I read that this morning and thought to myself – Truth!
This week marked the 3rd year anniversary that my husband died unexpectedly the Friday night of Labor Day weekend.
I have been doing well overall; I work full time, I still live in my house, I travel and I even have a boyfriend.
But this week it all came back to me again.
A lot of the discomfort comes from anticipating that date. I have been proactive in the past with planning trips for a purposeful diversion. My close friends and family reach out with virtual hugs and comforting words which help me feel not so alone. That was so appreciated.
So, even though life is good, I was surprised to find myself sobbing in the car last week and using the bottom of my skirt to wipe my face. Maybe time doesn’t heal all wounds.
After Mike died I did seek grief counseling and was diagnosed with PTSD from complicated grief. I am sure that everyone who loses a spouse could benefit from grief counseling but I admit the circumstances behind my husband’s death are complicated. The night my husband died.
With a year plus of therapy I went through some different strategies to deal with what happened. Through reliving the night with EMDR therapy (eye movement and desensitization and reprocessing) to speaking with others in a bereavement group and even practicing yoga I made progress and stopped obsessing about the events of that night.
The important thing is to keep moving forward.
It’s perfectly normal to experience what sometimes is referred to as a pothole along your journey. It’s awful and you don’t want to stay there. I have learned that like mama said, “there’ll be days like this”, but they won’t all be that way.
And now I embrace and accept that I can feel sad or anxious or mad. That’s a good time for me to write angry letters to people who deserve to hear what I need to say. I don’t necessarily have to send them but it helps me understand why I am so upset.
Florida State University has developed a program for all the entering Freshmen designed to help students weather stress and cope with childhood traumas. The focus is to teach students about “adverse childhood experiences,” or ACEs, early traumas such as domestic abuse, family suicide, substance abuse, or violence.
The hope is to acknowledge that time does not heal all wounds. The likelihood of substance abuse and poor health habits is significantly greater in people with childhood traumas and can stay into later adult years as well.
Teaching young people about courage and resiliency is taking the exposure to trauma and bad experiences and turning them into something positive or transformational.
For example, the traumatized mothers who formed MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, has been proactive in making laws and new policies around drinking and driving.
Students will watch a number of videos and listen to Ted Talk type presentations about methods of dealing with pain, suffering and everyday stress. The lessons include action plans for typical problems such as contacting mental health services and how to join campus clubs.
I wish Florida State good luck with this ambitious plan and hope that it will be copied in universities around the world. Florida State Launches ‘Resilience’
It makes me think we should have something for those recently widowed or who have lost a child. A guidebook in place to help you figure out what problems you may have and how to go about dealing with them. Videos from fellow widows and widowers who have been through all of this would be so helpful. I know I benefitted from reading anything from people who had been through the death of their husband and how they handled moving forward.
It’s important for us to understand that we all can help my reaching out to people traumatized with loss.
We can connect with them, engage them and give them a sense of hope. Often times friends stay away because they don’t want us to feel bad. They don’t mention our loved one. Do they think we will fall over and cry or do they think it’s contagious? I love nothing more than for people to mention Mike’s name to me and share a funny story or memory. It’s OK to say their name.
As the years go on I will continue to conceal the pain, but I have been fortunate to have made progress moving forward with my life. I plan on making it a good life and if my blog can help someone else feel that they are not alone and that there is hope for happiness, that would be my mission fulfilled.
As Robert Ross tells on his Ted Talk video entitled “Time Doesn’t Heal All Wounds”…
“Your wound is where your light enters you.
He challenges his listeners to acknowledge their hurt and pain. Don’t deny it. Find it. Use it as fuel for personal transformation. Change the world. You can do it.”