I have never lost a parent, sibling, or child, but I have lost a spouse so I speak of that. The last 15 months have been some of the hardest times of my life. I am not speaking of the grief. Truthfully that’s something almost manageable. It comes suddenly so sharply it can take your breath away – other times its sweet with a tingle and a memory.
The exhaustion comes from all of the decisions that follow the death of a spouse. Terms like Assets, Estate Returns, Values, Distributions, Probate, etc are used to describe and finalize your spouse’s life up to the time of death. What do you do with their clothes, vehicles, grown-up toys like guns, remote helicopters, and tools? How soon do you do anything with any of it – did you wait too long to do anything with it? Then there is also the new title you gain after you lose one that you chose a long time ago. No longer Gerry’s wife but now his Widow. (A word I really dislike.)
I want you to know that there is not a single decision that is made lightly. Moving clothes out of the closet and into the spare bedroom was a several week project. First, they were sorted into piles on my bedroom floor for a good 10 days! Now there are piles on a spare bed and in boxes. The thoughts that ran through my head were crazy! What’s my daughter going to think? His parents and sister? Am I moving too fast? Years of therapy have taught me that things move at my pace but every decision was weighed by what I thought others would think. All of this over CLOTHES!! It was exhausting. It didn’t help that it was during Christmas and I had a very good reason for doing it then. I made pillows out of his shirts and picked each one specifically for the recipient.
Now imagine decisions around other “Assets” such as vehicles, land or making a big purchase or *gasp* Dating……. (That’s one for a whole different day!!)
Trust me when I say — the exhaustion is so real and heavy — the surviving spouse can go crazy trying to just live. They consider the feelings of their kids, their family, their friends, and forget that they have their own feelings. It’s very hard to remember to do what’s best for you and what feels right for you. There is no timeline for this journey and everyone’s journey is unique. You can think and discuss what you think you might do…but you will never know until you have to walk this journey yourself.
The exhaustion is lifting and I am finding myself closer to Peace and in a Happy state most of the time. It’s taken a lot of tears, hard work, some great friends and maybe a little vodka but I am getting there. This week I said GoodBye to Gerry’s White Truck. He never drove it and had his reasons for owning one over the years. This was number 3 or 4. Always White, always loaded, brand new Chevy HD, and never drove it. That truck turned my goal of a fun vehicle for ME into reality! It was bittersweet. It’s another reminder that Gerry isn’t here but life does move forward. There were tears on both sides of the table when I traded that vehicle in.
These changes do not mean that we are over our spouses, we are not forgetting them, we are not trying to rid ourselves of reminders. We are learning to live again. We are alive and surviving. We owe it to those we have lost to live our lives to the fullest.
Be kind, remember that we all have journeys to travel at our own pace. Leave the judgment behind and be supportive.
Love fully, live fully, find peace and happiness. ❤️