Friday, March 16, 2012

I was wrong

I was wrong in my last post to think that 2012 would be the first year he's not 'in this year' with me. He is in this year. He may not be physically in this year, but it wasn't like I magically woke up on New Years Day and he was gone. He is with me, all around me, in my memories, in my heart, in his legacy. If anything now that those initial stages of grief are fading, the memories are stronger. Yep, his memory is definitely still strong with me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

He's not in next year :-(

So, I was happy for people to wish me a Merry Christmas because everyone knows and understands how hard this Christmas was for me. But I'm starting to get SUPER annoyed with all the "I hope 2012 is a better year for you!"


In WHAT way will it be better???

He will still be dead.

Worse still it will be the first year in 12 years that he won't be a part of my life.

So if you, dear friend, can let me know in what way it will ACTUALLY be better, then I'm more than happy to listen. Grrrrr!!

So here is a little pic I posted on my fb wall a while ago that those who lost their husbands/partners/fiances/significant others (or who had a generally shitty year) in 2011 might like ...

(oh yeah, and 2012 you can go F@#k yourself as well!!!)

Monday, October 3, 2011

How to Talk to a Two-Headed Monster

I've been trying to write this blog post for a while but have always fallen short on being able to write what I want to say clearly. Today I found a letter that a widow had written to family and friends (unsure of original source) that summed up perfectly everything I've been feeling lately. The original letter is quite long and so I've cut this down and personalised it.

How to talk to a Two-Headed Monster (i.e. ME)

Understand that my world has fallen apart. Please don't run from my tears. I cannot control them. I'm not made of stone. Grief comes at me in waves and when it hits, it hits hard. I never know when a wave is coming and I just have to ride it out until the waters calm.

Please talk with me about Chris. It's not going to bring him back. I know this but it's more of a comfort to cry than to pretend that he never existed. I need to talk about him and I'm sorry if I repeat myself. My brain doesn't process things quite the way they used to. Don't be afraid to mention his name. You can't make me cry. The tears are here and I will love you for allowing me to shed them when I need to.

Only ask me how I'm doing if you really want to know.

Please stop telling me, “You're so strong”. I am not strong. I alternate between numbness and overwhelming moments of grief. When you tell me how strong I am I feel like you don't see me at all.

This is not something that I will heal from. This is not a cold or the flu. I'm not sick. I'm not depressed. A pill can't fix this. I'm grieving and that's different. The worst of my grieving may only begin months after my sweetheart's death. Don't set time limits on my grief. It may take six months or six years for me to function properly again.

I am not only grieving his death, but also the person I was when I was with him, the life that we shared, the plans we had for our future. The places we will never get to go together, and the hopes and dreams that will never come true. His smile. His laughter. His kiss and his touch. My whole world has crumbled and I will never be the same. Together we built a life together and I loved our life. He chose me to share his life with him and to be his partner. He didn't choose to die.

I will not always be grieving as deeply as I am right now, but I will never forget my Chris and rather than heal, I want to incorporate his life and the gift of love we shared with one another into the rest of my life. He is a part of me and always will be, and sometimes I will remember him with laughter and other times with tears. Both are okay.

I don't have to accept his death. Yes, I have to understand that it has happened and it is real, but there are some things in life that are just not acceptable. To me, the loss of the love of my life isn't acceptable.

I don't even understand what you mean when you say, "You've got to get on with your life." My life is going on. I've been forced to take on more than it feels I can bear some days. It may not look the way you think it should. My new life that I never wanted will take time for me to adjust to. So please, just love me as I am today, and know that with your love and support, joy will slowly return to my life. But I will never forget and there will always be times that I cry.

Trying to figure out what you could do for me takes more energy than I have. If you think of something...just do it. If you want to call me then just call...don't think that you are bothering me. Ask me more than once to join you at a movie or lunch or dinner. I may say no at first or even for a while but please don't give up on me.

Just don't abandon me. Please don't act like I have some contagious disease. Don't be afraid that you're going to upset me. Grief isn't catching. My world is painful, and when you are too afraid to call me or visit or say anything, you isolate me at a time when I most need to be cared about. If you don't know what to say, just come over, give me a hug or touch my arm, and gently say, "I'm sorry." You can even say, "I just don't know what to say, but I care, and want you to know that."

But don't give up on me. Somewhere, in time, I may be ready and if you've given up on me then I really will be alone.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bedtime is the worst ...

