Posted in grief, loss of a spouse

Marking another milestone

Thirty-eight years ago, July 28, 1978, I had my first date with David. Our wedding date was June 2, 1979, not quite a year later, and we began our married life as college students living in a small trailer south of the main campus. Later, we moved to different married student housing; cement block buildings where we lived for several years with our two youngest children.

In June 2011, David and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary by strolling through the UNI campus and visiting those old buildings that were in the process of being torn down. Just a few months later, my husband was gone.

Recently someone early on in their own grief journey asked me what it felt like, more than four years out from the loss of my spouse. I hesitated, not sure how to respond. What could I say that would convey truth, but not scare her?

For the most part, I am doing well. I am navigating single motherhood the best that I can. I have had four books published since 2012, and have a good job. But the honest truth is that days like today, that mark special dates for David and I, remain difficult for me. Memories rise closer to the surface on those days. The pain of loss sharpens. My heart aches, and yes, I shed a tear. Or two. I wouldn’t be quite truthful if I told someone new to grief that it “gets better.” It just gets different. The best thing I can say is that they won’t be feeling the way they do right then, forever. This is an important distinction to make because in those early days and weeks, the pain is unbearable.

Seasoned grief looks and feels different than that dark despair of early mourning. It comes with the dawning reality that a daughter will soon be getting married without her father to walk her down the aisle. It can be a sob escaping while driving because a certain song comes on the radio. It can rear its ugly head with jealousy at another couple’s anniversary trip or the sight of an elderly couple holding hands. Grief remains a heavy burden for those left behind. It never really ends, and only those who have experienced it truly understand its depths.

Grieving is lonely.

Even today, more than four years after his death, I want so badly to share with David what I am feeling, what losing him has been like. Because we talked about everything. And nothing. And when we weren’t talking, we often just held hands. I miss that too.

Grief, four years out, remains a constant companion.

 

She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts. – George Eliot

Author:

Author, public speaker, and workshop presenter for community colleges, libraries, women's groups and for grief support groups, Hospice and retreats. Certified grief counselor and Senior Service librarian for the James Kennedy Public library. Popular public speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing, couponing, utilizing your creativity in everyday life, 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. Grief journal to be released in 2018.

4 thoughts on “Marking another milestone

  1. I too struggle with what to say to the newly grieving when they ask if gets better. This post perfectly describes grief as changing, but remaining a companion. Thank you, Mary. I will send this to a mother facing the early grief of losing a child today.

  2. I’m interested in your October 7 & 8 presentation. I lost my husband 21/2 years and yes, it doesn’t get better just different. I’ve had 16 experiences with his spirit. It’s hard for other people to understand if they haven’t walked in our shoes.

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