Marking milestones, one day at a time

Three months ago, my love died. Today is our seventh wedding anniversary.

I am miserable.

A wicked cold and cough has forced me to rest.

Funny thing though: I am strangely grateful for my physical misery. It distracts me from any emotional misery presently laying low in my soul.

But even between my own hacks, sniffles and snorts, the sads squeeze in.

I miss my love. He should be here. If nothing else, to bring me tea, rub my back and indulge me in my little pity party.

For the bereaved, marking milestones—birthdays, anniversaries and holidays—is a dread-filled exercise. In my short experience as a widow, the anticipation is often worse than the reality.

Distraction and over compensation has been a great (if not especially healthy) strategy for me. If I can’t face the pain of loss at the moment, why not flip the script. Unsolicited advice to my fellow grievers: Whatever you did in the past to celebrate special days with your beloved, is off limits, at least for the first year.

For now, that’s the road I’m taking.

Case in point: My son’s fifth birthday at the beginning of August was on track to be a crazy blow out, something we hadn’t done in the past. Twenty guests were invited, a custom-made Scooby Do cake was ordered and a bouncy castle was in the works. A storm blew in and the big bash was cancelled. We scaled it way down, little man still got loads of gifts and declared it ‘an awesome day.’

So as I mark the third month without Mike on a day that would have been our seventh wedding anniversary, I am going in a new direction—straight back to bed to take care of my tired body.

It’s all good. I’m literally pulling the covers over my head, but it’s exactly what I need.

Please Unload Here

Talk to me. Tell me your troubles. Is your cluttered, messy house making you mental? Do you fantasize about giving your nutso kids up for adoption? Is your job driving you bonkers?

Tell me everything. I can take it. I want to take it. Mike died of cancer two-and-a-half months ago but I’m still a half decent sounding board, a good friend (in my opinion), and a fantastic secret keeper. I also love bone-headed husband (and wife) tales.

Being the bereaved is lonely and isolating. You’ve lost your anchor, you become unmoored. But despite the radical change in your life, you’re also fundamentally the same person.

While I haven’t felt any friends pulling away from me—the opposite is true, actually—I wonder sometimes if people are holding back telling me their troubles and triumphs.

Hearing tales about happy lives filled with laughter and love lightens me. And as weird as it sounds, hearing stories about the big and small irritations of life makes me feel normal.

Perhaps friends fear sharing their struggles with the newly bereaved because think their problems are trivial in comparison.

It’s not a contest whose life is crappier or whose really rocks.

But if it were, I would definitely, definitely win (or at least place in the top three) in the crappiest life contest. Look it up—dead husband, single mom of young son and widow (uggh, that word) at 44 trumps bratty kids, irritating spouse and lousy boss any day.

And if you’re afraid to say the wrong thing remember this: no matter what you say, no words can hurt me more than I have already been hurt.

Case in point: A family friend, a devout Catholic with the best of intentions, told me he liked to think of Mike looking up at us. To be clear, he was joking about my dead, agnostic/atheist husband burning in hell. I had to laugh. Mike would be laughing too.

So feel free to unload on me because whatever, whatever you say, it will never be worse than that joker.