One of the hardest things about losing a loved one, is the feeling of strangling, lingering grief and loss at, not only things you used to do together, but things you had planned to do together. Do you go ahead and do them alone? With someone else? Are the things you used to do together too sacred to share? Are the things you planned to do too heavy to bear anymore?
There are suddenly so many things that you had planned that the brain fog of mourning conceals until the painful moment you remember. Sharing them with my new husband ie even my family, made them feel obligated to somehow make those things come true for me, when what I really needed was for them to listen and mourn the loss of the dream/ adventure/ goal I had once made with my late husband. No one especially close to me really understood this except my best friend, who made no judgements or encouraged me to make new goals, she simply listened and empathized with my loss. Perhaps the reason it took so long to overcome the loss of this particular thing is that so few of my family and friends seemed to understand that I didn’t need a trip to Temple Square in Salt Lake City to realize the dream, because the dream was already gone. Sam would never go there with me to see the awesome buildings, the library and the temple. He was gone, and so was the dream that we made to go there.
Some of these missed opportunities are painful and full of regret, because they were meant, specifically, to share with that single loved one. But others can be transformed and adapted. I had wanted to take Sam to New Grange in Ireland because of the way it FELT. I thought if anyone could appreciate that sixth sense sort of thing, it was a deaf blind man, but my new husband will enjoy it for the history of the site, being a lover of visiting historical sites.
My new husband and I go to historical sites for our anniversary every year. That helps with the desperate desire to fill the year with memories and pictures to replace the ones in boxes that are too hard to peruse. More on that in a later post.
The more plans you made before your loved one passed, the harder it becomes to move through life without hitting those milestones you had planned to share.
Embracing new traditions and holding onto a few old ones helps ease the pain and sting of loss.
You probably have no idea how profound an experience the loss of “plans” could be, but you have probably experienced something similar, like expecting a good grade and getting a failing grade. That sudden drop of your heart into your stomach is fully compatible with the feeling of a black hole opening in your chest with grief.
There are a few fixes and work arounds for grief black holes that I’ve found useful.
My late husband and I would watch only a few movies, because he was deaf and legally blind. One new tradition my current husband–and something you can see for yourself on this blog–is that we go to the movies weekly. We see the movie the day before the release and I write a film review. My new husband loves movies. He watches them with the sort of eye that I have never developed. He recognizes great cinematography, editing, and all those things a really good film critic would know. I am more of a pop culture fan with great writing skills, so if it’s a good story and it makes me feel good, I give it a good review. But I always talk to my husband about it and try to soak in that good skill.
Old traditions help with connecting to the past as well. One that my client husband appreciates is our Lord of The Rings marathon. We now do it on the same week as my late husband’s birthday, which is so close to my late father’s birthday that we feel the need to add Patton or Paint Your Wagon to the viewing. This helps ease the guilt and confusion that comes out of mourning and gives a soothing band aid for the pain that arrives at angel anniversaries and birthdays (Sam’s being one and the same).
There are traditions of my family that we hold on to like tamales after Thanksgiving, chimmy changas for Christmas and corned beef and cabbage for St Paddy’s and creating new favorites– One year I made cabbage wrapped corned beef tamales. Embracing Little parts of my heritage, as diverse as it feels, is a comforting action that reasserts my individual worth. That is important when you’ve been separated from someone who was so much a part of your life they feel like a part of you. It is important to remember there are other people left behind and they still find a relationship with you invaluable.
This post may be a bit rambling, but if you have any feedback or comments, please leave them below and remember to visit the online store www.calinorink.com or visit one of the cute Art Dolls I have up for auction at: ebay