How My Grief and Anxiety Are Connected

240
240

Life’s natural cycle can be a beautiful nightmare.

The joy brought upon a new birth for a family is celebrated, though when a relative, a friend or a partner is taken away, it can break our hearts. Especially when it’s unexpected.

I lost three close relatives in the span of 11 months last year, and I am still struggling. I have never truly accepted my losses, as I fell to pieces over the unnatural occurrences of lives that fell too short.

Dealing with both grief and anxiety is tiring, and I’ve considered that maybe they are linked. Perhaps they’re connected through invisible ties: the emotions I locked away, and the fears I hold onto, pulled tightly together.

Now, I keep my guard up, but I love intensely.

I live in fear of those close to me being taken away and that I may never say goodbye to those I love, so I constantly try to tell them their importance in my life. Part of my anxiety means I compulsively calculate every possibility that could occur, and I choose to believe the negative ones will happen. As well as this, my separation anxiety means I try to hold on to those close to me and I struggle being apart from them. I become afraid if I’m not with them, then bad things will be inflicted onto them and we will both experience the consequences.

This can become inconvenient, as I’m a 17-year-old who is being encouraged to explore, and experience new things. But I’m too scared to leave the safety net of my childhood home.

We’re always taught the dangers of attachment, but why would you prevent yourself from being happy, just because one day, something may end. We don’t know when that day will come, so why dwell on it? Perhaps you can never be prepared for it, but I believe it is so important not to limit your happiness just because of life’s inevitable conclusion for everyone.

Death is never going to be easy.

I have found that I love to love, and although it hurts when someone is taken away from me, I know I will accept this one day. I cannot allow it to hurt me, so I will always choose to love.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Unsplash photo via Eddy Lackmann.

240
240
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

RELATED VIDEOS

Seven Years of Seven After Losing My Husband

331
331

There is a story that floats around the widowed community about every cell in our body being replaced within a seven-year time span. Meaning, by the time seven years pass, there is not one cell remaining that “knew” your departed loved one. As it turns out, that is not entirely true (because of course I googled that).

Nonetheless, the number seven does have a sort of special significance attributed in our society, the “seven-year itch.” Seven days in a week. Seven continents. Seven wonders of the world. Seven colors in the rainbow. Seven deadly sins, as well as seven virtues. Good Lord, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” even came up on every Google search I did.

My husband and I had a short courtship. I was 27 when we got engaged. We were engaged three months after we began dating. It only took three months. Three months and seven years. There was an unmistakable chemistry from the time we first met. Each of our best friends were dating, and then eventually married. They told us both (separately) that we seemed meant for each other. But life was life, and we were living in different States, dating other people, and it did not seem feasible. We seemed destined to be those friends/acquaintances who stole glances at each other and blushed if the other one caught us. Our friends were not deterred. It only took seven years for them to feel vindicated.

I remember being at lunch with my mom and mother-in-law around the time of our first wedding anniversary, and commenting that if the first year of marriage was the hardest, then I thought we were doing just fine. Of course things weren’t always rainbows and sunshine, but for the most part, we were a strong couple. Our biggest fight, prompting him to pack a bag and leave the house (for all of about 20 minutes) was regarding how much toothpaste the 7-year-old was using. I remember sitting on the couch during those 20 minutes thinking maybe I should be upset, or worried, but I was not. The reason I wasn’t worried is because I knew he’d be back and we would be fine. That is the kind of couple we were. The level of trust was absolute, and our love was completely secure.

By our seventh year of marriage, we had a house, cat, dog, and a beautiful son and a daughter. Our million dollar family. There was no “seven-year itch.” We rang in the new millennium full of joy and looking to the future.

Seven years later, things were still wonderful. Life gave us a third amazing child, and our family was complete. Things were hectic with two careers, three kids in three different schools, but we were in a chaotic routine anchored by love.

Then came one hot Labor Day weekend. We spent an evening with my family. On the drive home, as we held hands, we discussed taking the kids to a park or something, as we held hands. He told me, as he often did, that he didn’t care what we did, as long as we were together. We watched, “The Curious Life of Benjamin Button” that night (a completely bizarre movie, by the way). He seemed exhausted. I put the kids to bed and kissed him good night on the couch. We said “I love you,” as we did every night and each time we said goodbye. Thank God those were the last words we said to each other.

My beloved left this life on the seventh day of the month. He never woke up on that Labor Day. My 42 year old husband who never took a sick day in his entire career, died in his sleep. Our dear, sweet first-born son found him on the couch that morning.

