Posted in death, love, marriage

Grief at Ten and a Half Weeks

“How are you doing?” is the question.

I want to say;

“I still leave the kitchen light on every night and I’m not sure why, and I had to leave Fareway yesterday because the peanut butter aisle reminded me of David, and oh, by the way, I have yet to make it through a Hy-Vee without crying, and I missed a book sale today because I couldn’t bear to go to a book sale without him. Do you know how many book sales we attended together? We started going in 1995 and Emily was conceived on the night of that November book sale, and is that too much information for you, and how could I even know that? But I do. And our first was conceived on our wedding night, and how cool is that, but it also means we had only nine months in a home without a child and never experienced an empty nest, never even traveled outside of Iowa, or went on an airplane or went to a concert. I cry every Sunday during Mass because I used to hold his hand and now I see older couples holding hands and we will never grow old together, and I miss him, I miss him, I miss him! I don’t want to coupon shop and I always loved to go shopping, but I don’t want to because we did that together, so I haven’t gone to the Dubuque Walgreens since his death. Everything makes me think of him; I hit the buttons on the ATM machine and I think about laughing with him when he kept hitting the screen and then we went out for a banana split and I don’t think I will ever want to eat a banana split again. I peel a boiled egg and remember how he boiled eggs one morning and I corrected his method, telling him I’d read an article about the perfect way to boil eggs and he asked me why I always had to be right, and why did I? Couldn’t he have been right just that once, and why didn’t I lay down to take a nap with him that Sunday before, when he asked me, instead of saying “I’m too busy.” Why couldn’t I have lain by him that one last time and held his hand and gazed into his beautiful brown eyes? Why was I always so busy? Was it easier or harder for my mother, living in an empty house when she lost my Dad? How did she stand it? This morning I watched Abby singing at the final program for Vacation Bible School and sitting in the audience seeing her face, I so wanted to see some joy, some laughter, some happiness from her, and I only saw a tiny glimpse of the old Abby, but it hit me that mostly I’ve seen anger emanating from her. Then she called me stupid after the program because I couldn’t find the t-shirt she’d made, so I sobbed in the car in front of my grandsons and then I really felt stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Stupid with grief. “I hate you!” she railed, and I saw the faces of other women there, and their horrified looks said I am a horrible mother with a horrible child. Then Abby and I visited the gravesite and we both sobbed, hugging each other, and she said she is sorry and she doesn’t know why she says those things. I went to a grief support group on Wednesday and the woman next to me introduced herself and said it had been two years since her husband died and she began crying and I felt a stab of fear. Oh, no, am I going to feel like this in two years? And I don’t think I can stand that, when another person tells me it is worse at five months, and someone else says a year, and I don’t think I can bear hearing that. We ask each other what helps, and I tell them that when it gets really, really bad, it helps me to write to someone who David loved and to reach out beyond myself, and the heads nod, and I want someone to tell me what to do. Tell me what to do. Tell me how to do this, and where is the handbook of grief? And will I write one someday? But if I have learned nothing else about grief, I have learned that everyone grieves differently. And no one there, not any of the attendees or the social worker who facilitated the group, knew where I could get help for Abby. All of them were older than me and none of them had to contend with a young child’s griefAnd how could there be no help for a child who grieves in this town? Surely other children are suffering the los of a parent and cannot wait for a bereavement camp in September. And oh, I am so glad I have my children, but I will never be loved like David loved me, no matter how much my children love me, no matter how much my siblings love me. I will never again feel that love. And I can’t hold his hand or hug him and I miss that already, and if I miss that already, what will I feel like in two years? Will I be sitting in a grief group crying too? And this hurts so much more than when I lost my mother, and that hurt really, really bad, and I can’t stop writing about it and talking about it and my GriefShare daily e-mail a few days ago said that at some point some people might get bored with your grief and it might no longer be appropriate to share with them, and am I at that point, and how will I know which people I can still share with? So I haven’t posted on my blog in a few days because it might be now, at ten and a half weeks, that I am supposed to be “better?” And is there really such a thing for a grieving spouse? And, oh, how my heart hurts, and I feel as though there is a huge, empty void in my life.”

 

But what I say, after a slight hesitation, is,

“Fine.”

Author:

Author, public speaker, and workshop presenter for community colleges, libraries, women's groups and for grief support groups, Hospice and retreats. Reporter for the Manchester Press newspaper and popular public speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing and finding hope in grief. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published by Familius Publishing in 2014. "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage" and "Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace" were released by Familius in 2014. "Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink," co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston of Iowa City, was published in September 2015.

11 thoughts on “Grief at Ten and a Half Weeks

  1. Mary, I truly understand this kind of grief – and, admittedly, more than I want to. When I was 28 years old, I wouldn’t go to a grocery store, or anywhere else where children might be and have only recently learned to be kind enough to myself to acknowledge what a toll grief took upon me – many, many years later. I even severed all of my friendships with couples who had children. I literally clung to my family, and at times when we were eating in “adults only” restaurants, I looked around the room and knew that there was no one in it with whom I had anything in common. The best thing you can do is to be as kind to yourself as possible – for now and always. Unfortunately, I know how really horrible grief can be, and for some there is no “cure.” It does get better, but you never forget. Pen

  2. Mary, call Hospice here in Dubuque and ask them about bereavement support for children. If they can’t help, they will know of someone who can. i feel so sad to think of how hard this must be for you, and i wish I could take away all your pain.

  3. Know that we will never get bored of your grief. I think of you daily, and of what a struggle this must be. My heart breaks for you- not out of pity, but out of complete sorrow. You mean so much to so many people…we care so much about you. Thank you for continuing to share your writing with us. It is one of the ways I learn how I can be praying for you.

  4. Mary, never feel as if you can’t pour your heart out. If that is what you are feeling- share it. You have shared happier times and you continue to let us all know when you have good times. Are there any books about handling grief in small children? You need to get some help for Abby or at least help in knowing what is the best way you can get her through her grief and anger. You will find a way, I know. Love you- Pat

  5. Mary, I want you to know that I will never get tired of listening to you talk about your grief…please keep doing it…it needs to come out, it does. My heart breaks for you, because it is so, so unfair that you have lost your love, your dearest David. Do keep looking for help for Abby. If people don’t want to read a blog of yours, they don’t have to. But you need to write it. I promise to read it. I love you, and I send a firm, supportive hug along with this comment.

  6. I can’t imagine the pain you and your family are experiencing. But please know that there are people out there who care and continue to think about you all. Prayers and good thoughts are with you always.

  7. I really, really think some type of children’s grief counseling would be beneficial for Abby. It sounds like she is struggling and crying out for help. My parent passed away when I was an adult and it was terribly difficult, I cannot imagine how hard it is when you are still a child. I’m so glad that you are such a transparent, honest person and are able to share your feelings through this blog. I read every post and have been so encouraged, even though I’m not dealing with this particular situation. I pray for your family every day.

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