I've been spending a lot of my days reading about grief. Self-help books, autobiographies, practical workbooks, etc. I've come to the conclusion that all this information makes my head feel like it's about to explode.
Out of maybe a dozen books, only one or two have resonated with me. Oddly enough, the book that came highly recommended by the majority of my friends and family had very little impact on me. What I am finding is that there are very few books that are specifically targeted towards my demographic; A forty-something year old widow who has been married to her spouse for many years. When you've spent more than half your life with someone (in my case over 25 years), life is really going to suck hard when that person dies. I'm not saying my grief is worse or more acute than someone who had spent fewer years with their spouse. This grief, just like everyone else's, is unique.
I'm mourning the life I once had, and the life that I was looking forward to living. Let's face facts--my old life is gone forever. The old Catherine is also gone, for that matter. Instead of planning to grow old with Eric, I'm now trying to get my head around the fact that it takes all my energy just to stumble through one fricken day. Eric was always my compass and now I feel completely lost and very alone. It's truly amazing how one individual can have such a deep, meaningful, life-giving impact on someone else.
I wholeheartedly loved my husband. We were so in love that it caused people to not only notice, but comment on it. When he first received his diagnosis, I made it my mission to make him feel like he was NEVER going through the disease alone. I was with him every step of the way (again, this caused hospital staff to comment). I felt like we were so in it together that I took to saying "we have treatment" or "we have a scan". I feel lucky that he was able to pass while in our bed and at home. I remember that his last lucid words to me were "I love you". Experts say that hearing is one of the last senses to go, so I was snuggling up to him, talking to him, and thanking him for the beautiful life we had together. I told him how brave he had been, how I would love him forever, and how I knew that he had to leave me. Eric passed away with me gently talking to him. Paradoxically, it was both the hardest and easiest thing I have ever done. I say it was easy because it seemed like such a natural thing for me to do. I didn't have to think about it, the words just came out of my mouth. Alternatively, it was difficult for very obvious reasons.
I'm apprehensive about the holidays coming up. I will miss him tremendously, and it will be sad to not see him interact so lovingly with my niece and nephews. Eric passed away on October 26, so there will be that extra sadness during the holidays. I know being around my niece and nephews will be good for me. I've also received an amazing amount of support from my sisters.
When I think about Eric, there is so much I miss. I miss our familiarity and the fact that we really didn't have any boundaries between us. I miss his fabulous sense of humor and how he made me laugh every day. I miss our nightly snuggle when we would talk about our day, hopes, and fears, I miss having him love me so much, but mostly I miss the way he used to look at me. Oh God, you guys, he looked at me with such an amazing amount of love that he didn't need to tell me how much he loved me.
I started grief therapy this week. I think it will be very helpful. I have learned that you never really recover, but you are able to somehow fashion a life where you learn to live with the grief. I'm still in the early days of my grief, so that seems like a hugely difficult task. I mean leading a life where you experience joy, happiness, and fulfillment seems a bit pie in the sky to me considering I can't even remember the last time I took a shower. It's not that I have "widow brain" and can't differentiate one day from the next, it's that it has honestly been a long time since I showered. Somehow it seems not very important and it requires more energy than I seem to have right now.
So I think I have temporarily had my fill of grief books. Some breezy beach reads are probably in order.