Saturday, August 25, 2012

"I'll Never Marry Again!" (Did I say NEVER?)

So it was just over a year that I became a widow. I was doing ok. I had my good days and my not so good days. But over all, life was tolerable. I was getting use to being a single mom and accepting the fact that this was my new and permanent life.

"Are you dating anyone?" A family member innocently asked me. I CAN'T BELIEVE HE ASKED ME THAT! "No, and I don't plan to," I said. "Nobody will ever take Nelson's place, and I'll never marry again." He looked at me doubtfully.

I didn't understand why people would ask me that question. Couldn't they understand if you love someone with all your heart you won't desire anyone else. I already felt the Lord would always take care of my family. I clung to the Scripture verse that stated it was better to stay unmarried:

1 Corinthians 7: 8-9 "Now to the unmarried and the widows I say; It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am, But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."

If I could continue to have self-control, this is what the Lord would prefer. I had to understand that everyone had their own opinion. It didn't make sense to argue. I knew in my heart that I would remain single to probably the day I died.

Well, I did remain single for many years until seven years into my widowhood I met someone that I couldn't live without. As much as I had enjoyed my single life and independence, there still wasn't anything that beats having someone to love and to be loved in return.

I've been remarried now for three wonderful years. One lesson I've learned is to treasure every relationship every day because we are not guaranteed tomorrow. Nothing is permanent, it's just temporarily beautiful!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Child's Time to Grieve

As an adult, in a dangerous situation, we put the oxygen mask on ourself first, and then we give it to our child. Well, widowhood was like a disaster that hit my life. In the first year of grief, I needed everyone else's help before I could help my children. My daughters, 6 and 7 at the time, not only didn't have a father that first year, but their mother was absent as well.

I felt depleted. I was emotionally unavailable to them and wrapped up in my own grief. The little sense I did have, I made sure they met with their school counselor. I had no idea how they were processing their grief and if they were even doing ok.

We also had some family conferences with the guidance counselor. My daughters were able to talk about their feelings. The counselor reassured me that they had a healthy understanding of what happened. This relieved me since I had been consumed with my own thoughts. Even though we lived under the same roof I had no idea how my children were coping.

I kept going that first year mainly on faith. I didn't feel death was final when I had hope in eternal life. I know my girls heard me say that alot. I also think God was carrying them that first year. I imagined they were cradled in His arms as a protecting Father until I was well enough to meet their physical and emotional needs. I think the spiritual needs were covered.

Once the first year of widowhood was behind me, I felt stronger. I thought more about my children's needs. My oldest daughter attended a weekend hospice camp, for children who had lost a loved one. The day I picked her up they had closing ceremonies. Each child shared an experience from the weekend. I didn't know whether to feel happy or sad for them. It was tragic these children suffered a loss but fortunate that they found joy again.

The following year, both my girls attended the hospice camp and also went to a children's eight week hospice grief support group. A counselor told me it can take children up to four and a half years to work through grief. So after the first year of it being ALL ABOUT ME, for several years after it was then ALL ABOUT THEM. There were times I was ready to move on, to new goals and relationships, but I backed up and sacrificed moving forward until my children caught up.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Year Gone By

I don't know why, but I felt like it was a big accomplishment to make it through the first year of widowhood. I wanted to scream, "I made it!" (Whatever that meant.) It was a milestone. It was one full year of living through every holiday, birthday, anniversary, and season without my loved one. It had to be the worst year ever. And it was finally over.

With a sigh of relief, the time seemed right to clean out the rest of Nelson's possessions. Whatever I couldn't keep, I gave to family or friends. This was done of course on my good days. I moved in life as though in waves. Sometimes I'd forge ahead a little happier with energy, and then just as quickly, get drawn back into sadness and knocked down in despair.

During this time, I recognized my friends' compassion, who knew our situation, and how much of a difference this made on our family. A few months ago, what seemed like a good idea to move out of state, I realized it had been a terrible idea. "Thank you, God, that I listened to my friends who told me not to do anything for a year." Now, I couldn't imagine life without our friends' love and support.

I began accepting more social invitations. I noticed that the more outgoing I became, the more sociable people were towards me. As my self-confidence grew, it became easier to fight my negative feelings. And those depressed feelings were sometimes right around the corner. At times I had control over my emotions and at other times I'd lose control and feel like he just died the other day.

One of the hardest situations I still had to face, was attending my children's school functions. I proudly watched as they participated in the end of the year talent show to show off their dance and gymnastic abilities. I was on cloud nine watching them but once it ended my mood sank as I watched the other dads applaud. Knowing that my daughters will never experience their father's approval again, how sad is that?!!

So I began giving myself the "Blessing Lecture" every time I felt like I was going down. God blessed us with a certain amount of years with Nelson. When Nelson was on this earth, he filled us with more love than some people hardly find in a life time. We had wonderful memories of him as a husband and father. This helped me to pick myself up, brush off my tears, and saddle back into living life. Living life with amazing daughters, a wonderful family, and irreplaceable friends!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Widow's Commemoration

I would imagine that most widows dread the anniversary day of their husbands death. Especially the first year. Kind of like a holiday or birthday, it's a BIG one. As the day approached for me, I contemplated what to do. It felt too big of a day NOT to talk about it. But who would really bring the subject up?  I realized that I would have to make the effort to talk or suffer alone in silence.

"I'll invite our friends to go out on the thirteenth, in memory of Nelson. Why ignore the day? It would just make the pain worse. This way, we can be together to comfort each other." For our night out, my friends and I went to a neighborhood pizzeria. It was four couples and myself, which accentuated Nelson's absence all the more. Our evening consisted of sharing our memories of Nelson.

The evening seemed healing for not only me but my friends, too. Not one of us had wanted Nelson to die. He was a wonderful person. We all had funny memorable stories to share. We laughed together and I felt a sense of joy to have these wonderful friends in my life. I bought a round of drinks and toasted to everyone's glass, "I couldn't have done it without each and every one of you this past year."

I felt Nelson was close by. I wondered if our feelings and soul could connect to the spiritual world. Or did I just want him here so badly? I knew I wouldn't know that answer until I died. So for now, I decided to enjoy the relationships of family and friends that were presently in my life. And this special night would become a new memory. A memory of how much my friends loved me.

"Cindy, these are for you." Sal handed me a bouquet of roses. "Nelson would have bought them for you." Tears filled my eyes. "All of you are so sweet. I couldn't have made it through this day without your company." And to this day, many years later, I have memories of that evening. Of the first anniversary of my former husband's passing. Memories that are so sweet. Good memories.

There are other ways to commemorate. Coming from another widow's blog, Heatache to Healing, read Joanne's post, "As Time Goes By - Celebrate and Remember". She begins; Do you remember the song “As Time Goes By?” it was made famous in the movie “Casablanca” and hundreds of artists have performed it over the years. Time going by is a fact of life and yet when you are grieving the loss of a loved one time can feel as if it stopped.

So if you are contemplating what to do on that memorable day, I hope you don't suffer in silence. Call a friend and make a plan. Share stories of your loved one. Laugh, cry, and reminisce. You may find that you'll be making new memories, too. And it may help to soften the pain just a little more. "Cheers, to you and your support system that keep you going!"