Truth, lies and authenticity.

The widow fog is gone.

Chaos is all around.

Reality is becoming clearer each day,

Differentiating between truth and deception.

If friendships are real,

Or ever were real.

And who may be using her or just tearing her down.

Searching for authenticity,

Differentiating between what is real and what is fake.

The widow fog is gone,

Making way for a storm.

Not a dangerous, tragic storm,

But just a lot of noise.

Noise.

Projections.

Lies.

Assumptions.

Deceptions.

Phoniness.

So much of it over small stuff.

The widow is not uncaring.

It’s just hard to care about the things that don’t matter,

Especially after losing someone that meant so much.

Her world fell apart.

People may have forgotten.

She can’t make people really understand,

Especially if they don’t want to.

The widow knows that life is short.

She yearns for the authentic.

True love, true friendship,

True emotions and deep meanings.

But she knows that once this noise clears,

There will be goodness, truthfulness and happiness.

She will be focused on striving toward an authentic existence.

Advertisements

Death dreams, healing and the light at the end of the tunnel

The other night I had a dream.

I was sitting in a hospital room with Bryon and he was dying.

The emotions were the same.  The disbelief.  The shock.  The desperation.  
Interestingly enough, the people I called to be there were the same people that were with me through real life crisis.

Sounds familiar, eh?

But unlike my life, the room wasn’t very clinical.  It was dark and gloomy like an attic but the sun was shining in through the window.  And instead of his death lasting 5 months, it only lasted however long a dream lasts.

pexels-photo-209500

Why was I dreaming about Bryon’s death? I mean, watching it happen in real life is plenty enough.  What purpose does this serve? Is my mind trying to tell me something?
I am not good at analyzing my dreams.  I don’t have a psychology degree.  I have a dream journal but getting my daughter ready for school and myself to the gym takes priority over dream analysis.

Once I processed the emotions of Bryon’s “second death”, it dawned on me that this dream wasn’t about Bryon’s death. It wasn’t even about physical death.

It was about my death.

I know you are probably thinking “But Kerry, you aren’t dead.”

And you are right.  I am not dead.

Let me explain.

I am currently on a “grief journey.” No, I am not going on a trip.  At least, no where exotic.  A grief journey denotes the indeterminate amount of time a griever takes to process a loss and heal.  At least heal enough that is considered acceptable because anyone who has profound loss can tell you- you never completely heal.

While it is safe to say that I have probably felt every emotion during the grief- journey, sadness, anger, and disbelief are among the top performers.  To deal with these emotions, I preferred actively mourning, crying and keeping myself busy to keep my mind off of my grief.  These coping mechanisms were not always equally distributed.

As time goes on, I started to see glimmers of hope in the midst of my sadness.  The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

I began to envision my life in the future.  A life that wasn’t so sad.

A life with actual happiness.

pexels-photo-531321

 

Those first infrequent glimmers were a shock to my grieving self.  The glimmers took me by surprise and stirred up the emotions that were attached to my grief.  I began to feel guilty for even having glimmers of hope and happiness.

Sure, Bryon (wherever he is) wants me to be happy.  But that is not the issue.

It is me that is reluctant to be happy.

I felt that every glimmer of happiness meant that I was slowly forgetting Bryon.  Even though I desperately want to feel whole again, I am afraid to move forward.  Because every step forward is a step away from the life I had with Bryon.

Over time, I began to adjust to the juxtaposition of hope vs grief.   My glimmers of hope began to peacefully co-exist with my sadness.  Grief of confusing, y’all.  It even has me writing with Southern expressions when I am a New England girl.

Regardless about how I felt about grief and hope, time has another plan.  Time will move me forward whether I like it or not so I can either fight the current or swim with it.  These painful steps are necessary in the healing process.

While I agonize over every stop forward I take, I am oblivious to the fact that I have already traveled many proverbial miles already.  Many miles of that “grief journey”.

The morning Bryon died part of me died as well.

The part of me was innocent and naive to the magnitude of loss.

The part of me that believed that God was a loving God.

The part of me that believed that the American healthcare system cared for it’s patients over money and guidelines.

The part of me that was a doormat and didn’t need to stand up to people because Bryon did it for me.

The part of me that dreamed of raising a family with Bryon and spending my old age with him.

But I survived.  I might be broken but I am still here.

Through this grief journey, I have probably died many times.  And in a way, you can say I have experienced a rebirth.

A new me.

The new me knows all too well that our time on Earth is limited so we need to make the best of it.

The new me knows that we need to let people into our lives but we need to be choosy as to who we keep around.

The new me who knows not to take things at face value and ask questions.

The new me who won’t be a doormat.

