There are many lessons I have tested and learned during this time. I want to share these with all of you in hopes that it may provide help if anyone is going through or may go through something similar in the future. To be as prepared as much you can be, before something happens is always better, but it doesn't take away the pain, loneliness, and uncertainty.
Before my experience, I had researched and written about losing a loved one for this blog. You can find all past blogs on this topic under “Grieving Losses”. I think it helped me greatly to have done this research when I actually experienced it personally. I had also participated in a grief support group for about twelve weeks at my church, that opened my eyes to individual differences in the grief process. I look back and I think God was preparing me for this moment. The moment when tragedy would strike and I could pass on my experience to help others.
I have had other losses in my life. My parents, my niece, my grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, close friends, and beloved pets. All of them hurt, all of them were hard to accept. I was at various ages when each death occurred. I was 13 or 14 when my first close family member, my grandmother, passed unexpectedly. It was devastating to my mother, it was hurtful and confusing to me. This was my first real loss, except for one childhood pet, a German Shepherd. The older I got, my acceptance matured, my understanding of death grew.
Losing someone that you have shared everything with, your emotions, spiritual beliefs, your personal thoughts, goals and your body; someone that you made decisions with, raised children with, built a life with is devastating.
This is not to undercut the loss of a child, because losing a child goes against nature. We are not supposed to outlive our children. The loss of a child is devastating. However, children grow up to live their own lives, parents are left childless again, empty nesters. To lose the person you depend upon for everyday existence is devastating. If you are married as the scripture says, "the two shall become one" then you know what I am saying when I say, the loss of my husband was like half of me died with him.
I don't know who am now without him. For over 35 years, I was someone's wife. Now I am searching for me again. I can't go back to who I was before I married him, I am not the same. So, I have to go forward. This is a very hard task.
Over the next months, I will sprinkle these lessons throughout my blog. As I am still discovering lessons and walking an unknown path (to me), this will be an ongoing journey and I do not know where it will end up. I will share some of my journal entries during this time. My journal is my safe place (besides my prayer) to express my thoughts and feelings. Keeping a journal helped me a lot.
For now I am looking to the year marker and planning what I will do that day. I have learned that those hard “first milestones” require planning. I experienced several soon after his death, our anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, my birthday, and Valentines Day. A couple of my friends stepped up and helped me through these “firsts”. I learned that if you can, do something. Either alone or with someone. Just don't sit and dwell on your loss on those “special first milestones”. Don't run from them, hit them head-on.
There is not deadline for grieving. It's different for everyone. There are those who say “you will feel better when you pass the year one marker”, well, we will see. I don't think we can (or should) say things like that, for some it's months and for some it's years. No one knows how long it will be for us until we are there, until we are actually in the grips of grief.
Stay tuned for more posts on this topic as I am still learning. I still have lots to share concerning this event and hopefully, help for those of you who have lost a loved one, will lose a loved one, or knows someone who has lost a loved one.