The relief within grief

I’m about to admit something that I have a very hard time saying out loud.

Are you ready?

When my husband died, along with the shock of loss, came a sense of relief.

That’s right folks, I said it. When my husband died, a part of me was relieved.

You see, our life together was extremely tumultuous. There had always been rocky roads for us to navigate, but the last nine months of his life were the worst nine months for both of us.

He was up against some very serious criminal charges, trying to maintain his sobriety and work on his recovery despite every obstacle showing up to sway him, trying to finish an associate’s degree and sell our house and purchase a new one.

The word stress doesn’t even begin to explain it.

I was not living my own life; I was living every day trying to keep things rolling in the right direction. I woke up every morning with the sole intention of making his life easier.

In the blink of an eye, all of the stress was gone. None of it mattered anymore. He was no longer here. I didn’t have to fight to keep him alive. That battle was lost.

And. I. Felt. Relief.

It’s frowned upon to talk about. And to admit. But I know I am not alone. I know that there are many others who were in similarly rocky relationships. And those who watched their person be taken by a long-term illness.

And I know they felt a sense of relief as well.

And we can pretty it up by saying that we are glad they are no longer suffering. Because it’s true.

But it’s important to acknowledge that we are also glad that WE are no longer suffering. At least not in the same way.

It’s okay to admit. It’s okay to talk about. It’s okay to be relieved when someone you love passes away.

I would live the same life with my husband all over again. A million times. Because he taught me so many things in our short time together. And the lessons that I taught his soul before it moved on to it’s next path were part of my life’s purpose.

But I am relieved to have a much less stressful life now.

Judge me if you want to, but I am owning my truth.

And I hope that you will, too.

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8 thoughts on “The relief within grief

  1. Yep I can truely ‘get’ that. It is a relief after 3 1/2 years of travel to doctor, specialist, speech language therapist, dietician and dentist. Months of chemotherapy and Radiotherapy. Trips for CT scans, pet scans, x-rays, oscopy’s and blood tests. It was a relief to be able to sleep at night, not panicked I would be awoken by him in pain or breathless. It’s also a very weird relief to no longer have to rush home to him, make food and force him to try to eat, hold him as he vomits, help him to walk, watch as he slowly faded away, felt constantly sick and grieved his inability to do anything he once could. It is a relief in that way. I am still struggling with finding purpose in my life now tho. It’s a relief, but it’s not one I’m relishing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That is absolutely normal. And 100% okay. We can feel relief and still be devastated by loss at the same time. 💜 You had to lose yourself for a while in the process of caring for him. I hope that you can find yourself again and move forward with the strength of your love that still burns within you. 💜💜

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  2. I, too, had to watch a young, vibrant, life-loving, laughter-inducing man that I love slowly eaten away by cancer. I did everything for him in his final 5 months as he went through surgeries, chemo, immunotherapy, existential crisis, seizures, cleaning up his soiled body and clothing, trying to cool him when his temperature spiked over and over and over again, and keeping medications, doctors, and long, unpronounceable words straight. In the end, when the multiple, metastatic tumors in his brain were taking away his ability to speak coherently, I was the one he recognized at 3:15am, if even for a moment. There was relief in that brief flicker of a spark when our eyes met in a darkened room. No regrets. I would do it all again in a heartbeat if just to relive our too-short eleven years together.
    And there was the relief when it was over. I could release the anticipatory grief, and get on with the grief that everyone reads about and the healing.
    I uttered that one unpronounceable word that I wasn’t able to say out loud for months. I would stutter it in whispers while he slept and I was alone in the dark, laying on a mattress on the floor next to his hospital bed as my numbed arm reached up through the side rail just to feel the warmth of him. And there was an odd relief in the exhale, after holding my breath for so long, when I finally, clearly said the word. Widow.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Goodness, girl. This was extraordinarily well written. Expressed so magnetically. Well done.

      And while I didn’t have the anticipatory grief, I still recall the first time I said that word aloud. In the private room they send you to when there is no more hope for good news. I said it out loud. And then I laughed. Because it sounded so foreign, so unbelievable… so impossible. A wife for one year and four days. On day 369…a widow.

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  3. As much as I hate to admit it, I did a lot of anticipatory grieving before my husband died and felt…not relieved, necessarily, but somehow *liberated* after I’d had time to sort things out. No longer did I have to fear reaching out for him in the night and finding him dead. No longer did I have to watch him slowly fade away and suffer the whole time. I’d give anything to have him back, healthy and strong, but as that is not to be, I’m OK with him being in Heaven where he is free and whole and happy once more.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally get this. My husband had always battled depression, but in the last year of his life his substance abuse was spiraling out of control. I loved him so much, but I was walking on eggshells, never sure which version of himself would greet me at the door. I finally told him that we could not keep living that way, in hopes that he would finally agree to get help. Instead, he decided that we should separate. He went to his brother’s house to talk about staying with him for awhile, and on that very first night away from me (in his intoxicated state) he accidentally set his brother’s house on fire & he was killed in the fire. As devastated as I was, and as much as I still grieve over what happened, I eventually reached a point where I also needed to acknowledge the relief that followed his death. No one other than me saw the full extent of how miserable he was, and I hoped that he was no longer miserable. And I was free of the crushing pain that was consuming both of us, although not in the way I wanted. But the relief is real and is OK to feel.

    Liked by 1 person

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