Thursday, January 31, 2013

Signs, signs ... am I supposed to see signs?

Are our loved ones who died still able to communicate with us? I don't mean communicating in the sense of actually hearing them speak to us. Can our spouses communicate with us through our dreams or special songs that come on the radio? Are there signs that hold particular meaning such as seeing a bird pause on a branch outside our window or watching a butterfly land near us that are intended to speak to us?

During the past three and a half years, I've been fortunate to meet so many amazing women (and a few men) who also are widowed. Through blogs or posts on Facebook, some of them have commented about vividly sensing their spouse. For one woman, the connection came in the form of a butterfly. For another widow, it was a series of songs that played on the radio; each song held special meaning for them. Others have said they smelled the cologne their spouse wore. Another widow said, for the briefest moment, she could see her late husband smiling at her.

I haven't had those same experiences. If I did, especially smelling Steve's cologne or seeing him, even for a second or two, I wonder if I would be comforted or freaked out. I don't know.

I did have one distinct moment when I truly sensed Steve communicated with me. This happened a little more than two years after Steve died. I was attending a wedding with a guy I was dating at the time. We were at the reception. Dinner was over and the standard dances had started -- father/bride, mother/groom, wedding party and so on. Then, it was time for the dance when everyone is invited to join the bride and groom on the dance floor.

The song started playing. By the first note, I knew the song. I knew it well, actually. Al Green began singing the first words of his classic song, "Let's Stay Together." Seriously? Of all the songs in the world, the couple chose this song? But, this was our song. Not with this guy ... but my special song with Steve. It was at our wedding when Steve played this song for me and we were the bride and groom dancing.

I glanced up at the ceiling ... and thought "Really?" It was then that I could swear I "heard," "Go, go make new memories."


So, I smiled, stood up and walked to the dance floor.

I haven't had other experiences in which I sensed Steve was trying to communicate with me. At least, I don't think I've sensed him. I wish I would, though. By sensing his presence or feeling like he's communicating with me, maybe I'd feel a sense of comfort in knowing he's "in a better place" or perhaps feel like part of him is still with me.

Signs, signs ... maybe they are all around us. I don't know.

Perhaps I need to stop, take time out of my busy schedule, breathe and be more aware of the signs that may be right in front of me.

So, the journey continues ...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Can I get off this roller coaster?

I love a good roller coaster. Well, now I do. My first experience riding a roller coaster wasn't so pleasant. I was afraid. Just seeing that first big hill was enough to scare the bejeezus out of me!

As I think about riding roller coasters, I'm struck by the similarity of the enormous mass of twisting steel (or wood) that is a roller coaster to the mass of twisting emotion that is grief. You may be thinking that I've totally lost it, but stay with me. On the surface, these two things couldn't be more different. However, the similarity comes in the wide range of emotions you experience both in riding a coaster and in living with grief.

In my experience on roller coasters, I've reacted with anxiety, screams of utter fear then laughter and excitement. The range of emotions that come with grief is like a roller coaster in itself. There's sadness, anxiety, longing for what was, longing for another close relationship and numbness, but there's also happiness, laughter and hope. And, the most important of these is hope!

While there are many, many, many days I want to get off this roller coaster of grief, I can't. It doesn't happen that way. I know the ups and downs of grief will still come. What I can do is learn to live with it and manage it as best as possible.

I have chosen to really live the rest of my life. I want to live it fully. For me, that means deepening friendships, choosing to love again, taking joy in the simple things in life, caring for myself so that I can care for my children, embracing new opportunities and approaching work with confidence.

There will be bad days and things that trigger a grief response. On this journey to a new normal, I'll continue to learn how to manage the twists and turns that cause grief to rear its ugly head. Because it will!

So the journey continues ...