Have you ever wakened from a dream crying so hard that your chest hurt and after you looked at your clock and padded to the bathroom and back again to your bed you found that you still couldn’t breathe? Have heart-splitting sobs escaped from your throat even while you searched for a tissue to catch the tears spilling down your cheeks? That’s how I began my day at seven o’clock this morning, and I’ve been unable to shake off my dream-sadness since then.
It probably didn’t help that today’s weather is overcast and humid with thunder showers threatening in the distance and the air so heavy and still that even the birds remain quiet and the leaves on my maple and poplar trees hang limp from their branches.
That is how I feel today–limp like the leaves on the trees in my yard, lacking the energy to even ferret out a small whiff of wind that might lift my spirit.
The dream was, of course, about Gary, and it was a convoluted circle of a dream in which he was chasing me through a house, and when he finally trapped me he tried to hurt me with, of all things, a metal toenail trimmer. I managed to grab the trimmer and throw it away and the dream ended with me wrapping my arms tightly around his neck, nestling into the warmth of his body against mine, breathing in his familiar scent, and me crying out, “I wish I didn’t love you so much…I wish I didn’t love you so much.” I woke up to tears of grief as raw as the ones I shed when Gary died four years ago.
I hate dreams like that, that stay with me for hours upon hours and leave me unable to shake the sadness and grief that threaten to consume me yet again.
I’m not like this every day. Most days I wake up with a list of things to do: meet friends or family members for lunch, do laundry, make my bed, buy groceries, arrange for snow removal or lawn care, meet with an arborist to discuss trimming back tree branches that want to overtake my house, go shopping for underwear, drive to my cottage, plan painting projects or repair projects and even make and sell jewelry (something I didn’t do BGD–before Gary died). I smile, crack jokes, act silly sometimes, empathize with my friends’ problems, watch sad movies that make me cry, relax on a swing on my screened deck at my cottage, spend time with my family, walk on the beach, search for sea glass and interesting shells, read books and magazines and make plans for tomorrow, for next week, next month.
Some days I move through my life as if in a fog; other days the sun shines on me and I raise my face up to welcome its warmth. Today is a fog-filled day, both literally and figuratively.
Why write about this? Why share such a personal aspect of my life with you? Why would you even care or bother to read such a post? Good questions, all.
I’m usually reticent to invite people into my personal story and space unless I have something humorous to share, but lately I’ve been thinking that I can’t be the only widow or widower who struggles with the forced reality that spousal deaths have dropped us into. I can’t be the only woman or man who grapples with what therapists call “a new normal”, and I surely can’t be the only person who still experiences sadness and anger and confusion and loneliness several years after his or her loved one has died. Can I? Am I?
I’d love to read your thoughts and comments on this subject. How do you cope with your ‘new reality’? How do you manage to get through your ‘fog-filled’ days? What works for you? And if this doesn’t apply to you but does to your friend or loved one, how do you help them cope with their journey through the rocky land of grief?
As always, thanks for reading, and don’t be a stranger.