Monday, June 22, 2020

One Year Later....

It's hard to believe that tomorrow it will have been a year since the passing of my sweetheart. Approaching the anniversary it seemed fitting to return to my blog; the source of immense support to me through this very difficult journey. Today I read my very last entry from a year ago, and with tears streaming down my face, all the raw emotions came flooding back.

Grief. I've learned so much about this very difficult and painful emotion. When I think about it, my grieving started several years ago when I first became aware of what was happening, that dementia was taking over the life of my dear husband. I grieved every day, some days were harder than others. And once he had transitioned from this life, the grief of course did not go away. It was there, and is still there today and every day.

I remember shortly after he passed, I started thinking that eventually I would be able to move beyond all this grief and sadness, and find my way to an emotional equilibrium. I should be able to eventually get over it, right? I mean, I'm not going to be grieving and sad for the rest of my life, am I?

Not that long ago, I came to the realization that I'm a different person now. I can never go back to who I was before dementia came into our lives. Our life together, and then the subsequent loss of his life is a part of who I am now. This is who I am. Forever changed by our love that we had for each other, by our life together, and then by the loss of his life. And that's OK.

So what does that mean for my future life? I'm still figuring that out. Healing is taking place; I find great solace in reading. Two of my favorite authors, May Sarton and Mary Oliver have been a source of comfort to me. Oliver writes poetry exquisitely with a theme of nature that is so comforting. Sarton  journals insightfully about her life, her observations, and her healing from life's difficulties.

I also find great comfort in reading Thich Nhat Hanh. He has helped me to open my heart and my mind to a more spiritual way of thinking.

This is my reading corner. My condo overlooks a stream that is just beautiful. Such a peaceful setting, providing tranquility. I'm so grateful for such a lovely living space.

I still see Dr. M. on a weekly basis. From the beginning, she reassured me that I would not have to walk this journey alone. What a tremendous support she has been, providing me guidance, insight, and helping me to heal. Her deep compassion and empathy have allowed me to begin the journey of healing.

My dear friend Jabberwalky is still in my life. We have developed a lovely friendship over the last 4 years; first by following each others' blogs, and then through email correspondence for a closer connection. She too, has a spouse with dementia and knows only too well how difficult, sad and lonely it can be. Lately we have been doing FaceTime, which has been great. We're hoping for an in person visit sometime in the future, once it becomes safe to travel again. The support that we have been able to provide for each other has been nothing short of amazing. So grateful for this connection and friendship.

Jabberwalky shared with me 4 words that have helped her, and that I have taken to heart.


It's OK to grieve, it's OK to feel sad. And breathe, just breathe. This is all part of the healing process.

The hard part; Accept. But so important. And that is where I am at now. Starting to accept that this is who I am; forever changed by life experiences. I am a different person. And you know, I think I'll be OK. I've become very introspective as I sort things out and figure out my way forward. 

I still feel his presence every day. I know he is with me, and there is joy and comfort in that knowledge. 

So will I be sad and grieving for the rest of my life? I think the answer is yes. Will it change and become less intense as time goes on? I believe so. I do manage to find joy in my life. Family and friends are so very important. 

An irony of sorts, that the deep grief that I feel is evidence of the deep love and connection that we shared. I'm so grateful for that life of love that we shared.

Be yourself
Life is precious as it is
All the elements for your happiness are already here
There is no need to run, strive, search or struggle
Just be

-Thich Nhat Hanh


Bob Lowry said...

I am so glad you left a comment on my blog that prompted me to search for yours. This final entry is every bit as powerful and meaningful as your writings from a year ago. Blessings to you as your life continues to evolve. By the way, I love Mary Sarton, too. Several of her books are on my shelves.

Carole said...

Thanks so much for your kind words Bob. I know that you and Betty too, share a very special closeness. Not everyone is blessed in this life to have found someone so special to share their life with. Bittersweet to have the deep sorrow of his passing, and at the same time know that it represents a very special love that we shared.

Arkansas Patti said...

As much as I would like to say I understand what you are going through, I can not but I am so grateful that you have someone in your life who really does and is there to help you. Such a blessing. We did get to know him through you and it hurt us so much when he lost the battle.
It was so good to see your post and to know that you will be blogging again. You have been missed.

Carole said...

