For twelve weeks I have been attending Grief Share, a grief counseling series of sessions designed to help navigate the loss of a loved one.  The loss can be anyone significant.  For me, it was the loss of my husband, Bobby.

Bobby was diagnosed with a terminal illness in January 2016 and despite the very aggressive battle we launched against it with the help of many doctors, he succumbed to the disease in December 2016.  We knew it was coming. 

There are arguments on both sides of whether or not it is easier to be the survivor when you have warning.  But everything is individually based.  In the end, what matters is how you move forward. 

My plan was to keep busy.  I followed a punch list that Bobby and I had devised prior to his passing of things that needed to be done.  I breezed through those and subsequently added my own projects.  It worked – until it didn’t.  Once that list (and the project money) ran out, I found myself stuck in a very profound manner.  I didn’t want to get up and out of bed.  Didn’t care what I wore or how I looked.  Can’t say I lost my appetite.  Just the opposite in fact.  I ate often and the wrong things.  I was really “tanking” and I knew it.

In desperation, I took the advice of a friend and began this group counseling.  I was not at all engaged despite feeling like I was trying.  To me, it seemed like a big pity party of people I did not know all feeling sad about the loss of a loved one.  By week three I had pretty much had it.  But I spoke to some friends and in the end decided to hang in there and see what I could possibly gain from it.

It is now week 13.  Tonight we are having a little bring-to informal snack and share time that we tacked on to the schedule ourselves because we have now all clicked in some way shape or form.  After twelve weeks of attending, participating and hoping, this is what I have learned:

Before Bobby passed away, I was a mother, I worked, I did many things.  But first and foremost I was Bobby’s wife.  No matter how awful the world was on any particular day, I came home (or phoned when he was working out of town) and the world no longer mattered.  He was my support.  He was my affirmation that I was beautiful, smart, capable, funny, kicked ass at making lasagna…all the things that he loved about me and told me so every chance he got.  He was my self esteem when I lost my own.  That is now gone.  So my struggle is not only dealing with the loss of Bobby, but also in the loss of my self.  Who am I now?  I don’t work.  I don’t “earn” an income.  I am no one’s wife.  I am a widow. I am alone and have lost my mirror.

So, for those of you lucky enough to have never endured a significant loss.  Remember this.  The struggle is real and is all about who is the survivor now that the deceased is no longer in his/her life.  Someday that may be you.  Find out who you are now while you have the support of your loved ones.  It’s much more difficult when they are gone.


The Roaring Ellie

Some day, when I’m awfully low
When the world is cold
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight

Yes, you’re lovely, with your smile so warm
And your cheeks so soft
There is nothing for me but to love you
And the way you look tonight

With each word your tenderness grows
Tearin’ my fear apart
And that laugh, wrinkles your nose
Touches my foolish heart

Lovely, never, never change
Keep that breathless charm
Won’t you please arrange it? 
‘Cause I love you
And the way you look tonight

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1 Comment

  1. Peggy Davis on April 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Ellen, you always touch my heart with your words, but most especially in this one. I love you, my friend.