Thursday, December 17, 2009

Walking Hand in Hand on the Widowed Road

Today I shared a meal and a million tears with my friend who recently began the second year of her grief journey.  Even though we have emailed regularly, this is the first time we have seen each other since just before her husband passed.   She has not wanted to see many people and that is just the way it is.  I get it.

So many people want to tell us how to grieve.  So many want to give us their theories on why our husbands are now in "a better place."  Or why it is not healthy to be so isolated - or to cry so much, or to keep "carrying on so when it has been a year" - or, "you are so strong - your faith will get you through" on and on and on.  GET AWAY!!

We each choose our own path on this hellacious journey - there is no right way - there is no wrong way to grieve - there is only YOUR way.  PERIOD.   The widow road is one of suffering - it is impossible for one who has not experienced the death of their dearest partner to understand the depths of that pain.  We all say - "they mean well."  Well, maybe they do - but it doesn't make it any easier.  This was the first thing J wanted to talk about today. 

We spent three hours in a Perkins Restaurant - eating, talking and crying together. Truly a 40 napkin lunch.   I listened with my ears and I listened with my heart.  J's husband is my dearest brother-friend Michael of whom I have written about in this blog.  We talked and laughed and we cried over and about Michael.

I could feel her searing pain leap across the table.  A couple of times the raw intensity of it stunned me.   And that fact surprised me.   Today I thought - my god, the journey is akin to childbirth!   In labor, you experience so much pain and yet, when that baby is placed in your arms, the pain recedes into the background.   And so, here I am at five years and the pain has receded - I have walked through the fire, I have been transformed.

I read widow blogs and I weep with my widder friends and identify closely with their loss and pain.  And yet today, sitting across the table from J, I realized I had forgotten some of the immediacy, the reality of the raw and bleeding PAIN - how devastating, how crippling it is.  How you really do not care if you are on the planet or not, DEATH, ha - bring it on.  How the pain becomes embedded in one's body, mind and soul and how, without warning, it brings you to your knees.   Sitting with J today was like having the skin singed off my face. And I remembered - how I embraced my pain, how I grieved my loss, and how I walked my path.  Now that PAIN has receded and its remains are forever held deep inside, so deep that is buried in my very DNA.  

I am grateful to be standing here whole and transformed.  I am honored to stand witness, to be a companion to J and to others as they walk the widowed road.  Namaste


  1. Oh how very fortunate it was for J that YOU were the one sitting across the table from her. What better person could there be for her to spill out her emotional 'guts' to than you Suzann. Bless your sweet and giving soul....

    May you have a beautiful holiday my dear friend... Love, Joy

  2. This post says so much. I can remember feeling crazy, which is not what you want to feel on top of grief, because I could not seem to explain the depth of my loss to those around me. I think it is so important for those who have lost a spouse to be connected with a fellow widow/widower just because of that sense of connection - being able to understand without saying anything. This is why I am so grateful for the blogging network. It lets those of us without much support reach out to give and receive. Those of us out longer on the widow road have insights and wisdom to pass along. But I am finding that I am learning the most from those still within their first year or two of suffering. Maybe some of that comes from the raw immedicay you describe from sitting with J.

    I hope the two of you had some pie.

  3. Amen to that. All of it. How well you describe what this monster is!

  4. I can't wait to feel transformed as you do. I am beginning to feel as though I am tired of being the grieving widow, as though there is something just around the corner that is new and revitalizing. I still don't know what that something is. But I feel it.