The new me is braver and takes life a little less seriously.  Ferris Bueller was onto something there…

imagesferris-quote_small

And with every step forward I take, I experience a death with each step.  But I also experience a rebirth in every step.

And it will be like this until I experience an energy shift.  An energy shift where the time I feel hopeful and happy is more than the time I feel sad.  A time where I can look back at our memories and feel warm and happy and not overcome by sadness.  A time when I feel like my grief isn’t defining me.

And though I understand why I was dreaming out death, I just hope my subconscious knows that I am good and don’t need to relive that experience even if it isn’t real.

15873558_10208085496519235_4822738634868818540_n

 

A special thank you

WordPress alerted me that today is my one year anniversary.

I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks.

Thank you.

For reading.

For being there for me.

For supporting me.

For being my friend.

For letting me pour my heart out to you.

Thank you.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #7

I fell of the gratitude wagon so I decided to bring Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday back for 2018!

1)  Taco Tuesday with one of my besties.  We got a chance to catch up after the holidays.  She is such a positive person and I always feel better about myself after spending time with her.

The ground beef recipe for the taco fillings came from The Homesick Texan Cookbook.  I discovered her blog while I was reorganizing my Pinterest boards during those long months when I was sitting at Bryon’s bedside.  I highly recommend her blog and her cookbooks.

26685313_10156398706217841_3698176209755451558_o

2) I am thankful to be back at the gym after my bout with bronchitis last month and I am thankful for the support of the trainers and from my friends that attend the same class.

3) I am thankful for the warm weather we have been having this week.  The temp reached 49 today and it is expected to get to 57 tomorrow.  This feels so good after we had below zero temperatures last week.

4)  I am also thankful that my daughter and I got to enjoy these bunny tracks before they melted away.

26233256_10156400884407841_7862372420213421866_o

5)  I am thankful that I get the privilege to see my daughter grow and learn each day.   Little by little, she is growing into the person that she will be become and I am excited to see who she becomes.

Lessons learned: 17 months into widowhood

New Years Eve 2016, Bryon and I stayed in.  We figured it would have been too hard to get a baby-sitter that night.  Bryon made Beef Wellington.  I never got my kiss that night because I looked over at him at 11:53pm and he was snoring in his chair.

Life was good.  We had our routine.  Our jobs were going well and things were going well at home.  Our daughter was 16 months old and Bryon loved playing with her.

Bryon was preparing for weight loss surgery.  I decided that I was going to get healthy alongside Bryon and I started Couch to 5k and I was going to run a half marathon in the fall.

12657440_10154274483622841_9017884093105764695_o

In Feb 2016, we went on our last cruise with a few days in Florida beforehand.  We went to the Tampa Zoo and we spent the day at Epcot with my cousin and her husband and we had dinner with Bryon’s Godmother and her family.  On our cruise we visited Bryon’s two favorite ports, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.  We had a few fancy dinners on our last cruise and those were probably our last date nights.

In March Bryon had his weight loss surgery and it went well.  Bryon’s recovery started off well.  He was looking forward to being cleared to re-institute solid food and being cleared to exercise.  He wanted to start Couch to 5k and wanted to run a 5k.  We were looking forward to the rest of our lives.

Then in an instant everything changed.

Bryon was critically ill in the ICU where he clung to his life for 5 months.

For 5 months I was exhausted and ran on adrenaline and caffeine, desperately pleading to God to heal Bryon.  At the beginning of August, I had him transferred to New York City and for two weeks, things were starting to look up.

Until his body started to shut down.

On August 20, 2016 I was told that Bryon’s heart was going to stop beating.

He died the next morning.

For the following month, I was in total shock.  That shock turned into fog.  That heavy fog stayed for six months and then began to lift.  I started noticing things about how I felt and how I was treated.

The fog has slowly been lifting.

I was a happily married wife and mother of a one year old and now I am a 39-year-old widowed mother of a three year old.   Sometimes it feels like I was living my old life yesterday and other times it feels like a lifetime ago.

I feel that the fog is gone.  I feel like my present is a combination of that moment on every episode of Saved by the Bell where the chaos is ensuing and Mr. Belding comes in and says “Hey, hey, hey!  What is going on  here?” and that episode of How I Met Your Mother when the glass kept shattering.

I have spent the last 22 months thinking.  Thinking about so many things.

Things I have thought about over the last 22 months.  (Disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive list)

My Marriage with Bryon.
How does his death affect our daughter?  She won’t remember him.
The meaning of life.
My life from beginning to present.
Tacos.
What happens after we die?
My relationship with God.
How do I want to spend my remaining years?
The fact that I need to watch all those episodes of This Is Us on my DVR.
The Fuller House storyline and the fact that John Stamos is still hot after all these years.
What do I want out of life?
Can I ever love again?
What have I learned from all of this?
How can I make this horrible event positive?
My relationships.

