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How Grief Shattered the Order of My Universe

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I have spent my entire life believing there was some semblance of order to the world; some kind of logic and structure that kept our universe moving in the right direction. In my simple human mind, there had to be a reason for why things happened. Apparently, it’s basic human nature to rely on some kind of order; we need it, or at least we need to believe it’s there so that we can make sense of the world and ourselves.

There are many names people give to this order. For some it is religion. For some, it’s karma or just simply the law of the universe. I was never quite sure what the order was. I never named it, but I believed it was there… somehow making sure that people who lived well and treated others with kindness and were generally good humans, would mostly be OK.

Sadly, I’ve spent the last 809 days since my husband’s unexpected death, torturing myself trying to figure out why that order suddenly stopped working for me? What did I do? When did I piss off the universe? What law did I break?

It had all seemed to be working brilliantly for so many years. Where did I go wrong?  I’ve been up late at night with very puffy eyes, and I’ve emptied many boxes of tissues. During the day, I’ve driven and walked and biked around my neighborhood in physical circles only to circle those circles with the thoughts in my head. Why, why, why? It’s almost maddening at times and has lead me to come up with the most insanely ridiculous reasons why I deserve this course-correcting punishment.

I’ve finally settled, if only for a moment, in a place where I’m able to recognize the soul-bending trauma I’ve experienced. And in that place, I find the constant whys are quieting, just slightly. I’m pretty confident I’ll never have the answer, and there has to be a day when I accept that. If for no other reason than to preserve my mind.

My world, my universe is forever changed, forever violated by Jon’s death. It’s a constant feeling of having just come home to find my house broken into. The windows shattered, every door gaping open and the entire contents of the house completely turned over, ransacked. My possessions strewn about the floor. Most of them broken, disregarded and totally irreparable. As I begin to walk around my home, picking up the pieces, absolutely petrified at what I might find. What’s around the corner? Are the bad guys still here? Are they coming for me? Are they coming for my children? How could this happen? Why did they choose my house?

The only problem is the house is my entire world, the entire universe as I know it. There’s nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. Nothing feels safe, secure, normal, and orderly or just. Those possessions are my heart, trampled and destroyed. My memories, hopes, and dreams are the items irreparably shattered and strewn about the floor.

Once your home is violated, you never feel quite the same in it again. It’s exhausting, but eventually you convince yourself it’s OK to go to bed every night, despite never having the same sense of security or comfort in that home. You always worry, you always ask questions, you always wonder.

It’s very similar to the traumatic loss of a loved one. I will never be the same person. I will never be whole. I will never feel the same in any way, the same security, and the same comfort or that there is justice and reasoning to this life. I will never again trust that the order of the universe will keep us safe because it didn’t, and that is an incredibly frightening and painful revelation.

But it is another step.

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Getty image by Tomeyk

Originally published: March 11, 2018
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