Grief…Preplanned. Ain’t it Precious?

“When my husband goes, I’m not going to hang on to my grief. I’m celebrating the time I had with him and the memories. Each and every person deals with it in his or her way, but I don’t think my husband would want me to be sad and carry that burden. I told my husband if I go before him, re-marry with my blessing and don’t spend time living in grief over my maybe departure. I would want him to be happy and not be bowed down with my passing. I would miss my husband, but I would not carry it on for years. he would want me to move on with my life and remember the times we had together. and not be grief stricken a long time. I would make friends and make the most out life. It would be sad, and I would feel it, but I would let myself heal.  I have a pink car and trailer but I’m letting it go for him when he’s here to help him money wise.”

This blog plopped directly in my lap, gifted to me by a woman who wrote the above comment in response to a picture I posted on one of my camping pages.  Mind you, the picture was one of me smiling, triumphant because I finally, 3 years later, completely emptied my storage unit, leaving me with what travels with me in my T@b trailer.   My mistake, obviously, was that I also mentioned that it was a significant accomplishment, not because of the stuff, but because it was a letting go of the future my husband and I planned together.

*note to self; never, EVER, mention grief to anyone, or my husband if at the same time as mentioning that he’s, you know, dead, and that makes me kind of sad and I miss him because people get the heebie-geebies when real emotions get expressed*

So here’s my response, and, yes, I get so many frickin’ points for diplomacy and efforts to educate, and, also, patience…

Dear woman whose husband isn’t dead yet but you’re smart so you’re pre-planning your emotional response to the time that he does become, you know…dead;

How precious that you know how you’ll respond to your husband’s death!  How further precious it is for you to be so far-sighted to plan for that certain event!  I see that you also covered the possibility that you might go first, leaving instructions for him to remarry (though you seem to allow him some small amount of time to grieve so that’s big of you).  Why, it just fills my heart with warmth as I’m assured that you want him to be happy and not bowed down by grief and that he’ll just..you know…get on with it.  As will you if he dies first.  There’s just nothing better than pre-planning an emotional response for which you have no real world experience, and it saddens me that I, and so many of my widowed brothers and sisters didn’t just tear a page out of your planning book!  Why, there’s no telling how great we could all be doing right now!

I, of course, had no idea that the secret to going through this grief was so simple and I thank you for enlightening me.  Who knew that instead of allowing this grief to take its’ course and allowing it space and being honest about it wasn’t the answer?  I’VE BEEN DOING IT ALL WRONG!  I see now that all I needed to do was celebrate the years we had together and resolve not to be sad and make friends!  It’s precious, I tell you!  Precious!  Because for all these 3 years of Chuck being, you know, dead, I’ve allowed myself to have the normal, natural reaction to the death of a man I loved more than life itself, and I’ve been thankful for and loved the years we had together but…fuck!  My mistake was that I’ve allowed those memories to break my heart because every time I remember, I also remember that those times are gone.  Well, just seriously FML!!  I’ve made hundreds of friends and connected with people all around the country but FUCK! none of them have replaced him in that place in my heart and that’s clearly my bad and a conscious wrong choice on my part.  WHEN will I ever learn, right?

I just don’t know WHY it doesn’t matter a tinker’s damn to me that Chuck wanted me to be happy after he died; a failing on my part, I acknowledge, and if he were here and insisted that he wanted me to be happy, I’d tell him IT JUST DOESN’T FRICKIN’ WORK THAT WAY and I’d be happy to go round and round with him that you just don’t tiptoe through the fucking tulips when shit like this happens.  I do know that I knew…know…my husband enough to say that he’d look at me like I was bat shit crazy that he wouldn’t know that and he’d understand completely that it takes the time it takes, but I’m so, so, SO, glad and happy for you that you’d carry on so easily and oh, I know!  Perhaps you could write a book about being a widow before you even become one and you could show those of us who are already widowed the RIGHT way to do widowhood and you could help other women and men pre-plan their emotional response to the death of their other half and you could get rich and be on Oprah and everything and that is also just so precious that I almost want to throw up in my mouth but I won’t because that wouldn’t be precious…