I have decided to share with you some of the lessons I have learned so far.  These lessons aren’t in any particular order. This is from my current perspective and may change after I spend more time thinking.

1)  Grief takes time and can’t be rushed.

2) Only YOU know what’s best for YOU.  Most people don’t have a clue what you need.

3) It is up to you to decide when you or if you are ready to live again.

4) You can’t change how people treat you.  You can only change how you respond and set boundaries.

5) People will project their feelings onto you.  Don’t take it personally.  If someone is tearing you down, it is likely that they are the ones who are insecure and they tear you down to make themselves feel better.

6) Be open to others but beware of their intentions.  People are not always who they project themselves to be.

7) Love yourself.  You deserve it.

8) Surround yourself with loving, supportive people.  Life is too short to be around toxic people.

9) There is always beauty in this world.  You just need to make sure your blinders aren’t on.

10) People generally mean well.  They don’t mean to say painful things.  They are just products of a society that doesn’t know how to handle death and grief.

Holidays 2017- the condensed version

This Christmas Season, I started ahead of the game but ended up getting bronchitis and it took me two weeks to feel better.  I used to get bronchitis every year or every other year through my teens and 20’s.  The last time I had bronchitis was in 2010 so I was long overdue.  It was a good run.  I didn’t remember bronchitis being so hard to get over but back then, I wasn’t chasing a little human.

Despite being sick, my daughter and I saw the Nutcracker.  Not the Russian Nutcracker (those who saw Bad Moms 2 will understand.)  My daughter loved it.  Well…except for the mice.  She is still talking about when she saw the ballerinas.

24958844_10156323741732841_9189498186158229319_o - Copy

Santa came to the daycare party.

We took the train to Christmas Town (formerly the Polar Express).  The boy with us is the son of Bryon’s best friend.  His mother and I had been talking about taking the kids on the Polar Express since we were pregnant and we felt that they were old enough to enjoy it this year.

A friend of ours graciously invited us to see Disney on Ice presents Frozen.  She had tickets in the first row. I am not going to lie.  Even as an adult, it was amazing.

We decorated cookies.  Last year the kids were two and not into it at all.  This year we just used kits and it worked out well.  Maybe next year we will bake and decorate.

We spent Christmas Eve Eve with my daughters Godmother and her family.

On Christmas Eve we had our second annual Feliz Navidad Lunch.

We spent Christmas Eve with some close friends and Elsa.  My friend gave me Red Sox wine.  She so gets me.

Someone stopped by.

We woke up to a White Christmas outside and a Barbie House in our living room.  Thanks Santa!

We had dinner with good friends.

25659829_10156363181872841_2415433667366106298_n

Boxing Day was low-key.  My daughter wanted to go to school so I brought her even though I had the day off.  I hit some after Christmas sales and a friend came over.

One the 27th, we had an amazing dinner at my daughter’s Godmother’s house.

My parents came the 28th.  I put my Dad to work and he assembled various items.  There visit ended up being cut short because I decided to go to Maine to attend the funeral of a friend.  They didn’t mind because they still got to spend time with my daughter…just in Maine,  not NY.

I spent New Years with good friends playing Cards Against Humanity.  My friend has an amazing brunch on New Years Day.  I really look forward to the event.  I love nothing more than to start the new year with my closest friends.

Their you have it.  Each of these events deserved their own post but I was too exhausted to write them.  I wanted to have one post at least documenting all the goodness that went on.  I went into the Christmas season feeling sad and while that is a totally normal feeling for a grieving person at this time of the year, I didn’t want to be sad.

Stinson

When I was writing my recent post about the last Christmas with Bryon, I had had an epiphany.  My daughter won’t remember that last Christmas (or Bryon for that matter- which breaks my heart) but she will probably remember this Christmas albeit vaguely.

It is up to me to give her amazing Christmas memories.  Bryon is gone and even though my heart aches, life is about the living and my daughter is living.  My friends and family are living.

It is up to me to try to push through my sadness and create happy memories for my daughter as well as my family and friends.  Because someday they will look back at their last Christmas me.

When someone experiences a profound loss, you realize just how temporary life is.  We need to embrace the now because someday we will only exist in a loved one’s memory.

I am glad I was able to enjoy the holidays this year.  Well except for a brief meltdown on Christmas Eve morning where I said some choice words to God and decided not to go to Mass.  But other than that, I had an amazing Christmas filled with gatherings, good food and laughter.

I have come a long way.  When I think of Christmas 2016, I am grateful for those in life but there was a deep sadness that hung in the air.  But I will look back on Christmas 2017 as a warm and happy season.  I am grateful for the healing that has taken place to get me here.

