It’s been eight weeks since Will passed away, and all I can say is that I’ve got a shitstorm of emotions going on. Which isn’t surprising, or even all that awful, it’s just weird…like bipolar on crack. I can go from happy and smiling to a weepy mess in a matter of seconds, and vice-versa. I can enjoy dinner out with my family and cry over a Humane Society commercial an hour later. I go from almost desperately wanting people around to wishing I could just disappear and blow away like a feather on a breeze.
All of this, I’m told, is completely normal. After all, mixed feelings are to be expected during these early months of widowhood—whether one is bipolar or not—and I need to just let them happen. There’s no time limit on grief. I hate it that I’m apt to burst into tears anytime or anywhere, with or without provocation, but I’ve already learned to allow it because I feel SO much better afterwards. It’s a lot like throwing up: nobody likes doing it, but the relief is incredible when it’s over.
This is so different from the way I imagined life would be after losing Will. I always thought I’d be deeply depressed and suicidal in the early going, and I used to half-jokingly tell the kids to drop me off at the psych unit on the way home from the funeral. But I’m not. In fact, suicide is about the last thing on my mind these days; I’m too invested in making sure they don’t have to lose their second parent any sooner than is absolutely necessary. I may feel differently in another few months when it’s been raining for three weeks straight and my seasonal-affective BS kicks in, but I’m not going to worry about it now. And I know Will wouldn’t want me to worry about it either.
I talk to him a lot, you know. I consult him on both major and minor decisions, and sometimes I can almost hear him answer. Sometimes it feels like he’s an eternity away, while at others it seems as though he’s standing right next to me. Recently my son-in-law booked another cruise for this November, and when I asked Will about it, I could practically hear him whisper, “Go for it!” I know he’d want me to go and have fun, even though I’m as poor as Job’s turkey and the boys are picking up the tab (willingly, I might add—they want me to enjoy myself after what I’ve been through this year).
One other thing I’ve found comforting is church. I’ve gone every Sunday since the funeral, and each week it gets a little easier. The ancient rituals are calming and reassuring, and after Mass I have coffee and donuts just like Will and I did in the past. Happily, I’ve been “adopted” by a group of women, most of whom have lost their husbands too and know exactly what this is like. I have also been drafted back into reading from the Scriptures in front of the congregation, as I used to do before he got really sick and I couldn’t commit to a schedule anymore.
The idea is for me to read on one Sunday a month for the next three months, and see if I want to continue. I’ll probably end up doing it for the entire year, just because the gal who oversees the lectors wants me to, and I’m actually pretty good at it. But like everything else these days, I have mixed feelings about making that commitment…maybe by the end of November I’ll be ready to make up my mind.
Anyway, those are my thoughts for these turbulent days. Thanks for reading.
Now I understand why psychiatric patients go off their meds.
Some bureaucrat in his/her infinite wit and wisdom drew an arbitrary line that determines whether a person is poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. Well, my monthly income is about $30 too high, so I’m left to struggle with my medical care on my own…at least until Medicare kicks in on the first of October. I’ve already had to cancel three different appointments. And I’ve found out the hard way how bloody expensive my psych meds are.
Geodon 60 mg: $250+change for 30 capsules (one month’s supply). Geodon 20 mg: over $400 for 60 caps. Zyprexa 5 mg: $235 for 30 tablets. Lamictal 200 mg: $350 for 60 tabs. The cheapest is Trazadone 50 mg: $60 for 90 tabs, and Celexa 10 mg is a little less than $10 for a 30-day supply. And all of these are generics!
Now tell me, how the F is this affordable for a person receiving less than $1500/month in disability benefits? If I hadn’t had a few bucks in savings and help from family, I’d never have been able to purchase this month’s supply, and that’s without the Geodon 20 mg. (I figured that was the one I could most easily do without, and I was right—I remain stable and have avoided withdrawal because I’m still taking the 60 mg). But God knows how I’m going to get next month’s meds…and I’m literally in fear of what could happen if I’m forced to go without most of them.
I never realized how badly not having insurance affects everyday people. I’ve gone without it before, but I was always able to get my meds somehow and they weren’t THIS costly. In fact, I never paid more than $165 for one prescription in my life, and that was at my old pharmacy for the Geodon 20 mg. (Will somebody please tell my why the 20 mg version costs more than the 60 or the 80 mg?) I’m thinking about going back to that pharmacy temporarily, even though it’s in another town 25 miles away, because their prices for most of my meds are a little lower, except for the generic Zyprexa. But I like the convenience of the new one, and I’d go back to them in October anyway, so it seems like a lot of hassle to change pharmacies for only one month.
I’ll figure it out. I usually do. It’s just that this is yet another source of stress at a time when my life is already loaded with it. I’m still very early in the process of adjusting to an existence without my husband; in fact, it’s been so stressful that I’ve dropped 17 pounds without trying. I have no appetite—I only eat when I absolutely have to—and I get full so fast that I can only hold about half of what I used to. Not that weight loss is a bad thing, but this isn’t exactly the best way to do it.
Other than all that, life goes on and I’m trying every day to honor Will’s wishes in all I say and do. In the months before he passed, he made me promise several things, among them that I’d stay on my meds, stay sober…and stay alive. None of those are particularly easy tasks right now, but I understand why he wanted me to take those vows seriously: I tend not to make the effort on my own behalf, but I’ll do almost anything for someone I love. He knew this. I don’t think he anticipated my having such a hard time keeping that first promise, but if he’s watching me from above like I hope he is, he knows I’m doing the best I can.
