The Work-in-Progress of My Grieving

In the hospital, my wife had me write down a list of things I should do after she died. It wasn’t a list of things around our apartment that needed to be taken care of. Nor was it a list of affairs that needed to be put in order after her death. It was more of a list of things she wanted me to accomplish. Things that would make her happy. Things that would make me happy because I did them for her. It’s been nearly 10 months since she died, and I still haven’t finished her list. And, surprisingly, I don’t feel guilty. Well, not so much anymore.

She wanted me to keep watching our shows. Shows we had been watching for years. I was able to watch some of them. Sometimes, I watched alone; and sometimes I watched with her sisters. Others, though, I couldn’t keep up with. Not without her. I did, finally, eat at our favorite Indian restaurant with her parents and one of her sisters. There were recipes I couldn’t make. Trips I couldn’t take as often as she would have liked. I fell behind on our outdoor activities. And I didn’t raise my bow, not even once for her, during deer season. I did manage to see, as requested, “The Girl on the Train.” She had read the book and was very much looking forward to seeing the movie. I have no doubt she would have liked the book better.

The last thing she had me write down on the list was to always be part of the family. We were together for seven years before she died. I had been a part of the family for quite some time. Her sisters called me their brother. And her father treated me like I was his own son. This should be easy to accomplish, right? Wrong. I closed myself off from everyone. I quit answering phone calls and text messages. I would either not go to family events, or leave them early. And I quit sharing my feelings with all of them.

I couldn’t live like this forever, though. I couldn’t let my wife down. I’ve stared to crawl out of the hole I walked in to nearly 10 months ago. I answer calls and text messages now. I go to family events. Not all of them, but I go. And I stay until they’re over with. I share my feelings with a few members of her family. One day, I might be able to share how I’m doing with everyone. It’s work in progress. I’m a work in progress. And, I will finish the list. Maybe not by the one-year mark of her death. Maybe not even in the next five years. But, I will finish everything on the list. And, in the end, I won’t need to feel guilt for taking so long. Nope. I’ll be happier for having done everything for her, though.

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

Thinkstock image by xalanx

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Grief

Woman wearing headphones, outdoors facing trees

The Sound of My Grief: How Music Helps Me Heal

Music has been a consistent presence in my life. I’m not one for silence really. Cleaning the house, music in the background; in the car, music in the background. I have even been known to break out in song at work on my hospital unit. Music has been that much of an influence in my [...]
Woman sitting on windowsill indoors, looking out window

5 Things to Do for Yourself If You’re Coping With Grief and Loss

This past weekend, a friend and her friend lost their respective mothers. Wanting to pass along some comfort while working through her own grief ,  and knowing I have some experience in this area, my friend asked me to give five pieces of hard-won advice. Here goes: 1. Cry or don’t cry. Go to grief groups [...]
Mother holding daughter's or granddaughter's hand, walking with daughters or granddaughters down path surrounded by grass during the daytime

What It Means for Me to Grieve Out Loud

I am staring at the computer screen with my fingers intertwined in front of me. Staring. I’ve been having problems with first steps lately, so while I was staring at lots of blank, white internet drafting space, I reminded myself that this is a place where I am coming to be honest and unapologetic. I [...]

When Someone Asked Me Questions as a 'Not-Newly Bereaved' Parent

Earlier this evening, a gal asked some questions for a group discussion she will be taking part of this week. It stopped me in my tracks momentarily, because quite honestly, I’ve never been asked such questions. Those of us who have traveled this journey for some years seem to be “expected” to have “gotten over it” [...]