Well, it’s been a good long while since I was able to write an article here. Those who know me know that my life changed radically on August 16, 2021. My husband of 45 years, my best friend, my every day and every night companion, died. He took his own life, even though on that day, as all days, we were still in love.
As he said in the note he wrote to “the authorities,” after battling cancer for 16 years, his illness finally had him in a corner. Unable to walk from one room to another without being completely out of breath, unable to eat (we were feeding him through a tube), and using oxygen constantly, he knew that even if by some miracle the cancer went away, his lungs were too far gone.
He wrote me a note, too, which I will cherish for the rest of my life.
I was working in the workspace I’d set up in the living room, having moved upstairs from my office downstairs so I could be on the same floor with him, when the shot rang out.
That was the moment that everything changed.
Since then I have been doing all I can to carry on, as I know he would have wanted me to, making my way through the duties of the surviving spouse and attempting to build a new life, one without him but yet still with him. I have shed more tears in the last few months than I have in the whole of my life.
And in the midst of it all, one thing has become quite clear to me. I loved him more than I realized. Which is strange, because we really were like a new couple, for years and years. We had become an “us,” one entity with one heart. No one was “giving up” anything for the other; we did all we could for each other, all the time. It was the best we could hope for, and we knew how blessed we were. And, of course, we worked on it, which is why it was the way it was.
But it wasn’t until he was gone that I realized just how deep my love was, how much he was a part of my thinking, my comfort, my sense of the world and my sense of self. I realized how much, every day, I looked forward to our conversations, our hugs, and our comfortable understanding of each other. When you know someone so well, and love them for who they are, and lift each other up every day, it is simply irreplaceable.
So yes, I have been grieving.
Even though I have dear close friends who have been such a gift the last few months, and my own faith has carried me through day after day, there was only one husband, only one Philip, only one man for me. And the memory of that shattering day in August, and of all the adventures we had, and the tender and laughter-filled moments we shared . . . these memories wash over my heart and soul like the endless waves at sea.
I started writing the articles in this blog so I could offer solutions to life’s trials. I didn’t want to write about this until I had something to offer. So far there are only three little bits of advice.
The first two are these: Don’t fight the grief. And carry on.
When the tears come, I let them come; they are, as one friend has said, the price we pay for loving so much. The depth of the grief is just a natural part of the depth of the love we shared. I have not fought the grief. I let the waves wash over.
And I have carried on. I have a company to run, and we have clients to serve, and the wonderful people who comprise the team need me to be strong and focused. I adopted a mother cat and one of her kittens to bring some life into the house and give me some little souls to care for. I am slowly, but surely, working through all the “things” that Philip left behind; he was a very busy guy who created many artistic and functional pieces and had all the tools and workspaces and materials to support those activities.
There are other projects going on, as is usual with life. I am managing; in some ways I am even thriving, still riding the wave of love that carried us through all those years.
And that leads me to the last bit of advice. No matter how sad or lonely we feel, at any given moment, someone loves us.
Someone in the world is willing to help you, someone thinks highly of you, someone admires you and is pleased to spend time with you. This is knowledge you can go to sleep with and wake up in the morning with. Don’t be afraid to take them up on their unspoken but sincere and real offers.
I have come to know that even the knowledge that someone loved us—while living—is comforting. And honestly, I believe he loves me still. I know now that love doesn’t die with the person you loved. It lives, and even grows. It becomes even more precious.
And that, alone, is a gift.
2 thoughts on “Dealing with grief. And the power of love.”
Kristin, I have always thought highly of you, admired you and would be pleased to spend time with you. I’m only sorry I never got the chance to meet the man who means as much to you as my wife does to me. Here’s to 2022. The grief will not shrink, but life will become bigger to accommodate it.
A beautiful piece, Kristin. Life carries us forward. Blessed be.