I’ve been dealing with a great loss for close to a month now. I think I’ve achieved all the stages of grief at some point in time, some more than others. Some days it’s all I can do to get out of bed, other days I spend a lot of time distracting myself, and a handful of times I’ve felt at peace with the death of someone so important to me. It’s a personal journey of grief that I may never fully feel has ended. At least not any time soon.
The worst part of dealing with my loss has become those still around me. With Tim’s death, I am able to pick and choose what, when, and how I choose to remember, I can block out the bad times, focus on the good, and remember him in a light that I am comfortable with. I am by no means trying to paint him as a saint in my mind, but silly little things we got mad at each other about 5 years ago seem trivial. Who cares about the breaking of a coffee mug, when you can remember when and why it was bought and how you felt it was the perfect gift at the time? Why focus on how mad he was when I got a bleach spot on his favorite shirt, when I can remember how good he looked wearing it? See what I mean?
But the living….well, they are another story. On a daily basis, I am forced to allow people that I am not close with into my personal space for hugs, pats, and hand holding to show me support for a loss that they are not personally suffering. Nor are we close enough that I feel that I need comforted by them. It’s different for family and close friends, I wish I could hug them and not let go until the pain goes away.
Often I am questioned about Tim’s cause of death. At the time of this writing, I do not yet know. It could be 6-8 weeks before the full coroner’s report comes back. But the thing that irks me most is that HOW he died is irrelevant to those on the outskirts of our life. You (theoretical people asking) were not a part of his life, why do you feel compelled to know the intimate details of his death? I feel that information is for us, his family, and us alone. Even people that were close with him, I’d like him be remembered for the great person he was, rather than what he died of. I don’t feel that publicizing that information will set anyone’s mind at ease, I don’t feel that it would provide any life lessons to those who didn’t really know him, and I don’t feel that knowing how he died would do anything to honor his memory. And constantly asking me is not helping me to focus on the good times we had, it merely is a slap in the face to remind me he is gone.
Another thing I get asked frequently that pissed me off is “but you two were separated, right?” Yes, that is true, Tim and I were separated, that doesn’t mean I immediately stopped loving him the moment I moved out. Nor does it mean I had given up any hope of reconciling. Was I giving him space to do what he needed to do? Yes. Were we still in contact? Yes, often. Had I cut him out of my life? Absolutely not, nor would I ever. But even if the answers to those questions were opposite, it still doesn’t discount the 11 years of love I had already had with him. A love like ours doesn’t just die the minute you decide to work on your own issues separately. In fact, in my mind, our seven month separation seems irrelevant now. I never stopped loving him, I’ve got it on good authority that he felt the same about me.
The worst part of all of this is how others seem to think I’m just going to go back to life with the same zest I had before. Everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. I was entitled to three paid days off from work for my loss, which was definitely not enough. I took five before I felt strong enough to show my face in public. I’ve had a couple vacation days since then as well, so I could attend gatherings with family. I’ll be taking another five next week surrounding his celebration of life. Do I think that it is enough? No, not at all. But I understand that life goes on around me, and the world didn’t stop just because MY world died. Working has been a nice distraction, despite the constant questioning. I’m not going to cease being sad. I cannot just stop my heart from breaking. I do not want to just forget about him and move on.
I may never be back to the way I once was. This has affected me greatly, and I can’t imagine a time where I will put it on the back burner and forget it. What I’d like, in lieu of the aforementioned comments, is for people to ask me to tell them about a good memory of Tim rather than his death. Ask me about when I knew I loved him rather why we were separated. Ask me what you can do to help rather than just assume I’m back to normal. I may not ever be like I was, and that’s ok. But I wish others would stop making it worse.