It’s been exactly one month since Will passed away. To say this is a difficult day would be an understatement, but I’m facing a whole bunch of them so this first “anniversary” is only the tip of the iceberg.
I’ve been warned about this by other widows. There is an entire year of “firsts” to get through—the first wedding anniversary, the first holidays, the first birthday, the first Father’s Day—all without him. We would have been married 36 years next month, a date I’m dreading…couples are supposed to celebrate together. We’re supposed to go out to dinner and maybe a movie, eat cake, and drink Martinelli’s sparkling cider. What am I to do on that day now that he’s no longer here?
The one thing that’s holding me together is the love of my family. Ethan and Clark have taken to spending evenings with me instead of going to bed early like they usually do; Clark’s mom Shelly shares with me wisdom gleaned from her four years without her husband; my other kids are keeping in close contact except for Mandy, who’s still living out in some forest without a home to call her own. That situation distresses me to no end, even though she and her family are planning to come back here after Labor Day. I’m still disappointed that they didn’t come out at least for the funeral…her Dad wanted nothing more than to see her before he died, and it didn’t happen.
But it is what it is, and there are no do-overs. I’m so glad I was there for Will at the very last, and I’m proud of the way I put the funeral together. I’d never done such a thing before in my life (and hope I never have to do it again!). And I’m pleased to say that underlying all the sadness is a stable mood; there is nothing pathological about grief, and self-harm is the furthest thing from my mind. I just could NOT do that to the family, and to be honest I’m too afraid of spending eternity separated from God—and from Will.
So I’ll be here to endure this year of “firsts”. There’s no way around it but straight through it. I know that. But it sure doesn’t make days like this any easier.
We laid Will to rest Monday in an (almost) perfect funeral Mass. My older son delivered the most beautiful eulogy I’ve ever heard, and I’ve never been so proud of him as I am now. The music and Scriptures I chose flowed together better than I thought; the flowers were gorgeous, and the dessert reception was wonderful.
For my part, I was more or less OK until the very end of the Mass, and then I lost it. I didn’t sob or scream, but I was near it for a few minutes and only sheer force of will saved me. It all seemed so…final.
As indeed it is. The realization that Will is really gone has hit me like a ton of bricks, and I spend a lot of time in tears or close to it. I hate crying. I know it’s perfectly normal and even necessary, but it’s distressing to be fine one minute and weeping the next. I feel overwhelmed by everything I need to do—cancel doctor appointments, apply for the Social Security death benefit, figure out how to get Medicare Part D so my meds don’t cost me hundreds of dollars like they do now that Medicaid has run out. Talk about sticker shock! I’ve paid over $600 for just this month alone, and I can’t even afford all of them. Needless to say, this is a bad time to go without even one of my psych meds, and I hope I can remain stable.
But even though I’m hurting, I am thankful beyond words for the support system I have. My family and my many friends have been here for me in ways I never expected, and I know their prayers are heard because despite my pain, I feel very much loved. It’s not the same as being loved by a good husband, but Will and I had thirty-six years together and the last three were the best, even though we lived under the shadow of cancer the entire time. That love will never die…and it will sustain me for the rest of my days.
I am so thankful that it’s not a week ago tonight.
It was at this time that Will was going through the active dying process, which was way more painful than it should have been and went on too long before he got adequate relief. I can’t blame anyone for it, although I wish the on-call hospice nurse had had a little more fire in the belly and made transportation to the hospice facility quicker. As it was, nothing could have altered the final course of events, but did he really have to suffer that much? He did die peacefully, however, and for that I will always be grateful to God and the wonderful hospice facility nurse who medicated him well and allowed him to slip away in comfort.
To say that I miss him terribly would be the understatement of the century. I keep thinking I hear his voice, or expecting him to come in from the patio where he smoked his “medicine”. Right now I have his ashes in a beautiful wooden urn resting right on the desk where he built his model airplanes and ships; I know he’d like that. I find myself over there quite often, caressing the wood and cradling it in my arms as if I were embracing him. It feels like it’s the closest I’ll ever be to him again…at least in this life.
I talk to him all the time too, just like I did when he was here. I listen for his responses and for his inimitable laughter, and sometimes I can practically hear them. I feel as though he is very close…but then I look at his empty chair and the reality of it all hits me again. I’m not married anymore. I am a widow. And I wonder what the hell life is supposed to look like now, when being married is all I’ve known for thirty-six years.
But I don’t suppose this is the time to worry about all that. No, we’ve got to get through the funeral planning, and paying for it (who knew that simple cremation and funeral arrangements were so freaking expensive?!) as well as the service itself. It’s set for the eighth, at 11 AM in our church. It’ll give us enough time to get daughter Mindy back in the States and a little breathing room, as we are all worn out and still have to carry on with life.
I remember taking a vow to love and cherish Will “until death do us part”. Nobody knows what that’s like until they go through it. There’s nothing that really prepares you for this reality.
Passed away peacefully at 3:10 AM on July 13, 2016. I was there when he breathed his last, and got to hold his hand one last time as it happened.
Obviously I am beyond sad, and I keep thinking I hear his voice and waiting for him to come back into the house after smoking on the patio. “Hello, beautiful,” is what he’d always say, as if he hadn’t seen me in days.
God, how I miss him.
That is all.