I am a self-diagnosed “minimizer”. Good, bad – doesn’t matter. Nothing is a big deal. I can handle anything. I don’t let myself feel the full extent of things so that I am able to maintain a level of neutrality. I refuse to let myself get too happy or excited about anything either. In my head, chances are usually pretty high that if I get my hopes up, I will only be let down.
This has always been something that I was proud of – I have always had a certain satisfaction in knowing that I didn’t let things get to me. I have taken great pleasure in hearing the words, “You are handling this really well.” (Of course, I would also just shrug that off. A symbolic “it’s nothing”.)
I have met a fair amount of other individuals in my journey through loss that are similar in this respect.
I have learned, however, that this is not what one may consider healthy. Was it functional? Yes. Did it help me get through some pretty rocky moments in my past? Absolutely. Did I avoid the gut-wrenching feeling of disappointment when a positive possibility fell through? Sometimes.
Throughout the last few months, I have been doing the bare minimum. Whatever I absolutely had to do to get by, I would force myself to partake in. Facing the devastation of my loss was not an option. I would admit that the death of my husband was really sad and really hard – but I frequently brushed it off as though it were on the same level as losing a pet goldfish. Upsetting, but manageable.
I am tired of behaving that way.
I am doing an incredible disservice to my husband by displaying a certain nonchalance to the loss of his life. There are enough other people out there who had a poor appreciation for who he was as a person. They can be the ones who are not deeply affected by his death.
I am not indifferent to the death of Joshua. I am consumed by it. Every waking moment thoughts, memories and images float through my head. There is not a second that passes where I do not feel his absence, where I am not reminded of that gaping hole in my heart.
Losing a loved one IS a big deal. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
Losing my husband has affected me on every level imaginable. It has changed how I see, feel, hear, taste and smell that which is happening around me. Every moment that passes is another moment that I am not spending with the person that I committed my life to.
Our vows did not include “to death do us part” because I had no intention of us ever being apart. I still don’t.
Our souls will always be connected. Whatever awaits us after this life, I know that we will be reunited in some way.
For the rest of my time here on this Earth, I will carry his memory with me. Joshua taught me so many lessons in our short five years together. While I take this new journey to find myself I will continue my fight for him and for others like him.
I will be a living legacy for him.
When we suffer loss, it is impossible to not be deeply affected. Do not ignore the pain. Do not ignore the sadness, the anger, the fear. Do not cringe at the smiles that break through, the laughter that creeps in, the new memories that are made. These are all important parts of healing.
And please, please… do not pretend as though this sort of thing happens every day. Please don’t shrug and pretend that everything is okay. Please don’t ignore the significance of this major life event.
You have endured a devastating loss. You have made it to another day despite every bone in your body aching to join your loved one. You have withstood the endless pain and the nagging of your brain to make it stop. You have done this. Nobody has done it for you. Embrace yourself. Celebrate yourself. Give yourself a mini high-five. It takes so much energy to get through the darkest days after death. You are doing an amazing job.
You are a survivor.
I am a survivor.