Not just because I miss him sleeping next to me (although I desperately do, more than I could ever express) but because it means I just went another whole day without him here :-(

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Living in Grace

Who knew that feeling happy could make me feel SO miserable?

Because so many 'good' things have been happening lately - hosting nephew #1's birthday party, loving the new series of X Factor Australia, finding it easier to laugh at jokes and join in meaningless conversations with friends. Yet every time I find myself enjoying something, it doesn't take long before I start feeling such sadness.

Sad that Chris isn't here to tell him about it. Sad he isn't here to laugh with over the terrible auditions on X Factor. Sad I'm already starting to look at Christmas gift ideas but he won't be here to spoil the most (like I usually did). Sad he won't be here to spoil me the most (as he always did).

To be honest, a lot of the time I'm still in that place where I think it's still just a really, really bad joke and surely he'll come back home soon and the pain will stop. I mean there is just NO WAY this could REALLY have happened? How the FUCK can he be dead???????????????????

Even worse, right now I'm trying REALLY hard to fight off bitterness and anger. Anger when I hear someone talking about how they are pregnant or to hear about their wedding plans. I even felt SO angry tonight when I saw a simple picture of a love heart drawn in the snow. I feel that Love Has Left My Life and this makes me angry. Which very quickly turns to bitterness.

Bitterness (in my opinion) is much worse than depression. Bitterness eats away at your very soul. Bitterness hardens the heart and saddens God. Worse than that, I know it's not how I want to live my life or how I know, FOR SURE, that Chris would not have wanted me to live my life. But to know how to actually do this, well I'm not quite sure how.

So here are some strategies I'm actively trying to put into place:

1. Living to a standard of Grace, rather than perfection

2. Do something meaningful at Christmas in memory of Chris e.g. a donation

3. Taking time to be still and reflect with love and purpose

4. Finding quiet joy in the small moments, those things that make life worth living - holding a baby, petting my puppy, talking on the phone with my sister, watching my nephews play

5. Accepting that my whole life has changed, that I'm not really who I was before and that is okay - as long as I am living in grace and not in bitterness

I'm definitely not there yet, but I'll keep on trying.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Doesn't Anyone Feel Sorry For ME?

I'm embarrassed to say these are the words I actually said, out loud, in the shopping mall today!

To explain what caused this meltdown I need to go back a bit. Chris and I had never had a turn to host Christmas dinner at our place because where we live is too small with no air conditioning (Christmas is HOT here in Australia). So Christmas was always alternated between my mum and my sister's, Penny's house. Because Penny is the only one of us siblings who is married with family here (Chris's family are all living in Canada so we never had that 'in-laws' conflict about who had Christmas where) so we would also alternate every year between Christmas Day and Christmas Eve for the family get together.

This year, as we were moving to a new place, Chris and I were finally going to get to host Christmas ourselves. It was our side of the family's turn to have Christmas Eve, and my sister would spend Christmas day with her husband's family. This was fine because Chris and I would have either had a party Christmas night with friends, or just done something special with just the two of us.

Since losing Chris, I've had to deal with numerous things - some big (packing away his clothes) some small (hearing a joke and nearly calling out to repeat it to him). With the big things I've learned that I need to make a strategy ahead of time to cope with it. The small things you just have to ride it out and let the tears come. Even though it's only August, Christmas and New Years Eve feel like they are looming around the corner ready to spring a tidal wave of gloom, grief and depression on me. So I've been making strategies now for how I would cope.

Christmas I knew would be hard but on the upside it's also a day for family so I knew my family would get me through. New Years though would be the hardest because we always had our own party at home, sometimes with friends, sometimes just the two of us and sometimes a combination of both. But really it was the one night we made a big deal out of and always spent together.

This New Years after much consideration I've decided to skip it. No going out for dinner with well-meaning friends who think it will be 'good for me'. No parties. No inviting someone over to chill out with me. Just me, dvd's, pj's, ice-cream and maybe a scotch for Chris.

Christmas though, I'd decided to go ahead and still host dinner. Mostly because I'm trying to build something solid around me. This is important because I feel like I'm sinking most of the time.

So today, when I was out shopping with mum, my sister and nephews, we started talking about Christmas (this started because my 4 year old nephew kept pointing out things and asking me if I would buy it for him "for Christmas"). During the conversation my sister reminded us how it was actually our turn to host Christmas on Christmas Eve.


