Arriving At The ‘Getting Used To’ Phase 9 Months After My Spouse’s Death

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It has been nine months since Peter died and I am astounded that time has flown by so quickly. On the flip side, when I think of the time I have spent mucking through the process of grief, it seems like an eternity. This is where “time heals all wounds” gets tossed out the window. To quote Rose Kennedy, who saw more than her share of heartache: “It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

I have started to envision the phases of my progress. At first, I could see no way through the pain. I couldn’t even imagine a life without Peter. This was my e-ticket ride of torment, which had me reeling and desperately searching for some incarnation of terra firma. I actually didn’t want to live without him and discovered how very common this feeling is among those of us who have experienced the death of a spouse. The blow of widowhood is so stunning that it floors the best of us, and surprises even the most prepared. How can one be prepared for the loss of a love? Grief is so shocking that all you can do when it hits is function minute to minute.

At the next stage in my process, I was just “getting through” and “going through the motions of life.” I would wake up thinking I was in the movie Groundhog Day and revisit the pain daily. That’s when the roller coaster of emotion would hit out of nowhere and knock me for a loop! I would do errands, pay bills, visit friends, see family but without the joy I had with Peter. At least at this stage, I was moving forward without the complete despondency of acute grief.

I am now at the “getting used to” phase. I no longer wake with sadness, although I have been known to crumple on an occasion. Life is different. It still doesn’t have happiness and joy but I have a rays of sunshine in between the showers of tears. I am busy and functioning, moving forward with a lot of assistance from friends and family. I am innately aware that the good days are beginning to outnumber the bad ones.

I have decided to envision my future as an exercise in exploration. Exploration is a good thing in the stages of grief. It means I am looking forward to a future, whatever that may bring. I choose to use the happiest place on earth, Disneyland, as my guide. No, I am not running to Anaheim for a visit, I am just trying to look at all the lands I can visit in my journey towards my new normal. How about Adventureland for a start? Perhaps I might travel when I feel ready to venture to other lands? When I ask myself where I will be in a few years, I cannot go there yet. I am not even sure how I got to the stage of “getting used to.” This process is baffling and arduous but it does take me down a path in which I put one foot in front of the other without understanding why. Movement is good on my journey. It means that one day I can experience Adventureland or even Pioneerland. If I look down the road ahead and I can visualize the image of Adventureland, maybe it will allow me to feel contentment or even give me some form of hope and promise? Or how about Fantasyland as a fabulous image for my new life? This process opens my mind to new possibilities and new lands to visit.

As I go through my journey of grief, I will avoid roller coasters, Mr. Toad’s Wild Road, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, and It’s A Small World (just because the song never leaves my head), and hope that my life will be sweeter in Tomorrowland.

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