The first year after Spencer was born was so disorienting. I’d finally figure out how to be the mother of a newborn, but now he was four months old and nothing worked. And then he was eight months and then a year and I felt like I was constantly learning a new way to parent. It was a time of intense emotion – joy and discovery and stress and depression.
Being a widow is kind of like that. Every day further out from Tom’s death I find that my feelings and experiences keep changing and I can’t predict what is coming next. I’m a pragmatist. If I can’t change something, I try to spend my energy elsewhere. I try to be honest with myself about my motivations and relationships. I have tried really hard to keep myself emotionally grounded in the wake of this huge change. I have tried to be clear about what I’m feeling and why and I have tried to keep my perspective.
When people ask how I am doing or how the kids are doing, I don’t really know what to say. We are OK. We talk about Tom and sometimes we cry and we are going forward with our lives. The kids are doing well in school and have maintained their friendships and their activities, are sleeping and eating well. Honestly I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but am trying to be optimistic. I am still getting out of bed every morning, working, still doing my volunteer stuff, still working on my relationships with my children. We have good days, mostly, and I can talk about and think about Tom and not dissolve into tears. I tend to have high expectations of myself, and if I had to rate myself on how I’m “handling my grief” I’d say I’m doing pretty good.
BUT … there is obviously stuff going on below the surface of my relatively calm emotions. I’m really struggling with food – I just want to eat all the time, even when I’m not hungry, even when it doesn’t taste good… And I haven’t done any form of regular activity in a LONG time… And I feel myself avoiding things like cleaning up the basement in favor of sitting in front of the computer doing “productive” (or not-so-productive) things. I’m trying to figure out how to get to the root of this … because I certainly do my fair share of journaling and thinking and trying not to shy away from painful memories or thoughts. But obviously there is still stuff going on. So maybe I’m not so OK after all. Emotions are a tricky business.