Friday, July 22, 2011

10 Months

As I thought about reaching this date a couple of weeks ago, I felt pretty good. I wasn't crying daily, I had made some really special connections with other widows online, I was looking forward to attending Camp Widow next month. But something wasn't right and way deep down inside I knew it when I allowed myself to think about it. I couldn't write anything here in my blog. I knew what I wanted, needed, to say but just couldn't be that honest. I wasn't keeping up with emails or mail or bills or housework or laundry or the yard. It felt like the walls of my life were closing in on me. And yet each work day I would put on my happy face, say what is expected, act like people wanted me to act. I'm Dianne, I'm strong, I can do all of this alone. And everyone has bought it. They're proud of me. Happy that I have made such a wonderful progression from my sorrow.

What a crock!  It's all a facade. But who would know that? Who would want to know that? It's too hard ... for them. The truth is that I walk in the door after work each day (and on weekends), put on my jammies and sit in Vern's recliner. I sometimes just sit there doing absolutely nothing, other nights I stay online for hours, but often I'm not honest there either. I'm the cheerleader, the supporter, the one who tries to make everyone else feel better. But I can't do this any longer. I need to find a happy medium, an outlet, a way to be true to myself.

I made an effort to be honest when I was online last night, but only because what happened earlier in the day scared me so that I knew I had to do something different. I had my first panic attack. I had gone over to the IRS to pay the money I owed. I had let it go to the final day before they would place a lien on my home. I don't know why I delayed ... I just have been procrastinating on everything in my personal life. I was ok while at the IRS office, the guard at the entrance was nice, the line wasn't long, the man who handled my payment was very kind when I shared that my husband had died. I pulled out the death certificate and could feel the emotions starting to build, but I was able to force them back. I got into my car and then it hit. I thought I was having a heart attack. I couldn't catch my breath, my heart was racing, deep wracking sobs consumed me, strange sounds came out of me, I was dizzy, trembling, sweaty. It was frightening. I remember thinking of all of the things I had not done ... haven't updated my will, haven't prepared a list of things Jer would need to know, where I've hidden things, fearing that someone would just find me dead there in the car at the end of the day. I don't know how long it lasted, but eventually I was able to gain some control and I headed back to work where I once again put on the happy Dianne act. I've felt exhausted since that whole episode.

Today I helped a dear friend, whose husband is now in home hospice, close up his office. I'm so happy I was there to give her hugs and let her talk when she needed it, while the guys did the heavy lifting. This was very tough for her as her husband spent 15 years working out of that office. I used to see him at the oncologist office (he and Vern both received their chemo treatments on Fridays), but I wasn't prepared to see him after we finished the move. As we all walked into the room, he looked like Vern sitting there in the recliner. Same shirt, oxygen, dozing slumped over with Vern's 'cadillac' walker sitting alongside him (I gave it to them to use). I was overwhelmed and had to turn my back for a moment as others greeted him. He worked to stand up as Linda began telling him who all was there. And then he whispered my name, so I went to him  ... and he hugged me strongly for a long while. It was a very touching moment for me, as it felt like Vern was hugging me. He asked if I could adjust the handles on the walker, so I did that and he gave me a 'thumbs up' ... another thing Vern often did. I cried when I got outside but also felt very blessed for my 'visit'. 

"The emotion of grief should not just be labeled as painful, sad or difficult. It is so much more than that. It is more like a journey to a new world where you get to be all by yourself, without your family, your friends and the world you grew up in. Where you shed the person you used to be, and grow into the new self while you discover the doorway back to life. That is what I call Grief."   Second Firsts on Facebook


jaloysisus said...

It was difficult for me to read this, Dianne; yet, I am so glad to hear you expressing all the emotion you've been forced to keep bottled up inside because of the demands of your job and other demands on your time. We who are without our spouse know exactly what that feels like, and your talking about it so candidly and openly will help many others who don't have the gift of verbal expression. Keep on my friend.

janis said...

Dear sweet Bloggy Friend Dianne~
You dear soul. Please take care of yourself. Vern needs you to take care of yourself. Your loved ones need it too.
Im glad you are facing your sorrow and expressing the feelings. I am glad you have support.
Be good to yourself.
Love, Hugs, and Prayers♥

TracyL. said...

