Newly Widowed - The Second Month
Survival Mode, I guess...
The first time I referred to myself as a widow, was quite a shocker. To actually say the word out loud, I think was the first step to disassociation.
Reality set in, once arrangements were completed and that part of my life seemed to be gone. The reality that I am alone. There's no more strong hand to hold mine and pull me forward. Only my own two feet to take those small steps forward everyday.
The loss of "him" is pushed deep down. Survival instincts have now kicked in. The previous month now a blur. Yet, the lists are still there, on a yellow notepad, next to the phone. It grows daily, as I cross one thing off I add two more. Some days I find them overwhelming, other days (most), I'm grateful they are there. They keep me moving and 'doing' and not thinking.
I've put away the pictures, once I smiled and even laughed at them, rejoicing in the wonderful life we shared. I can't look at them now without feeling that painful loss... it knocks the wind out of me, takes my breath away. I haven't smelled any of his clothes, haven't opened the door to his truck, his smell, the strongest reminder of what I've lost.
I try not to replay that fateful morning in my mind. I try not to think of the should have's, could have's and had we known's. There is no going back, only forward, moment by moment, day by day.
I've had to put him aside for now, my priority is our children and what they need. I've stepped away from my grief and I see it in my children more clearly. Our youngest referred to him by name rather than Daddy. His own disassociation, so he can speak of him without the pain.
Our oldest paces, like me, I know he's thinking "what now?", as am I.
One cries because the last time Dad told her he loved her, she gave him the standard, "love you too, Dad." and wonders if he knew how much she really meant it.
Another either doesn't go to school or calls in the middle of the day to be picked up, having a difficult time dealing with the norm.
And the last, I think she's dealing with it the best of all of us, expressing how much she misses Dad, and wishes she can hear his voice again. Me too, honey. Me too.
I know that I need to get my children help. The farther away I move from him, the less helpful I become for them. So I searched and searched for grief counseling for them. I was shocked at how little there is out there for children, even teens.
I keep being told that if I get help for myself, it will be helpful for my children. I believe this in one way, yet in another I don't. One, I'm not ready! Two, my children are very protective of me and I know that it is difficult for them to see me upset. One of our favorite family songs is Green Day's "Time of your life", our littlest asked me one day if I still liked that song, I said I did, he reminded me that the last time I heard that song I cried. So he no longer wants to listen to it. No matter how much I tell him it's all right to cry and to be sad, I see the anger building up inside of him.
The third and most important reason, in my thinking, is that they are children, they are not widows and widowers, they've lost their father not their life partner. They need others their own age to relate to, share their experience with. Their bereavement is different than mine.
I've heard over and over how resilient children are, and agree. Maybe this is why grief programs are limited for children. It's assumed they will somehow overcome it on their own. I don't believe that. Supress it maybe, until they become adults and then the supression becomes baggage.
From one widow to another...
Keep taking notes. Though you may feel as if you are functioning better, it is still important to keep notes and lists. I still seem to forget what happened yesterday and can't remember what I need to do tomorrow, or the name of that lady I spoke with two days ago. Write it down. Date, time, who, what, when, where, why, and how.
Important Papers and Loose Ends. Now is the time to file for pensions, life insurance, etc. If you have separate bank accounts you have to go in person to the bank with a copy of the death certificate to close accounts. If you haven't done so already you need to go to Social Security to file for Survivor Benefits for yourself and children. You will need an original death certificate, birth certificates for all survivors, marriage certificate, and social security cards.
Keep eating. I'm getting better with this. I know I need to keep up my strength and food is essential for that. Even a few bites here and there is better than nothing. Keep drinking a lot of water. I was told over and over to do this, and they were right.
Count the blessings. That black hole of depression creeps up on you. Some days are better than others, but to keep from drowning in that abyss, I try to look at the little things and tell myself I'm grateful for that small moment. We had so much rain and cold weather in January that when the sun finally decided to stick around and warm things up I rejoiced in it. All of the good people around us, wonderful friends. My kids little giggles and smiles. The small things, that is what life is about.
It is okay to smile and Oh yes, even laugh. The first time I laughed, I felt horrible for doing so. How can I laugh or even be happy for a split second when my husband has passed away. It took a few more smiles, a few more laughs not to feel horrified. If I'm happy it means I'm not grieving. Not true. I know in my heart he would want me to be happy.
Sleep. Probably the most difficult. I went to bed worrying about tomorrow and woke up replaying that fateful morning in December, sometimes at two, three, four o'clock in the morning. A prescription helped. Though I would get the much needed eight hour sleep, it didn't seem to be enough, but I know it helped.
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