The Grieving Room: I Guess I Made It

Crossposted from The Grieving Room at Daily Kos by wyldraven

On the eighth of June, I will mark the one year anniversary of Barbara’s death. I still don’t know exactly how I will do so. Anecdotal evidence indicates that most spouses who survive the first year as a widow/widower will continue to live a normal life span. Point in fact, death from broken heart syndrome is rare.

A special welcome to anyone who is new to The Grieving Room. We meet every Monday evening. Whether your loss is recent or many years ago, whether you have lost a person or a pet, or even if the person you are “mourning” is still alive (“pre-grief” can be a very lonely and confusing time) you can come to this diary and process your grieving in whatever way works for you. Share whatever you need to share. We can’t solve each other’s problems, but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.

The one thing I do know is, however I mark that day, I will be doing it alone. That’s the new “normal” for me. Don’t get me wrong, I do things with people. I just attended the HRC Houston Gala, and had a good time. That doesn’t change the fact that it is now normal for me to be alone.

Of course, normal doesn’t necessarily imply enjoyable. I would rather not be alone as much as I am. Unfortunately, desire in this case doesn’t translate to reality. I’m 53 (in a month) and being who I am, the prospects for a future relationship are rather slim. A few months ago, I would have refused one had it presented itself. Now, I am willing to leave that up to Deity. That’s a big step forward for me.

Public Service Announcement: In case you are new to this whole grieving process, I need to tell you something I finally figured out. You are going to have people tell you about the Kübler-Ross model, also known as the Five Stages of Grief. A couple of things to know about that. First, it was never meant to apply to those of us left behind. It was developed for those people who knew they were dying (the long-term patients who had been told they were terminal).

And second, even for those folks, it’s abstract. It’s nowhere near as neat and tidy as the model would seem to imply. Phases occur in various orders, and sometimes people skip one, and/or repeat an earlier one. So to those who would accuse you of “being stuck in” whatever phase, politely disabuse them of their pop psychology. Or, if you prefer, simply ignore them. Do anything but take their words to heart. It will only make things harder for you in the long run. [wyldraven steps down from her soap-box]

Does it sound like I maybe heard a bit of well-meaning nonsense in the last year? Yes, I certainly did. I even had an employer give me a timeline for when I “should be better”. Now if that’s not nonsense, I have no idea what is. Don’t get me wrong, I am getting better, but part of that process has been coming to terms with the fact that I am forever changed. If “being better” means getting back to who I was before, then that will never happen. I know that now, and I am beginning to accept it as fact.

I do have some wonderful friends, some from before, and some new ones from after. They’ve all done their very best to be supportive, and I am working on reconnecting with those who will have me. A few months ago, I wrote

It’s an axiom that the loss of a spouse will result in the loss of most, if not all, of the friends you had in common. I think I understand why that is. As a society, we have come to believe that grief can be scheduled, like my employer made so clear. But the profound grief that results from a loss this great cannot be scheduled, cannot be simply turned off when “the time has come to move on”. So those of us who would grieve on our own schedule, who don’t simply stop hurting because we should, remind those around us of their own mortality.

And if they too loved the one you lost in their own way, then seeing you still grieving is like tearing open that wound for them every time they see you.

Well, most of that is still true, but as I have begun to truly heal, so have they, and we can once again be in each other’s company. That’s good, and I am happy to report it (at least for me).

So as we in the LGBT community like to remind our young people, I will remind you as well. It Gets Better. I needed someone to tell me that about five months into my saga, and there was no one. I only knew one other person who had lost a spouse as young as I. I didn’t go to her. It’s hard to explain, but I guess I didn’t want to do to her what I spoke of above. I didn’t want to make her grief raw again. I will never make that mistake again. When I finally went to her, she was wonderful, and it was “better”. Better to have someone to share that with. Better to have someone tell me that it would get better, and on its own schedule. No one can force that. It will take as long as it takes.

And if there is one take away for me, that is it. It will get better, exactly when it does. That’s been my mantra for several months now. Strangely, I spent so much time reminding myself that was true, that I’m not sure when it happened. But it did happen. I will never not miss her, but I am moving forward now, not standing still, or even losing ground, as I once was. And in closing, I quote that famous song from the Stones:

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need!

Here is a link to all previous Grieving Room diaries.

About Janet Logan

I am a well educated transgender woman, a lesbian, and an eclectic Pagan. I am polyamorous, kinky, loving, and giving. I am a caretaker type, who often fails miserably at self care. I have fibromyalgia and major depression, and antidepressants make me suicidal. I am a widow. The day that my wife died, the doctor came to me asking for permission to stop life-saving measures. I said the words "call it" to the doctor, thus finalizing her death. I am complex, complicated, and worth the effort.
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