And for that, I truly am blessed.

My 2018 goals

How is it already January 5th?  

Like, we are almost done with the first week.  And I haven’t even written a New Years 2018 post.

Why is that?  Well I attended a lovely wedding, put up my Christmas tree and then I got sick.  Bronchitis to be exact.  I was so sick for two weeks.  Then it was Christmas and New Years week.  And then I went to a funeral in Maine.  I will write more about the Holidays and the funeral next week.  I promise.

As the calendar year changed, I did some reflecting.

2016 had been the worst year of my life.  I really hope that that year keeps the title because I can’t imagine what could be worse my husband having surgical complications, spending 5 months in the ICU and then dying.  

2016 was a year of survival.

I was happy for the calendar to change to 2017.  I did a lot of healing that year.  Even though I spent a lot of that year still in a fog, I still tried to live my life.  Even if it was going through the motions.

I had a lot of ups and downs but I was in a better place at the end of 2017 than I was the beginning of 2017.

2017 was a year of healing.

I was excited to see 2018 come.  I hope to continue this year trajectory.  I also have a feeling that a lot of exciting things will happen this year.  Things are going to be very different by the end of the year and in a good way.

I want 2018 to be the year I start living again.

I have been working on some goals.  I am writing them down here to hold myself accountable.  I may visit these goals monthly or quarterly to make sure I am on the right track.

I also want to note that this isn’t a complete list.  This is just the highlights.  I am always adding goals all the time.

Home

My biggest goal for the home is a monstrously large goal.  I need to declutter my house. My late husband was a saver, I was a saver but not as bad and my daughter has a lot of toys.  I am always looking for lost items and tripping over stuff so it is time to clear out. Since my daughter is living, I feel that Barbies Dream House gets precedence over Bryon’s possessions that I don’t have a use for.  I have attempted to clear out some of his items but I am always overcome with sadness.  I know he doesn’t need these items anymore but every time I get rid of something of his, I am reminded that he is dead.   I have avoided this task.  But now it is time.

My minimal requirement for this goal is to donate on box or trash per week for a total of 52 bags/boxes.

Fitness

Before I got hit with the bronchitis/holidays/funeral trifecta, I was having success at a local gym called Metabolic Meltdown.  I hope to return to class 4-5 times a week.  

Bronchitis has also done a job on my lung capacity so I want to start Couch to 5k again and be running 5ks by the spring.  My stretch goal is a second half marathon in the Fall.

Writing

I lost my inspiration for awhile.  I think that was due to a funk that lasted from Bryon’s deathaversary in August until a few days before Christmas.  I think I have my inspiration back.

My writing goals are:

Write 2-3 blog posts a week.

Begin writing my book.

Submit at least 5 articles for publication.

1-2 YouTube videos each week.

Spirituality

I want to continue my journey on learning how to love myself and others.  I can’t fully give to others until I take care of myself.  I would love to fall in love again but I want to be in a good place before I make any commitment.

I want to read one book a month on self love.

I want to learn how to meditate this year.  I have trouble focusing on nothing.

I want to read at least one book a month on spirituality.

Write in my gratitude journal daily.

I am hoping by the end of 2018 that I will be less angry with God.  Less angry enough that I may start going back to Sunday Mass.  I miss the traditions.  Faith was a huge part of my Bryon and my relationship and I miss it.  I also want my daughter to be raised in the same faith that I was and the same faith that Bryon and I had intended that she be raised in.  But I am still very, very mad at God right now.  Maybe it is time to delve into the religious based grief books that have sat unread on my nightstand.

Interpersonal/Self Respect

It’s sad that these two are lumped together, but for me that is how it is.  

My biggest Interpersonal/Self Respect goal is to continue to remove toxic people and situations from my life and to be open to positive, supportive and loving relationships.  Life is too short to be hanging out with the wrong crowd.

I am done tolerating people saying insensitive things to me.  In the past, I have tried to brush hurtful comments off.  I have rationalized that the people who make these comments don’t know a clue to the magnitude of my loss though many think they do.

I am also done with people who tell me how to live my life.

Widows are not weak.  They are not dumb.  

Widows DO NOT need to be told how to do any of the following:

Parent their children.

Manage their money.

What they should do with their house.

When they should date.

When they should have sex.

And most importantly, widows DO NOT need to be told how to grieve and how to cope.  A large part of a widow’s life is grieving and coping.  They don’t need to be told how, especially by someone who has not lost a spouse.

I will be distancing myself from people who try to tell me how to live my life.  I have been through Hell and survived.  I am not a delicate flower.

I also don’t like drama. I thought I left it behind when I graduated from high school 20 years ago. It ruins my Zen.  So I will also continue to steer clear of drama because it is a waste of time and life is too short.