The grief is still there. But suddenly, from somewhere, almost eighteen months later, I do now occasionally experience the unadulterated joy that I never thought I would again. To my surprise, I am no longer numb. The flowers in the park, a small child patting my dog, the flight of a bird, planning a visit with my grandson with his friends -- these things bring a lift to my heart.
I am moving through what I think of as the year of the terrible firsts. The first wedding anniversary without him; the first holidays; the first family celebration; birthdays, his, mine, our children's. And I move, inexorably, to the marking of the first anniversary of his death. In many ways, these months have been filled with surprises.
How does one trust in life again after experiencing two tragic losses? This is a question that I've asked myself since losing my son to stillbirth after a healthy 9-month pregnancy, followed just 18-months later by the death of my husband, a soldier serving in Afghanistan. How could I ever trust in anything again?
There were many times, especially in the beginning of my grief, when I turned to someone with a look that said, "What did you just say to me?" It took me a long time to not take comments too personally. I had to develop a thicker skin as time went by or I would've constantly been flying off the handle.
Six months: It was exactly six months ago that my beloved husband died. There was a breath, and then, none. Life left the room, leaving behind love, loneliness, bittersweet memories, and a range of emotions. I do not mourn his death, but I do mourn his absence and I have learned that absence can be a presence.
I am grateful that my husband lived a long and productive life. So, please do not tell me how to grieve. Spare me the euphemisms. My husband did not "pass." He died. I have not "lost" him: I know exactly where his body is, and his spirit is with me. And. Do. Not. Speak. To. Me. Of. Closure. What a hideous word. Bring me acceptance but, never, closure.
I am a widow. Friendships, I learned, are not immune to grief. Despite what you may think, some friends will leave you when you need them the most. Perhaps they don't know what to say or how to act. After speaking to people in similar situations, I now realize that in many cases, friendship and grief do not mix.