Hey sistah...I remember you talking about the panic attack, but you really didn't share a lot more. Not like on here. Even though WV is supposed to be there for these moments, you know as well as I do, that mostly it turns into a laughfest in chat (and I'm also to blame for that because I'm like you...easier to put on the happy face). Seriously, my friend, CALL ME when you need someone to talk to. I'm usually home (you and I both have homeitis it seems). Truthfully, CALL ME. I promise I'll listen and probably cry with you. The happy face sucks, but to put on any other does no good. No one wants to see it/hear about it. We've long since passed the 2 weeks mark that non-widows give us after our spouses die. BUT...we have each other. Remember that.
Love, Trace

Kerrie said...

My heart hurts so badly for you Dianne! And I know my time is yet to come, that the grief and hurt I feel now is nothing to what is ahead of me with my sweet hubby. You are an amazing person and I think of you every day as each stage of this terrible illness takes life away as we knew it. You are ever in my prayers and heart. Grief is a very lonely place indeed. But God is so good and will surely hear your cries. Hugs and luv, Kerrie

Sandy said...

Dianne, you've made an amazing leap in recovery by recognizing the fraud of your 'happy face,' but at the same time, you are who are YOU are... and perhaps that private person can only be shown to others who have walked in the same ill-fitting shoes you are wearing. Keep on keeping on... life has changed, but it is ever doing so. Hugs.

Sarah said...

Dianne: It scares me to death to read your blog......for I know that one day, I too will be walking down your pathway. I can only imagine how this must be.

Thank you for so openly sharing your thoughts, and your memories.


jaloysisus said...

Diane, I missed the meeting tonight because my computer and e-mail is sitll all messed up. My brother, the computer geek, should be able to fix it tomorrow. Anyway, this is the only way I have to communicate with my friends on the web. Please pass this message aglong to others for me. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to say that might help. I get it about letting things go. I am so behind and let everything go to the last minute and I'm sure it is due to depression. It's hard to care about all this mundane cr**. I'm thinking of making my own "honey-do" list and trying to accomplish more by organizing things and trying to get at least one task done each day. Panic attacks are common when one has been under stress for a prolonged time. Exercise helps as does meditation. I should listen to my own advice. There was a line in "Tootsie" where Teri Garr is having a rant and says, "I just have to feel this way until I don't feel this way anymore!" I think that is how grieving works. It won't always be as it is now for you. The "waves" will be less frequent and much smaller. They won't knock you off your feet, as they seem to do now, and the 2 people you feel you are forced to be now(I totally get that too), will mesh together back into one person. She will be stronger, wiser, and more at peace.
Hugs from Denise

Anonymous said...

As much as we change through life, we stay the same. You have always been one to give the other person a"pick me up" a compliment, a pay it forward. Anything to help another. You have been by Vern"s side and been his caregiver and now you are the "Caregiver" here on your blog. Don't berate yourself for pretending. Most of Life is pretending. We only share with those who share back. What we give in moral support to others always comes back to helping us feel needed. We all tell you how strong you are and how you are moving forward, we say that so you don't doubt yourself so much. We know that we are so inept at helping you through's really the only thing most of us can think of to say. We have not yet walked in your shoes and dread with shear terror that the day will come that we do.

Maybe one of these days you will have to opportunity to spend some precious time with your family that is so far away and pretend that everything is OK. It seems to help when one can pretend to them because "they Know you are pretending" and you know they know and it is still alright. I am sorry that it has taken so much time for me to find the time to get here. In the last couple of years I have checked in on you and Vern's on his visitors page and then here .and I am sorry that I have not been here sooner.( Not that I could do anything at all to help, except keep you and Vern in my prayers. I know you will be alright someday. Just not today.

In my heart and prayers.

Teri said...

Hi, came across your blog today. My husband died Oct 4 2009, I do the same thing. Others don't want to hear that things are bad - except for other widows. I didn't always say everything I felt on my blog, but I do let a little bit more out now and then. It's necessary to express our feelings - but maybe not to everyone. My prayers for you are that you will find a place to express your feelings.