Tag Archive | hope

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.

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An Embodiment of Lovely Bones . . . in the Flesh


“One who will not accept solitude, stillness and quiet recurring moments…is caught up in the wilderness of addictions; far removed from an original state of being and awareness. This is ‘dis-ease.” ~T. F. Hodge

maskgriefI spoke with someone last night who is very disappointed in me, a voice that indicated how lazy and apathetic I have become since I died. Yes, you read that correctly. I died four years ago and began a slow and arduous descent into a fiery well of capitulation; a fiery well alluding to the hell I created. I am beyond societal manipulation; I am my own judge and I condemned myself to hell.  Edgar Cayce once proclaimed, “All you may know of heaven or hell is within your own self,” indeed, Mr. Cayce, indeed.

I spent the last 1,414 days sinking deeper into oblivion as numbness seized my still beating heart. Numbness is a coping mechanism-perhaps, but an insufficient tool at best. I am merely an embodiment of lovely bones, a walking corpse capable of smiling on demand and laughing when appropriate, sometimes at inappropriate times. At night, however, at night-the tears come when I clutch a fading red scrunchie and the pillow that has long lost his scent. I spent almost 1,500 nights lost in desperation, crying to the point where only occasional gasps for air indicate life. I am merely a heap of bones emitting the most frightful sounds known, unquenchable sobs of loss—loss of love, loss of life, and loss of dreams. I sent telepathic postcards from hell to indicate my frustration at continuing to breathe. I immersed myself into a void so dark that I could only see an occasional glimmer of Hope cowering in a corner to escape annihilation.

insanityIt took nearly 1,500 days and nights for this broken heap of lovely bones to accept the final hand the Moirai dealt to me. There is no escape from hell, but there is atonement for inactivity. There is a rope for which to cling. Last night, a voice told me to cling with all my might and accept my fate. I have much work to complete before I can begin my ascent into light. I will never be released until I accept my sentence. The lazy apathetic heap of lovely bones I became will only continue a slow descent into the depths of desolation until I accept solitude. Learning to exist without love is my penance for lifetimes of depending on another . . . loving beyond the bounds of comprehension.

I woke with understanding, with a clear mission, clinging tightly to an invisible rope and knowing I can escape hell only by abandoning humanity’s curse of the undeniable quest to be loved by another. I was loved, I was adored, my quest was fulfilled. And until I abandon this selfish journey of wishing for more, I only sink deeper into the fiery well of capitulation. I woke to the faintest glimmer of light from above as I realized Hope still lives, though he continues to cower in a corner. He whispered to me to accept my fate and motioned to me to climb his way. And it is with that image, this heap of lovely bones will work harder than ever before, abandoning humanity’s curse to escape solitude and instead embracing the sounds of silence and accepting the harsh pangs of loneliness, all while concentrating wholly on its tasks at hand.

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I spoke with myself last night and learned how disappointed I am at how lazy and apathetic I have become since I died. I woke determined to prove that I am strong enough to overcome solitude and accept my penance. I am an embodiment of lovely bones only until I escape the confines of my hell. I will live again one day. But not today. Today, I begin my atonement.

©2013 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.

Excerpt from Shades of Grief


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Hope can lead you to hell on the same path from which it delivers you from the depths of hell. Hope can crush you as though you are merely a speck of sand. The path to the perilous abyss is paved with crushed fragments of Hope. You can close your eyes and hope for something to be true. Open your eyes and you will see the glisten of Hope’s sword as it slices your heart in two. Keep your eyes wide shut.

©2013 Relinda R.

 

 

Killing Optimism


“Totally without hope one cannot live. To live without hope is to cease to live. Hell is hopelessness. It is no accident that above the entrance to Dante’s hell is the inscription: “Leave behind all hope, you who enter here.”
Jürgen Moltmann

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It seems that optimism surrounds me. As much as I try to avoid it—it just keeps calling to me. I despise this time of the year. I despise welcoming some new year that offers so little to me. I despise it almost as much as Christmas commercialism at its finest. I expect one thing from this new year—to be one year closer to fulfilling a promise I made years ago and one year closer to reuniting with my heart. Grief killed Hope long ago. Hope is no longer pulling at the drawstrings of my mind. I wished upon all the falling stars I could find and I pretended all that one can, prior to completely breaking with reality.  Oh, it was a mighty battle when Hope and Grief tangled. Hope had resorted to hiding among the corners of my mind, just prolonging the inevitable. When Grief found him cowering, he struck a mighty blow, but Hope stood strong and fought to the end. I watched as the two battled like worthy knights battling for the love of a woman. I watched as Grief dealt the deathblow that would silence Hope forever. I cried. Hope was the only chance at renewal. Hope is dead.

