Uncomfortable

Sean’s death makes me uncomfortable.

Twice this week I have had to point out Sean’s death to important people in our children’s lives. The first was on Saturday when the coach at Luke’s basketball practice announced the dad-son basketball game next week and I had to speak to him after practice and explain his absence for the first (and certainly not the last) time. The coach was very sympathetic and understanding and assured me that he would stand in for the game.

Stand in.

Another man.

Has to stand in your place during the father-son game. This thought fills me with so much rage that I could make myself sick. You should be here for your son you piece of shit. Now he has to settle for stand-ins.

And it’s not good enough.

The other was this afternoon, at Gwendolyn’s baptism when a representative from the Knights of Columbus had gifts of hand-made rosaries for the parents of the children to be christened. When he came to me, he hesitated in his offering, noticing that I was without her father and I quickly had to spew out “my husband is deceased”. Poor man didn’t know what to do.

This is only the beginning- Father’s days, birthday’s, Christmases, daddy-daughter dances and father-son games. Weddings and graduations…

I hate that Sean put me, and worse- our children in this horribly uncomfortable position. I hate that I even had to think about him on a day that should have only been about our daughter, but somehow, even in death his presence lingers and his absence taints every joyous occasion.

Children and Suicide

While I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, I’m just now getting around to writing it. On September 29th, 2018, myself, Luke, Gwendolyn, my mother-in-law and a friend participated in Detroit’s Annual Out of The Darkness walk for suicide awareness. To see how many people were affected by suicide and mental illness was both overwhelmingly sad and simultaneously uplifting. Many people wore beads of varying colors to signify their loss;

White – Lost a Child

Red – Lost a Spouse or Partner

Gold – Lost a Parent

Orange – Lost a Sibling

Purple – Lost a Relative or Friend

Silver – Lost First Responder / Military

Green – Struggled Personally

Blue – Support the Cause

Teal – Friends and Family of Someone Who Struggles

One woman, not much older than I received red honor beads for advocating after the loss of her spouse in January, leaving her with a step-child and another young child of her own to care for. I shed silent tears for this woman as her story was shared with the hundreds of people there. I commiserated with a perfect stranger, she felt my pain even though she didn’t know my name- and I loved her for that. I snuck through the crowd over to the side where she was standing after the ceremony, still in tears and tapped her on the shoulder. I said “I lost my husband in December when I was pregnant with our daughter- thank you” and we hugged. Not one of those half-ass side arm hugs but a tight , genuine hug- one that we both needed.

Spousal Suicide Sisters.

What a shitty club to be apart of. We didn’t ask for this life.

But anyways, this post isn’t about me. It’s about Luke.

I received some backlash when I told people Luke was coming with us to a suicide awareness walk. Some were fearful that Luke, being the little smarty-pants he is, would put two-and-two together (he didn’t). Turns out, there were actually quite a few kids there. They even had tents dedicated to activities specifically for children.I remember sitting down with Luke a few days before and explaining that on Saturday we were going to do a suicide awareness walk. He first asked me what ‘awareness’ meant, and then what suicide meant.

“Sometimes people’s heart’s get sick, and it stops working and so the person dies. Sometimes a person gets sick with cancer and your body gets confused and attacks itself and people can die from that. Well, sometimes people’s brains get sick and it makes the person think they shouldn’t be alive anymore. So the person kills themselves”

While I was prepared to answer a slew more questions the only response I got back was “Oh, ok.”

Kids, amirite?

It got me to thinking though- why shouldn’t someone Luke’s age know the meaning of suicide?

In March 2017 an eight year old by hung himself with a necktie and in March the following year, a nine year old girl hung herself with a belt from her bunk bed.

Luke will be eight in twenty-nine days.

and this is fucking terrifying.

According to the CDC, from 1999 through 2015, 1,309 children ages 5 to 12 took their own lives in the United States. That’s one child every FIVE days.