What would I do on Christmas day itself????? I'd be ...... A. L. O. N. E.! I was not prepared for this. I guess in the back of my mind, I had assumed my family would automatically know what this meant to me, drop all their plans and rearrange their plans around me.

Of course, this is not how I normally think! But in the moment, sheer panic overwhelmed me which is what led me to an outburst of tears and "Doesn't anyone feel SORRY for me?"

Mum and my sister VERY quickly assured me they did, and that Christmas this year will easily be rearranged so that I get to spend Christmas day with my beloved nephews and family.

Oh boy, in my head I knew I should apologise. But I know them and I know that they wouldn't accept an apology from me. I know that I'm being a little selfish at the moment and despite being normally independent, quick to adapt and easy going, sometimes things just are what they are. Even in the worst of circumstances, I feel so blessed by those around me who care enough to let me cope how I need.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Love vs Lust

Found this today on Pinterest (originally from Bow Ties & Bliss) I know that Chris would have laughed at this ... because it's true :-)

I have no doubt though that many of you will nod you head knowingly.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I get a whole party!

After a dismal attempt to return to work two weeks ago, I've decided to live frugally (luckily baked beans and melted cheese on toast is actually one of my favourite dinners - cheap, healthy, yum and easy to make = win!) and not return to work until the new year.

Which works out well this week because it gives me time to organise my nephew's 6th birthday party, on Saturday night - that I get to host!

I absolutely love organising birthday parties and don't get the chance as much as I would like. I did get to organise a couple for my niece, Jadeyn, over the years with parties including the famous scavenger hunt at the shopping mall and the INfamous 'Fear Factor' party. Here are the some of the results of that particular party ...

Green slime!

Shaving cream!


Hmmm cleaning up is going to be fun!


But ever since nephew #1 came along, I've been busting to organise a party for him, but unlike Jadeyn's mum, my sister loves throwing parties as much as me, so I never really thought I'd get the chance. But as luck would have it my sister and brother-in-law had plans out of town this weekend and asked if I could babysit. Wow! A whole birthday all to myself? Seeing as my sister and nephews all live on the other side of town, we had to come up with something smallish, as it would be too far for all his little school friends to travel and I'm not really up to organising a big party.

Because one of our favourite things to do when my nephews stay over is to have a movie night, we came up with the idea of an Outdoor Movie Night, under the stars. It's the end of winter here and the nights are still cool so we decided the best way to keep warm would be to put a big tarp on the ground and all the guests bring pillows and doonas so we could all huddle together under one 'giant sleeping bag'.

My brother has a projector so we are going to hang a big sheet in the yard for the movie screen, serve individual popcorn and chip buckets and of course, the cake. We decided that seeing most of the guests are going to be grown ups (aunties, uncles, teenage cousins, grandma etc) we would pick one animated movie and one family movie. After much debate we settled on The Lion King and the 80s classic Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. (Choosing an 80s classic, is the perfect way to remember his Uncle Chris in a happy way)

And best news of all, only my brother in law is going to be out of town now, which means his mum will be there ... but I still get to host! :-)

Visiting my place is still difficult for nephew #1. He's old enough to understand and show a full range of emotions. This party will be a little bit hard but it's getting easier for us over time. I'm so glad now I put in the effort from the beginning to let him know that it's still fun at my place. Since his Uncle Chris died, I've seen a side of my (not for much longer) 5 year old nephew. With wisdom and compassion beyond his years he always gives me a hug and says "I love you so much, I know you are still sad but I'm here to cheer you up." And he always does.

So now we just have to hope this rain clears up before then!

Filling the hole with memories

I've recently learnt that during the first week when someone you love dies, your body releases powerful narcotic-like chemicals similar to heroin and morphine which are powerful pain killing chemicals (apparently they are released from somewhere located at the base of your neck. Don't quote me on that though, I can't find the original reference). This is where you get feelings of shock and numbness from.

After a while (maybe up to 2 weeks for some people) this initial feeling goes away. And you know that grief is going to consume you for some time. What no one tells you though is that it's going to get worse, much worse, for quite some time. For me everything intensified 2 weeks ago, just before the two month mark. Now I'm a bit better during the days but the hours between 10pm and midnight are the worst. The intensity of just missing him is too much.

Tonight it occurred to me that perhaps I could take a big needle, at least 5cm in width and poke a hole in my heart. Maybe some of the pain would then drain out of the hole, kinda like draining a boil. The sore would still be there but the intensity of the pain would reduce. I'm pretty sure my doctor wouldn't agree to such a procedure though. If I'm not feeling better soon, I might just ask her anyway, yeah?

