I’m not sure what I expected the 1 year anniversary to “feel” like but I don’t think it’s what I expected. The day started out ok, I woke up and got ready and went to hangout with my stepkids. This kept my mind busy and we had a fun time. They always bring me joy and fill my heart with love. After I came back home and it was quiet and I was alone, it hit me…now what?
It’s almost like you trick yourself into thinking that making it through the first year means you’ve done it, life can get back to normal. Ok God, where is he? It’s time for him to come back. I suffered long enough right? It’s over now, right? Please tell me it’s over.
The first year is strange because for most of it you are in shock, in denial and numb. I’m still navigating through those emotions! You also just focus on all the “firsts”…all the birthdays and holidays. Each time you experience one it becomes a count down until the next “hurdle”, the next “first”. But now those specific “firsts” are done. I believe there will be plenty more “firsts” for me in this journey but most people don’t even realize all the ones you have to go through. The first year doesn’t cover them all. Ok, so I’ve experienced my firsts holidays without him, I’ve lived an entire year without him, so again I ask, now what?
The scary part is the answer, you continue to do it. There is no end, not really, not on this earth. I’ve already experienced people saying things that make me realize they think once I hit the one year mark I must be healed, I must be “over it” now. One year is enough time to grieve your best friend, your husband, and your entire future full of memories that was taken from you, right? No, not even close. As if there is some magic wand you wave at Day 365 that makes you realize, “Yep! I’m healed! No more grieving for me!” Believe me, I wish there was, but unfortunately grief just isn’t that simple.
I’m not going to lie, I’m scared. Scared for what my future holds and scared of my grief. Grief is unrelenting. The first year you are just trying to survive, get through a lot of “firsts” and somehow cope day to day. Now, it’s time to face the reality of your life. This is my life. He isn’t coming back and I’m left to figure out how to navigate through my grief and live my life knowing that I will always miss him, always wonder “what if” and always be in love with him.
Slowly people forget your grief, they have their own lives, their own worries. I read a post another young widow made about busting into tears and hysterically crying in the carpool lane at her child’s school because a song came on and it all came rushing back. But this part might surprise people who haven’t experienced this journey, it has been 8 years since her husband passed away. She is remarried and has children now. People looking at her think “Oh she’s good now. She’s married again and happy.” And while she is remarried and happy with her life and her children, her pain and grief is still there just below the surface. It’s always just one song away from being exposed again, one memory that could pop up and bring you to your knees.
So after 365 days of grief I realize that while life keeps moving forward, there is no true end to this. I don’t mean that to sound negative, it’s not, it’s just reality. You learn to cope as best you can, you keep putting one foot in front of the other and you pray to God for strength. Please God give me strength and guidance! But when that song comes on the radio, when something happens and brings a memory back, you need to remember that it’s ok to cry hysterically and scream out that you miss your husband and that none of this is fair…I don’t care if it’s been 1 year, 5 years or 20!
No one said this journey was going to be easy, and while I’m scared for it sometimes, I can’t give up the fight. When I ask myself “now what?”, I’m going to say this…”You live. You love. You fight. You cry. You scream. You laugh. You pray. You do whatever you need to do to rise up from this. Not to move on or forget but to create something beautiful out of your tragic loss. You can do this! Erik would want you to! God is telling you to use this! Giving up isn’t an option! Keep fighting!”