Words That I Can Grasp~

A woman who follows my blog, a woman who struggles in her own life, messaged me yesterday to offer support to me in my confusion about this grief and how to do it.  She herself is what I’d call a shadow widow; her husband has Alzheimer’s and has been gone from her for 7 years and yet is still physically here.  Her words brought clarity to me; she said that she sees my struggle with moving on, moving forward, letting go…all the words that are more and more placed in my way as I begin this 3rd year without Chuck.  Placed along with the words that, of course, there is no timeline on grief.  Constant contradiction-that is the language of grief in our society.

The words she gave me?  It isn’t about moving on, moving forward, it’s about living on and she sees me doing exactly that.  Those words released something inside of me and wandered around my thoughts throughout the day.  Because you know what?  I am living on.  I may not be doing it in a way that looks okay to others but I am living on.  My life reflects that, 2 years later.

I know it causes its’ own kind of pain in family and friends to see me so devastated and I want to tell all of you that it’s okay.  You can’t fix this for me.  There are no words anywhere that can fix this. Time won’t fix this. Nothing will fix this except Chuck being in front of me, smiling and taking me in his arms, and that ain’t happening, so I release you from the burden of having to make this better for me.

This grief time has pushed me to contemplate our culture and how it perceives real life.  We have, certainly in the last decade, been swamped with a culture of positivity.  Be positive at all times, find the good in everything, grow stronger from fill in the blank difficulties.  God knows the DSM doesn’t help.  It’s medicalized every form of human behavior.  Do you know that it actually says that if, 6 months after a loved one’s death, you’re not having more good days than bad that you should seek help?  I wasn’t even out of shock at 6 months and I hear the same from many others.  Seriously?  Wow.

The very act of naming something as positive names the opposite behavior as negative and therein lies my personal raised eyebrow.  An example?  Grief can make you bitter or it can make you better.  Hmmm…how extreme.  How about grief can open hearts to a depth of compassion and empathy never before experienced? How about grief can make you see better and more than you’ve ever seen before?

Mostly, we don’t care for darkness.  There’s not much good ever said about it, is there?  in any situation we’re encouraged to go towards lightness.  Sadness, grief…both are associated with darkness and we’re encouraged to head towards light as soon, as quickly, as possible.  All while being told, again, that there is no timeline to grief. Grief is not a place to linger.  Move along, folks.  Choose to be happy.  And yes, these are judgements on those who are still grieving, still sad, who aren’t tiptoeing through the fucking tulips on a daily basis, being happy.  I don’t believe for a minute that people mean to cast judgement on it, but it’s in the very words used.  Because by the very words, they are saying if you aren’t this way, then you’re choosing sad, choosing grief, choosing not to be happy.

Maybe I’m too sensitive to words and I admit it freely.  Being in this has made me more aware of words but I read that as a good thing, because words matter.  Concepts matter.

I’ve spent 2 years doing, being, allowing, letting, going towards, pulling back…all in the name of moving this grief. And what I’ve finally realized is that I’m not in a negative place.  The fact is, I’m not afraid of darkness any more than I am of light.  Sometimes the only way to the light is through the darkness, don’t you think?  The fact that I’m grieving deeply, missing horribly, isn’t a negative thing.  It means I loved deeply.  I’m not ever going to be the person I was before Chuck died and yes, I grieve the death of that woman, but, in a very real way, she’s as gone as he is.

Life changes people; we all know that.  The death of the man I love changed me.  Grief runs deeply but why is that a bad thing?  How am I ever not going to have that as my baseline in life?  He’s always going to be dead for the rest of my life.  My heart is broken and I hurt but that’s kind of okay in this new world.  I’m not going to try continually to move on from that any longer. Maybe, what life really is about when grief happens, is letting it be whatever it needs to be.  Maybe that’s what acceptance is really about; that sadness is now a part of me and that’s okay.  It doesn’t mean that I’m depressed or need to be on drugs.  I get that it can make it tough being around me; I’m fairly intense, if not in words than with my energy.  So I understand if you can’t deal with that.  It’s okay. This doesn’t make me less of a person; possibly it makes me more of a whole person.

Even in the darkness, even in the grief and pain, there is light shining through, and maybe that light is the light of compassion and sweetness.  I’m okay here.  I’d never, ever, choose this and I don’t like it but this is what happened.  I don’t need to re-wire my brain. I don’t need to choose anything.  I don’t need to look for happiness or hope for it.  It will happen or not as I live on, as it does with most people.  I don’t need to seek joy or anything else.  I don’t need to seek a Zen state of being.  Maybe where I am is the ultimate Zen state, because I’m so very aware of the depth of life and love, having lost so much.  What others see as darkness, I see as Love.

