Ignoring and Embracing

For the most part, since Kramer passed away, I’ve been doing pretty good.  Sure, like all widows, I have good days and not so good days.  For me, the days most people think would be hard, I manage…the days like Christmas and Thanksgiving…then there are days when things creep up on me and catch me unaware.

I was at a reception a bit ago and chatting away with the table of people I was sitting with.  There was music and actually well selected background music.  On came the song, Last Kiss by The Cavaliers.  It’s an old song.  I think most people remember it more as “Where oh where can my baby be”.

There was a couple at the table.  The guy learned over and put his arm around his wife.  He started singing and swaying with his wife.

It was a completely normal thing.  Most people wouldn’t have thought a thing about it.  The song is a great one to sing to.  It’s the perfect song to snuggle up to and sway…but the song takes on such a whole different meaning once you’re a widow.  You feel the pain of the song…not the sweet swaying that I used to relate to the song.  Not what the couple with me felt.

I felt the pain. I felt the grief of losing “my baby”.

When things like this happen and “catch me”…it so hard to know what to do.  I didn’t start crying…I didn’t even get teary.  I didn’t get up and go the bathroom.  I just tried all I could not to concentrate on the music.  I kept telling myself over and over in my head…”concentrate on the conversation”…”concentrate on the conversation”.

By the way…I got home from the party I was at.  I went to Youtube and found “Last Kiss”…and played it and played it and played it until I was over it.

I made it through okay…but that’s what it’s like to be a widow.  Innocent moments become challenges.  Things sneak up a the most normal times.

I had another moment this week….I was scrolling through Instagram.

I saw a post from Buck…
I thought the picture was a tag from his surgery.  I didn’t read the words…just looked and assumed it was about his personal medical things as of late so I started reading the words.

Buck wrote:  “A year ago our family was ready for a fight. Despite Dad being diagnosed with late stage lung cancer and despite what could be found on a 2 minute Google search the doctors confidence and my mother’s refusal to lose hope made this surgery seem like this whole cancer thing would just be a bump in the road. 50 minutes into what was supposed to be a 4 hour surgery we were called into the surgical consult room, there was only 2 things that could have happened. Either he didn’t make it, or the surgery didn’t work. Thankfully it was the ladder. Optimism took a big hit after that, but it was still there. The next challenge was telling Dad, I remember Mom telling the doctor that she wanted to do it. She held his hand and said,
“The surgery didn’t work.

They did everything they could.
They’re working on a new plan.
We love you very much.”
That I wasn’t ready for. I wasn’t ready to watch him lose his strength. I wasn’t ready to see my sisters, both nurses, to give him the best at home care he could have asked for. I wasn’t ready for their living room to look like an emergency room. I wasn’t ready for “stupid” questions from my kid. I wasn’t ready to have conversations about what hymns we’d sing or what casket he’d like.

I remember where I was and what day he got diagnosed, but this day is much harder for me. This day our family dove head first into a world we weren’t ready for.”

I wasn’t ready either Buck.  The 19th of February was the day our hope took a hard blow.  I think these next few months are going to be the hardest on me….until the anniversary of his death.  A year ago when I was living this, I was in so deep.  All I could see was the next thing to do.   Wipe a nose, change a diaper, get to a doctor appointment, call one of my kids, write a blog post…I didn’t feel the emotion of having a loved one dying of cancer.  The day to day things, the putting one foot in front of them other, masked the sheer grief and disappointment.  Hope hid fear.  Fear hid reality.  Reality was was hidden by hope.  Day to day “must do’s” hid it all.  It was a circle that allowed me to mask reality and ignore the emotions of the moment.  My husband was dying of cancer.

But now, the hope is gone.  The fear is replaced with reality and from time to time, sometimes even a week or two of day to day things still hide the emotion…but then, there’s a song…there’s an Instagram post and WHAM…and the emotion is here.  The emotion is strong…It is almost as if I can feel both the emotion from then that I put aside and the emotion of today all at once.  It’s heavy and it is hard.

It’s okay though.  I know that to really find a new path, I have to do this.  I must work through this.  The feeling have to be felt.  If I don’t feel them, I’ll get stuck and no good to anyone if I’m stuck.  This is the real grieving.  Standing at the casket was nothing compared to this.  Standing at the graveside and hearing the bells…nothing compared to this.  Tears and a kleenex box (the extra lotion one please) ride me through.

No worries…I’m okay.  This really is all just part of the process and I know that.  Wednesday was a bad day.  Today is a good day.  I’m back on the busy side of things doing the day to day.  I might get a week…I might get a couple weeks, but the grief will come back and I’ll get through it again.  I must.  People are depending on me.  I need to make a new path.

Last year…I ignored the grief.  This year, I’m embracing it.  Embracing will help me move forward.  If you’re in my situation I hope you find the courage to embrace it too.  We can move forward together.  One step at a time.

Thanks so much to all of you for being along the path and cheering me on.  I really do appreciate all the support that has been sent my way by so many people.

