Just about the time many who are grieving put the holidays behind us, another one, a tough one for many, comes along. It is, of course, Valentine's Day. While those around us make plans to celebrate the day, we who have lost a lover, partner, or spouse feels bombarded with ads for romantic dinners, films, trips, greeting cards and more. The world starts to feel dominated by couples deeply in love (true or not) when we are without that one person whose death changed our lives forever.

 
 
Somewhere early into the second year following my husband Bill's death, the gut wrenching pain of losing him took on an additional layer. The pain that permeated my entire being in those early months seemed to weigh a ton and felt like it had ripped my heart from my chest. By the second year I began to experience what are called "secondary losses" making the second year more difficult than I ever dreamed it would be. These secondary losses had been there all along but I paid little to no attention to them because I was lost in the fog and gut-wrenching pain of Bill's death as it demanded all of my attention and energy. I was in survival mode.
As that fog lifted, I began to recognize these secondary losses; things like how long and lonely a Monday evening was, something I never felt when Bill was here even if he was not home. Others include/d figuring out who might want to go to a movie; eating alone in restaurants more often; learning how to rewire a lamp and sobbing when what I did worked; calling someone to bring soup when I had pneumonia twice in 14 months or someone to assist me when I tore my rotator cuff and broke fingers in a fall. They did not end there. I had to deal with financial strain with the loss of half of our income and car repairs that I never gave thought to before. There was no one to share a symphony with, a special someone who is also moved to tears by the same composer and no longer did I have an "automatic" companion to go anywhere with. Then there was talking over household concerns with the person equally invested in the house and of course no longer did I have a vacation partner, one I really wanted to be with. This list could go on forever and new secondary losses still appear unexpectedly and frequently. I soon learned that as lovely and caring as my friends are, they each have a life of their own, most of them shared, if not with a spouse or partner, with adult children, grandchildren or other extended family in the area. I am not the first one to pop into their minds upon awakening as I was with Bill. And well...it was Bill I wanted to be with anyway. I was no longer first in anyone's life.

 
 
This first post on my new blog will hopefully provide you with an idea of who I am and the journey I am on. To read my welcome or introduction to Reflections, click Welcome to Reflections.

Grieving the death of my husband Bill was, in the first two years, mostly about gut wrenching pain; tears; feeling lost, alone and confused. I fumbled about; missed him and our life; grieved all he lost; and lived in a fog of sorts. I was overdoing and under doing and more. However, as I look back now, those years were also about insights, learning, growth, and incredibly compassionate wounded healers who know grief well. These people, strangers for the most part but now friends, came into my life, heard me, helped me and still support me as I walk my journey through pain. Wounded healers are real people; people unafraid of pain, tears, loss, death and grief. Many of them are deeply involved in changing attitudes and knowledge about loss, death and grief as we relate to it (or not) in our culture. These years taught me how poorly we as a society understand and deal with grief. Many, too many, do not know how to reach out to someone in the throes of grief's agony. Instead some disappear quickly following a death. Others try and want so much to help, but just do not know what to say. It is that lesson that drives my passion to assist those who grieve and to help change the way our death phobic society deals with loss, end of life issues, death and grief.
I am launching this website on the fourth anniversary of Bill's death. It seems impossible that it has been four years since I felt his final heart beat beneath my hand...his final exhalation on my cheek. It also feels like a century ago since I have seen him, hugged him and heard his wonderful voice. Bill was my husband, best friend, soulmate, and colleague. We fit hand in glove. He was a clinical psychologist with a long history of clinical work and always a waiting list. We practiced together for many years. Losing him, as every one who has lost a spouse knows, meant losing a part of me. It meant losing our lifestyle, my co-worker, and well...our normal.

 

Personal Growth &
Grief Support Center