Saturday, August 5, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 52 - THE END


This is Week 52 and THE END of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

I made it. I'm here. This is the end of my project. My husband's Two-Year Death Anniversary is tomorrow. It is difficult to put into words how I feel. I have to say that the widows I spoke to were right — Year Two of surviving sudden death is by far the hardest. There seems to be a mixed experience of Year Three — for some it's harder, and for some, it starts to get a big easier. I found a lot of hope and solace in reading Christina Rasmussen's piece she wrote in May, called The Long Game After Loss. Here's what she says about Year Three:
In year three you will start to breathe again, not as often as you would like but enough to know it is possible to have something good in your life again.
Until year three you can’t give up on hope.
I do feel a shift around this anniversary, as compared to last year's. On his One-Year Death Anniversary, I couldn't bear to be alone. I had friends come over and we had a big bonfire in his honor.

This year, I don't want to be around a bunch of people. I have some plans with friends during the day, but in the evening, I want to be alone in our home. I plan to light candles on his altar and sit with my love and grief for him. He is one year further away from me and I feel that loss very deeply. I also feel a new spirit connection to him that I wasn't ready to feel before. I look forward to seeing him in my dreams now, even if it makes me sob on awakening. I want to keep this connection to him while also being able to really explore and expand my new life on my own.

Which begs the question — what comes next? How do I live in and through Year Three? As I have said before, I think Year Three will be about discovering who I am, now that I am alone again. I have some ideas about what I want to share here in Year Three, but none of them have felt quite solid yet, so things may be quiet here for awhile. I know that I do love these projects — they have helped me process and feel my grief in such a powerful way — so, I don't want to stop. But, I do need some time to process this anniversary and feel into what comes next. I keep being pushed to do video updates, which feels super scary and difficult to manage. We shall see how it all unfolds. You can always stay connected to me on my Instagram feed (where some new videos may be appearing soon).

I want to share my deep gratitude to all of you who have witnessed me on my Grief Journeys. It means so much to me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 51

Ritual Seed Sprouts: Week 11

This is Week 51 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

There is only one more week of this project. In one week, my husband will have been dead for two years. This number shocks me on many levels. On the one hand, it is stunning that I haven't seen his face or heard his laugh in two whole years. On the other hand, I've changed so much since he passed away, that two years seems like a very short time. It is strange to feel both these feelings at once.

Today's image celebrates the seeds that were planted during my Healing Grief - Flowering Ritual. These ritual sprouts are now almost as tall as I am. I love having this living presence, reminding me that even in my darkest moments, I am growing and reaching for the light.  There is a heaviness in my body, but it's not a bad or depressed heaviness — more like a deep grounding in the present. This is me. I am here. I feel this way. My roots stretch down to the depths of the earth. My life experiences resonate like vibrating harp strings through my ancestral history. I have always been here before.

I had a long talk with a friend yesterday about the "afterlife." I was telling him how jealous I was of the widows I have met who are Christians and are so sure that their dead husbands are happy and in heaven, enjoying ambrosia salad and foot rubs. I want to know that for my husband, but that is not my belief. I actually don't know where he is, or if any part of his soul even exists anymore. And I'm not sure I want to know. It almost feels better to me to stay open to all the possibilities. 

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 50

Today I am 45-years-old

This is Week 50 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

Today I complete my 45th revolution around the sun. It is also a New Moon. I am two weeks away from completing my #SurvivingYearTwo Grief Project, which is also the Two Year Anniversary of my husband's death.

It's stunning to me how quickly time passes these days. It's difficult for me to stay in the present, as I keep looking back to the past or being worried about the future. To stay grounded, I continue to excavate myself. I think this process of excavation and "digging into me" will play a big role in Year Three of my Grief Journey. My art projects are so essential for me to unravel and process my feelings as I move forward into my new life as a widow. I actually do a lot of this deep dive work on my radio show, and yesterday I recorded the newest episode, exploring some childhood loves and passions. It all stems from the question, "Who am I without my husband?"

As my birthday started to loom this year, all I wanted to do was hide and pretend it wasn't happening. I did not make any plans. Several friends ended up volunteering to celebrate with me, so I have a nice day planned with brunches and adventures. I am so grateful for these thoughtful friends, that love me and want to celebrate me, even when I can't do either for myself right now. Having my husband's death date be so close to my birthday really hurts. It's like a double-whammy of time passing — of him becoming further away from me, while I keep getting older and living my life without him. I hope that I will find joy again, around celebrating my birth. In the meantime, I will do my very best to be here now, and appreciate all the moments of joy I can.