It’s just the silliest thing ever that I still feel sad and miss my husband and I just know you know that!  Why, 3 years is way too long to go on and on and carry on about him and what we had together and how much I miss that and, why, I won’t even mention what it’s like to no longer have passion and wild sex in my life with a man who was just as much in love with me as I was with him, just to name one thing that’s gone, because really, who cares about that stuff and it just isn’t proper, you know, to talk about such things!  And my goodness, it just doesn’t matter, does it, that the life I had with him in the present and the future we had planned just evaporated and poofed away and how on earth anyways is that grief-connected?  Apparently, you are so upset by my expression of my emotions that you don’t even see the smile of triumph on my face in that picture, or my celebration of this huge undertaking (do you see what I did there?  Undertaking…get it?  I wrote undertaking, which sounds like undertaker, the person who is, as you know, the one who takes dead people away.  Like my husband.  Who was dead.  Who is dead.)  Apparently you see it as no accomplishment at all that, hand in hand with my grief is a massive amount of love that gets me in my car every day to drive and drive and drive around this country, meeting and connecting with people, hugging and getting hugs.  That I do this even though it would be much easier to just lay down and die.  That every widow/er I know has the guts to get up every day and live WITH their fucking grief, and that we have the fucking guts to walk with each other through this foreign terrain and laugh and smile with each other and keep company with each other and give hope to each other when we don’t even know what the frickin’ word means…well, woman who knows how she’ll do this and dares to judge me for how I’m handling this fucking widow clusterfuck…I don’t know what to tell you about us except that we KNOW what this is like and we’re doing it and one of the ways we’re doing it is by talking and writing and making it as real to others as we can.

I do lament and commiserate with you that you are bowed down and, it seems, threatened by my grief, or any expression thereof.  It must be difficult for you to read how I’m handling it when you clearly know that all this emotion and sadness is so unnecessary because it’s all about just clicking on the happy switch and voila! No more grief…yay!

Just a friendly little note as you pre-plan your response to your husband’s death: 

I don’t care how strong you are, I don’t care how independent you are, I don’t care how sure you are….there is no planning this.  Whoever is left behind…it will feel as if you have been thrown onto a strange planet where no man or woman has ever walked before, and your feet will stumble into potholes and your heart will be wrenched from your body and you will see it on the ground in front of you being mashed into a bloody mess and guess what?  You can’t just flip a switch and make it go away, and years later, tears will still fill your soul and your eyes when you speak of the love that is now only in your heart and you will always miss his arms around you and his kiss on your lips and the surety that you, and only you, were special to someone special, once upon a time…

Or you might not.

Whatever. 

P. S.  Carry on…

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15 thoughts on “Grief…Preplanned. Ain’t it Precious?

  1. God, where to begin…..I too pre planned by husband’s death and let me tell you that when he died, my pre planning went down the toilet! How fucking naive was?!! Jerry and I were married for 30 years and I never ever thought that his death would be as life altering for me as it is. Still is. I thought, a few years would do it, I would move onnnnnn, meet a man just like Jerry and continue on with my life. I will never have the same love, same relationship, same life that I had with my dead husband. My only conclusion about this woman who lost her husband is she either has no empathy or maybe she didn’t have that love in the first place. Alison, I’m sorry you are subjected to the crazy ones every once in a while! Love you girl, Sharon

    • Crazies are everywhere, right? Mostly I find such comments to me fascinating, honestly, as if I’m studying a scientific specimen. This really is life-altering in every possible way, and all the impossible ways, and I wish that neither you nor I had to go through it, Sharon. Thanks for reaching out to me here; how blessed am I, with my support community and my widow sisters around the country~

  2. Alison – You always tell it like it is and I’m so glad you do. There is no preplanning grief, and your growth during this time and grieving so openly I know has helped thousands of widows and widowers so they know that they are not alone and it’s okay to just move forward hour by hour and day by day. I honor your being and your be-ing. With love as I watch you walk forward, Jeanne

  3. Amen Sister! Stunned..but I shouldn’t be that anyone would write such rubbish…no way on Gods green earth you will EVER know yer emotional response til. it. happens. Even people who couldn’t stand one another have been rocked to their knees with grief unnecessarily expected. There is a scripture that says “many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Psalms 19:21 Grief is actually a God given process that helps us deal with the many things this life throws at us. To even begin to think we get to *bypass* it, is ridiculous…personally if you are able…it reflects the type of soul denying it. The depth of grief reflects the depth of relationship, love, connection…life entwined with life…and death rips that entwined life from our soul…how can ones life NOT forever be changed by that encounter? It. Is. Not. Possible. I live in an alternate universe since the passing of my precious Daddy…right now I am in the 7 wk period of losing him…it will be 7 yrs on July 1st…7 FUCKIN YRS….how the hell did that happen? Sometimes I want to thunder punch death in the fuckin throat…

