When you become a widow…

When you become a widow, you suddenly start looking at life differently. Small things become big things and items you once treasured lose meaning. 

When I lost Joshua, I lost a lot of things. My security, my sense of purpose, my reason to get out of bed each morning. When I lost my husband, I also lost another very important person: me. 

As I navigate this grief journey, I find myself trying on a million different things. I’m putting myself out there in a way that I never would have before. Every day I beg for something to stick. 

This weekend, I gathered my courage to attend a “survivor seminar” put together by TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors). I got to the parking lot outside of the resort where it was located and I froze. I couldn’t go in. I told myself that I don’t belong, I won’t fit in, for the millionth time in my life I will be shunned away just for trying something new. 

Then I realized that is the grief talking. That is the sadness, the hurt and the pain. It wants me to keep hurting. It wants to hold me within its grip and never let go. Grief is all-consuming. Grief does not want you to learn, grow or heal. 

I decided that I am important. That I matter. And that I need to do this for me. Will one weekend fix everything? Hell no. Loss is not something that can be fixed. It will always be a part of who I am. No matter the path life takes me on, I will always be a widow. I will always be touched by the pain of addiction, PTSD and loss. 

I am so grateful to have finally done something for me. In just the first day I have attended classes where I connected with people who understood. I have connected with people who care, who WANT to hear my story…people who will wait patiently for the tears to subside so they can hear everything that I have to say. And I get to be that person for them. 

In addition to the risk of doing something scary and new and way out of my comfort zone – I also decided to attend a talk that would have never been on my radar before loss. It was entitled “Why creating is important in grief” and it involved a talk about using creative therapy and then an hour of “free time” to create a collage. 

As I went through the magazines trying to find items to place on the paper before me, I felt a fire spark inside me. I felt the pain and the hurt and the hope for a better future. And it all came together in the most amazing way. I am so proud of the collage that I made. It tells my story exactly as I feel it right in this very moment. 

I want to share it with you:

The whole picture

The left side … the time leading up to and immediately after the loss

The right side. My hope and direction. 

While Josh was in rehab he created a mask that was incredibly painful for me to look at, but it depicted his feelings in such a profound way. I didn’t see it until three weeks after his death when I talked at the Rosecrance Seminar. 

I hope that my creation depicts even half as emotionally profound of a story. 

This journey is just beginning, but I am so proud of myself for the steps that I have already taken. 

Put yourself out there. Try something new. You might find you really like it. 

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