Even with time to prepare for my husband’s death, I was not prepared for the shell shock after. We’d been married for more than half my life–almost my entire adulthood at the time.
I knew he was ready to go, and I sat with him until he was gone. Nothing prepared me for that experience, even though I thought I was. I was grateful he found his peace, and that peace enveloped me, too.
I was not prepared for the sudden need to make decisions about the funeral home, to notify our families, to call his boss (and mine), to tell his friends……….
After his parents left to deal with their own grief, I called one of my best friends. She dropped everything and came over. I sobbed for a few minutes and then started making phone calls. More friends came over and cleaned my house because they wanted to be busy. I didn’t know what they could do to help me. None of them could make the phone calls to family and friends–at least, that’s what I thought. But family called other family and friends called other friends, which helped me so much.
Shell shocked. Stunned. Foggy.
I mean, I wasn’t surprised I was suddenly a widow. I have friends my age and younger who didn’t get any time with their husbands before they passed away suddenly. I’m forever grateful that I got that time.
I was exhausted from lack of sleep, worried about my kids, and overwhelmed by all the people and companies I had to contact. I was shocked by all the invasive and rude questions people asked me, especially the ones from friends.
Seriously, how many times was I going to have to tell people he was gone and get asked to share “all the details”? I created a script to follow and told the curious that I didn’t want to relive that experience every time someone asked. One friend of my late husband called one of my best friends to get the details—uh, not cool. It was bad enough that those last 48 hours replayed in my head in a constant loop, but to have people ask to hear it was too much. I didn’t owe them any of the details.
Also, I was grateful beyond words for the outpouring of love and kindness my kids and I received from so many people. And, my boss let me work from home for weeks while I worked on notifications and legal matters. I didn’t have to cook for months because my freezer was full and the meals kept arriving.
I was comforted by my college friend who’d been widowed the year before. She welcomed me into the club no one wants to be a part of. She sent me books that helped me understand that my grief is my own business and no one else’s.
For the most part, my kids and I figured out how to navigate the sea of questions and awkward silences with other people. It’s funny (but not) how I felt at the time that I was doing pretty well, but coming to terms with our new normal actually took a while.
Every day was a new day. We did what we needed to do. It wasn’t obvious to me when the fog lifted until a few months later. But the fog did lift. A good friend told me the other day that he remembered how shell shocked I was, and he was glad to see how happy I was now.
I’m glad, too.