The Journey Through Grief of a Young Widowed Mom

My grief journey after losing my husband of six and a half years. I am 27, and he would have been 28, in September 2006. We have three little boys, 6, 4, and 2.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Visiting in Maine

I am in Maine now with the boys. The trip out here was just fine. There was not any problems and my sons were quite well. They behaved, and I recommend flying in the evening with small children! They sleep. The hardest part was waking them up at the end of the trip. Micah and Owen both cried, they both wanted to be held, but I couldn't hold either! They fell back to sleep in the truck on the way to Grandma and Grandpa Anderson's, and then woke back up here. We were in bed for the night by about 2:30. They slept great last night though. Tonight they were in bed by eight. They are getting worn out. Micah really misses his Nanoo and being home. He doesn't want to go to far away from this house because he knows it is the key to getting back home. Especially when he is tired, but he is having a great time otherwise. Bedtime is hardest, but he isn't crying or anything, just wants to be able to curl up in his own bed I think.

It is both comforting and hard being here. There are so many things that Mickey should be here doing with us. He should be here sharing the memories with us. I feel like I missed out on a part of Mickey since I didn't know much of his childhood, and it makes me miss him more because I want to ask him so many questions and hear his stories. I got some pictures of him when he was young and they will be nice for the boys. Everyone says that Micah is just like Mickey. I guess I will get to see Mickey as a boy that way, however my Micah, will have a much more loving, stable home and will have a better chance than his daddy did. I thank God for the time I had with Mickey and that I was able to provide that love and stability that he needed. His grandparents were there for him too, and there were basically like parents to him. I thank God for them too, they were his saving grace, definitly part of God's plan.

Mickey is everywhere here as a young child and a young man, but not so much as an adult. His adult years were with me, and the boys. I only knew him that way, so it is like a paradox for me. It is better to be home because that is where I shared my life with him, but it also holds constant reminders of what I have lost. Here I don't have the constant reminders of what I lost, but I also don't have him to share being here with. I sleep on the bed he slept on when he was a teenager, the boys play in the same fields, trees, woods that he used to play on as a little boy. This house is where he spent countless time growing up, playing, learning, sleeping, being Mickey. He talked some about his childhood, and I think while it held some great memories, it also represented the pain and rejection he felt from those who were supposed to love and care for him most. I think he spent much of his young adult years trying to balance the happy memories and knowledge of his childhood with overcoming and doing the bad stuff better. He did it well, but I am afraid he didn't get to share as much as his childhood as I would have liked. I feel that is a side I don't know enough about for him. Maybe that is why Pastor Chuck belives that Mickey did appear as a little boy and he is up getting his childhood healed right now. Mickey deserves that. He tried so hard and he overcame so much. I didn't give him enough credit for that. I miss him.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Happy Birthday Mickey

He would have been 28 today. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I told myself this morning that he is having the best birthday ever. He is looking upon the face of the Lord, he is a place of total happiness, total acceptance, total joy and elation. He is having a much better time than we possibly could here on earth. I don't see why they wouldn't celebrate birthdays in Heaven, to remember the day that God sent them into the world to learn about Him, to learn to glorify Him. In that same respect, they must celebrate the day of death for their step into God's existance, the day the went home to be with their Creator.

I want everyone to read the book A Travel Guide to Heaven by Anthony Destefano. While I don't agree with everything he says, or the way he skirts around somethings, it really is a helpful book to give us hope about Heaven. To give us a more concrete idea of what Heaven is, what Mickey and other loved ones are experiencing. I'd also appreciate any other suggetions for books about Heaven or paradise, etc. I also suggest a book called Eli, from the same author of the Face of God. It is hard for many people to imagine Jesus and his walk on the earth because we are so far disconnected from that history, that time period, etc. A lot of the details are lost on us because we don't totally understand the culture and the structure of their society. In Eli, it is as Christ did not come back 2000 years ago, but instead came back in the present time. Instead of being Jesus, a form of Joshua, he is Eli. He was born in a hotel laundry room as there was no room in the hotel for his parents to have a room there. It is very interesting and really helped me understand some important details that really make a difference in the understanding of Jesus and his ministry.