Thanks for witnessing me. See you next week.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 49

Tacos & Giggles (photo by a friend who hates to be tagged on the Internet)

This is Week 49 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

My friends have kept me alive through this grief process. That is a fact. If I had tried to do this on my own, I would have never survived this long. My friends have shown up for me in more ways then I could possibly mention. Many of them surprised me with their caring and generosity. A few surprised me with their withdrawal and fear of my grief. While it hurt at the time, I have found a place of forgiveness for them. Grief is hard to witness in people we love. Some folks just can't handle it.

But for those who have been showing up for me in their own raw, authentic, loving place, I am forever grateful. This includes friends who will pick up the phone when I call and listen and cry with me and then make me laugh a minute later. This includes friends who show up, ready to help me clean my house, pull weeds and make calls. And this includes friends who text me to come meet them for tacos and a neighborhood walk, while we talk about fear and grief and creativity.

Today's image was taken by one of those friends who is always up for hanging out and creating something in the moment. He always reminds me that there is more to explore and more to create, even in the worst of times. Giggles come easily with him, as do new ideas and fresh perspectives. After tacos, we walked around the beautiful town I live in, petting neighborhood cats and singing the entire Muppet Movie soundtrack as the sun gently set.

I've also noticed that when I take photos of myself, I am rarely if ever smiling. When others take my picture, I am almost always smiling. This has multiple meanings, including that even now, I hide my sadness from others. But it also means that I can find joy much more easily when I am with friends. While I think I am right in the middle between being an introvert and an extrovert, I definitely do get energy from being around other people. This is important for me to remember, because when I get sad, I cocoon — not wanting to "bring other people down." I'm trying to say yes to more social events, even if I show up sad, scared and alone. Sometimes this backfires on me, leaving me feeling more broken and wounded than before. But sometimes it can lift me up out of my sadness and help me find joy again.

It's a process that is always changing.

Thanks for witnessing me. See you next week.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 48

Full Moon in Capricorn

This is Week 48 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

It's a Full Moon tonight. This month's full moon has been called the Summer Moon, the Hungry Ghost Moon, the Ripe Corn Moon, the Crane Moon, the Moon of the Middle Summer, the Moon of Claiming, the Mead Moon, the Rose Moon, the Full Buck Moon (for the new antlers of buck deer pushing out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur), the Full Thunder Moon, the Grass Cutter Moon, the Moon When Squash are Ripe, the Raspberry Moon, the Horse Moon, the Moon of Ripeness, the Moon When Buffalo Bellow, the Red Berries Moon, the Homedance Moon, the Fury Moon & the Full Hay Moon.

It's also a full moon in Capricorn and the moon was in Capricorn when I was born, AND it's my birthday month (my birthday happens to fall directly on the New Moon this year). It all feels like another huge turn of the wheel and I find myself in a slightly new place.

My grief continues to show up in new and startling ways. This week, the Widow/er World is all a flutter about the new engagement announcement of the comedian Patton Oswalt. His wife suddenly passed away eight months after my husband (in an eerily similar way). When I saw that he not only was dating but was ready to get married a year and a few months after the death of his wife, I was completely shocked. I don't judge his choice — we all grieve differently. I am more feeling how much I am NOT ready to marry anyone, let alone start dating in a serious way. How can he move through his grief so much more quickly than I can? It makes me scared about my path. That I am getting stuck. That I will never be able to love anyone the way I loved my husband.

Apparently there is a hashtag around the fact that #MenMoveOn. My Grief Counselor told me it is very common for her to see men get married within a year of losing their spouses — that they quickly "replace" their dead wives in part because processing emotions is so difficult for men. Is Patton Oswalt doing this? I have no idea. I don't personally know him, and those that are attacking him for his life choices definitely need to shut up and leave him alone. AND, I am also really feeling some complicated feelings about someone who can move on to their next love so quickly. Both are true for me.

So I will navigate this full moon as best I can, connecting to the Capricorn moon that was rising when I was born. I will keep choosing life, even when I feel so completely hopeless.

Thanks for witnessing me. See you next week.