I wrote this about a week after the year anniversary of Russell’s death. This was all before I found the bridge to get me from Year 1 to Year 2. As I was searching for a bridge, even a stepping stone path, to get me from here to there, I felt so very, very lost. I was almost frantic and hysterical at times as people would say to me “now it will get easier.” It sure didn’t feel like that. Since I wrote this much has shifted and changed but this is an important part of my healing journey that I want to record here. And it’s important for me to remember where I was as I sought to find the bridge I so desperately wanted to find. Anything that I’ve added since I originally wrote this I’ve put in between quotes. Overall I am just leaving it as is. I am only going to add what I had written in my journal from that time, that moment.
Written March 30 – Well I’ve made it through the first year after Russell’s death. The relief and easing of my heart that I had hoped to start feeling, somehow magically on the 1 year anniversary, hasn’t happened. I don’t know what I was expecting but it sure isn’t matching up to reality.
First year – there was a clear framework. Everything was a first. Everything was new. As muddy as life was there was a framework of getting through all of the firsts. For every new thing we experienced without Russell I tried to find a way for us to find some joy, some peace in our day. We had all of the birthday celebrations; celebrated all of the holidays with family; created new rituals, honored old traditions we just had to have, tried new things, said yes to new opportunities. We have tried to take baby step after baby step forward.
Maybe I hoped that in taking all of those baby steps forward, in keeping up with traditions, in trying new things, in saying yes to ourselves first and foremost that we would heal enough that our first steps into the 2nd year would be ones of relief and exhalations of we did it. Now it will get easier I thought. We’ve made it through the firsts basically in one piece. We can only get stronger from here right
I am here to say Pfft, it’s not getting easier yet. I’m here to say the I don’t think the first year is going to be so radically better than I can say, with any confidence, we have healed. I can firmly say that I am realizing that our healing is long from over and that we have years ahead of us, not just a few more weeks or months.
Every time I leave more children for more than a few hours it feels like I’ve just blown up a giant hole in my chest. I am turning inward more and more because I just have no words that I feel I can speak out loud. I feel more lethargic and unable to feel anything but tired. I have zero desire to just rally like I did the first year and find some way, any way to find joy in birthdays, holidays, etc.
What I am sensing about the 2nd year is that, in many ways, it will be harder than the first. It already feels more rudderless and foggy than the first. I think it’s partly because there is no clear framework for stepping through anything after the first. The firsts are over, the seconds should be easier right. Somehow I don’t think that will be true. Easter was already harder this year than last year. Partly because we “care less this year to just push through and find joy anywhere we can. Now, we find joy in new, vastly different ways than in old traditions. We don’t just push through but instead recognize that somethings just aren’t what we want to do anymore.”
“There is a new framework needed for the second year. But to get there feels like more than a simple step from 1 to 2. It feels bigger than that and I must find the bridge. How do I find it or create it? I feel panicky as I search for a bridge that I don’t know even exists. Just as I get used to the dull ache of grief something small happens the waves come roaring back over me. They come like a tsunami out of nowhere leaving me completely debilitated, unable to do even the most basic tasks. I feel like I am a shell of who I used to be and I don’t care.”