The hardest thing I have ever done.
We are social animals however the social part is gone, when did it leave and where to for now.
Closure and knowing that as a spouse, friend or caregiver, we need to move on all sounds great in the daylight. In reality this is not what we experience many times. The loneliness is louder than thunder and most often is felt at mealtime and at night. While others are having a meal with family, we eat alone either looking out a window or in front of the TV. Sure we are invited to go to dinner with a friend or neighbor who knew our best friend however while this meal is going on, the conversation is all to frequently surrounding the passing of our best friend or (ever so loudly) speaking of what plans they may have for an upcoming holiday or weekend. At this moment we have no such plans, we don’t even know where to get our necessities that were always purchased by our best friend.
Many times people (meaning all the best) will tell us we need to move on, that our best friend would not want us to be so lost in living. Certainly that is true, but the truth is we can barely remember how to make the coffee or where our rain gear is. When we lose someone so close there is a void in our abilities to move through the days, weeks or even months. There is not a guide or learned process of how to ‘move on’. Some say ‘buck up’ and put one foot in front of the other. Others say ‘don’t make any major decisions’ for a year – they don’t know that making a decision is impossible for us. We can go to the grocery store and we will only buy what we have just run out of. Cooking is not something that seems to need to be done – after there is only ‘one’ here. Our outings are all related to nothing – we survive by doing the same each day. We eat the same, pick up the mail the same, talk to people (when they call or come over) the same; this is how we live each day.
Nights are the worse. We go to bed, staying on our side and we sleep lightly not to move or disturb the other side of the bed. We wake to each sound and the immediate thought is to call out our best friend’s name, are they ok, have they fallen and so many more. When the truth is they have passed and in doing so they are ahead of us. On the worse of the nights we go out to the car and go to the cemetery. There sitting beside the grave or niche we talk to them just as we always have. It is so consoling to talk with them, we can hear the answers and they are a comfort. Sure if someone walks up to us and says ‘what are you doing here’ we can answer by saying we just needed to check on our friend.
And the holidays are even worse. It is very plain if we are invited out with someone, other family or friends, it is because it is the socially correct thing to do. And we respond the same way, then making an excuse to leave as soon as possible. Oh, we appreciate the gestures, it is just that at home with our best friend we would have ‘our’ traditions that we would follow. How do we go on?
Moving forward with our life is what our best friend would want, rarely would they want us stuck in the muck and not living our best life. Everyone has a different way and time to begin this new experience (not better, not worse but new). We need to take time each day to put our thoughts and emotions in order, then plan one activity to do which is new or long forgotten. Remember as a child growing up there were times when it felt as though life was throwing us out of the nest (that first speech in front of the class or not getting that date we had planned but were so afraid of, or going to pay the first traffic ticket, the first job interview). These were all times when the learning curve was extremely elevated but we made it.
These tasks can be very simple and yet a giant leap, have we ever gone to a movie by our self before or out to dinner by our self. These two examples and many more can be very uncomfortable, however great growth steps within our life. For some these are just not attainable at first, but we can work up to them little by little. We can drive to that town which is forty or fifty miles away from home. Then go into a ‘fast food’ place to eat by our selves – no one thinks twice about people alone in one of these as perhaps they are traveling. And we can order something very small and eat and leave. We did it. Or we can go to a very large city and go to a movie by our self. Parking close, and going in we can sit at the back in the first seat of the row so we can leave if we get too uncomfortable. When the movie is over we are in a crowd of people walking to our car, safety in numbers, right. We did it. Those are just two examples, but they are valid. Once we are home, treat our self with one piece of chocolate and/or write in our journal how difficult it was and yet how well it turned out.
There are many examples we can think of – the only one we need to think of is one that will allow us to grow and move on with life. Please always remember to journal, as this is how we remember the good side of these steps. Each of us has a learning curve, and through that curve we have a life to experience and enjoy; this is what our best friend wanted. We will not just stop missing them, or smelling their cologne or after shave, certain not that hand on our arm or in the curve of our back. What we will find is a way to walk forward with them on our left while others are on our right. We can now laugh again and know we are moving forward. Maybe not the same kind of forward as before (with our best friend), but forward just the same. This is our new normal.
Next week – Cooking for one – what a hoot.