Jan is heartbroken but even in her heartbreak, she was most concerned for Matt's wife, Carrie who is shattered by his death. Well-meaning people had told her that it never gets better but it gets easier so Jan turned to me for some words of wisdom since I know grief intimately.
2 years, 2 months, 3 days and 22 hours ago, my beloved husband, John died. I still track the time as this is evidence that I am here, still alive and kicking. His death is a part of me AND so is his life. I have been made anew. Grief swallowed me and has graciously spit me back out with a deeper sense of Self, a reverence for all life, an abiding joy and peace that I had only read about from the writings of the mystics throughout the ages. I live each day with a sense of wonder and awe that would not have been possible had I not allowed the grief to do what it does.
Being with the pain, the unknown, the darkness as well as the joy, the peace, the miraculous FREED me. All that was inessential has been stripped from me. I KNOW in a way I never could have that this is MY life, it belongs to me and I get to decide how to live it, moment by moment, choice by choice, day by day. I am not the person I was. The moment John died, my death began. GRIEF is a MUTHAFer! It is. And it is necessary in order to extract the nectar of the tragedy. I witnessed and experienced my own death so not only was I aching and longing for my husband, I simultaneously ached and longed for who I was and the life we shared. Initially, everything still looked the same but nothing was the same. In time, nothing looked the same because nothing was. This isn't good or bad, it is what it is, as in nature, the flowers die and go to seed and come up anew in perfect time.
Wailing became my friend. I would ask my sisters and friends to leave me alone so I could let the wailing rip, echoing throughout my empty home. I would scream out to John, to the heavens and to life for being so F***ing unfair. I gave myself permission to have what I call "Widow Terrets" where I belted out curse words in a blurry chain of seeming nonsense: FUCKYOUMUTHAFUCKFUCKFUCKTHISFUCKTHATFUCK!!! Oh, how this served me well and moved energy through me. This was good medicine, indeed. Life aint all pretty and I no longer pretended it was. Rage boiled up and I welcomed it as never before. We became friends as I was no longer afraid of it and no longer wanted to control it. The TRUTH set me free! I knew that if I didn't FEEL this pain, all of it, it would kill me. My soul informed my choices now not my ego that had controlled and avoided pain throughout my entire life. There was no strategy to get through this - no 5 step plan to getting OVER it. Run the other way if you hear or read about strategy or plan or the way to get over great loss! Live the answers, live the way for your Self. Be inspired by others who have walked a similar path but don't allow anyone to tell you how to feel or what to do or shame you for feeling and being where you are. I have embraced taking the grief WITH me, being vulnerable and unconditionally present to what comes up in life. Now, this is a fierce way to live. This is the legacy John's life and John's death has gifted me with and I say THANK YOU all day long.
Freedom and rebirth into my new life would come from BEING with it, feeling it all and holding myself with unconditional love, zero judgement and complete understanding. At first, I looked to others to understand and soon realized that I had to give myself the understanding, only I knew the TRUTH of my experience, the depth of my pain. I had to make the pain and this experience SACRED in a culture that doesn't let life touch them. This not only saved me, it freed me in ways I didn't know I was repressed.
BELOW IS A DIARY ENTRY 2/9/12, My husband's birthday and 1 year, 2 months, 23 days after his death:
Letting life touch you takes courage. To go into the experience of any given moment is to be transformed, enlivened and surprised. The moments of our lives bring what we most need but busyness and our need to control everything robs us of this.
Grief is SO ALIVE! It moves through. The repression of the feelings shuts us down, depresses us. The trauma of the loss literally rocked my body, mind, spirit. I had to be with this. I didn’t want to but the grief insisted. This was sacred time and the way to be transformed by it was to be with all that came. In learning to be with it, wherever I was in the moment and not judge it or try to force a change, miracles happened. I knew myself in a way I never had. The life I had constructed, the self I had constructed was no more. The sky had fallen and I let it fall. There is freedom in this experience. Trying to hold up the sky is exhausting and drains the precious life force. Surrendering to the experience liberated me. New skies come. The old skies merge with the new. It is a continuum. To learn to love life, the ever-shifting dance, is a magical sense of the mystery each moment brings through. The possibilities birthing through me, through others, through all of life excites the hell out of me. I pause to say, “Thank you.” Gratitude in the midst of any life circumstances brings the light that is eternal. This gratitude is from a heart-based life where I cannot help but acknowledge the gifts, the richness, the beauty of this life EVEN when I want things to be different, other than they are. Even when I want John to come home NOW and tell me this has been some horrible nightmare but now, it is time to wake up, I am grateful. I am grateful for the life we shared, the person I became wrapped in his love, the miracle of our love to heal the wounds from the past and transform each of us. I am grateful that I appreciated who he was, the crap that annoyed me and the parts that made me laugh and the parts that elevated me to heights unknown before. I adored my husband as he was. I wouldn’t have changed a damn thing and thank God, he wouldn’t let me as he was comfortable in his own skin. He never belonged to me. He was far too universal and belonged to everyone. I gratefully shared him. He went out into the world and lived his life, bringing all the joy, all the discovery, all of the aliveness back into our home and our life. His love for life infused my love for life. Every day was an adventure, exploring the divinely mundane, discussing our greatest fears and hopes, loving each other through whatever came. This is a rich life. This is the miracle. Our love is the miracle.