A resounding “NO” meets every wish I have made during the last few years. The sound reverberates within my mind…No, No, No. How solemn it is to live without Hope. I think knowing him for 44 years makes his absence more devastating. I was an optimist. I always had Hope, even when Hope wanted to go away.

I see the way people look at me now, or rather do not notice me. I suppose that when I had Hope it just did not matter. I was once loved. I was once adored. When you are loved, you perceive a reflection of the person your lover sees. When love goes away and Grief murders Hope, you see an accurate reflection of yourself. When I gaze into a mirror, I see an image so haggard it makes me gasp in disbelief. When Hope is dead, you see only reality. There are no rose-tinted glasses or dreams blocking the accurate view. There is only reality. Reality is lonely.

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I found Optimism hiding with all the Others and I asked what it is they are so frightened of and Optimism said they did not want to live in hell anymore.

©2012 Relinda R.

 

A Thread of Hope



I decided to take a much-needed break from poring over volumes of critical approaches to Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. (Well, I did break earlier to vacuum and do a quick cleaning of my bathroom in order to maintain some semblance of cleanliness). I am pausing to document some thoughts and feelings I have experienced during the last week. One thing that has been plaguing me for some time now is that my own loneliness and grief consume me to the point that I fail to recognize how important it is that I stay strong for my family and friends.

I spent every free moment during the past week on academic matters. Since the English faculty at my college considered me worthy enough to apply for Sigma Tau Delta scholarships, I worked frantically to complete the application process. I finished. I do not have any hope of actually receiving a scholarship from the prestigious organization, but it will not be because I failed to try. Submitting the required material afforded me an opportunity to reflect on some academic accomplishments I achieved during my time as an undergraduate student. Most of my accomplishments occurred prior to Doyle’s death. Although I maintained a 4.0 grade point average until 2012, I received a ‘B,’ awards ceased to exist after 2010. It is as though after the one-year anniversary of his death (when the numbness began to wear off), a part of me slowly began to surrender to defeat.

I wish I could say that I did not cry myself to sleep last night, or that I have not cried today. Actually, I do say that, but only to placate others. This is my blog; I can be honest because only a few of my friends read it. Last night, the grief conquered my intention to study. The tears came unexpectedly and suddenly. Only the occasional gasps for air indicated that I still lived. My little schnauzer tried his best to console me, but exhaustion proved to be my only comfort. The tears have come frequently today as well, but I have managed to complete several tasks. I made a list of all the things I need to do and am working hard to concentrate on the listed tasks. Sadly, one of my tasks reads, “BREATHE.” I managed to breathe all week.

I received news that removed a great weight from my shoulders earlier. I learned that I will begin graduate school in the spring, despite all the technicalities of which I was concerned. I also learned that something I spent over three hours creating for two dear friends met with both their approvals. Two less things to worry about may seem minimal to most, but for me, it is a thread healing my broken heart and one of the beginning steps in remembering what hopefulness feels like.

During the previous week, through all my efforts to recapture a mere spark of my academic ability, I reflected on various awards I received throughout my life. I began earning awards when I was just a child. I was usually the winner or a runner-up in contests in which I dared to participate. That feeling of competitiveness, effort and hope ended when my husband’s life ended. The one thing that managed to silence my determination completely is grief. I will never be the person I once was. I evolved into a person I abhor—one who drowns in self-pity. I know that I will never again know love and I will be lonely for the rest of my life, but I also know that I must find that girl who could overcome anything to succeed. I must work harder to find stitches to help repair my broken heart. A dear friend told me that it seems as though I take one step forward only to be pushed back four steps. I must work harder to resist that force pushing me backward. I have to find that girl. I fear she is dead, but if not, and you catch a glimpse of her, please remind her that I need her.

©2012 Relinda R.

The Book…Your Book…


Each moment of life is an eloquent word written in a paragraph. Those paragraphs are created from each day of experiences filled with laughter and tears. Each year, another chapter is complete. It is my wish that each of your pages contain laughter. It is my wish that you never have to wear a smile as armor. It is my wish that you never have to hurt alone. None of us knows how many chapters our book will hold, but it is my wish that as you write the concluding chapter of yours, you will smile and say, “I have loved with all my heart and I am truly loved for my heart.”

©2011 Relinda R.Image