Updated: Sep 9, 2018
On a really bad day I was wondering if the pain and emptiness would ever go away. It got me to thinking about the 7 stages of grief. Over the last six months I have been riding the proverbial emotional roller-coaster and wondered how many hills I still had to climb before the ride was over. So, I looked up the 7 stages which explains a lot. I am stuck in stage 4 the depression is the reason I haven't updated my blog. If stage 4 is the reason I am not writing my blog then let it be the reason I finally push through and begin writing again.
SHOCK & DENIAL- Though it is never easy to lose someone, when they die suddenly, this stage is intensified 10-fold as there is no closure. One of my biggest regrets was that I didn't get a chance to say goodbye and tell him how much he meant to me and thank him for my wonderful life. For the longest time I didn't believe it was real and that he would be walking through the door at any moment. I remember the exact minute when I realized it was real and he would never be back. It hurt so bad I wanted to die.
PAIN & GUILT- After Jack died I had a lot of guilt. Should I have seen the signs, could I have saved him. Should I have checked on him when I got home from work. We saw each other every morning, me leaving for work, him coming home. Those 15-20 minutes were our time, it contained hugs, kisses, and I love yous. That morning I left early I got busy didn't call. I never told him I loved him that day.
ANGER & BARGAINING- I don't think I ever bargained as I knew there was no way he could come back. I did experience the anger big time. Anger at him, at me, his job, at God. Most of my anger was directed at him for not taking care of himself. For being stubborn and ignoring the signs that something was wrong. Anger at him for leaving me alone and for screwing up our plans for how we were going to spend the rest of our lives. Then I would go back to the guilt stage for being angry. This was a short-lived stage. I learned long ago that God doesn't make things happen nor can he stop them. He is here to support us through these times. I wasn't mad at Jack for long. Who the hell wants to die.
DEPRESSION", REFLECTION, LONELINESS- This is where I am now and I have no idea how to get out. I didn't think it was possible to feel so lonely surrounded by people. I didn't think you could physically feel empty but I do. I look back at our lives and I both cry and smile. I try and look to the future and I only cry. I am so exhausted some days I am not sure how I get up and function but I do. I am a fighter, I refuse to curl up in the dark and stay stuck where I am. I will find a way to push through this, this may mean going to a grief support group or even a therapist. I will do this without medication, alcohol or nicotine. I will not use food for comfort. I will find constructive ways to channel my pain and loneliness. I will make it through the holidays, maybe not totally in one piece but I will make it through for my children. I will make it through for Jack just in case he is watching I want him to see I will be okay.
I did get out of this stage little by little. I still experience the loneliness at times but that is because I have not yet opened myself up enough to allow someone else in. Ninety five percent of the time I am okay being on my own. I figure when it gets down to a 50/50 ratio I might have to rethink my life.
THE UPWARD TURN-this is where I am supposed to begin to adjust to life without him. My life is supposed to become calmer and more organized, which is interesting because it was never calm or organized before he died. My physical symptoms are supposed to lessen and the depression to begin to lift. This is my goal to make it to this phase, how long it takes I am not sure. They say timing is everything, well the timing sucks for me to try and get here. I can't even think about the holidays without bursting into tears. Hopefully once I survive them I can work to reaching this goal.
I think this happened for me when I went back to work, and started to normalize my days with the familiar. It was difficult but getting back into a routine, having things to keep my mind occupied and understanding that life didn't stop just because Jack died helped me.
RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH- they say when you reach this stage you become more functional, your mind starts working again. I am supposed to seek realistic solutions to problems posed by life without Jack. I am supposed to start working on practical and financial problems. I will begin reconstructing myself and my life without Jack. Okay, something is wrong here. I am still so entrenched in stage 4 yet, I am functional, my mind is functioning better. From day one I have worked out practical solutions and financial issues. The one stumbling block I see in this phase is I am stuck. My life so drastically different yet still the same. For 34 years I was a couple, my identity was being the Joanne of Jack and JoAnne. I want to figure out who I am, move forward and find my new life but I can't. Though Jack is gone, I still have to take care of Dad, I have the house, the family and the dogs. Responsibility is the same, the difference no Jack to bear some of the burden. I need to figure out how to break out of this role while keeping my commitments and meeting my responsibilities when I really just want to run away be by myself and figure it all out. Guess the depression stage is keeping me on the pity pot. Hopefully life will bitch slap me out of this.
This is still a work in progress I am almost there but I still feel I am missing something. My life has changed but stayed so much the same with responsibilities of work, family, and my dad, that i am still stuck in the old life while trying to find my new normal. I am almost there.
ACCEPTANCE & HOPE-Will I ever accept that I lost the love of my life, I hope one day I can. Will I accept that it is okay to say goodbye and that I can be happy again I hope one day that will happen. Can I accept that the future I had all laid out is gone but that doesn't mean I have no future, I hope that is true. I know some of the things I need to accept, I just don't know what to hope for. Maybe someday I will figure it out.
I hit acceptance fairly early but hope took some time and maybe about two years. The day I really truly smiled and felt joy again was the day hope came back into my life.