I still suffer from flashbacks of that day. “Mom, I think something is wrong with Dad.” And all that followed. Visions, sounds, smells, even tastes. I’m told it’s a form of PTSD. You never know when these flashes will hit. Mine seem to prefer random points while driving. The worst are the sounds of his exhalation and the taste of his lips while I attempted CPR. I had been constantly certified in CPR since the age of 18, and in all of those sessions, no one ever mentioned that a dying (or lifeless) person makes exhalation noises after you provide the breath.

I could not have survived those first days and months without the tremendous support of our family and friends. Through the worst of times, you can discover the best of humanity.

Now it has been seven years since he last bid us good night. Seven years, 2,555 days, 61,320 hours, 3,679,200 minutes. Other than our love, there is little left at this point that remains the same after 7 years.

Our children were 13, 10, and 3 on that terrible day. Our oldest two have grown and blossomed from children into young adults in seven years. And our youngest babe grew from diapers into a lanky preadolescent boy. Our beloved beagle Maggie stayed with us for almost exactly one year after his death before she crossed the rainbow bridge to romp with her Daddy on young legs once again. Our house is once again filled with furry love from another adorable beagle, and a sweet kitty who never knew his scent.

And me? I’ve entered a new decade that he will never know. I’ve dealt with surgery, negotiated finances, argued with contractors, went to countless concerts, games, events, and moved our first baby into college as an only parent. I’ve fixed and replaced more household items than I ever wanted to in a lifetime. I have not always done these things with grace. There have been more instances of kicking and screaming than I care to discuss. But I’ve learned and accepted that all any of us can do, is our best. Some days are better than others, and I have to keep getting up and trying again tomorrow.

I’ve made choices along the way I am certain are different than those we would have made together. There are compromises — large and small — in all marriages. Giving myself permission to live without some of those compromises, because of the love we shared, is something I still question from time to time. Yet, it also made me stronger. I’ve turned the kids into Broadway geeks like their mom, knowing he only tolerated the few shows we saw together because he loved me. I’ve made changes in and to the house listening to the ghosts of his strong opinions in my head. I even survived teaching two teenagers to drive.

And, of course there is the ever present elephant in the room for young widows. The D word (dating). For years, I could not even fathom the idea of opening my heart again. For years, I still felt completely married to my dead husband. I will always be connected to him. I will always love him completely. I still can’t fathom the idea of finding someone new. I didn’t enjoy the dating scene when I was in my 20s. Now it just seems laughable and icky. I’ve told people if I am to find someone else, they will have to ring my doorbell with a red ribbon sign inscribed “with love from Gary.” Only time will tell.

In another seven years, life will again be barely recognizable compared to today. As the children continue to grow up and move away, the fears of “what will I do when it’s just me?” are already creeping in. Truth be told, they sometimes overwhelm me. Finding a balance between taking things one day at a time, and looking at the big picture, is a constant challenge. But, as it has been for seven years now, when I am at my lowest, I look at our three children and I find comfort and strength. They have faced the past seven years with indescribable strength, grace, and joy. I am astounded by their resilience, as they not only survive, but truly thrive in all they do. These past seven years have been challenging, and many times heart wrenching. But we have grown and matured together, and have continued to love each other while keeping the memory of their dad alive. Together, we will strive to continue to make him proud.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

331
331
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Two women, one holding a microphone with hand on cheek of other woman, both looking down

We Need to Bring Grief Out From the Shadows

415
415

Grief is still kept behind the darkened curtains most of the time, despite the fact that it will touch almost everyone’s life at one point or another – several times over if you’re fortunate enough to love so much and so many. But it seems to me that many people fear that grief is contagious, and they’d like to avoid it at all costs.

To some degree, the hesitation to be around (or in some cases, even acknowledge) a griever is understandable. If you’re close to the person, it’s painfully difficult to watch them hurting and not be entirely sure what you can do to help. It’s often emotionally taxing to feel powerless in even knowing what to say. To that end, here are a few pointers.

If the deceased loved one was young, especially, the death could be raising questions of one’s own timing. I believe this played a factor in my husband’s passing. Having just turned 50 and of seemingly good health, friends and family began to question their own mortality as well as those of their own spouses.

People are often afraid to bring up one’s deceased loved one, thinking it might open up raw wounds. So they don’t say anything, in an effort to spare the griever. Guess what? We’re thinking of them anyway. Whether or not you mention them, they are on our minds. All. The. Time.

