I have been trying to understand what is happening to me since I have been widowed. When my grandparents died, I have experienced grief, and it took a while to shake off the sadness that came with it. For my grandmother, it took me sometime to completely let go of the sadness and think of her only with love and fondness.
I thought that was grief, I thought that was what loss was all about. But without belittling that grief I felt when my grandparents passed away, because I do love them just as much, the grief of losing one’s spouse is an altogether of a very much different kind and level. With my grandparents, there was that comforting thought amidst the sadness that they are now together and that they have been spared from further sufferings brought about by old age.
With losing a spouse, there is a feeling of paralysis, but instead of muscles, it is your heart and brain that are paralyzed with fear, anguish, and despair. You get into intense shock, your brain refuses to accept the reality, and your heart gets numb.
Self-preservation kicks in, so your body responds to what must be done. You pay the bills, prepare for the funeral, choose your spouses’s burial clothes, and try not to think about it. This must explain why some cannot cry during the wake of their loved one, because the heart and brain get numb and they cannot feel anything except shock.
After the wake, when the remains are buried, comes the true grieving part. You go home to an empty house, which most probably looked the same as when you left to go to the hospital or funeral.
You see his things, the clothes he wore the day before you left for the hospital, his shoes with the socks still inserted in each shoe, his bag still containing the stuff he brought with him during his last meeting with a client, his toothbrush and razors in the bathroom, the leftover food you cooked for dinner before you left for the hospital, and all other evidence of ordinary, day-to-day life.
Reality slowly sinks in that he will not be coming home that night and he will never come home to you again. You get confused, you feel lost, you panic. There are gazillion questions running through your mind: “what happens to me now? How is life going to be? How will I live my life from now on? Where is he? Why did he leave so soon? Is he okay up there? Why him? Why me?”
It feels surreal, unreal. You wait for him to come home, but you know you are fooling yourself. You pray at night that you are just in a very bad dream and that you’ll wake up tomorrow and find him there at home, happy and healthy.
You wake up and reality hits you that he is gone forever. One day at a time, your loss becomes more real. You try to make sense of what happened.
People tell you he is in a much better place, and you try to be comforted by that thought.
They tell you it will get better and that time heals all wounds, but it will not get better, not for a while at least.
They tell you that life has to go on for you, you are still young, but you wonder if this life you are living is worth living.
They tell you that there is a reason for everything. Someday, you will see the reason why your spouse had to die this early and so young. But what good reason could there be that is worth severing a young vibrant life? What excellent reason could there be that is worth this amount of grief to a wife, a sibling, a friend, a father, a mother?
Left without a choice, you try to live each day without drowning in grief. You seek the company of family and friends, and you pray to God and seek comfort in prayers. You try to hope for a day better than yesterday. You feign optimism and positivity although you feel nothing inside.
You breathe, you wake up, you eat, you laugh for a while, then you cry some more. In the privacy of your home, you talk to him as if he is still there. You try to make sense of what has been happening and how you feel about it. You feel good about the little triumphs, like when you settled that case he has been working on before he passed on or you fixed that drying rack all by yourself.
You spend a day with a bit of optimism then spend the next in so much despair. On and on it goes, and before you know it, a month has passed, then fifty days have gone without him.
You still feel lonely, confused, and alone. There are still anxiety attacks when you think of your future without him. You still get frustrated guessing his passwords or PINs or searching for important documents he kept. The future still looks bleak and uncertain, but you have survived so far.
Maybe life will get better after all, but if it will not, maybe you will get better in dealing with it.