Grief & Loss,  Love,  Self Care

Reflections on Loss

I questioned myself as to whether I ought to write yet more about this topic, for a column titled “Edmonds Fitness Corner.” After two years, people might be wondering, is she ever going to get over it? But really, the answer is no. It just doesn’t work like that. I have adapted, changed, grown, learned to manage the most unpleasant of feelings, but there will never be closure. After two years I’m sensing a pattern—that this part of each year will be the most difficult for me regarding my husband’s death.

The holidays are stressful enough for most of us, but are even more poignant with the loss of a loved one.  For me, I also get to experience January 1 being my husband’s birthday, January 16 being the day he died, my birthday in February and our wedding anniversary in March. I learned early in this process that being “tough” doesn’t tend to work very well. Honoring my feelings and honoring my ongoing grief is the only way those feelings will pass.

Have I mentioned how appreciative I am for the many wonderful things in my life, most especially the amazing man who came into my life at the perfect time? That I can enjoy my life so much again? That I am “normal” again? Yet my grief counselor (yes I still need her sometimes) assures me that the pain of the loss of my husband will coexist side by side with my happiness, for, well, forever.

One of my clients, a woman who lost her husband just before I lost mine, wisely told me, “To you it’s the worst thing that ever happened to you. To everyone else, it becomes just another event.” Truer words were never spoken. Everyone comes out of the woodwork on that terrible anniversary to support you if you remind them (thank you social media), but very few people know that date off the top of their heads. It can be a lonely place for the rest of the year, just you and your heartache. But that’s okay, because I’ve already learned that the world didn’t stop for Dan and won’t ever stop for the death of any of us. We will all experience loss in our lives. If you are blessed enough to not yet really get what I am saying, you are lucky lucky lucky. Embrace every moment.

This year in particular is even more difficult, as I recently became aware that two different women whom I love and consider family are both dealing with prostate cancer diagnoses in their husbands. I know exactly what they are going through and there’s nothing I can do about it. Cancer has a way of making everyone feel incredibly powerless. Luckily, prostate cancer is treated successfully all the time and I don’t see why the outcome won’t be positive for their husbands. However, the process itself is stressful, overwhelming and filled with the fear of “what if it doesn’t work” and the aftermath of ANY cancer treatment comes with its own set of complications. I am thinking of them and their husbands every single day.

The most important thing I can say to any woman who may have to walk down the prostate cancer path with their husband is–don’t worry. Just don’t worry. I wish while my husband was alive that I did not spend so many hours expending so much energy and so many tears while consumed with paralyzing worry and fear that I would lose him. Ultimately I couldn’t change the outcome of his journey, but I wish I had the power to change those hours of fear to just living and loving him even more. Just living and loving, that’s all we have in the end, regardless of where a cancer or life journey takes us. Dan and I lived and loved and we laughed too, we laughed so hard and so often about the sheer absurdity of it all!

We did good, baby. We did so good.

Previously published on My Edmonds News

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