My best advice about this is to take your cues from the grieving. If you bring up their loved one and they begin to struggle, simply ask, “Is this too hard for you to talk about right now?” Some of us (me, included) want to talk, even through the pain. In my case, it’s really comforting to know his loss is felt by someone else. And then I may need a break from it and will ask to focus on something happier or more mindless. Others may not be ready yet, or they may simply grieve more internally, or they are on their way somewhere and don’t want to talk about it right at that moment. But really, the choice needs to be our own.

But if widow/ers feel they cannot be open about their grieving for fear of upsetting or offending someone, and society in general doesn’t like to talk about grief, preferring instead to live in a grief-free bubble as much as possible, how are we ever to remove this societal taboo? The answer lies in talking about it. And witnessing it. And seeing grief in all its ugly “glory.” We, as widow/ers, must be brave enough to show the world what grief looks like. We as a community must allow widow/ers to put on whatever face of grief they need to, knowing that not only can it change day to day, it can literally change minute to minute!

So what does the “real face of grief” look like? Of course there will be sadness and pain. Naturally there might be anger. There will likely be guilt or loneliness or confusion or a deep hole of nothingness. But there can also be joy in remembering the special moments shared with the person s/he lost. There can be laughter in humorous memories. There can be peace in knowing a loved one isn’t in pain any longer. There can be all of these emotions. Most importantly, through it all, there will be a shared love. The connection we felt with the person closest to us.

It is because of this love that we are grieving in the first place. The loss of this person leaves a gaping hole. There are times I can still feel his presence with me (and times I would swear he is putting thoughts in my head, and little messages I pass along to my children prefacing it by saying “Daddy wants me to tell you this.” (It’s as if I have evolved into Oda Mae Brown in “Ghost,” becoming a voice for my husband, often just to be the deliverer of a “Dad joke.”)

So whether you find me lost in thought, or smiling, or laughing, or tearing up, or blubbering, or wandering around like a zombie, I am grieving. Sometimes it hurts less than other times, but it is still there. And I want to talk about it. Until I don’t. It’s all part of the process. But it should be an open process. I (and others like me) shouldn’t have to feel that we have to hold back because it will bother someone else.

What it all boils down to is that I apologize if you are one of those “lucky” ones who gets to hear me talk about my husband. All. The. Time. I regret those I make uncomfortable to the point they’d rather be anywhere else. I’m sorry that my pain is difficult for some of you to see.

But mostly, I am heartbroken that there are far too many people still trying to hide grief and the grieving in the shadows where it really has no place being. To paraphrase another Patrick Swayze film, “Nobody should put grief in the corner!” The dark is where it festers and grows so large that it overwhelms those dealing with it, who often shrivel away for lack of light. The shadows are where the demons hide, more than happy to pull me down into the depths.

So let’s rid ourselves of this last taboo subject. Let’s talk about grief more openly, both as the grieving and as those who love someone who is.

If you see my ugly-crying, it’s OK to comfort me the best you can — in fact, it’s welcomed and appreciated. Just don’t mention how bad I look. Let’s make that a taboo subject.

© 2017 Many Faces of Cheri G All Rights Reserved

Note: Before I became a widow, I admit that I was often at a loss of what to say to someone in this situation. I, too, was guilty of avoiding talking about someone’s loved one because I didn’t want to cause them any more hurt or because listening to their stories was awkward; I simply didn’t know what to do or say. I was just as culpable of adding to the taboo surrounding grief. But now I have an opportunity to raise awareness and that’s what I’m going to do. Having an inside view, I can tell you that it’s ugly and lonely in here, and we shouldn’t be doing this alone. And we shouldn’t be hiding it away. We need to bring it out into the light where it can be accepted by everyone (even when it isn’t welcomed).

Follow this journey on Many Faces of Cheri G.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo credit: Myndi B Photography

415
415
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

6 Tips to Surviving Mother's Day Grief

2
2

In 2012, when I was 14, I lost my mum to cancer. I’m now 19, and of course, I’m still affected every day by this loss. Mother’s Day is particularly hard for those who are grieving their mothers. Over the years I’ve found ways to help cope during this time, and I wanted to share them with anyone who could use them — you’re going to be all right.

1) Stay off social media

Facebook, Instagram, and the lot are flooded with “Mum appreciation posts.” While this is lovely and warming, for those grieving, seeing this can be painful. I find social media just exacerbates those negative feelings, so I suggest on Mother’s Day, and perhaps some days after, you refrain from these sites and apps.