I’m still a whole person, made more whole because all of me is completely real.  I don’t need to move through this, I don’t need to move on, let go, nothing.  I just need to continue doing as I’ve been doing.

Living on.   IMG_2812


10 thoughts on “Words That I Can Grasp~

  1. I was widowed 11 1/2 years ago from my most wonderful husband, Jerry.  I have been following your blogs for the past three years, Alison, and your last paragraph of this blog says it all.  You needed to figure it out and I am thrilled for you. Darlene Leech Havertown PA

  2. I liked your words. I have been following you since you first lost your husband and there have been some postings that I didn’t agree with. But I have found that everyone’s grief is their own. I lost the love of my life after 43 years together, 7 years ago, and it’s still could be yesterday as far as I’m concerned. It just doesn’t go away, you don’t get over it, and you don’t move on. You do become someone different as you put one foot in front of the other. You walk differently when you’re alone so you do become someone different.

    It’s like after a certain period of time you are supposed to put all the grief away and not make life uncomfortable for those around you. It just doesn’t work that way I have found. I don’t put it away I just don’t wear it on the outside anymore.

    I wish you the very best wherever this life takes you.

    Marilyn Dober

    WindVest Motorcycle Products, Inc.

    16840 Joleen Way B2

    Morgan Hill, CA 95037


    408-377-7346 fax

    877-370-7326 toll free

    • Grief is so very individual, isn’t it? Which is what makes it impossible to have any one recipe for it. I’m finding, in many ways, that it becomes more difficult, this grief, as time passes, primarily because it runs so deeply and being in crowds becomes more uncomfortable.

      I appreciate so much that you take the time to read my meanderings, and respond. I’m never looking for agreement; any of us here on this earth learn more by challenges, I believe.

  3. Thank you! Thank you! You have expressed some of my thoughts and given me words to share with my family and friends.

  4. Oh man, do I ever love you for continuing to shine a light on breaking the paradigms our culture holds so dear around grief, negativity and darkness. I have ONLY learned and grown through embracing darkness. I love that you are speaking up for embracing the darkness and ignoring our positivity-obsessed culture. I think anything that shuns its opposite is dangerous. Positivity only works when we take time first to release the more “negative” emotions, but really, all of it, is just “negative” or “positive” because WE’VE put those judgments on it. I resonate deeply with Buddhist teachings to embrace all of life with an attitude of nonjudgment. It’s all part of the human experience. If we shun the dark, we shun the light. We can’t have only positive experiences, and never feel the pain and hurt, too. It’s just not possible. I’m a testament to what it’s like to numb the light so I don’t have to feel the darkness. The darkness was very hard through so many deaths upon deaths for us, but one day, I just woke up and realized I felt dead inside because I’d shut off my access to JOY, too. You are feeling the other end of the spectrum – the sorrow that comes from losing the source of so much JOY. It is only fitting that it take time to grieve that. And you’re right, the grief never goes away. It becomes a part of you – something you have to integrate into your beingness – something that makes you MORE, not less, BEAUTIFUL. ❤

    • I don’t like the darkness and we aren’t taught anything but negatives about the darkness but I have found, at least, that when I can’t see because of the dark, then my other senses are heightened, and perhaps that, all by itself, is a gift

      Truly, I thank you for your words to me, and allowing the space to be in the darkness. It isn’t easy for many people to be in spirit with it~

  5. “How about grief can open hearts to a depth of compassion and empathy never before experienced?” I love this quote, because I have found it true in my own life. Because of my grief I am keenly aware of the troubles of others and I can reach out to them in a way I never could have without it. I just stumbled onto your story/blog today and it’s already been such a comfort to me. You say in words exactly what I feel every day and it’s so good to read those words outside of myself. Not that I would Ever wish this life on you or anyone, but it is somehow strengthening to read of others who are on the same path, who know what I feel. Thank you.

    • It makes so much difference, doesn’t it, to know that we don’t walk alone through this? It is never what we’d wish, but since it happened, it’s a blessing that there are others walking with us, if only to reassure us of our own sanity.

      Thank you for taking the time and effort to read what I write, and respond to it.

      I hope you stay in touch~

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