“And…..How are you, REALLY?” I’ve been asked that a lot lately. I’ve been asked by all sorts of people, in all sorts of places. The short answer is, “it depends”. The truthful answer is, “I don’t know”. I feel like I am in a boat…on flat water….with no oars. I’m in the river, I trust it is going somewhere, but I’m not real sure how I am going to navigate it. I’ve spent some time researching. Reading books, looking things up on the internet. There isn’t too much out there. Much like there wasn’t a story I could read that helped me through the year of caring for Jim as his cognition declined….there isn’t a good story to teach me how to do this time post caring for him. Most of the widow blogs are written by people that have already navigated the river and emerged from the dead end pool intact. I wanna know what it feels like to navigate.
So, I’ve figured out 3 things, based on a UU sermon I heard years ago, and still pull up in hard times:
To thine own self be true: I lost myself over the last year plus. At a time when I was just embarking on my own path, I was thrust into the role of caretaker. I dropped almost everything that was unique to me in order to do what was best for the man I loved, the man I promised to stand by in sickness and in health. I am a different person now. I am not who I was in August of 2009. I’m not sure who this new person is. I do know that I need to write. Writing helped me navigate the homeorhesis of Jim’s decline and death. Perhaps it can steer me through this next phase of my life.
It’s not about you: I’ve had quite a few folks tell me that my previous writing was helpful to them. It assisted them in thinking about their own death, their spouse’s death, clarified decisions they were making about aging parents. While the positive strokes were nice, I was just writing my story. My story stirred something else in someone else…which leads to the 3rd point:
You are never alone: We are all embedded in this web we call life. The human condition. The bittersweet. My experience may have an impact on someone else. Chaos theory. If my writing can help someone else on their journey, then it is worth my time. If I write something, and someone contacts me with their thoughts on it, I have made a connection, and we both feel less alone. I finally spoke with another young (well, we are actually both middle aged :)) widow yesterday…it was SOOO nice, because she just instantly “got it”. Did you know that the average age of a widow is 55? Wow. There are a lot of us out there, how come so little is written about how to do this?
So, I am back to writing. Since my daughter writes too, and she is wise, I’ve decided to steal her idea of a topic list. Here is what has been waking me up at 2 am, nagging me, bugging me to put it into some coherent form. I am sure there will be more as time progresses, but this is what I feel possessed to write about in the near future:
- Solitude, solace and service
- Digital Death
- Boy Chores and Women’s Work
- Fear Factor
- How to Feed a Widow
- Being Single Again
So, how am I REALLY???? It depends….and that is really all the answer I can give in line at the post office, early am at the grocery store, or even on the phone after a long day at work. It just depends. Grief is like that.