41 thoughts on “Ignoring and Embracing”

  1. You actually chose well, back in the day when you made the English language the focus of your college studies. You have a wonderful skill with the words that make up this language. I quickly grow bored with blogs of lackluster writing. Despite the tears and sorrow I sometimes feel when reading your blog, I also laugh along with you, or learn from you, and I continue to read. You’re writing shares so much. Thank you. Blessings.

  2. I want to say the perfect thing but can’t find the words so I’ll just say I am so sorry your husband passed away. I lost my only sibling when I was in my mid twenties and it was really hard. I know that doesn’t compare to losing a husband but I could relate to your post. I can remember a few songs being too hard do listen to. Even being out in public and seeing siblings was painful. Watching two of my cousins who are siblings that have a close bond interacting was so hard to be around. Everything is so hard at first but time really does help. I think keeping busy is so important too. Much love to you and your family.

  3. We just passed this week the second anniversary of our son’s death from a massive heart attack at age 52. We got that dreaded knock at the door from the police and chaplain at ten at night. He had been found deceased in his pickup. The first year was shock and denial but the second year was dealing with the reality that he was gone. Each were so devastating in their own way. Then just this week a peace and calmness came over me and I knew everything would be okay. Even though our situations are different the path to recovery and renewal is the same. Hugs!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing honestly about grief. So many people want to hide it and say they’re ok. There are good and bad days. I’m 4.5 years out from the loss of a close loved one. (I would never say my loss is worse than yours or vice versa. It’s hard for each of us in our own specific situation.) I’m fine almost all of the time. I still greatly miss my loved one. You are exactly right in describing how “it” sneaks up on you and WHAM. I had a day like that this week myself. And it’s ok. Hugs to you.

  5. I lost my husband in 1981. He was 48 and had cancer for 6 years before suddenly dying of pneumonia. I still have “a bad day” now and then. You hear a song or see something you want to tell them about. It never goes away but it does get better and somewhat easier to deal with. Life goes on and that is what our dear husbands’ would want us to do. Hang in there. Keep writing your thoughts, it helps you and the rest of us. Hugs

  6. I just lost my young brother. He was diagnosed with liver cancer in late December. He had a procedure on Jan 17 th which was supposed to buy him 10-12 years. He died 10 days later. It’s so hard to endure the calendar of birthdays and anniversaries. Yes, the songs are a killer, they really can rock me, I understand so completely your feelings. I’m so glad you have your kids and family fir support. My SIL is so difficult, it’s all about her and nit my deceased brother. I wish you peace.

  7. Back in Scarlett O’Hara’s day she wore black and people recognized that grieving period and acknowledged and respected it. Today’s society expects the grief to be gone in a short time after our loved one has died. Recognizing and writing about your grief is a step forward for you and to have ‘those’ days is ok! Good intentioned friends and family also don’t recognize that grieving starts before the person dies such as the case in dementia or caring for someone for a long time that’s affected by a debilitating disease. Unfortunately to love deeply will bring a great sense of loss at some point too. Take care.

  8. I could not have said it any better. My husband passed away Dec 6, 2019 from pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed Oct 27, 2919 while I was at International Quilt Market. I too am busy with the quilt shop, our retreat house, our X-Block business, and my long arm business. Most days I keep busy enough but boy when things get idle or quiet, it hits me like a ton of bricks. And usually it’s the music. Thank you for sharing.

  9. I shared this on your daughter’s blog. Grief never ends because love is everlasting. My mom passed in June, and some days are just plain hard.

  10. My thoughts and prayers are always with you.
    We all handle grief in our own way…there is no right or wrong. Handle it the way that is right for you. Let it wash over you and be gone. Until the next time.
    Love and prayers

  11. Until I experienced the loss of my Mom, I didn’t really understand grief on a personal level. She and I were our whole family for so many, many years. She was my cheerleader, fierce protector and rock. Since her death in 2002, I’ve discovered that grief never leaves. I’m still a little annoyed with the idea that I should “be over it by now.” That’s usually said, or implied, by someone who has not yet walked through the death of someone so very close, or who has accepted the indoctrination of a misled society. So I find myself making an active decision to give them grace. They’ll learn the truth soon enough.

    Grief itself is an oddity. At the start, it’s stunning … literally. I felt stunned for months after Mom died, probably my brain simply giving me protection for a while. Someone described grief as coming in waves, like those along the ocean. In time, the waves were fewer, shorter, but no less intense. And, like you, it’ll be brought to the forefront again by seemingly innocuous things … for me, it’s usually a scent or a flavor (Mom made the world’s BEST pesto). Now, when I feel the grief, I just stay with it.

    My grief is unending, and I believe I understand that now. It has become a familiar companion in my life. It’s mine. It’s part of who I am. It informs almost everything in my life, giving a perspective that highlights the light and dark sides of the coin I was given at birth.

