Thursday, April 12, 2012

"You're handling this so well"

Many times over the last four months I've heard, "You're handling this so well." I always take this as a compliment, but I also am not exactly sure what that means. How does one normally handle the unexpected and tragic loss of a spouse? Fall into a drunken stupor? Lock themselves in their bedroom? Run away?

The point is, All of the above and more HAVE been done by people in this type of situation, and I think all of those approaches have their merits, at least for a little while. I'm not going to judge someone else for how they've handled the unimaginable train wreck that this type of event represents in your life. As for me, I've done none of those things (at least not yet). I've kept it together. Gone to work. Kept my daughter fed, bathed, dressed, and in school. Paid my bills. Yada yada yada. Am I some kind of superhero for that? Nope. Staying busy and focused on tasks is how I've coped. It's not better than someone else's way, it's just different. It's probably more logistically productive than some of the others, but that doesn't mean it was a better way to handle it.

The truth is though, I have appreciated hearing it. It's turned out to be one of the things that has motivated me on the harder days to keep my crap together and keep moving forward.

But it's also not always true.

Believe it or not, this is where we
eat dinner.
I can't keep my house straightened up. I AM paying my bills, but barely on time (and a few of them late). My dining room table has been a disaster, with the exception of a two-day span in February, since I got home from Florida. Same with the area around the fireplace. I probably wouldn't get the house cleaned at all, except for the incredible gift from my colleagues who all pitched in to pay a house cleaner who comes every two weeks and cleans most of my house. I'm lucky enough to have her through the end of July.

I have time to get this stuff done, I just can't seem to bring myself to do it. Sometimes I just sit and stare for long stretches and do absolutely nothing but wallow in the pain of this loss (never until after my daughter goes to bed though). My brain goes through 'hiccups' where I do really stupid stuff I wouldn't have done before. I'm eating like crap, and with my sprained ankle, I'm not burning off the calories. Hence, I've put on weight the last few months, and I wasn't exactly scrawny to begin with. What little I do get done at home happens just as I realize I need to go to bed, and then I'm up an extra hour making lunches, doing laundry, etc, and getting even less sleep than the few hours I'd left myself already. (This is also the time when I write most of these posts, like right now - it's 12:38am.) The lack of sleep, I'm sure, is a contributing factor to my space-brain and weight gain. I'm constantly fighting urges to engage in 'retail therapy' sprees I can not afford. And in what is without a doubt the most egregious offense, I STILL have not written thank-you notes to the many amazing people who provided meals, donated to the World Vision fund set up in Aimee's honor, or contributed to our daughter's college fund.

And that's not all. The loneliness is a killer. I ache for companionship, affection, laughter, all the great stuff that goes along with a healthy, loving relationship like Aimee and I had. It's been a real struggle for me, and I hate it.

So, maybe I am handling this well. Or maybe I'm just hiding it well.


  1. I don't always comment but I always read. I went back to this one and just wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts, struggles and joys. Your blog is touching and has meant so much. Continued good wishes for you and Rowan and Aimee and your extended family sent your way