While the numbers aren’t as large as the suicide rates among adults, the fact that it even occurs is a travesty.

So, teach your children. Please.

Teach them to talk to their friends, to notice the signs and most importantly, what to do and who to talk to if they or someone they know is thinking of killing themselves.

It’s not going to be an easy conversation, it’s going to be uncomfortable.

But you know what’s more difficult and uncomfortable?

Taking them to their classmate’s funeral.

People are suffering globally with mental illness and suicidal thoughts and attempts. So I say, fuck the awkwardness and discomfort. People continue to suffer in silence until it kills them because they’re fearful.

Fearful of judgement, of repercussions from their employer or family.

Because we don’t talk about it enough, because we, as a society aren’t doing enough to help those in need.

Talk about it.

To your children.

To your friends.

To your family.

To anyone that will listen.

Talk about until the people who are suffering silently aren’t afraid to.

 

 

 

 

Weird Shit Widows Do

Widowhood has been the most gloriously nonsensical WTF experience I’ve ever lived (and am still living) through. While most of this will seem quite tame to the widow community I thought it’d be fun to compile a list of some of the batshit crazy shenanigans both myself and other widows have done.

  1. Write blogs about their dead husbands/grief
  2. Share said blog with the interwebz and make everyone super uncomfortable.
  3. Uncontrollably bring up their dead husband in conversation. It’s like word vomit, we just can’t stop ourselves from bringing it up.
  4. Hold onto clothes or other miscellaneous possessions of the dearly departed. Even if it’s stuffed in the back of our closet or dresser. I have a stick of Sean’s old deodorant that I keep in the back of my bathroom drawer. When I’m missing him, I huff it like a crack head and sob uncontrollably. I do this in the privacy of my own home so that I don’t do it in Walmart and get politely asked to leave (that was ONE time)
  5. Get #triggered…like…a lot. I unexpectedly ran into a woman in uniform at the daycare when Gwendolyn goes and I just froze in sheer panic, I didn’t know whether to run back to my car or push through and get my kid. So, I did the logical thing and had a hysterical breakdown in the lobby in front of everyone ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  6. Get reckless. Grief really messes you up in ways you’d never imagine. One day you’ll find yourself doing, saying or thinking something and you won’t recognize yourself anymore.
  7. Talk (or scream) aloud to their dead spouse. You name it- in the car, the cemetery, the shower…we carry on one-sided conversations both aloud and in our heads.
  8. Cry…a lot.
  9. Don’t cry…at all
  10. Whole-heartedly believe our loved one is trying to communicate with us through the TV, radio, flickering lights ect.
  11. Hold onto our loved ones ID, insurance, credit cards, ect because…….they might need it one day?
  12. Sleep with his favorite T-shirt that you salvaged from the dirty clothes basket. Even weirder, you put said deodorant from #4 on it to make it smell like him again.
  13. Mom- don’t read this one. OK, you’ve been warned.

Think about our dead partner during sexy time.

14. Openly talk about all things morbid such as death, funerals, bodies, ect.

15. Make normal people uncomfortable by making wildly inappropriate jokes about our dead spouse/widowhood

16. Sleep with our dead husband’s ashes

17. Buy things for them that we think/remind us of them.

18. Have a shrine to them in our home (I’ve contained Sean’s shrine to two shelves in my living room and a drawer in my dresser)

19. Never wash and or vacuum seal the last set of sheets they ever slept in.

20. Wear their clothes.

21. Never finish movies or TV shows that you were watching together when they died.

If you’re not a widow and you made it to the bottom of this list without saying or thinking “WTF, Ew”- then I applaud you- you understand not to judge other’s grieving.

If not, well….you should work on that.

I’m certain some from the widow community will read this and have more to add! Drop a comment below and let me know what weird shit you’ve done since your SO passed!

Swagger & Spearmint

Old Spice Swagger; “For the man who holds the complete works of Aristotle in one hand and a delicious sandwich in the other.”

What a fitting description of the man who wore it everyday.