    • I empathize completely with you on that, Gracie’s Heart. Isn’t it astonishing that humans feel such power over death and grief, until they come into it and realize…mostly they don’t. Each mourns in their own way, and we all know that, but there are those who don’t get it, no matter what, and they sit in judgement. How was it for you on your dad’s anniversary date? Did you plan something for remembrance beforehand? My heart aches for my kids as I watch them feel their way through life without their dad; it’s a tough thing you’re figuring out. Keep in touch and let me know how you’re doing, and, meanwhile, sending you nothin’ but Love~

  4. Wow…wow. I couldn’t have said it better. We all hear the platitudes….mostly from people who don’t have a clue. I usually try to understand that it’s awkwardness or niavete but then who knows? NO one. You can pre-plan all you want and circumscribe your emotions, but the night you come home and find your husband crumpled up from a PE – or anything that takes him away in a heartbeat – all that pre-planned crap goes out the window. And you are on your own path in a whole new world. Keep up you insights – blessings.

  5. I’ve been following your blog since your husband died. You have given us a lot of insight into dealing with a loved one’s death. However, as time marches on, it has become difficult for me to continue to read how great he was, and that he was the one and only true love of your life.
    I’m not in your shoes (although I lost my own physical life from an accident), but I think it’s time to do something just for you. It’s time to move on with your life. You are stagnant because you haven’t let go of him yet. Let go. He would want you to.
    All you did was make fun of the woman who had some ideas about moving on if she or her husband die. Not a classy move on your part. Planning that sort of thing can make people feel a little more secure about the future. It might not be your style; doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.

    • Someone, I do appreciate your words, and I don’t know what to tell you. Chuck was the love of my life; there maybe another, but he isn’t standing in front of me right now, so I’ll continue speaking of what I had with the man I knew. Chuck wasn’t perfect, but he was a good man, and an excellent lover, a loving husband…yes, I could go on, and I will always speak of him, because he meant the world to me. I spoke of him in the same glowing terms when he was alive. Isn’t it interesting that, oftentimes, people can be so comfortable when one or the other in a couple diminish the other, but are uncomfortable when love is openly shown? Or that we, as a culture, can speak of those who have died who were strangers and go on about them, but when it becomes personal, once again, it gets uncomfortable. It’s unfortunate that you take away from what I write that I’m only writing of grief; really…I write of love, and I won’t stop that for anyone. I responded to the woman who wrote what she did, without mentioning her name or anything about her. I didn’t make fun of her: I replied, from my personal experience, to what she’d written, having no experience. Implied, not very subtly in her post, was passive/aggressive criticism of how I’m living my widowhood…once again, that she has no experience of living, and I only wrote honestly, as I always do. I kept it classy by not writing a general response, and why on earth should I ignore such a judgement? She, or any others, can plan all they wish, and of course it isn’t wrong…it’s just ignorant, especially when casting judgement on someone who is already in the midst of it. If it makes her feel secure, wonderful, and I don’t wish for her to find out what this is like because it’s hell on wheels. The thing is, you’re right, you aren’t in my shoes, so you have no idea what this is like. No, it isn’t time for me to move on with my life; that idea is the old way of doing grief, and it isn’t healthy. I’m creating a life for myself-that’s what this part of my Odyssey of Love is about. I dare say I’ve done a whole hell of a lot more than many in the 3 years since Chuck died, and gone out into the world and kicked ass, as I will continue doing. None of this is stagnant at all; it’s a continually moving energy. The fact that I still write of Chuck, love him, remember him…that is my life too, and always will be. I am grieving in a healthy manner, and Chuck would be very proud of me. I’ll carry him with me for the entirety of my life, even as I create this new life without him. And I’m fairly certain that I can speak for him in knowing what he would want for me, and how he would want it to happen. He’s the one, after all, who set me on this Odyssey of Love. It’s okay if what I write and how I write doesn’t agree with you; death and grief are tough subjects. But I will never not write honestly what this widowhood is for me; I understand if you don’t wish to read it. That is, of course, entirely up to you.

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