Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Aimee's Missing...

The big news in the Rhoads household this week - Rowan lost her first tooth! She'd been excited about it ever since it first started to wiggle, and on Sunday, in the middle of eating her cereal, it came out (and was immediately swallowed, causing no small amount of consternation on her part). I had to assure her the tooth fairy would still reward her for the tooth, even if it was M.I.A.
Rowan showing off her missing tooth

But this event, like many others, deeply underscores Aimee's absence. Every single time Rowan does something really cool or passes another key milestone in her life, I miss Aimee all the more. "She should be here for this" is the common refrain running through my mind. Aimee would be so proud of all the things Rowan has accomplished in the last 15 months:

  • Moving from crib/trundle bed to 'big girl' bed
  • Being weaned from using pacifiers
  • Finishing her first year of preschool
  • Starting ballet classes
  • Starting to learn to read and write
And more I'm sure I'm forgetting at the moment.

And that's just the beginning. Rowan turns five years old soon. For some reason, that number seems like an especially big deal to me. I wish Aimee was going to be here for it. Next fall she starts Kindergarten. In the next year or so she'll read her first book, learn to ride a bike, and so many, many more things.

Aimee will miss every single one of them. And that is just not fair, for any of us. 

Monday, February 18, 2013


So, I do have a few more posts in the works, but wanted to let everyone know about an important change I recently made to this blog as it relates to being able to post comments.

When I first started this blog, I made people sign in or register to make comments, but changed it soon after to allow 'anonymous' comments to be posted. The idea was to make it easier for people to post comments to my blog. However, that has started to backfire.

Over the last few months, I have started getting FLOODED with spam comments, all including links to outside web sites (gambling, shopping, etc). I finally got tired of the incessant email notifications and cleanup of comments, so I changed the settings once again to make people have some sort of sign in when they comment.

I know this will prevent some people from being able to (or wanting to) post comments, but I hope you will all forgive me for adding the extra hurdle. It just got to be too much of a pain.

Look for a new post some time this week...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Grief for guys - the toughest stretch...

Note: This post took me MONTHS to write, rewrite, rewrite, etc. I'm finally only somewhat happy with what it expresses. If it seems a bit disjointed, that's why. But I'm tired of working on it, so here it is.

So it's well known that men and women process grief differently. I mean, men and women pretty much do everything differently, right? So what I'm about to relate will probably have some truth ring to it for men (at least, if they're honest), and maybe not so much for women.

For me, the hardest stretch since Aimee died started in about February of last year, roughly 2-3 months after her death. The shock and numbness had worn off. A new routine had kind of settled in, requiring less deliberate thought.

And I got lonely.

I mean, really lonely. "Desperate" is the word that comes to mind.

My response to this was to decide that I wanted to begin dating again. As in right now, if not yesterday. I even joined a dating site to begin meeting people. I didn't care that it had only been 2-3 months. I didn't care that I was still in a lot of pain over Aimee's death. I needed companionship, and I needed it now.

Let's just say, it didn't go very well.

In all, I only ended up meeting two women for coffee, and I didn't see either of them a second time. I quickly realized that being with someone else might make me feel better on the surface, temporarily, but that if I pursued anything more serious, people were probably going to get hurt. I just couldn't do that.

The bottom line is, these experiences did nothing to make me feel better about my loss. It was a horrible few months, and it only got better slowly. I missed Aimee so badly, but her being with me wasn't an option, so I wanted someone, anyone, else. Luckily, I suppose, that really didn't work out. But that doesn't mean I didn't want it to work out. Like I said, I was desperate, and in a lot of pain.

By June, I had begun to feel a little better. I was still terribly lonely, but I was getting more used to living with it. Plus, summer was starting, and more sunshine always improves my mood. I put the idea of dating out of my head for a while, and focused on trying to enjoy the summer and the activities Rowan and I could do now that it wasn't raining so much.

I began this post describing the difference between men and women in grief. I did so because over the last year I've checked out a number of other blogs by those who've lost spouses, and they're all by women. And they pretty much all seemed to have had absolutely zero desire to begin seeing other people during the first year (or even several years). Or at least, I didn't see where any of them talked about it. They did express loneliness, but not a desire to alleviate it by getting back into dating. These women seemed to prefer to stay focused on the grieving process without getting involved in a new relationship, and do so for quite a bit longer. Men? Well, to be blunt, we're weaker and we want another woman in our lives because they'll comfort us and make us feel better. And let's face it, some men can't really take care of themselves or their kids nearly as well as their wives, either. I'm not being critical, it's just a fact in many families.

(Gladly, I take GREAT pride in being able to function at a high level on my own in regards to running the Rhoads household. A partner to help me would be awesome, but I don't need a wife to help me.)

For some of the guys who do move on quickly, it doesn't always necessarily turn out to be a bad thing. I have two good friends who lost their wives, and my mom is friends with another. All three were remarried within a year. And by all accounts, all three seem to be happy and have good marriages with the women they married following their spouse's passing. Before Aimee's death, I might have been a bit surprised that someone might move on so fast. Now, I totally get it. If things had gone a little differently for me, that might have been my road as well.

I am thankful now that it wasn't.

PS. I think this fundamental difference leads women to often be very disapproving of men who do jump right back into dating after losing their spouse. I think they see it as tremendously disrespectful to the late wife. Trust me, it's not our intent. We're just in unbearable pain, and only know one way to address it. I'm not saying we're right or that women are wrong - I'm just explaining the difference.