|By My Side|
This is Day 158 of my #6MonthsOfGrief Project. To learn more about this practice, feel free to visit Day One, where I explain this project in more detail.
There are many photos of my husband in my cubicle, but I seem to be drawn most to this one. In fact, I moved it closer to my computer so I can always look at it. Sometimes, when the grief hits me so hard that I can't breathe, I hold the comforting leather frame close to my chest and pretend he is hugging me.
The image is a polaroid photo, taken at my last birthday gathering. It's one of the last photos ever taken of him. In it, my friend's daughter has just put his beard his huge, frothy beard into a pony tail, and he is looking delightedly at the camera. He loved being around kids and was completely heartbroken when we discovered we could not have any of our own. Some say I am lucky we did not have kids, so that they would not have to go through the grief of losing a father so young. Some say it is a tragedy that we did not have kids, because I have "nothing left of him." I think both are true — and neither are true.
|Zooming in on my special photo.|
The image next to him is some art I made in Susie Stonefield Miller's amazing art studio. If you ever have a chance to take one of her workshops, DO IT. She's amazing and so good with working through grief with art.
On the good days, I try to remember that he is always by my side. On the bad days, I feel his absence like a vast chasm inside my heart that can never be filled, no matter who I have sex with, or how much I drink, or how many movies I watch. I want to be like those blissful people, who are convinced their dead loved ones stroll next to them, like a spirited companion. They talk freely to them and sometimes even hear their loved ones answer.
I rarely, if ever, feel him by my side. Sometimes I wonder if it was because he had such fierce ideas about the afterlife — he would often tell me when he was alive, that I shouldn't "expect him to stick around," because when he died, he was planning to go straight to whatever comes next. When we were writing our wedding vows, he felt strongly about the phrase "until death do us part." Because he grew up Mormon (and still had a lot of residue from that faith), he wanted me to know that we would NOT be married to me in the afterlife.
I guess I'm honoring his wishes in a way. I'm trying to let him go, instead of wishing he was by my side. But it's so hard. It hurts so much.
I am very aware that this project can bring up a lot around yours or other's grief and loss, I will always follow every post with some online grief support resources that have helped me. Please feel free to let me know of online support that you have found healing in your grief, as well:
Art with Grief:
- Filmmaker Gemma Green Hope made a short animation in memory of her grandmother
- Photographer Sarah Treanor Takes Moving Self-Portraits to Cope with Her Fiance's Death
- When the Fall Comes, a film about Grief by Adriana Marchione
- Self-Portraits: Expressing Emotion Through Art on What's Your Grief?
- The Hard Romance of Grief by Mark Liebenow
- The poetry of John O’Donohue
- What Joe Biden Has Said About Dealing With Personal Tragedy And Grief
- Death, Grief & Shattered Assumptions
- Stifled Grief: How the West Has It Wrong
- How Grief Can Make You Sick
- What's Your Grief?
- The Grief Geek
- Modern Loss's excellent resource list
- The writings of Tim Lawrence
- The Rules of Grief are for Other People by Shawn Doyle on The Good Men Project
- Grief Bibliography on Grief Healing
- Teresa “TL” Bruce's What to Say When Someone Dies
- They Brought Cookies: For A New Widow, Empathy Eases Death's Pain by Ann Finkbeiner on NPR
- A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
- Megan Devine’s Refuge in Grief
- The Geography of Sorrow: Francis Weller on Navigating Our Losses, interviewed by Tim McKee in Sun Magazine
- How to Be a Friend in Deed by Bruce Feiler in the New York Times
- 12 Things to Know About the First Year of Grieving Someone You Can’t Live Without by Laurie Costanza in Elephant Magazine
Thank you, and see you tomorrow.