    Reading your post helped me look a little more fully at my own grief. Thank you for giving my grief more texture.

  12. You inspire me every time I read your posts. Sorry you have to go through all you have and I know some day I will be in that situation. You give me hope. Thank you.

  13. Jo, you expressed this so well by saying “Hope hid fear. Fear hid reality. Reality was was hidden by hope. Day to day “must do’s” hid it all.” Reading these words helped me just figure out why I was so surprised when my mom passed away. I knew it was going to happen, but as her primary caregiver, I was too busy to realize or pre-accept what was coming. When it did come, it was like “blammo”! I was devastated for months, and now two and half years later, am not as far along in my grief for her as I should or could be. Dad passed this passed September. I was his caregiver too, but some how, some way I’ve been able to accept his death. I appreciate that you are sharing your grief experience with us, your blog readers. It is helping to heal me, and I am sure it is for others as well.

  14. I know exactly how you feel my father passes away 6 weeks ago. I find myself getting sad at the oddest things to people that didn’t know my Dad. Stew meat, John Wayne, Old Western Movies, and ice cream. I still have not been able to eat ice cream.

  15. I know exactly where you are coming from Jo. It’s the little things that can grab your heart and make you think of Kramer. One day I was having lunch with a girlfriend and the guy sitting at the next booth asked his wife to open his jelly package. That’s what my man always asked me to do for him. I sat there with my girlfriend and started to cry. She questioned me and all I good say was. “That man handed his jelly package to his wife to open for him.” She looked at me Like I was losing it because I actually was. Hand in there, things will get better with the help of God.

  16. Our son crossed the border into eternity two years ago. There are times when it is still so very difficult. Although he died of natural causes, his death came when he was far too young. An alcohol addiction was at the base of his difficulties. Behind this were some mental health difficulties. It is my sure faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that have carried me through. If I didn’t believe in the Resurrection, I don’t think I ever would have found joy again. I absolutely know where my son is and I know he is peaceful and happy.

    I hope that you, too, have this joyous faith to carry you through the hard days.

  17. I so appreciate your honesty with how you are dealing with Kramers passing. Grief is a process and your skill at putting it in works is helpful.

  18. Words escape me as I’m writing this comment. You are so good with words and they serve you well. Grief is ongoing – some of my loved ones have been gone a long time, but there are still triggers that bring it back like it was yesterday. I like what you said about embracing the emotion and moving through it. My heart goes out to you.

  19. Judith Fairchild

    Jo, you have been through a very rough year. Grief has to be dealt with however works best for you. I started reading your posts shortly before your husband was diagnosed with the cancer. I so appreciate how you have handled the whole situation. You are so right about embracing the grief and ignoring what people who don’t understand what’s happened. So glad Buck was able to post his heart on Instagram.

  20. I was sitting here reading and crying and a strange man came to the door, my hubby was on the phone so I had to answer!

  21. Prays to all how grieve the lost, the memories are a big part of the pain. We love and go on, bad day or good the love still goes on.

  22. Beautifully said, Jo. You continue to help all of us embrace and understand our own grief. Some of your previous posts have also helped me know what to do to help others when they have lost a loved one.

  23. I have found that grief cannot be controlled…we have to walk thru the fire to get to the other side. That takes longer than I had ever imagined that it would. Proud of you sharing here…xo

  24. The first year of loss, is tough, it is personal and we all manage to put one foot in front of the other, most of the time. On day 357, we have gone through all the ‘firsts’ and can tackle the same feelings, same holidays and same questions for the 2nd time. Embrace the 2nd time because its not the 1st and you really do know what to do with it.
    We lost our son to a sudden loss of life tragically, and it has taught us how to deal with subsequent loss and how to stop and smell the roses along the way between. We do believe we will see them all again.

    Peace be with you

  25. Hugs to you Jo. Your words are so raw, but so spot on…it hurts so much but you’re right. You have to move forward because others around you need your love and attention.

  26. Thank you Jo, your words help me now, even though it has been 18 years and it’s hard even now when I hear a song or see a tv show that he enjoyed or someone say something that he use to say. Its all those little things that bring the tears and remembrance of good times and I think what my life would be like now if he were still here with me. Thank you so very much for being you.

  27. I have learned so much from you Jo and I am just at the beginning of my journey as it has only been two months since I lost my husband but have already been thru so many 1st. Christmas, New Years, His Birthday, my birthday and Valentines Day. My world went from taking care of him 24/7 to just me and my new normal. Thank you so much for sharing all your feelings because it really helps me so much.

    1. I’m so sorry Daisy. It’s hard to be making a new life without them here with us. The good news, it’s do-able…just really hard some days.

  28. You make this all so much easier(if that’s possible) for me. At least I know I’m not crazy when all those moments grip me, wash over me, even try to suffocate me. All of your responders have helped to reassure me also, today. Now, I’m going to go send flowers to the kind woman at the foot doctor’s that just listened and gave me a hug the other day.

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