The Wandering Widow

Observations, Tips and Reckless Truth Telling on the Road Through Grief


October 2016

Fade to Gray

Since Metallica is pretty particular about their ownership rights (which, as rock gods, they should be), this isn’t titled Fade to Black.  And it’s not really about the black anyway, it’s about the gray. It’s amazing how color plays such a strong role in our feelings: green with envy;  got the blues; seeing red.  I was trying to explain to my sisters the other day what life has been like since Dan died. On that morning my entire universe faded to gray as if all color died with him. Don’t get me wrong, there are still days where I see spots of color.  There have even been a few days where I lived almost an entire day in color. But they have been overshadowed by the many more that faded to black or just hung out in gray. 

I think this is the part that makes people so uncomfortable with grief…the seemingly endless gray. Lighting a match will conquer the black. This is what we are trained to do.  In the blackness I will rally and bake you a f@#%ng casserole and do your laundry and mow the lawn.  But the gray…just hangs around like a bad fog.  How do we fix it?  How do we help the person stuck in the gray?  You don’t. I will repeat–YOU DON’T. All you can do is be there and bear witness to their pain.  Don’t tell them to go to grief counseling.  Don’t tell them to choose happy.  Your well-intended advice ends up telling the grieving widow who is in survival mode that she isn’t good enough.  That she isn’t trying hard enough.  That on top of everything else she’s suffering she has now earned your disappointment and she is making YOU uncomfortable. As if it were about you.  Don’t tell her ANYTHING except that you are proud of her.  That’s right.  Proud.  Try it.  I’m proud of you for getting out of bed today.  I’m proud of you for putting on fresh pjs.  I’m proud of you for leaving the house. I’m proud of you for choosing to continue breathing when everything in your soul is convincing you that you died that day too.  Proud. 

Gray is hard. Gray is slow. Gray is heavy.  And gray is very lonely.  Don’t let her be alone in the gray.

Gloomy rainy days from my window mirror my mood.

100 Days and the Non-Disappeared

It’s been 100 Days since he left us.  Remember when you were a kid and 100 seemed like the biggest number in the world?  It’s still a big number,  but in widow years it goes by much more slowly.  I feel like I’ve aged 10 years in these last 100 days.  Watching everyone else’s lives go by is like watching them in fast forward.  Life goes on. Their lives go on. I’ve been left behind.

I’d been warned that after a funeral people disappear.  Maybe it’s because the action is over…those individuals that feed on crisis and helping in a crisis now have nothing to do. This was hard…the people that had been there week after week helping during Dan’s illness drifted away and left a void. Maybe it’s because our pain is overwhelming to witness and they have to turn away.  Maybe they loved him as much as I did and they can now focus on their pain.  Dunno.  All I know is people disappear.  I expected his friends to fade away.  Which they did.  Almost immediately.  I expected some of our mutual friends to disappear.  And some did.  Even family has to take a break from the pain sometimes.  It’s exhausting watching someone you love suffer so much. And it’s okay.  People come in and out of our lives when we need them to.

There are those stalwart few who don’t disappear.  To quote one of my favorite memes, they stick to your face like an octopus. They call, show up, force you out of your house.  They bear witness to your pain, your grief, your anger, and they love you anyway. They ride the roller coaster with you, holding your hand as you scream on the way back down.  When you fall, they curl up on the floor next to you reminding you that you’re not alone. These Non-Disappeared are the ones that will help you survive. Hold on to them.

Photo credit to Lauren Giuffre.

For 91 Days

Today marks 91 days AD (after Dan).

One of my favorite travel blogs is These guys have the best gig ever…travel around the world, pick a spot and hang out for 91 days. The idea being that in 91 days you can really get to know the true vibe of a place. If widowhood is a place, I’m still horribly lost. Although I may have picked up a few key phrases, and definitely some amazing guides, I am a stranger in a miserably strange land.  I didn’t ask to come here.  I fought tooth and nail to avoid landing here and am here against my will.  I am absolutely flabbergasted that I’ve survived this far.  

The hubs and I loved to travel together.  I like to think he’s still with me as I try to get through the next 91 days.

Our last family road trip to Hood River, OR. This photo was taken 10 days before he left us. His sense of humor was still going strong.

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