The smell is forever burned into my brain. A deliciously intoxicating combination of spearmint shampoo and Old Spice Swagger deodorant.

Oh, how I miss that smell.

How it used to flood my senses with familiarity and comfort- it was your smell.

While I don’t stand in the middle of the men’s deodorant aisle in the store and cry into a stick of deodorant anymore, I do keep Sean’s old stick in the back of my bathroom drawer. It’s comforting to hold something that he once touched everyday.

Weird?

Probably.

But widows do a lot of weird shit ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Look for my next blog post: “Weird Shit Widows Do” and prepare to be both uncomfortable and overwhelmed with pity.

 

Things I Learned Abroad

While it was a difficult decision to continue on with this trip after Sean died and leave my kids for two weeks it is undoubtedly the best decision I have made for both myself and my family in a long time. I learned silly trivia, local slang and profound life lessons in my two weeks overseas. Without further ado, in no particular order, here are just a few of the many things I learned while traveling through Scotland, England and Ireland:

1. Traveling takes a lot of balls. A two week trek across three foreign countries isn’t for the faint of heart.

2. Guiness tastes 100 times better in Europe than it does in the states

3. “Cheers” does not mean you need to clink your glass and drink everytime someone says it *flashbacks to Dublin* Cheers can be said as a thank you or confirmation (I seriously think I’m still hungover)

4. The Irish are some of the most phenomenal human beings you’ll ever meet. They’re honest to God the most genuine, kind and joyous bunch of people.

5. Even four thousand miles away from the place you call home, it turns out we’re really not that different after all.

6. You can meet and make lifelong friends who were mere strangers scattered around the country in just two weeks.

7. Goodbye is still the hardest part.

8. I’m really good at sleeping on busses.

9. I’m really bad at subterranean modes of transportation.

10. There is an actual science to drinking Whiskey

11. No matter where you go in the world, its comforting to know that there will always be a drunk girl in the bathroom of a McDonald’s.

12. If you didn’t have great legs before, you’ll have thighs of steel after a trip to Scotland #hills4dayz

13.”When in Rome”- You know the saying! Don’t be afraid to try new things or do something out of your comfort zone! Try the Haggis, drink a hot whiskey. Dance in the pub, sing at the top of your lungs. Stay for one more drink, one more song- even though it’s late. Climb the volcano (even though you feel like you’re dying) Stand near the edge of the cliffs overlooking the vast ocean and finally understand why people used to think they’d fall off the edge of the earth.

14. Life is too short and the world is too big a place to only see the part you live in. If you have the opportunity to travel- do it. Your kids and all of your other responsibilities will still be there when you return home. No one on their death bed ever says “Boy, I’m glad I cancelled that vacation and stayed home to work instead!”

Happy Birthday

I hope.

I hope wherever you are now, you’re as happy as you were in this picture.

I hope you’re not scared or suffering anymore.

I hope your soul is at peace.

I wish.

Oh, I wish you could see how loved you were.

I wish you could see how you were the tie that binded so many of us together….and how it’s fallen apart in your absence.

I wish you wouldn’t have waited to get help. To follow up. To listen.

But above all, I just wish you were still here.

I remember.

I remember you so clearly in my head, the color of your eyes, each scar and wrinkle. The shape of your hands. It doesn’t feel right when I picture you in my head and it is only a memory. I hope I don’t forget.

I feel the gravity of your absence more with each passing day.

Happy Birthday.

3,470 Miles

I write this from my hostel in Dublin, Ireland. Today is the tenth day of our trip and the last country before heading home and checking back into reality. While it’s been refreshing to get away for a bit, the shadow of grief you cast upon me knows no bounds and still follows me wherever I go.

I am faced with the harsh reality that even fifty years from now, no matter the possibilities the future holds…

I will always be your widow.

Loch Lomond to Glendalough, your absence is like the sky- spread over everything. My joy is tainted with the reoccurring thought of I wish you were here.