Hi Patti! I still follow your blog, and know that you are making a gradual comeback with some health issues of your own. Blogger and Wordpress continue to haunt me, not always allowing me to comment on others' blogs. But I've always appreciated your kind support through the years. When I first started this blog, his changes were subtle enough where others did not notice, but I did. My blog gave me an outlet to share what was on my heart. And readers were always there for me! So grateful.

DJan said...

I was so pleased to see you pop up in my email this morning, Carole. I am so glad to hear you are doing so well. I love learning that you have the support you need during this period. As someone who knows about grief, I do know it changes and becomes easier to bear, but it never goes away completely. Sending you much love and gratitude for your post. :-)

Carole said...

Hi DJan! I remember when you wrote about some training for a bereavement doula. I also know that you have suffered greatly with the loss of your two sons. Your poignant writing on the topic of grief is something I will revisit again. Thanks for stopping by. It feels so good to hear from my old blogging friends!

Friko said...

Everything you say is true, it certainly is for me. My husband, my Beloved, has been gone for three years and I can confirm that life, as I knew it, has gone. I think of him every day and want him back every day, but the feeling is less intense now, less sharp, even less painful. A great love never dies, it leaves a massive hole, but you learn to adapt, to accept life as it is now. At times you laugh, you even enjoy yourself and, if you are anything like me, you share that pleasure with the one you lost, in spirit rather than in reality.
Good luck.

Carole said...

Thanks Friko. I remember your honest and tender posts from when your Beloved was dying, and then after he had passed. I still feel my sweetheart's presence, and it is comforting and heartwarming. Like you, I share with him the joy I find in life. I also find myself reaching out to him during moments of sadness; wanting that ever comforting voice and touch to come back to me. I imagine what he would say to me, and I find it deeply satisfying.

Jean M. said...

I am so happy you are back! I hope you continue writing and let us know how you are doing. May Sarton is a favorite author of mine. I love her journals. Hope to hear from you soon.

Carole said...

Hi Jean. It was quite therapeutic to write this post yesterday. It was hard and emotionally draining, but a heartwarming way to reconnect with the amazing folks who supported me on this journey. So good to hear from you.

Jabberwalky08 said...

Carole, you're giving me words now - " No need to run, strive, search or struggle. Just be. " So much of life is struggling and striving, and it seems so important, and helpful. It's neither!
Glad you're writing again - you have written an honest, tender journal of these years.
Great to be friends!

Carole said...

Thanks Jabberwalky. Our friendship was one of the unexpected silver linings in amidst all of the sadness from this joinery. One of life's little surprises...and a lovely one at that.

Tehachap said...

How wonderful to see your post -- though I came across it in my spam folder!!! Thank you, thank you for the mention of Jabberwalky-- I too follow her blog and she follows mine. Thanks as well, for the new spiritual guide's name. Greatly appreciated!! We do accept and move forward, always. Blessings to you. Please keep posting... I love hearing from you.

Carole said...

Hi Carol! Lovely to hear from you again. I think of you often, with the challenges you and Robert will have ahead for you. I'm not certain where I will go from here, as far a blogging. If I blog again on a regular basis, it obviously will be with a different focus. We'll see... I found that it was incredibly therapeutic for me to write again. Kind of a catharsis of sorts. Hope all is well with you too.

troutbirder said...

I thought you were gone from blogging forever. Perhaps wrote a final message to you. In any case I'll repeat . First my mom and then my sons suicide with biopolar and then my wife whose dementia turned very violent. I'd read all the books. And there you were promising you would tell what happened and how it affected you and what you did. That the part I needed most. Your kept promise and your help made a huge difference.
The night Barb passed on hospice care not haveing food no water for ll days no opened her eye for ten hospice agranged for a family t play there guitars and golden oledies. I intended to spend the night sharing her be as you my son was here from Arizona to say good by. As the music concluded they asked if I had a final musical request. It was Don Mcleans "And I love Your so" Holding barbs hand I sang directly in to her ear. Her eye open half way waving my hand she was tracking. As the song ended she repeated the words three time An I Love you so too Ray. She passed on several hours later that night. A perfect ending as it were. That you Carole. I know you helped many people.

Carole said...

Oh Ray, it's so good to hear from you. Thanks for sharing the final hours that you spent with Barb. So heartfelt and touching. Barb was able to connect with you right up until her passing. You'll remember that forever.

I'm not sure if I'll continue to write on this blog. We'll see...

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