Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Friday, January 18, 2013

One Whole Year of Grief

Today marks the one year anniversary of the day Don died. Three hundred and sixty-five days of widowhood. In that year thousands of words have been written in this blog covering a speculum of emotions from raw grief and frustration to sweet memories and attempts to understand my world turned upside down. Twelve months. 8,760 hours. So many anniversaries and holidays, so many ways to mark the passing of time and the road I’ve traveled since he died. Yet there are days---long days---when it feels like time stands still, like I’m crazy-glued in place and Don will come rolling out of the bedroom singing wordless songs at the top of his lungs the way he did so many times since his stroke. Will I ever stop missing his smile, the twinkle in his eyes? Will I ever stop missing being loved?

He was an inspiration to so many people. The way he handled his lack of mobility and loss of speech after his stroke was so upbeat and lacking in self pity that he was even filmed for a video textbook that was produced for speech pathology students. Everywhere we’d go he’d make people smile at his antics. Facial expressions and gestures---he could say more with those than some people can with words and what he couldn’t say he’d point to me to fill in the blanks. He made friends easily both before and after his stroke and I was just along for the ride, his ke-mo-sah-bee coasting in the making friends department because he was so good at it. Am I too old, now, to learn to do it on my own? Do I even have enough time left on earth to master the art?

I am a reasonable person. I know that life cannot go on forever, especially a life living inside a vessel that was so damage by a 12 year old stroke. The pneumonia that finally took my husband, we were told, may have caused brain damage from lacking oxygen too long. I am a loving person. I would not have wanted him to struggle to overcome losses like that again. No one should have to do that twice in one life time. So turning off the machine that kept him breathing was a fairly easy decision. I accepted his passing in a way that not all widows are able to do and I live with the loss of his loving presence in my world. Most days I am alone but not always lonely. Some days I feel Don’s presence holding my hand, whispering a joke in my ear or telling me to move foreword. And I do that for him. I do that for me. I’m a reasonable person. But I question if I’ll ever feel whole again. Is that even possible after losing a spouse?

I used to think that if I could get through this first year I’d be whole again. I even boasted to myself that I’d do my “grief year”---like a prison sentence---then I’d pronounce myself healed and ready for the next chapter of my life. I believe in self-fulfilling prophecies and a year was all the time I felt I could afford to spend mourning what was and can never be again. But the closer I got to this first year anniversary the more I realized how unrealistic those expectations were. What I didn’t understand about this journey in the beginning is that moving though grief is not the same thing as finding a door at the end of a dark tunnel and walking through it. Check that off the list. I’m cured. No, it doesn’t work that way. It’s more like a window screen is dividing the two parts of my life---the pre and post-Don’s death---a screen that lets my strength and resolve flow from the past to form the steps in a staircase to my future. But as quickly as that strength and resolve can flow toward the future it can flow back through the screen seeking refuge in familiar territory. It won’t stay there for long. I know myself; it always comes back and stronger than it left.  But I acknowledge, now, that the second year of widowhood is not going to be sunny stroll on other side of a tunnel door that I had imagined. It’s not going to be a tar pit, either, holding me in place. It’s going to be a step by step climb as I rebuild my life and find me again. The woman who is sometimes wise, sometimes silly but always wanting to honor what Don and I had together by striving towards being as upbeat and lacking in self pity as he was. The first year I just came through? What was that all about? Most widows would answer ‘survival’ and I’d concur. ©


  1. I love your can do attitude and lack of self pity. Guts, really. Congratulations for making it to the first anniversary as ably as you have.

    As you say, will one ever stop missing being loved? No. Don gave you his love and sadly left. But, now you can 'stand on his shoulders', and realize how remarkable you are. Let his belief in you give you that leg up to take the next step toward a life you will love.

    I broke through my grief to the light when I gave myself permission to love myself and love life with all the zeal I could find. Zeal IS in there; it needs your tender loving care and faith to pop out again. You will recover. Keep putting one beautiful step in front of the other. Don would be so proud of you, and I hope he tells you so in your heart in some special way.

  2. Thank you GowitheFlow, for the very special words! I have come a long way in a year and I need to take pride in that. "Find my Zeal!"---I shall put that on my Bucket List.

  3. Jean :

    just wanted to say you are in my thoughts and prayers. I know with Don as your guardian angel watching over you, you will find yourself again & be stronger. Sending you hugs


  4. Hi Jean - I have just 'graduated' to my second year in this journey. I read with interest your account of your first year - so much of it has resonated with me. I really hope that I am able to get on with some sort of life and living - my head seems clearer and i have already made some positive steps. I thought i would share my reflections with you as I also have a blogger blog. I hope you dont mind - but maybe it may help others who land in our world xxx

    1. I just checked out your blog and I'm happy to share the line here. Sorry we had too meet this way but I do agree that our blogs can help others who land on them.