widower

Time Doesn’t Heal Wounds

They say time heals all wounds, but what if it doesn’t.

What if time allows for the wounds to fester and spread?

If a wound doesn’t heal what happens? Savage wounds kill, some kill quickly because of the lack of blood, other more minor wounds can fester. Medically speaking when a wound festers it can spread to other parts of the body, like a broken? bone leading to an amputation or eventually death. This innate knowledge leads most of us to treat our physical wounds with tender care. However, even with tender care some wounds rip savagely through the body leaving unrepairable damage.

Fortunately we have medication, treatments, and educated doctors who can help heal these wounds- in most cases. But my wounds aren’t medical. They are emotional and mental.

I often tell myself I am fine, happy and healthy. In most schemes, I am. Yet I am highly dysfunctional when it comes to relationships. Relationships… Yuck. Even the word repels me. People announce their happily-ever-afters and I look at them with pity. I think in my mind, you poor souls, you have no idea what you are about to do. Is this out of bitterness? I don’t think so. I don’t feel bitter. I don’t feel angry, just weary.

As a widow, the trauma of “loved and lost” comes into effect. I have opened up my heart to have it ripped from my own chest. My mind shattered, every belief and thought down to my identity destroyed. How do you heal a gaping wound that doesn’t present itself like a cut to be bandaged? Because like a physical wound, mental and emotional wounds will fester and spread if they aren’t addressed.  

I suppose like physical wounds, the first step is to find the cut and acknowledge it. Then slowly start to sew it together.  Ironically each person is different which makes grief hard. There is no one fix fits all. We are unique in that we are human, and each human is different. Each hurt and emotion is exclusive to its owner. To carry on and find our own wounds is a challenge and some we don’t even know we have. The first trick is to know it is there. Then allow ourselves the vulnerability to accept it as a part of us to be attended to. As we attend the emotion and mental wounds by whatever means we can, therapy, counseling, working out, education, art we address the burden of what has happened. As we continue to work on our wound it the bleeding slows and eventually stops.

Sometimes we think we have sealed the wound shut and venture back into the world to find out we were wrong and weren’t really healed. This happens a lot. I think I’m over my husband and am prepared to date. Then my first date goes horrible and I come home and cry. The wound is reopened with memories, shame, hurt, guilt  and every vulnerable insecurity I have comes to the surface. This is part of healing. Just like physical wounds don’t always fully heal immediately, neither do emotional and mental ones. Just as it takes painstaking physical therapy to get the injured limbs back to full movement, it also takes exposure to vulnerable emotional and mental states to get ourselves back. We make mistakes and we keep trying.
Dressing our wounds overtime allows us to heal. Maybe not completely, but slowly and surely the bleeding with stop and leave us with scars. The mistake of our first night back won’t be the same as the second night back. Each night we come back stronger after readdressing the vulnerable state we were in and what made us feel the way we did. Dressing our wounds overtime heals.

Betrayed by the In-Laws

Edgar Allan Poe

One of most hurtful moments in my spouse’s passing, was the betrayal by his family that followed. My spouse died by suicide. This changed me. I was 23, young, and shocked. I didn’t know how to respond. My natural instinct was to be as transparent, honest and kind as I could about everything that happened. Part of being transparent was telling his family I had wanted to get divorced. The only thing I remember lying about was positive things my husband had said about his family members. I wanted them to hurt less.

I didn’t see it then, but during the funeral his family didn’t acknowledge me as his wife. Instead, I was the cause of death. I became the scapegoat. In their eyes I must have known he was going to do it and even pushed him to it. I look back know and realized they wouldn’t have let me talk at my own husband’s funeral if I hadn’t pushed and my parents hadn’t been present. It wasn’t until I saw the police report openingly saying his mother blamed me and receiving a letter from his mother’s lawyer demanding I give them everything of his, that I understood how I wasn’t a part of his family. I should have known this when they didn’t even come to our wedding. Instead they slandered my name and drug me through the mud while accusing me of trying to steal his life insurance money from them- none of which I received (also if any of you know anything about SGLI this is ludicrous and completely impossible). They left me with all the primary next of kin responsibilities of closing out a life. I was left with shutting down his accounts, from social media to financial. I was left to pay off all his debt (I never fail to see the irony of this since his family received his life insurance). I paid for his funeral and fought for his legal rights after death. I informed his employers, his friends, everyone. I was left with the painful process of closing the remnants of his life while his family took all the moments of closure. They talked at his funeral and took the flag from his casket. They did his temple work (religion) without even acknowledging me or receiving my permission. They put a tombstone on his grave without my input, permission or providing the option to be next to him, to be together when I die. The hurt and deliberate infliction of it were endless. Never in my life did I realize or understand how death brings out the worst in people.