2) Self-care

It’s not uncommon to forget or neglect taking care of yourself when you’re mentally struggling, but when you’re feeling down, this is the most important time to be kind to yourself. Eating and drinking enough is a must, as well as not ruminating on negative thoughts or being mean to yourself. Hey, you’re the child of your mum, you are a part of her and she is a part of you, and I bet she would want you to show yourself compassion.

3) Reach out

Whether it’s confiding in family, friends, a counselor, or helpline, it’s helpful to talk to someone. It can be so tempting to withdraw and shut yourself off, but this does no good for me.

4) Focus on the good memories

For me, Mother’s Day can bring up some awful memories and images and thoughts, and this is not uncommon. It can be difficult, but try to concentrate on positives. This may involve looking through photo albums of happy times, reading through old birthday cards or funny text messages, or just taking time to sit down and think about your fondest memories with your mum.

5) Let yourself feel your emotions

Cry if you need to, smile when you want to; it’s an emotional time and your body may want to release all those feelings. Let it. Internalizing it all is unhealthy, and it’s OK to feel. It’s OK.

6) Celebrate your mum’s life

Some people visit the cemetery with flowers, some people visit a favorite place they used to go with their mum, or maybe do an activity she loved, or listen to her favorite song — this isn’t only a time to grieve. You’re allowed to do something enjoyable, and you’re allowed honor her life this way.

Know you’re not alone on Mother’s Day. You’re brave and you can get through the day.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by piyato

2
2
TOPICS
, , Contributor list
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Why I Haven't Begun to Grieve, Even 6 Years After My Father's Death

93
93

Six years ago, on May 12, 2011 at 6:52 a.m., I got a screaming call from my mum. “He’s gone,” she said, barely able to speak through her wails. “Get over here quick, he’s gone, he’s gone.”

I don’t remember much about the morning my father died, nor the days after. It’s all a blur, like a half-remembered nightmare that leaves you feeling sick and shaken but not quite sure why. Part of me is thankful for this lack of memory, though I’m sure it’s hiding buried trauma like shipwrecks beneath calm and shallow seas. What follows is just a few snippets of my memory of that one morning — the broken masts when the tide gets low enough.

Putting on my clothes and shoes, barely able to think.

Running out of the house to where my parents lived; watching for ambulances, praying I’d see one speed past on the way to the hospital. A mantra repeating in my head — please don’t be dead, please don’t be dead, please don’t be dead.

Seeing the ambulance outside the house, the door open, a paramedic outside.

My mum on the sofa, inconsolable. The sound of machinery beeping, trying to resuscitate him. My words to my mother, barely believing them myself: “He’ll come back to us. He’ll come back.”

The grave face of the paramedic, saying there was nothing more they could do. My verbal abuse, demanding he get back in there and bring my dad back.

It was lung cancer — a four month battle exactly, right down to the date, though he could’ve been diagnosed much earlier had the doctors not disregarded the shadow on his x-ray. We’re still fighting that legal battle. He had been released from his umpteenth hospital admission three days before his death, supposedly well enough to go home. My strong, powerful, indestructible father went from being extremely fit for a man of his age to being a shell, wracked by hacking coughs and cancer. Even his voice changed.

My father was always someone to look up to; everyone did. Born in 1933, he was a merchant sailor for much of his life. There wasn’t a nation on this earth that he didn’t see or sail to; he had a friend in every country, and that isn’t an exaggeration. Spend a few seconds with him, and that was all it took to like him immensely. He was friendly, welcoming, funny, charming and sweet. He accepted everybody and everything. He had his demons as so many of us do, but despite them, he loved life. He was, and remains, the man I aspire to be.

There’s a gap in my memory here; a blurriness I cannot see, no matter how hard I try and focus on it. I remember my half-sister came to the house, and we went into the room to see his body. I’ll never forget how he looked, nor how his skin felt. I’ll never forget my mum, now child-like, screaming, “He’s still warm, he’s not dead.”

He was.

I picked up his death certificate and downed three cans of Red Bull. For some reason, I wanted to tell the cashier I bought them from that my father had just died, but I didn’t. I saw memories of him wherever I turned; the chair he sat in, the shop he liked to go to. His inhaler sat on the table on which he’d left it just a few minutes before he died. My mum subsequently left it there for years.

