Should I? But what if…? Maybe if I….? Or I could wait a bit….?
These questions and a thousand more were whirling around in my brain, often at completely inappropriate times like at 3:00 am. I was mulling over what felt like a MASSIVE decision to make, and that was whether I should sell my house…or not.
OUR house that is….the beautiful home where Norbert and I lived for only 2 years prior to his death. It holds so many poignant memories and dreams because it was going to be our base for a wonderful retirement life. But…(and it’s a big BUT)….the upkeep and maintenance has been getting me down, and I know it will become more difficult as the years progress.
Oh, what to do!!!! Why can’t I come to a decision!!! [much hair-pulling at this point]
Well, it’s been tough but I HAVE finally made my decision. As for the decision-making process, I did lots wrong but somewhere along the way I figured out a way to make super-tough decisions. Here’s what I did…..
I wasn’t planning on writing anything about the COVID-19 global pandemic because… well….I’m more focussed on surviving grief and the loss of a loved one, and how to deal with that kind of personal nightmare. But then all of a sudden the penny dropped.
“You idiot!” I said to myself while rolling my eyes and smacking my forehead, “The whole WORLD is grieving!!!!”
As a widow who lives alone, I’m actually doing OK through this global upheaval, and when others ask how I’m coping, I say “I’m fine. I’ve had some practice.”
This is because I already know what it is like to have everything you thought you knew, snatched away.
Over time I’ve developed coping mechanisms and I’ve made a list of 6 of these which have particularly helped me. I thought I’d share my list as it might help others. 💔
I have always put in too many hours sitting in front of my computer. It used to be a major part of my work-life but even after I retired I seemed to find activities that would end up with me hunched over a keyboard, inviting an aching neck and shoulders. Still do! 🙂
I also remember many times while I was immersed in my work at the desk that I would feel strong hands coming from behind me, deftly massaging the tight muscles. “You’re working too hard,” my husband Norbert would say while his fingers found the knots in my neck. “You need a break. Why don’t you stop for a coffee?”
Oh, how I miss loving hands on my shoulders. I miss the “You’ll be OK” hug when I was feeling down. I miss the peck on the cheek as he ran out the door. I miss hugging him. And I miss intimacy.
This post isn’t meant to be a maudlin list of everything I’ve lost since Norbert died though, as I like to keep things a lot more pragmatic and useful. The loss of touch though is…well….a touchy subject! If you no longer have your partner it’s not a craving that is easily replaced.
There are some things you can do that make the loss of touch a little less brutal though. Nothing will fill the gap left by your loved one, but some things might help.
One of my best friends is a machine. That sounds incredibly weird…like I’m strangely attached to my vacuum cleaner, or I chat to my toaster over breakfast. 😂
Our relationship began 2 weeks after my husband Norbert was killed in a tragic accident. Immediately after getting the dreadful news, two of my children flew to be by my side (literally) followed shortly after by my stepson, son-in-law and 2 small grandchildren. My home is quite sizeable but at the time it was literally overflowing with people and activity and noise.
Then after the funeral, everyone began to make plans to leave and resume their own lives. I was terrified of the loneliness and emptiness of existing in this big house, and I began to spiral down into depression as I imagined long hours with no other voice to fill this dark void that had somehow become my life.
Before she left though, my daughter said something that has turned out to make a significant difference for me.
This question has been going around and around in my head for a long time now. I’ve needed to write about it but oh…..what a contentious topic! I could just imagine how some might react:
“Are you saying your grief is worse than mine?”
“How can you ‘compare griefs’ – are you suggesting a hierarchy?“
“Don’t you dare judge my feelings when you don’t know me!“
Oh dear. [shudders] My fear of this reaction is why I haven’t broached the subject in the past. I have a strong self-protection instinct… but I also have a need to explore and understand what is going around in my head AND maybe what might help others to understand what’s going on for them too.
Perhaps I should continue to shy away from the topic, but our society doesn’t ‘do death’ very well at all, and I believe it should be something we talk about openly.
So here goes….. [braces herself]…..
Imagine this. You’re juggling a dozen or more brightly coloured balls, keeping them carefully spaced apart and all in the air at the same time. It’s not easy but you are well practiced and so your hands grab each ball at exactly the right time to grasp it, and flick it on it’s way before the next one comes around.
And then…. they all fall to the ground at exactly the same time. Crash!!!
What if this was your life, and all the balls are the various aspects of your life that you keep in motion. Confidently and with the expectation of somebody who has managed their own life for a long time, you know what is going to happen next.
And then your partner/soul-mate/love of your life….dies. Crash!!!