I am sure I made mistakes and wasn’t always the kindest person, but I didn’t expect the unadulterated hatred and animosity pouring from his family. I had never experienced being blamed for someone else’s actions as much as his family held me accountable for his. It made me physically ill- it still does. The accusations and slander were heartbreaking. Even to this day I won’t go to his grave because his family was so hostile and going to visit him would be going to a plot they own. I’ve considered moving his body, I have the rights to his body, but the reality is it’s not worth the hurt it would cause to me or them. Instead I’ve settled for laying flowers where he shot himself.

His family is dysfunctional. To survive they need someone to blame. They would be destroyed if they had to take responsibility for any part of his action. To acknowledge that they had some part in it- we all did, but in the end it was his choice and his alone. Understanding his family’s dysfunction helps me understand my husband’s pain and in part his decisions. It doesn’t make it hurt any less or justify any of it, it just makes it more sad. In the end blaming someone simply causes more hurt. Being angry with someone only causes more hurt. Yet, we can’t control how someone else feels and reacts. We can only control ourselves. Holding others accountable for someone’s actions doesn’t make anything or anyone better. All we truly have in this life is relationships. Spending time making them miserable isn’t worth it. Love, forgive and move on.

“You should be over it”

Brandon

“You should be over it” I can’t count the number of times someone has said this to a grieving person. There is nothing more frustrating than this comment. Whether the intent behind it is kind or not- this comment is absurd.

Grief is complex. What makes it so fascinating to me is how everyone grieves differently. There are those who cry instantly for months and others who can’t force themselves to shed a tear. Others who talk nonstop for months about the pain of their loss and others who don’t say a word. Some become manic and others stop functioning. The reactions are so spread and diverse that there is no set “this is how to grieve” or this is “normal”. Everything is normal. Grief can take years to recover from. There is no “set” time.

Another comment that seems to be commonly repeated is, don’t do anything rash, you aren’t in the right frame of mind. I have found I have never been more sound of mind than when my world came crashing in. Dealing with death provides value in life. A friend recently had a brother die and her response was she wanted to go do something with her life. She felt she needed to do more, but everyone kept telling her to stay at her job and don’t do anything rash. When I talked to her my advice was this, “If you feel the motivation to do more do more, if you want to quit your job, quit. Searching and pushing forward, helps provide closure. I am not saying quit without a back-up plan and no way to pay your bills, but listen to yourself. If your mind needs more, go out and find it. What’s the worst that will happen if you quit your job and put your focus to something new. If in a year you are still lost- the opportunity to go back and do what you were doing before will still be there. Allow death to let you live.”
I am positive  I could make a list a mile long of absurd comments people have made, but instead I’ll stick to these two. If you have any comments people have made or advice you’d like to share please put them in the comments.

Words Left Unsaid

  
Premature death causes a roller coaster of emotions; pain, hurt, frustration, guilt, things left unsaid and undone. Survivors find themselves reminiscing about moments and promises no longer possible. Combined ideas and dreams, now empty. Survivors often wish they could communicate every thought and take back each cruel comment. However, normal text messages sent come back with no reply. Conversations and behaviors become one-sided. Option one is now gone, what is option two?Communication with the dead varies from seances, psychics, prayers, dreams and other rituals. I am not going to discourage any of these as I am not familiar with all of them, I only want to caution you. Not everyone is good and some will take advantage of you. Please research and know who you are engaging with. While seances and psychics might ease the pain, they are not always available or reliable. Expressing words unsaid can be therapeutic and necessary for healing. Thus, my goal is to give you suggestions available to you, without the need for others to be around. 

Suggestion number one: Write them a handwritten letter. Handwritten letters are intimate and have a level of irreplicable sincerity. Holding a pencil to a clean piece of paper allows for words, drawings, diagrams. When words can’t express a feeling, a drawing might. Paper filled with emotions becomes beautiful art. Art gives you power. If you have a friend you can trust, I would also encourage you to put it in an envelope and send it. Physically sending the letter can give a feeling of fulfillment. If you don’t have someone to send it to, you may always send it to me. Private message me for my address.

Suggestion number two: Write them an email. Today is full of technology. Emails, text messages, phone calls, skype, the list continues to grow. Writing an email and sending it can be satisfying. Rarely are we anywhere without a smartphone, allowing us a place to collect our thoughts at any moment. Whenever you have something you want to say put it in your phone. Later write an email and send it to their email account if it is still active. If it isn’t and you have a friend you trust, send it to them. If you don’t you are always welcome to send it to me.

Suggestion number three: Keep a Journal. Writing down expressions and feelings can help you process your own thoughts. Journals allow organization and creativity. Journals allow us to be honest with ourselves. Secrets we might not want to even admit to ourselves are safe to ponder and explore within a journal.