This morning when we woke up, we talked about what we wanted to do. I had already bought a silk autumn floral/leaf wreath to hang there. The two older boys wrote notes/made birthday cards for Mickey, and I did also. We rolled them up and put them inside balloons. Then we blew the balloons up with left over helium. At around 11 am, we went to the cemetary. The first thing I did was remove the cross that had been there. THe flowers were dead, the styrofoam was starting to rot, and it had fallen over. We replaced that with the wreath. I asked the boys if they wanted to sing "Happy Birthday" but the did not. Instead we went over to a clearing and let the balloons go. They went up forever and it was really neat. Micah likes to sing songs and he sang something about Daddy having his birthday in Heaven with Jesus. We then went to lunch in the village, played in the park, and went to the library. When we got home we had to bury a cat that had been hit by a car in front of the property. Micah again sang a song about the kitty dying and being in heaven with Daddy. James didn't want him to, but we told James to leave Micah alone because singing helps him. We later had a birthday party to go to for our chiropractor/friend's son. It was at a big bounce house fun place. The boys had a lot of fun. As soon as we got back I went to growth group at church. Shane and Wendy, and Matt came over to watch the season premiere of The Office, and then mom and I watched the season premiere of Grey's Anatomy. Then I finished the book A Travel Guide to Heaven, which I started this morning, and now I am writing this. Keeping busy is good.

There is a part of that book that I really appreciated. When Jesus arrived and discovered that Lazarus was dead, and saw his friend's grief at losing their brother, he cried too. He not only cried, he wept, he grieved, his heart broke. We all know what the feeling is. Even though Jesus knew that he could raise Lazarus, which he did, he still knew the feeling. While we have all the hope in the world for Heaven, for what comes after this world, just as Jesus had, He is God, he still couldn't overcome those feelings of desperate grief. God knows what our pain is, and like the book said, I can't help but think that he grieves for us too, knowing our desperate pain and heartbreak. The night Mickey died, and the night after, we had some pretty big thunder/rain storms. Those nights I couldn't help but think that God was crying for me, and just maybe he was.

So, I want to say "Mickey, I know you had the happiest birthday ever. I know you would have liked to have us there, but you were with Jesus, with other loved ones and friends, and we remembered you and loved you here. We will see you again someday soon. Meanwhile give Jesus a hug for me and Jesus give Mickey a hug for me."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I think that people misunderstood some of my last posts. I haven't been sleeping horribly. It seems most people think that I said I had trouble sleeping the last five days, but instead I said that I just had dreams those nights. I was sleeping, I was dreaming. I am getting sleep, don't let that concern you. Others have suggested grief counseling, but I don't think I need grief counseling. If I had anger or guilt, I think that would be a good idea, but I don't. I have deep sadness and pain that anyone would have going through this. I read in one of the grief books I bought that people often have those kinds of reactions. That people will think you are strong if you don't share your feelings, but if you do, a lot of people will think you are going crazy. That is not the case. I don't need to go talk to a stranger about my grief. I have my family to talk to. They will tell me that I am having normal feelings, that I am going through the stages of grief (which I can read about in a book) and give me some ideas to do like journaling (blogging), writing letters to Mickey, keeping busy, etc. All of these things I can read about in a book for free instead of paying someone to tell me that. If it got to a point where I wasn't able to function on a daily basis, then I would definitly seek help. I am going back on my Paxil to help with the anxiety and overwhelming feelings I get, the same ones I had after Mickey was shot. That should help with my frustration aimed at the boys.

