Once the Grieving Starts…

It’s been nearly 9 months since the passing of my adorable wife Sally. They always say that “time heals all wounds.” The pain in my heart may say otherwise.

I had a conversation with my sister, Marylynn, who just celebrated her 75th birthday. I am amazed by the energy she has. However, over the last 7 years, she has lost 2 sons. She recently told me that “once the grieving starts, it never stops.”

After Sally passed, Marylynn literally became my grief counselor. She’s extremely intelligent and became a medical doctor in her 40s. She reminded me of the day I called and said, “we need your help.” Marylynn said that after the passing of her first son, Dan, she felt that her experience and insight would help me. She was right. Many people who observe this say I’m making great progress, but there is an internal war going on inside me and my weight loss of 35 pounds shows it.

Prior to all of this, Marylynn and I only spoke a few times year, if that. Since then, we talk almost every day. My brother and I visit more and even have breakfast every other week. My sister Susan, the one who helped care for Sally, I also owe my deepest gratitude. My other sister, also named Sally, has also been there for me despite other family issues.

My mother and stepfather, Rich, let me stay with them to help get through this. In my 54 years of life, I’ve never been alone. I met Sally when I was 20 and we were together ever since.

I must confess, I don’t think I would have survived this without them too. Rich lost his first wife due to a car accident about 50 years ago, so there is an unspoken bond. He’s been very understanding and very helpful as I have received a lot of wisdom and insight. My mom also makes me feel cared for. Most of my other family members have stepped up for me, and I am grateful and lucky. But, it’s very hard to feel that way, especially since my entire life has changed.

After this experience and talking with others who have shared this unwanted journey, I’m realizing that there is no timeline to this process. I have been told of people who still struggle after decades of losing a loved one. I remember talking with a woman who lost her husband about 3 years ago. When I told her that Sally had passed 6 months prior, she told that this experience for me was still “raw.” I knew exactly what she meant.

Another one of the sayings I’ve heard is that, “is doesn’t get better, but it gets easier.” I’m not a doctor or any kind of expert, but have I’ve already had too much knowledge about this subject. As time passes, I’m learning to live with the pain, which hasn’t subsided in the last 9 months.

For those who begin this awful phase, it’s like getting on a huge roller-coaster that never stops. I’ve had a number of days when things are looking a little better. Then, out of nowhere, the grief overwhelms, and the sadness consumes. I wake up every morning wondering how this could have happened.

I realize that I have a long way to go. It does feel like every time I take a few steps forward, I will take one-and-a-half back, sometimes more. It’s just day-by-day.

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