So instead I'm trying to sit and remember things about him that made me smile. Here are a couple of memories that are helping me tonight.

1. Our First Kiss: Chris and I met online in January 2000 in an IRC chat room. In September 2003 we finally met in person, after he helped me get a job at the Hotel Carmacks, in the Yukon Territory, Canada. This was a great option because I had a job, room and board - just in case we didn't like each other in person (or he turned out to be a serial killer, you read about these things on the internet, you know.) Anyway the day I arrived he took me for a walk around town to show me where everything thing was. As we were walking around I was too nervous to stop and actually ask myself "Do I like him?" instead I was thinking "Nope, he definitely doesn't like me. Oh well that's that then. Still a year in Canada will be nice."

An hour later we arrived back at the hotel and headed upstairs. Walking behind me, he said "You are exactly how I imagined you" ...... ???? What ???? *swoon* He DOES like me!!!

We went into his room and sat on the couch and talked for a little bit before he kissed me. I'll never forget afterwards he said "Don't worry, it'll get better"

WHAT???? Was my kissing THAT bad???

I never said anything about it until about 6 years later when after he kissed me one night I said:

"Well, was that any better?"

"Better than what?"

"The first time you kissed me you said it would get better. Obviously you thought I was a bad kisser but 6 years later you are still with me. It must be better?"

Oh he roared laughing! "I meant, we were both so nervous that it would get better, not that you would get better. I can't believe you thought that all this time."

Lesson learned - stop over analysing everything!

2. The first time at the Beach: Chris and I couldn't have had more different childhoods. Him, playing in the snow. Me, swimming in the ocean. Going down the coast was high on the list of priorities when Chris first got here. I always teased him about the first time he went in, he wouldn't go in the waves past his ankles, while I would be out as far as the other swimmers would go. Every summer he would get a little bit braver - out to his knees, then the next summer half way up his thighs, the next summer to just below the waist etc. Even 7 years later he would never go quite as far as me if the waves were really high, but he would go out enough to have a decent swim :-)

3. The night that we ....
Oops that one's naughty! Can't share here, I have family members that read this blog. It might be suffice to end this blog post here and yes, remembering these moments are helpful and have brought a smile to my face.


Monday, August 22, 2011

To Wish Impossible Things

Remember how it used to be
When the sun would fill the sky
Remember how we used to feel
Those days would never end
Those days would never end

Remember how it used to be
When the stars would fill the sky
Remember how we used to dream
Those nights would never end
Those nights would never end

It was the sweetness of your skin
It was the hope of all we might have been
That filled me with the hope to wish
Impossible things
To wish impossible things

But now the sun shines cold
And all the sky is grey
The stars are dimmed by clouds and tears
And all I wish
Is gone away
All I wish
Is gone away

All I wish
Is gone away

(Lyrics: The Cure)

Missing him more and more every day ... haven't been blogging because I'm finding it harder and harder to find the words. I'm expecting to go around the bend any minute. The longing is too intense, wishing he was here. Not sure if my heart or my head is going to explode first from missing him.

People are great though. Even 2 months on I still have nightly phone calls from my best friend, visitors still drop by with food gifts, people still tip toe politely around me and let me get away with things I never normally would. I've read about so many others where the visitors and phone calls stopped after a couple of weeks. I know how lucky I am. I know that I'm being looked after.

But OH the INTENSE longing to see him again is overwhelming. That's when I need to pick up the phone and make a call to a friend or jump on facebook to see what everyone else is up to. Even five minutes of distraction makes it easier to keep going with my day. Another reason why I need to blog more. Writing helps me gets my thoughts into focus and calms me. I read somewhere the other day that writing by hand is even more calming. I vaguely remember what it was like to write by hand. I think I may have gotten a cramp last time I tried it though.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Two months on ...

Two months on and it's finally sinking in that he is not coming home.

The feeling that he isn't really gone and that he is 'just at work' or 'just in the other room on the computer', is disappearing.

I feel like I'm at maybe where I 'should' have been at 2 months ago. But it just didn't seem real at the time that Chris had actually died.

Yes, died.

He didn't 'leave' me, we didn't 'break up', I didn't 'lose' him, he died.

And it's only now really just sinking in. He really isn't coming home. It seems I can't bargain with God to make that different. It is what it is. Apparently I have to start dealing with that.