I am not going crazy, nor is anything I am feeling odd or abnormal. It is the same feelings that anyone feels when they've lost the love of their life to a sudden death, or any death for that matter. Especially ones that have children. I have you all to talk to about it, and that is my therapy. I just need you to understand that. I need you guys to call me, and you don't have to talk about Mickey's death, or how hard it is, just talk about anything. Keep me busy, keep me distracted, help me to think about life. I don't know why people would avoid me because of it. There is no where that requires people to talk only about the death. If you want to talk about it, that is fine, but I don't necessarily want to either. Ask me out to lunch, ask me to go shopping with you. Ask me to come visit. Send me an email. Come over and help me clean something. Ask me if there are any phone calls I don't want to make. Take my boys out to play. Take my boys out to play. Hug my boys. Call them on the phone. Help them do projects. Those things will help me a lot.

Holly gave me the idea of making a quilt of Mickey's clothes. I really love quilts, and I woud love to do that. It would be a very special thing to me. I am going to ask Grandma Anderson first to make it, but if it would be too hard for her to do, too emotional, I will try to find someone else. I still have a lot of pictures to put in photo albums too. I would love help doing that. I would love help getting pictures copied out of Joel's photo albums to put into mine.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Monday, September 18, 2006

The Shock Wears Off and Reality Sets In and It Hurts

9/17 Tonight I can’t sleep. The last five nights or so straight, plus a few times before, I’ve had dreams of trying to convince Mickey to stay, trying to get Mickey to return, or something similar. It isn’t trying to get him to return from death, or stay from going in death, just to stay or not go. Today was not good. It hasn’t been. The hole in my heart and soul seems to be growing bigger. I miss him, and will never have him again. It seems as though mentally I know that he will not even return, my unconsciousness still wants, needs, and expects him to return. Half of my identity is gone, as a wife, and the other half, as a mom, I don’t have him to share it with. When I think of not ever seeing him again, my heart comes up into my throat and I almost feel like I am choking. I don’t know what I am supposed to do now. I feel so lost and incomplete. Thinking about the future hurts. I know I have these boys to raise, but I didn’t want to do it without him. Days seem almost meaningless right now. I guess I should get involved and do things, but I hate to be gone for too long. I hate to expect mom to take care of them so much. I hate asking so much from people. People tell me to call them, but I won’t. I feel like I’m imposing. I wish they would just call me. I don’t fit into married groups, and I don’t really fit into singles groups. I don’t fit in with most widow/widowers. What kind of social life am I supposed to have? I know it doesn’t have to be now, but am I supposed to have one later. Shouldn’t I have one later? What the heck would I do? I want to have friends who aren’t married and have children, but that aren’t in their forties, friends in the same age group. I think that is almost impossible. I don’t fit with the college and career group, but neither do I fit with the 30-something group. I don’t fit with the 20’s group, because most of them are never before married, in college, or starting their careers. If they are married, they are married, starting out in their lives, expecting children, or have just started their families. I don’t want to be alone. I wanted my husband to share my life with, to raise my children with, to feel secure with, to have things to do with, to make plans with, and now I don’t have anything but my children. I am not being a good mom either. I yell at them for almost nothing. I hate myself for that. They are such little boys, and they’ve been through so much, and the only parent they have yells at them and breaks their tiny hearts. They are everything I have and yet I still can’t do right by them. I want nothing more than to be the good, calm, loving, gentle mom they need, but I get so overwhelmed, so frustrated and so tired of it all. I just want to skip ahead a couple of years to when it won’t be so painful. I don’t want to go through this process anymore. I want to be able to let go, but at the same time, I don’t ever want to. I am not married anymore, but can I take off my rings? Would that symbolism help me move through the process, or would it just make me feel guilty and sad? I am not married anymore. That statement hurts a lot. I am not married anymore. I am a single mother. That was never supposed to be. I am a single mother unlike other single mothers who have the fathers still there taking the children on weekends, offering some kind of support, being a father to the children. I am a single mother who lost the father of her children totally and permanently and not by anyone’s choice. I am soley responsible for the hearts, minds and souls of three little boys. That is more responsibility than I bargained for on my own. And though everyone offered support, everyone has their own lives. We are lucky to see some people twice a week for a few minutes at a time, and others every couple of weeks. I know it isn’t always by choice, because they have their own lives too, but it still hurts. Everyone moves on, new babies, new paths, new jobs, new careers, etc. At the end of the day it is me and the boys, except for the ever loving, ever faithful and ever strong Nanoo, who has been there for me faithfully and unending. Without her, I would be….I don’t know, not well. There were lots of promises for help, help to get things done, help to do this and to do that, but I don’t think most of the people really meant to follow through. I guess those are just nice words to say to someone when they’ve suffered a loss. I haven’t even seen Pastor Chuck in well over a month. Heather calls when she wants something, and I can’t help but think of how I am glad that Mickey isn’t here to experience that. She already broke his heart enough, over and over again, and she still can’t see past herself. People ask me how I am, but don’t really want to hear the answer, and I am sure they are relieved when I say “okay”. How do they think I am? I’m just fine. I lost my husband, my life mate, my best friend, my whole life, and I am left alone to raise three little boys. Do they want to hear that financially and physically I’ll be okay? I guess that is true. I will be. If that is all they want to hear, which is what most people do I guess. If they really cared, they would call, or write, or ask me over instead of telling me “if you need something” or “give me a call sometime”, they would bring me something, they would invite me over, or out, or whatever. They would call and talk to me like a person who is alive, and not like someone they barely know that is dying. I am not going to get any sleep tonight, then I am going to be tired and upset and angry tomorrow. I don’t know.