Suggestion number four: Find a creative outlet. If you are an artist, create a painting expressing what you wish you could tell them. If you are a dancer, create a dance expressing your words unsaid. If you write, create a poem or essay, photographer, make a photo series. Whatever you do find a way to express yourself through it. If you don’t “do creative,” now is the time to try.

Find a way to communicate what you didn’t, couldn’t, forgot to say. Try multiple avenues. If option two doesn’t work, try option three, then four and five. Express yourself and your feelings. 

Personal Thought


Sometimes I’m simply too exhausted to write. My body responds to certain dates and events. Recently, I picked up the gun my late-husband shot himself with. When a gun is used in a “crime” the police department has to keep it for at minimum a year and a half. The maximum amount of time is five years. After five years, the police department is able to sell or utilize the gun if it remains unclaimed. Acquiring the gun was a tedious task- not because it was difficult, but because I put it off for so long.

On top of the task to pick up the Glock, this is the month that my late-husband shot himself, I found out about his death, and then proceeded to bury him. Quite simply – this month sucks… every year. For approximately three weeks in a row I am reminded of him. I am forced to subconsciously and consciously respond to the hurt and pain of the past. Even when I feel I am doing well my body screams I am not. I stop eating correctly, I stop sleeping, I lose weight, I constantly feel anxious and stressed. I am aware why, but I can’t stop it.

My ability to function suffers, I struggle to have energy to share and express thoughts. I have been to mentally zapped to write. Instead of being therapeutic it becomes a chore. An exhausting chore, to guide or give opinions and thoughts. Yet, after awhile my head begins to clear and I start to function again. Slowly my world comes back and I become my true self. once again.

Reminders

This page is an ongoing expression of art and expression that reminds me of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Quotes which resonate, songs who fill, art that presents meaning in life. This is a tribute to lost love.

Please add the tributes that took your breath away and reminded you.

“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.”      – Judy Garland

 

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
By E. E. Cummings

     i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear

     no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

     here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

     i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

 Pinterest: What I liked, and My Bucket List that is ever changing, thus I have a Completed Bucket List.

Finding Out

I still remember the day I found out my spouse died. I know what I was wearing. How my hair was. My plans. The day was going ordinarily according to plan. Then it completely changed. The moment doesn’t just take your breath away. It completely knocks you off your feet. The acceptance, denial, anger, hurt, the word to describe the emotions doesn’t exist. Its a combination of so many thoughts and feelings in a split second as half your heart is ripped from your chest.

Please share how you found out and how you feel or felt in the comments.

This is how I found out. Hopefully it gives you something to relate to.

It was Saturday, July 17, 2010. I was cleaning the house and getting ready to go out for the night when I got a phone call. It was from my First Sergeant (1SG) (for those of you not in the military and have no idea what military rank or terms mean I’ll put a civilian term of equal status next to it for you. A First Sergeant is a manager). I answered and he ask if I was going to be around for a bit because there was an issue with a soldier. I said yeah and didn’t think much about it when I hung up. This was not out of the ordinary. I was a Platoon Leader (supervisor) and had approximately 30 soldiers (employees) under me. I was use to getting phone calls about personal issues at least once or twice a week. I went about doing my thing and getting ready to go out with friends later that day.

I was halfway through curling my hair when I heard a knock on my door. It was about an hour after I had received the phone call from my 1SG. I went to answer the door and saw my Commander (boss), 1SG, XO (work peer) and Chaplain. I was really confused at why they would show up at my house. It didn’t click. I had a dog with two puppies at the time so I asked them to give me a minute to put them away before I let them in. I put the dogs away completely clueless as to what was to come. When I let them in. They ask me to sit down. I knew something was wrong then. I didn’t sit, I told them I was fine. Then My commander said “They found a body.”

I didn’t need him to say anything else. I knew it was my spouse and I knew he had killed himself. I was shocked, but not surprised. I knew him. I loved him. He was my best friend and he was gone. I felt the tears come. I took a deep breath. I was in the military I had been to training about informing someone if their spouse died. I was suppose to be on the other end of this conversation. At the same time because I had been to training I had thought about how I would react. The thought came back to me and I followed them. I didn’t know what else to do, but I knew there was stuff I needed to do. I looked at the four men around me and asked what I needed to do.

My spouse had died in Utah. He was there to finish school. I had to call the detective. He told me what happened and what would happen. He told me they had a friend identify the decayed body. I gave him contact information for my spouses family. Then I sat helplessly while my command took care of finding the first flight possible for me to go home.

Again please share your experiences by linking what you have already wrote in the comments or leave a comment.