Denial was so good to me for a while. I really miss her.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Two can be 'a Family'

After yesterday's post I had an old high school friend of Chris's (who I've never met but have loved getting to know through facebook, I just wish it had been under happier circumstances) message me to say that my blog had her thinking about what it means to have a successful relationship 'as you and Chris clearly did'.

The first thought that came to my mind was 'there is a big difference between successful and perfect'. Now I'm not going to go all John Gray on you all because I have never read Men are from Mars. In fact I've never, ever read any book on relationships. Before I met Chris I never read any books on being single, or finding a man. I did read snippets of 'He's Just Not that Into You' once when I was in the book store because I'd seen the Sex and the City episode.

So I can't tell you if men really are from Mars and women from Venus, I have no idea of 'The Rules' and I figured that for at least some of the time Chris was 'Into Me'.

I don't want this blog to be an illusion. I don't want people to find romanticism in my grief for things that weren't there. We weren't often a hand-holding couple, but we said "I love you" several times a day. We didn't always do everything together, but not a day went by without a kiss. I would be furious that he would clean the kitchen once a month and thought he deserved a medal, he refused to let me do the laundry because I didn't 'do it right'. But we always high-fived each other after an intimate night and told each other how awesome we were.

We knew and loved each other through pimples, warts, addictions, birth marks, cellulite and all.

But mostly we were 'family'. We stuck with each other no matter what. Both of us did things at times that were so terrible, the other one of us could have easily walked. But we never did because we knew we were meant to be together. We fought well because we had the same goal - to make SURE we could work it out.

That is why I think we were 'successful'. And I don't know or care if the self-help gurus agree or not.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Living 'One Day at a Time' isn't easy

Ever since I was 9 years old and day dreamed about one day buying our local lolly shop (I'm sure they sold other things, I vaguely remembering buying bread and milk for mum from there too, but mostly I just remember the lollies!) and turning it into a beautiful store, I've always had an entrepreneurial streak.

While I definitely would not describe myself as an "Type A Personality", most of my life has always been focused on setting goals and dreaming big.

90% of my current day is sitting around crying tears over how much I miss Chris. The other 10% is sitting around crying and screaming "I don't want to do this! I don't want my life to be THIS sad! I can't handle this! I need to be doing something! I just want to be happy again!"

In that 10% of the time, I start thinking practically - what am I going to do with the rest of my life now that I'm on my own? ALL of my previous goals were in some way connected to Chris. Big goals needed to be discussed and in mutual agreement. Smaller goals needed to take into consideration how it would affect our lives together.

He had his own goals (starting his own personal training biz), I had my own goals (being the next Roald Dahl) and of course, we had our 'together goals' (the wedding, a baby, buying a new couch and vacuum cleaner, travel, fitness).

Suddenly 99% of those goals were crushed.

And now in few moments of 'sanity' (I find it amusing that I consider myself sane at times, because in retrospect I rarely am, especially of late) and when I start worrying about my future and become overwhelmed with an urge to 'create a new plan! I must have a plan!'

This in itself isn't that unreasonable to think. But my plans need to be BIG and successful!

This inevitably leads me to tears. What if my big, amazing plans work and they are successful? So what? Chris isn't here to see them. He isn't here to celebrate with me. No one is here to celebrate with me. No one is here to tell me how amazing I am. No one is here to support me without judgement (I will give Chris true credit here - he really did cheer for me and encourage me without judgement like very few people I know). What is the point of achieving anything without him here? So I sit and cry about the pointlessness of it all.

24 hours later, I'm back to where I was and on to the next new, BIG plan! (See I told you I wasn't that sane. Isn't the definition of stupidity doing the same thing over and over?)

So today I decide to post on facebook that I'm considering studying at university next year. Long online conversation follows with suggestions for study etc. Until a Very Dear and Wise Friend, had the guts to email me and suggest that I do not plan to take on a full course load next year. Like it or not, I have plenty of misery ahead. The first Christmas, New Years, Birthdays, Anniversaries without him. And then after that accepting I have a lifetime of Christmases, New Years, Birthdays and Anniversaries without him.

My mental and emotional capacities will be pushed to the limit. And I need to learn to make small and manageable plans to be able to pay the bills but that will allow me all the time in the world that I need to grieve.

I need to learn to focus on living 'One Day at a Time' for now. Or as Chris used to say to me all the time "You need to be where your hands are".

Right now, that means coping step by baby step. So if you hear me sprout out a ridiculous new plan, please remind me that it's okay - the big dreams can wait for a while.