The following days are even more of a blur. I made coffee for those who came to the house. I pushed my emotions, my grief, into the deepest darkest part of me and shut everything down. I simply existed; I had to. I stayed with my mum, and I remember an overwhelming fear that I would see him somehow, that his spirit would visit the house. I was religious then — one of the first things to go after his death — and the thought of seeing my father’s spirit terrified me.

I don’t know how I got through those few days apart from simply running from everything. My girlfriend at the time had to bathe me, I was so unresponsive. I visited him in the funeral home — spoke to him all the things I never said and wished I could. I crumbled into a child-like version of myself in that room, and I remember calling him “daddy” — a name I had not called nor thought of him as in 15 years. I remember the smell of that room — sickly, sweet, overwhelming. Occasionally, even six years later, I swear I can still smell it somewhere at the periphery of my awareness like a distant rumble of thunder, and when I do I’m immediately back there in that room, with the body of my father.

On the morning of his funeral — May 16th — my then-girlfriend had to dress me. “One step at a time,” she said. “Now we’re going to put on your shirt. Now we’re going to put on your tie. That’s all we’re doing — putting on a tie.” We had our problems, she and I, but I’m thankful for those few moments on those few days.

I wrote and read his eulogy to a small crowd in the church. I didn’t speak loudly enough into the microphone. I sang the hymns and cried through the words. I was a pallbearer outside the church, and carried his coffin on my shoulders, feeling his weight, shared among men I didn’t even recognize. I wonder what they must have thought of me. I wonder if they knew who I even was.

We buried him in a plot he’d picked out for himself long before he was even sick — a perhaps morbid trait of my parents and the older generation in general. There’s a story of the time my parents saw their shared plot for the first time, which encompasses everything my dad was. They were looking for the spot when my mum turned around and couldn’t see my dad anywhere. She’d found the plot, and wanted to tell him.

“Gordon?” she said.

“Over here, love.”

She spotted him lying nearby, flat on the ground, his arms crossed on his chest.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Testing out my grave!”

“Gordon, you’re on the wrong one!” she shouted. “Ours is over here!”

image of elderly man in front of old cottage holding camcorder, pulling a silly face

He was a man without a fear of death, nor a fear of life. The only thing he feared was losing his family; the only time I remember seeing him cry was when I told him I was moving out of the family home. I don’t believe a lack of crying shows strength, but I certainly believe a lack of fear does in his case, particularly surrounding death.

It’s a fear I don’t share. I haven’t grieved for my father’s death, even six years later, and don’t believe I’ve even begun to. My long-standing depression and anxiety deepened that morning, and I sank into a version of myself I don’t recognize. I’m still awaiting official diagnosis, but the preliminary one of depression with anxious/avoidant personality disorder (AVPD) explains a lot.

I fear death so much now that I cannot read nor hear about it. I can’t visit the house he died in. I can barely visit his grave. I spend my days battling the depression and the anxiety and fighting away the grief — I can’t let it get close to me, not yet, because I’m afraid if I did then it would destroy me.

I lost my dad when I was almost 24. Losing a parent at any age is hard, but I wish we’d had longer together. I wish I could’ve said all the things I wanted to say. I wish I could be half the man he was, staring death in the face with a smile and a wink. I wish I could hear his laugh again, hear his many stories. I wish I could hug him without the silly macho fear I used to have that I couldn’t show him affection. What a fool I was.

I wish, more than anything, that he could still be here.

If you are to take anything away from this article, then let it be this — love deeply, and love completely. Let nothing hold you back. We never know when the ones we love might leave us.

My dad’s final words to me, the day before he died, were laced in disappointment. I was supposed to visit, but I didn’t feel like it. I promised I’d see him the next day. He said, “I’ll see you tomorrow, son.”

I saw him, but he didn’t see me.

Follow this story on the author’s Twitter.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Images via contributor

93
93
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Grief and the Ides of May

37
37

I am not writing as much as I should or I want. And it’s not even so much a question of time, because I can find the time to write. I am an insomniac by nature. I could be writing instead of watching brain-eating reality shows on BRAVO. It’s a matter of having so many different things going on with work and kids and health and my husband and our family and life that I just haven’t been able to settle my brain enough to come up with a subject. Or figure out what I am comfortable with the world (or those dozen people who read this) knowing about me.

Then yesterday I was in tears most of the day. Hiding my tears from my husband and my sons because I didn’t even know where to start or when it would end. Every year it comes like clockwork. Right on time. Right in its rightful place on the calendar.

