How Are You? (On a Journey of Grief)

(an excerpt from my journal after my husband’s passing.)

 It’s been six weeks since Tom died and friends and family ask me, “How are you?”

I think I’m doing okay. I’m never quite sure what to say to people when they ask me that. Tears still come every day. I miss him like crazy, but I can actually talk about it now without breaking down. My teaching job and my little ones are keeping me busy. I have the most wonderful class. Perhaps my principal was being extra nice to me when she set up the class list, but, however it happened, I really did luck out with this bunch of great little kids. They are adoring, affectionate and easy, extremely responsive, caring children. And their parents are equally as great. I don’t think I have ever felt so loved and supported as I have this year. The kids wrote me beautiful letters at Christmas and parents, too, sent in kind and compassionate cards and letters.

I bought something new for myself after Tom died. It’s a two foot long, black, wooden carving of the word “Dream.” It bought it for my bedroom, not only for the obvious take on night-time dreams but also to remind me that I am alive and have opportunities to “dream” about new possibilities for the future. I know it should have been obvious but it was only a few days ago that I realized that this is the first time in my entire life that I am living alone with no one else to be responsible for but myself. I feel I have a lot of soul-searching to do in discovering who I really am and what I really want for the rest of my life. Tom and I were so happy and so looking forward to a future of retired life together, but if I am to be denied that, then I need to look for new opportunities for self-growth and discovery. The world is a big, beautiful place and I am alive and have an opportunity to decide what I want to do with my life.

Right now I am reading a great book, Broken Open – How Difficult Times can Help us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser. There’s a quote in it from Joseph Campbell:

 “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life.

I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what

we’re seeking is an experience of being alive. . . so that we actually

feel the rapture of being alive.”

Lesser goes on to interpret that in her own way.

Rapture is not a selfish emotion. It is pure gratitude, flowing freely          

through the body, heart and soul. Gratitude for what? For breath,

for colours, for music, for friendship, humour, weather, sleep, awareness.

It is a willing engagement with the whole messy miracle of life.

The world suffers more from unhappy, stifled people trying to do

good than it does from those who are simply content within themselves.”

I couldn’t agree more!

What I hope to do and be is a person of gratitude and contentment. Content in my own skin. If I can be that person, then my love for myself and my place in the world will be transferred to the rest of the world, to others. It can’t help but be reflected outwards like the radiating ripples from a stone being tossed into a quiet, still pond.


Moving Forward

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A friend asked me if I still communicate with Tom after over five years of his passing.

I have had visitation dreams from Tom in the first year after he was gone, and I had one on the fifth anniversary of his passing, but I don’t communicate with him in any other way. I haven’t been to mediums, or fortune tellers, or psychics. I don’t have long conversations with him or feel his presence with me in any real way. Occasionally, I will make a comment directed to him, almost more like speaking my own thoughts out loud. I linger, at times, on his photo on the wall, perhaps send him a little finger kiss. This past month, I did have an incident where I heard two knocks on the door leading up from the basement apartment. It totally freaked me out. I was more scared than comforted. (Tom used to live there when he shared the house with his sister. When I moved in we took over the whole house.)


When he passed, I felt very strongly that I wanted nothing, NOTHING, to hold him back from moving fully into the next world. I loved him so much that I wanted to fully release him from any earthly ties or worries so that he could move forward completely into the next phase of his existence, to be all that he could and should be. I swallowed my own fear, let him fully go, and sent him on his final path from me with a blessing to embrace the next stage with no regrets, no obligations, nothing to hold him back in any way. Therefore, if I felt he was still hanging around, bound to me and this world in some way, I would be very sad. I love him and want him to be fully and completely all he is capable of being. If what mediums say is true, that he is here always with me, observing my life, I don’t encourage that or desire it, and I am not aware of his presence in that way. Some take comfort in feeling their loved one’s presence still with them. I take comfort in NOT feeling him still with me and knowing that he has moved on to the next stage of his existence. I realize that it may be different for others, but this is my way of dealing with my loss and my grief. We each grieve differently.

Does that mean I don’t miss him with all of my heart? Not at all. I hold onto his memory with great love. I am deeply gratified to have had the ten years I did with him. They truly were the best years of my life.  I wrote my book to honour him and our life together. It is my monument to him and his memory. But I know that true healing lies in moving on with my life, even if that means, it has to be without him. And my wish and prayer for him is that he, too, moves on to the next stage of his new life. We were truly blessed to have the time we had together, but it is now a time for new things.