Crossing over into the second year has been a sober experience. As though I have awaken from the most dreadful nightmare, only to discover that I am still in it, because it wasn't a nightmare at all. It was real. It is real. It continues to be real. Crossing over was like reaching the finish line after a long marathon, only to realize that it was an illusion. The line doesn't exist. People walk away, but the pain doesn't end. Coming to the end of the terrible trek through griefs first year is like climbing a mountain and reaching its highest peak, only to discover that the ground is flat. The path led me nowhere I thought I was going. There is no victory, no sense of overcoming, no euphoric sense of "now that's over I can get back to my life!" Grief tricked me. It tricked me into thinking I would get what I wanted if I made it through. But there is no through. There is no reward. Because all I want is my loved one back.
He's still dead. And I'm still a widow. So now what?
This is the most uncomfortable realization... He's still dead. I'm still a widow. So now what? It changes grief from a seasonal time frame to a lifelong companion. I am no longer striving to make it through. I am breathing, and trying to cope with the complexities of grief and widowhood in the midst of regular life, beyond the "crisis". This kind of pain is new and different. It is unbearable to face. Raw pain is still present, but it lacks the cushion of shock allotted to the bereaved in that first year. It is a pain I cannot express into words. I would give anything to hide from it. I would give anything to escape the dreadful reality of widowhood. I would give anything to trade anyone else's problems in the world for this unbearable reality. I no longer care what society does or says. People don't believe its true, but it is true. There is nothing worse than this.
Widows are crazy. We are mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically unstable. Actually its completely normal to "us". We all seem to understand each other. Our insanity makes perfect sense to those who have been through it. It is only crazy to those on the outside! Those who, no matter how well they mean, they cannot understand such a surge of anger over something so seemingly insignificant, or that snarky remark that seemed rude and uncalled for, or the isolation, the lack of engaging in society. Surely, all of these symptoms are uncalled for after the first year? Surely, these grievers can control themselves enough not to break such foundational social norms...
I am trying to accept this unfortunate reality. I wrestle with how to walk this difficult road and still be who I am, still honor my Savior, still be available to his call... How do I carry grief with me wherever I go and whatever I do, but not allow it to take over? Allowing anger and fear and even self pity to run its natural course, but guarding my heart and knowing when its too much...
How do I serve a couple who gaze into one another eyes as I used to gaze into my husbands? How do I minister to other children who jump up into their Daddy's arms, ignorant of that luxurious privilege, and how painful it is to be without. How do I watch spouse's take each other for granted, people complain about "silly" problems, experience the pain in my heart that I still fully expect will kill me dead, and remain compassionate, gracious, kind, long-suffering...?
My naivety has been replaced with a sober-minded knowledge of how cruel life can be. But perhaps this is good. Perhaps it is very good indeed.