The First Expression of Pain in Writing

8/29 It has been four weeks now. I have been separated from him before, like the five months when he was in Iraq, and several other times while he was in the Army and really I know there is a wall at about two months, and I know it will hit harder knowing that this time he won’t return, not at all and not for any reason. I am pretty sure that I am still in shock, but I think it is starting to wear off and it hurts really bad and it is horrible when I have the moments of realization. I try to avoid it. I try to find a balance between thinking about him, remembering him and avoiding it because it hurts so much. When I sort through pictures or read memories about him from other people it really starts to ache really bad and then I get in a bad mood. I can’t take the kids being loud and needy at the same time as dealing with my emotions. My oldest is sweet and will rub my back and hug me and tell me that he loves me. I don’t want him to carry my burdens too though. I want him to see me grieve so he knows that is okay, but I just want to make sure that I don’t put any more on them than what is their own grief. My middle son, who just turned 3, interprets all his feelings as being angry. I hung up a collage of pictures of Mickey on the wall and I asked Micah if he liked them and he said “No, I’m mad.” He doesn’t quite understand the emotions. I think they understand the knowledge aspect of it. They understand their daddy is gone from the Earth, that he is in heaven and we talk about their daddy all the time. Sometimes I can go on with my day, for moments, hours even and feel normal, but then it hits me like a ton of bricks, especially when I sit around the house, or when I return from a long day of being in town. Sometimes when the phone rings I think to myself, oh maybe that’s Mickey calling and then I have to remind myself that he won’t be calling. A few times I thought I saw him out of the corner of my eye, and that hurts when the reality comes and it isn’t him and it never will be him again. I just have to remind myself that this life isn’t forever and I will see that beloved man again, but it hurts so much that it won’t be here and that I have to raise the boys alone and that they won’t have their daddy to help the grow into men. It hurts to know he won’t hold me in his arms anymore, he won’t be able to hold my hand. There won’t be anymore trips to the hardware store (that is how we got out of the house alone usually), no more movies together or dinner. We were planning on getting away on a real vacation soon, there won’t be any of that. There won’t be anymore of him wrestling with the boys on the living room floor or working out in the yard with them. I even miss his snoring that kept me up at night sometimes. I miss him calling from work to check and see how my day is gone and I miss him sitting in his chair at night after the kids go to bed, like we used to do together, side my side in our chairs. I miss him putting on his aftershave in the morning and walking through the house so when I got out of bed I would smell it. I miss the half full coffee put because he always insisted on making a full pot even though he was the only one that would drink it. I especially miss at 5:40 everyday him walking through the door after a long day at work and him saying “Hello dear.” I miss his kissing me before work every day. I miss his constant jokes and making fun. I miss his beautiful smile and his unique laugh. I miss his love.