Reality Bricks

Jennifer Silvera found that finding something to look forward to helped her to be able to keep moving forward in her grief journey.  She decided to do something for her husband, to show how much she loved him, and to show people just what a remarkable person he was.   Jim was an underwater photographer who had some photographs that were stunningly professional even though he had never had any formal training.  His dream had always been to have his photographs published in his favorite dive magazine.   So, she began a crusade to accomplish that for him and succeeded.

Other ways a widow can create something to look forward to is to perhaps plan a trip to get away every few months just for a change of scenery.  Yes, your grief goes with you, but I find that a change of scenery somehow breathes a bit of hope into my life even during those times when I felt the most hopeless.

If you are a younger widow with children at home and cannot plan a trip away, then plan a few hours or even a day out with a friend to give you something to look forward to.

Another idea to give you something to look forward to is to create a collage of your husband’s life for yourself and have copies made for those in your family who would truly appreciate it.

Even though you plan something to look forward to, the reality bricks will still hit and this is what Jennifer says about that:

“They were cement blocks falling from the sky and crashing on my head.  I might be doing pretty good, considering the cards I’d been dealt, then something would trigger the knowledge that, indeed, life as I knew it was over.

I call them ‘reality bricks,’ and they still fall.  Even though I had added a powerful new took to my therapeutic skill set — something to look forward to — I also learned that reality would always find a way to slap me upside the head as a reminder of September 11th and the end of life as I knew it.  Some of the bricks came from other people.  Some came by themselves, unbidden.  Some came daily.  Some still do.  Such as:

*  Waking up every morning and realizing that this is not a dream.  For months, I would cry myself to sleep, then upon waking, just as a sliver of consciousness forced its way in, even though my eyes were still closed — BAM! — a reality brick dropped like an anvil.  Then came the thought suddenly like a knife at my throat — It really happened.  He’s not lying next to me.  He never will be again.  He is dead.  So I’d cry myself awake.  The days began and ended with tears.  The mornings were always — and still are — the worst part of my day.  I still have to force myself to get out of bed each morning, dreading the fact that I must face yet another day without Jim.

*  Every holiday, birthday, and anniversary.  It’s the classic ‘Empty Chair Syndrome.’  The fact is made blatantly obvious by the occasion that someone is missing, someone who is supposed to be there but will never arrive.

*  Reading Jim’s obituary in the newspaper.  When I wrote it, I was definitely on mental autopilot.  I simply summed up his thirty-eight years into four paragraphs, scanned a decent photo of him, and sent it to the newspaper via cyberspace, as if I was sending someone a recipe or something.  It just wasn’t real until I saw it in the newspaper a few days later.  Seeing it in print on the daily page dedicated to World Trade Center victims, that’s when the brick hit — and it was a big one.

*  Shopping for greeting cards.  I never realized I’d never buy another husband card again, nor would I ever again receive a wife card.

*  Opening his closet or dresser drawers.  At the time of this writing, I avoid doing either.  and if I absolutely have to go in there, I have a meltdown.  Right there on the spot.  A big part of this is what I call ‘olfactory overload.’  His clothes still smell like him, so if I open Jim’s closet, I get slammed with a scent that triggers a nerve in my brain, and that nerve triggers another nerve, which fools me into thinking — for a split second — that Jim is there in the room with me.  Then that nerve triggers the reality nerve, and the whole thing goes downhill from there with bricks flying everywhere.

*  The day I took my last birth control pill.  I won’t forget that one.  I stayed on The Pill for a few months after September 11th because I knew that if I stopped them immediately, the combination of my unstable emotional state and my roller coaster estrogen would send me into hormonal anarchy.  So I continued to take my pill every morning, and that reality brick hurt so badly each time I swallowed it.  Here I go again, taking a pill for which I now have absolutely no use whatsoever.  I will never again make love to my husband.”

Jennifer Sands/A TEMPERED FAITH

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