Surviving the Second year

CalendarAlso see: Progress, month by bloody month | More on processing grief | Surviving the First Year

"I wish I could tell you it gets better.
It doesn't get better.
YOU get better."

~ Joan Rivers

Conventional wisdom says it takes about two years to come to terms with losing a spouse. (I don't like to use the words "move on" or "get over it," as I don't think that happens.)

It has been two very long years since Doug died. The first year was certainly more intensely painful than the second year. The second year was difficult in a different way.

To some extent, reality has settled in. I have begun resign myself to a different way of life. I am doing better, but still have difficulty staying in the present. I am often distracted and forgetful. Too much of the time I behave like a miserable zombie. I feel a lot less pain, and a lot more numb. Yet there are times when I do feel good, and experience happiness again, although there seems to be a layer of sadness blanketing it all. I am not yet living fully.

Despite the sadness, I am probably a better person now in some respects. Kinder, gentler, more forgiving, more compassionate. I am a better partner now too. I wish Doug could have benefited from these changes.

I never turned to drugs or alcohol, but I do eat too much "comfort" food. I gained back more weight than I lost. I've experienced some stress-related health issues, such as back pain and low energy.

I cry less often, and sometimes almost get a whole night's sleep. The holidays and anniversaries are nowhere near as awful as they were the first round. I'm less obsessed with death and loss, although you might not know it from my blog.

I am working again, but just part-time. I finally finished writing thank you notes, which was a big relief. I simplified my financial situation to make it easier for my family. It took me the whole two years to get around to writing a new will, a living will and power of attorney.

I am no longer living in overwhelm. Things don't feel so out of control. In fact, I have realized that much of my struggle was associated with trying to control things I had no control over. I've given up most of that.

I also gave away a lot of our stuff. I changed jobs and moved out of our house. I thought these things would help set me free, but they haven't really. Probably the only things that have really helped are:

  • Talking with friends
  • Seeing a grief counselor for about a year
  • Exercise
  • Tributes by friends, family, colleagues and our community, who continue to remember and honor Doug.
  • Engaging in a loving relationship again with a widower I met. Our relationship has deepened and stabilized somewhat. I still struggle not to compare him to Doug.
  • Writing here.

But I can't say I miss him or the life we shared any less than before.






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