Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Story II

This is part II of a speech about my story (read part I here) that I gave recently at Bereaved Families of Ontario:

One month out. I receive the first "AfterLoss" newsletter the funeral home signed me up for. I don't want to read about how people grieve. I just want to get on with my life. I sure don't want to read about pain and how it will go on for a long time, or how grief is forever. I don't really feel pain. Besides, I have been busy grieving ever since Deb said goodbye to me. I'm pretty much finished now. Or so I think.

Three months out. My very annoying alarm clock goes off at 8:00 am, signaling it is time to get up and go to work. Beep, beep, beep. I stare up at the ceiling and think, "Life is pointless." I do this for the next 3 and a half hours. At 11:30, I finally get up, turn off the alarm, get ready, and go to work.

Four months out. I've been noticing that my perception of time is off, like everything is delayed a half-second or so. Colours seem dim, no longer vivid. Food has little taste. I feel very strange. Later I will learn that I am still physically, emotionally, and chemically addicted to Deb, and that I am experiencing withdrawal symptoms. I am numb.

Five months out. I meet a very nice woman online, and I ask her out. Why am I dating at five months? Death did us part. As I said, my emotional connection to Deb was over 15 months before she died. And due to cervical cancer, any physical connection between us was impossible. And I want my young son to have a new mom. And besides, I know that I am happiest when I am loving someone else. But right now I am not experiencing happiness. Instead, it feels like someone is taking a big yellow marker and highlighting everything that I have lost.

Six months out. I'm starting to become unglued. I have been pushing forward with my plans to move to Central America, a huge dream of mine for many years. But as I get ready to sell my house, I begin having anxiety attacks. I can feel my blood pressure rising, and I suspect I might soon have a heart attack. Full stop. I listen to my body. I stop all plans for selling my house and moving. I break off my fledgling relationship. I shelve any plans I have for the rest of my life. I later learn that planning for the future is a major grief trigger. I stare grief in the face. Looks like I'm going to have to grieve after all. But what is grief, anyway?

Seven months out. I am in deep pain. It feels like someone ripped my chest open with a jagged sword. I walk down the stairs here for the first time. I don't want to be here. I am a little scared about what I will learn about myself here. I toy briefly with the idea of writing "Cornelius" on my nametag, like Tyler Durdon does in the movie Fight Club. In the group session, I hear stories of other widows and widowers who are experiencing similar things to me. And I hear a story from someone with circumstances worse than my own. This somehow makes me feel a little better. Maybe even a little smug.

Part III coming soon...

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