This Confusing Afterlife~

It’s been 6 years and 5 months since Chuck died.

I kind of feel like I need to put that identifier in so that anyone who reads this will have a gauge.

Except that those newly living this widowed life might look at the time since and then read this blog and shudder. 

Or shrink back in dismay.

Because….really?

The confusion lasts that long?

And I don’t mean to convey that.

It’s all personal, right?

That’s what we always hear, anyways.

So, apologies ahead of time to anyone who reads this and is discouraged…

I’ve come in off the road, with the aim of settling in for up to a year, for the first time in a little over 10 years.

Chuck and I were on the road together for our last 4 years, and I’ve spent the last 6 1/2 years solo on the road.

Truthfully, I’m fucking exhausted in all the ways I can be; physically, emotionally, mentally.

And I know it’s time to take my Odyssey of Love to the next phase.

To do that, I want to be in one place so that I can put together all the puzzle pieces floating around me.

To that end…

As I approached Arizona a few days ago, which is where I’m planting myself, the thought popped into my head, and into my heart that I’m so excited to see Chuck again! It’s been so long! Just a few more miles!

Followed too quickly by the stomach clenching, heart shredding, soul shrinking reality check that nope, you’re not going to see him again. Ever. He’s gone. He’s dead.

All I know how to do is bite down onto that thought and just let it be.

Just…FUCK.

So that’s part of what happened.

Over the weekend I met up with my daughter and talk turned, invariably, to our grief. 

And she told me something that I’d not considered.

I miss Pop, she said, and I miss the woman you were. The mom you were.

I know that I miss the woman I was, but I’d never thought about my kids missing that woman also. 

Further conversation brought out that she (and I think my other 2 feel this too) that it feels as if I’ve drawn away emotionally.

You know what? She’s right. 

I have.

I was 55 when Chuck died. I’m 61 now, and I’ve spent all these years out on the road, traveling the country. I do stop and visit with my kids and their families but as I think of it, I own up to the fact that I keep my distance, emotionally. 

Not that I don’t show them and their families love. I do. I feel it towards them and I do show it.

But I’ve been so fucking intent on not being a burden to my kids and their spouses and families that I’ve gone way over the other direction to be independent in every way that I can. 

I don’t know how to explain how that shows up other than what I’ve already written and I can’t even really define all of it.

I just know that I’ve done it.

And I don’t know how to be otherwise.

They have their own lives, with their own families and busyness of lives and I never want to need anything from them.

The first few years of feeling emotionally needy was enough and they don’t need that burden. I don’t want them to feel that I’m dependent on them, because they have enough of that as they grow their families/careers/etc.

Widowhood is an incredibly confusing life for me.

I don’t know where to draw lines so I draw them far away.

I don’t know how to make my needs known to them without showing desperation or looking, well, needy.

So I draw bubbles around myself.

How the ever loving FUCK do we figure any of this out?

Seriously, I’m asking you, my community.

How do we navigate family in this afterlife?

Where the fuck do I fit now?

Chuck’s death blew our world apart.

It just did.

We were strong before, as a family.

Have I failed our kids?

I don’t know.

I just know that his death blew me into smithereens and I don’t know how to come back from it.

Or if it’s even realistic to think that I can.

Just…

FUCK.

16 thoughts on “This Confusing Afterlife~

  1. We met a couple of years ago in Arkansas, at Eureka Springs. My husband, Jack, has been gone now for almost 21 years. I’m starting another chapter, I have retired a year and a half ago, spent the last two summers in Massachusetts where my daughter and her family live. I’m selling my mobile home and will live with my sister and her husband until I save up enough money to buy a travel trailer. I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I’m happy you’re going to stay put for awhile with your family. Family is everything. Your kids need you and you may not know this, you need them, too. Don’t forget to keep us updated! Love you ❤️
    Ramona Puckett

