the whole truth, but there is some truth. I am okay. I’ve accepted my fate. I know Doyle is gone and not coming back and I know that my battle with accepting solitude is part of my path, for whatever reasons. I know that I must complete my journey alone and I am coming to terms with it.

A very special man loved me with all his heart and I loved him back, and now he is gone. That is my reality. All I can do is keep walking my journey alone in hopes that at the end—he is waiting for me with open arms . . . that is all I can do.

©Sept. 2013 Relinda R.