May 1. The start of what I have come to call the Ides of May. What used to be a month full of joy and birthdays, has just become a month I would rather sleep through. My late husband’s birthday is May 4. My birthday is May 9. My husband’s birthday is May 15.

The last time I spoke to my late husband is May 18. I received the call he died by suicide on May 20. I spent the remainder of May planning services and moving out of the home we shared and trying to make sense of something that made very little sense at all. The next year I spent most of May with my therapist, just trying to make it through the month semi-intact. The second year, my 30th birthday, I spent a solid two weeks in bed, watching all of our favorite movies on loop and answering my apartment door only for food deliveries.

When I met my husband, three years into my grief, he had nine months to try to make me fall in love with May again. He tried to focus on the positive of the month — our birthdays. Since he also lost his brother in May, he knew there was pain. But birthdays are about life, not death, he said. He remembers dates, but he isn’t as date-sensitive as I am. I get physically ill sometimes when I think about these days when everything was ripped out from under me.

After my husband and I married, I really did try to not let the month be taken over by my ongoing grief. We first found out we were pregnant in April 2010. Then on May 4, my late husband’s birthday, we had an ultrasound appointment. And the second our doctor looked at the screen, I knew our baby was gone. Something was wrong and his face told the story. I remember losing it right then and there. So I then spent my birthday (which always falls on or near Mother’s Day) that year recovering from a D&C and arguing with my husband that May was doomed and would never bring joy. I think my exact words were “Fuck May. It’s a shitty fucking month.”

When I found myself pregnant again, this time with twins, the due date was May 11. Right in the middle of our birthdays. As I got closer to delivery, and a decision was made to induce, May 4 was the proposed date. My late husband’s birthday. And I adamantly said “No, no, please no that’s not going to work” and even my husband didn’t clue in right away. It just seemed odd that my sons might share a birthday with my late husband. And then I felt guilty. And then I was crying. Again. So we decided on May 5 because what boys wouldn’t at some point enjoy their birthday being on Cinco de Mayo?

Life had other plans, and our boys came into the world on April 30. Just shy of May 1. They would not be tainted by my negative feelings about the month. And I hoped that their arrival would change my feelings about May. And, it did. For a while. Then, when the boys were 2, we lost my father-in-law, suddenly and without warning, on May 7. The morning after we had returned from a weekend away celebrating the boys’ birthday in Monterey. We called him that night we returned. Told him all about our weekend. Made plans to see him that week. And the next morning when I was out on a run my husband called me in a panic to tell me his dad was gone. And suddenly my feelings about May being the shittiest month of the year were front and center again. And there they have stayed.

This year, we had a great week celebrating our boys’ 5th birthdays. April 30th came and went. Before I knew it, May  1 arrived and the anxiety and the tears out of nowhere arrived with it. I am to the point where I don’t even know if it’s even the days themselves that send me off kilter. I think, maybe, it has more to do with the ghosts that appear. In my memories. In my journals. In my dreams. The other night I dreamt so vividly of my late husband. I could smell him. I could feel him. I could hear him. I woke up and for a split second I thought it was real. Until I realized it wasn’t. And I fought tears all day. It’s been almost 14 years since he left this Earth and yet I often feel it was just yesterday. All the things I want to say. All the things I wish I had said. All the things I so desperately want him to know — to really know — they dance around me every day of this cursed month. And the Monday morning quarterbacks have their opinions. It’s not fair to my family that this still is something I carry. It’s not fair to my husband. Our kids. And keep in mind it’s not like we have round tables discussing the years I spent with my late husband. We don’t.

And you know what else? It might not be fair. But it’s my life. I can’t change how I feel. And I’ve already spent a lot of my life putting what I feel aside because of how other people feel. I’ve talked about it before. For some reason, when it’s a partner/spouse, especially when you have sufficiently “moved on,” some people expect you to take down the pictures. Remove the name from your vocabulary. Cease the stories. Erase that chapter. But I can’t do that. I won’t. And I am not going to pretend that this month doesn’t rock my freaking world every single year since 2002.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I have vowed to try to share something each day that resonates with me. This is today. Looking at a calendar with red marks on certain days wondering when it’s ever going to get easier. Wondering if there will ever be a day when I will be at peace that I will never be able to have the last conversation I want to have with my late husband while he was still here on Earth. Wondering if I will ever be able to fully forgive myself for what I feel are my failings. Wondering if I am alone in my thoughts. Wondering. And waiting for this bloody month to end — before it’s barely even started.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock image by Aitormmfoto

37
37
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Real People. Real Stories.

7,000
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.