  2. Oh, dear girl…. I am so with you in your thoughts and feelings! I agree… I think it’s time to stop awhile and go home to be near your family! I have resisted for 6 yrs and now am doing the same thing….. leaving my home to settle near my children. I never want to be a burden either….I resist that with all my being, but at 73, it’s time for me to spend time with THEM now instead of spending what’s left of me in this SORROW! So GO! Be at still…. find a new peace. You can always return to the road when you sense the need to feel the wind!
    Go in love and in peace! ❤️💕

  3. I’ve been following you for a long time. It’s been such a comfort knowing I’m not alone in this widowhood.
    Thank you, Allison.
    Marilyn

  4. It is very hard to describe. No one can truly relate until they are in it. I sure couldn’t. I am into it from April 29th of this year. It is a shock and trauma to the body of those left behind. It is a weird place to be, I agree. Not to mention the fear, regrets, frustration, anger, pain, sadness and any other emotions that come and go. Hard to believe a person has to experience such pain. My heart is with you! You have not failed your kids, my opinion. You are trying to find your way, trying to find where you fit, where you feel okay for lack of a better word. Just be there for them as best you can. I trust you will find your place just as I will one day.

  5. We never ever get over loosing the ones that we truly love and cared so much about. As it has been said so very many times, as long as they stay in our hearts and thoughts that they are never truly gone. It is up to us to keep them there and to share just how much they mean and meant to us, without that then they are truly gone and no one will ever know just how special these people were to us and what they did to help shape us and make us who we are and who we have become because of them!!!

  6. We will never be the person we were, but if we involve our selves more emotionally, hopefully they will be okay with the person we have become. I’m still trying to accomplish that level of giving without fear. I hope its possible.

  7. My husband now has dementia and I grieve. I grieve the man he was & I fear the man he will become.. I’m not staying well with this. Grief is hard. I have 37 years sober & at 9 yrs I nearly drank grieving my mother’s death. I didn’t think I could live beyond her death. And I really really adore my husband after these 36 yrs of marriage. I discovered he is sweet, caring, thoughtful, smart, funny, & generous. He treats everyone with his peace. He loves me. Me & our daughter are his special girls. He is leaving some of his personality, cognition, emotional & physical life behind him. I’m missing him. Grief is difficult at best & impossible at worst.God give you all PeAcE.

    • Cynthia, what a hard thing to go through-your husband there, and yet, not. There is so much anticipatory grief that reveals itself in this time, and my heart goes out to you and your daughter and husband. As painful as it’s been with Chuck’s death, I’m so glad that I’ve maintained my sobriety. May you find some peace in the midst of this impossible time that is, still, filled with Love~Alison

  8. My husband now has dementia and I grieve. I grieve the man he was & I fear the man he will become.. I’m not staying well with this. Grief is hard. I have 37 years sober & at 9 yrs I nearly drank grieving my mother’s death. I didn’t think I could live beyond her death. And I really really adore my husband after these 36 yrs of marriage. I discovered he is sweet, caring, thoughtful, smart, funny, & generous. He treats everyone with his peace. He loves me. Me & our daughter are his special girls. He is leaving some of his personality, cognition, emotional & physical life behind him. I’m missing him. Grief is difficult at best & impossible at worst.God give you all PeAcE.

  9. It’s not fair but death irrevocably changes a family. We are at 21+ months since losing my husband and my young adult children’s dad. This is the part that people who have not gone through a loss like this can understand. You simply cannot remove a person from your family and not have everything change. Some days I feel like we’ve got this. Others it’s like a nuclear bomb exploded and we are barely clinging to life in this sea of pain. Yet everyone thinks you’re fine because it’s been over a year and you have posted a few pics on Facebook and you’re smiling in them! LOLOLOL!!! If only it was that simple.

    I know I’ve changed since my husband died and my world was shattered. I will never be the same person I was before. That doesn’t mean I can’t grow into someone I like but it takes time. Probably a lifetime.

    • I figure a lifetime might do it for me, too, Jodie. Because you’re correct; how can everything NOT shift and change when a primary part of that unit is gone forever? Wishing you and yours well as you navigate this~

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