Let’s Talk: Reimagining Through Grief

Go get your coffee cup and settle in. We need to talk. Or actually I need to talk. I’ve been thinking about how to start this conversation with you for a while, but my head has been in a fog, trying to figure out, “What now?”

Maybe you can listen. Maybe it will help me.

My husband committed suicide almost two years ago; my heart is broken and sometimes it feels as if all of my words are stuck in my throat. My fingers on most days just hover over the keyboard; not sure what to write–an added injury to a writer. The few pages I have written in my journal look like Rorschach tests from all the tears swirled in with ink. I know the importance of staying emotionally up-to-date with myself and with others. I know to talk out the pain and be real with people about how I’m doing. I’m so grateful for the people who sit and listen without trying to prompt me to see the silver lining (and I’m a person who perpetually, and obnoxiously, so I’ve been told, looks for the silver lining). I’m grateful for people who refrain from telling me that my husband is no longer suffering from debilitating depression and that he is in a better place. His place was here. With us. With me. We were his place.

But I’m also aware that there is an expiration date on how long people will be willing to listen to the rawness that is now a part of me. And quite frankly, there should be. I need to know there is an expiration date for all of this rawness; that there will be an end to my expecting my husband to walk through the door at night, for the longing to hear his laugh or to smell the clean scent of soap on his face and neck.

Grief has me in a place I do not recognize and I’m trying so hard to read the road signs but nothing is registering, like when my iPhone takes me to the wrong street or neighborhood and I want to scream, “Where the *@%k have you taken me, Siri!”

Friends tell me I will find my way back again and I wonder: Back to what?

There is no going back to life as my kids and I knew it with their father and my husband. No more road trips together with him singing along to John Denver songs, no more dinners around the table talking about everything and talking about nothing at all. He’s not here for us to share our good news or to ask, “What should I do?” He was my person–the 7-digit number emergency contact on all of life’s official paperwork, the one to call when the car wouldn’t start, to celebrate milestones with, lean into when it was cold or to slip my hand into his when I was afraid. What do I do with all of that? The role, the person, his personality, his energy, the memories, the experiences, the life we lived. It doesn’t just evaporate with death. The memories of our life continue to fall and swirl all around us like a million pieces of confetti that I could never in a lifetime pick up and piece back together.

Here I am at the proverbial fork in the road. One leads to the past and one leads to the future. I believe in the future; I do. I see that it can be good; I just don’t yet understand how.

This experience has brought to our family new friends, some who already walked this path, losing a husband. And what I see are strong women who each day decided to get up and piece their lives back together — nurturing their kids, honoring the memory of their late husbands without getting stuck in looking back. They are holding fast to their faith and reimagining what life can be for them on their own.

These have been my luminaries over the last months; they’re just a little further down the road than I am, but casting enough light for me to see how to put one foot in front of the other. And for this…I am grateful.

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