I just want to start this out by saying that I am not taking any pills. Only the occasional Ibuprofen or antacid. I am only using that term metaphorically.
But I decided to write about the hardest things that I have had to accept.
- Not having closure
I just want to preface this part that there is no easy way to watch someone you love die.
But I didn’t always think that.
For a long time, I was jealous of almost every other widow. I was jealous of the widows who lost their spouses quickly because they didn’t have to watch them suffer. I was jealous of the spouses who had a diagnosis and a life expectancy because they got to chance to say what needed to be said.
I got neither.
Bryon’s illness was unexpected. And he was put on a breathing machine so he couldn’t talk. And he was so weak that he couldn’t write. He could mouth words but I couldn’t always read them correctly.
I had so many things I wanted to tell him when he got better. And I will never get to.
During those months, I did not know if he was going to live or die. Obviously I was hoping for the better outcome. For five months, I lived day by day, desperately clinging to hope.
A friend of mine referred to it as limbo but it was complete hell.
After I was told there was nothing left that could be done, a part of me was relieved that the nightmare was going to be over soon. It wasn’t going to end the way I wanted it to end, but at least it was going to end.
- Never getting to that sweet spot
Anyone who has ever been married knows that marriage isn’t always easy. Bryon and I loved each other fiercely but we both had strong personalities which presented it’s own set of challenges. We both struggled with our own vulnerabilities. We were also competitive.
For many years, I was resentful that I had to leave Maine and relocate to New York. And I made sure Bryon knew it.
But we pushed through. We became parents and we settled into our life as a family. I truly believe our last year was our best. We were just about to get to a really sweet spot in our marriage and it was all taken away.
- Letting go of the “what ifs” and the guilt
In the early days of widowhood, I kept wondering what if? I thought about all the “what ifs” that accompanied his illness and his death.
I thought about all the “what ifs” that accompanied our relationship. What if I had been a better wife? What if I hadn’t argued with him about XY and Z?
This has been one of the hardest things to accept. That I did everything I could do to and that it wasn’t my fault. I needed to accept that sometimes horrible things just happen. And this one happened to me.
- Even if he survived, things would never have been the same
When Bryon first died, I would always think about how much better my life would be if Bryon hadn’t died. Especially when things would go wrong around the house.
I had a jolt of reality and this was a painful jolt.
During those early months, whenever I would wish Bryon were still alive, I imagined him as he was before he got sick. The strong and healthy Bryon I knew. But over time, I began to admit to myself that had Bryon survived, he would have been a very sick and disabled man.
Our life would have been very different. I wouldn’t be living the comfortable married life I once knew. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed between working full time and being a single mother but had Bryon survived, I would still be working full time, taking care of my daughter and I would have had to take care of a very sick husband.
Don’t get me wrong, I would have done it. You know…in sickness and in health. But I wouldn’t have had the life I knew before. My life would have been much harder.
- Reconciling the past and the present
One of the hardest things I have had to accept if that there is no reconciling my past and my present.
During the early months of grief, I would have given anything to get Bryon back.
But the further removed I become to my old life, the more I change. And I have to admit to myself that I don’t want to be the person I was when Bryon was alive.
I have memories that I treasure from our life together but I was such a different person back then. And I don’t want to be that person. She didn’t appreciate what she had. She was ungrateful. But I can’t hold it against my younger self. She didn’t know how good of a life she had and how easily that life could change. And there was no way she could know.
I am a different person now. The trauma of widowhood pushed me to re-examine my life and do some soul searching. For the first time in my life, I actually like myself. As time goes forward, the harder it becomes to imagine my old life. Because if I had my old life, I wouldn’t have my new self. But even if I could bring my new self into my old life, would Bryon even like my new self?
I guess there is no point in dwelling on it.
2 thoughts on “Widowhood: The toughest pills to swallow”
I used to drive myself crazy with all the “whys” and “what ifs”. The thoughts just kept going on and on in my brain without end. I was so angry to find out, after he died, that my husband had cheated on me. And paradoxically, I also felt guilty because I was enjoying life so much more since he died. My grief was…complicated. Finally I had to speak to a counsellor about it. That helped a lot. Four and a half years later, this has eased off considerably.
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Deb, I am so sorry you had to go through that. Not only did you have to deal with grief, but to add being betrayed on top of that. I can’t even imagine how hard that was. I am glad you are in a better spot.
I do think that every widow deals with some sort of guilt. That it is just part of the process. For me, I just kept blaming myself. That I had missed something before he got sick. But I am not the one with a medical degree. I had to accept that it wasn’t my job. I didn’t drop the ball. There was nothing I could have done. But for at least a year, I thought it was my fault. I wish I could go give 2016/2017 Kerry a hug.
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