I started writing this blog after Joe died because I could barely speak a word from my mouth about how I felt inside. My family and friends would ask me how I was doing, or I would see it in their eyes that they wanted to know what they could do for me, but I never knew what to say. I felt at a loss to talk about any subject relating to Joe because words seemed to grossly trivialize my emotions. But I did not want to cut my friends and family off. I needed them. So I did the best I could, here.
In the early days and months LEFT was literally the only way that most people in my life knew what I was thinking about and (generally speaking) how I was feeling. I could write here on my terms (at night, after my kids were in bed) and about subjects that were weighing heavily on me. I cried many, many tears over almost every one of these posts. I have never masked the fact that this blog is 100% about me (however it does not define 100% of who I am). It has been uncomfortable at times for me to write some of the stuff that I have. There is a lot of pain here and it is real. But I tried my best to be as forthcoming as possible with my emotions for many reasons, one of which is because I truly believe that honesty and truth are powerful, and they are the building blocks that someday will set me free to a life less haunted by loss.
The self-centered nature of this blog (like the hundreds of other widow/widower blogs out there) was never questioned by most readers, in fact many thanked me for keeping the line of communication open in some way. They told me that it helped them to grieve too. I do not fully understand why people would want to see so much pain written down (especially by or about someone they love), but I fully realize that is because I am not in their shoes. And I completey respect and am thankful for that and for whatever brings people here. I write from a widow's perspective because that is what I am and that is all I know in terms of this loss.
That being said I have faced criticism for LEFT as well (think "get over it already"; -or- (the absurd) "your husband takes blame in the accident also"). However I know that whether the criticism comes from people who know me or do not, those people face their own demons in life that they will probably always misdirect on others. So I do my best to disregard and keep writing.
After about a year of documenting things here there was an unexpected twist in the healing I recevied from LEFT. Other widows started emailing me about specific posts or about my blog in general. They would thank me for putting into words what they had been unable to. They would tell me their stories and describe similar circumstances to mine. Young widows, all over the country, raising young children alone. Living lives that were thrust upon them suddenly by unthinkable tragedy. People from all walks of life, with an array of family lives, resources, friends and circumstances. Women who lost their spouses to illness, vehicle accidents, work-related accidents, suicide and murder. Every story is heart-wrenching and each email I recieve with one of these stories brings mixed emotions. A kinship of sorts, a bond with another human being that is sincere and real, yet I hate the circumstances that brought us together. I wish they didn't have to write the emails and I wish I wasn't recieving them.
Those emails from widows are a big reason why I have continued to write in the last year. It's not to say that I didn't need to write, because I do. But I have other places in which to write to purge my thoughts. However the relationships with other widows gave me something that I could not get when I wrote in a notebook or on a computer. They made me feel less alone. They let me know that, not only am I not alone, there are MANY people traveling a similar path to mine. You may not see many in your town or maybe a few in a city, but collectively we are many; young widows raising children. A group no one wants to be a part of, but a group nonetheless. When I write posts like this or this, I know that they not only hear what I say but understand it in an intimate way. They do not judge me when I feel angry and there is no need for further explaination when I say things. Once again in life, it is human relationships that are the silver lining to tragic situations.
Recently though, even with the good things that I receive from this blog, I have been considering ending it altogether. It seems I am feeling a little too uncomfortable with being so public about the things that I struggle with or that are on my mind. But all morning I had this aching feeling that I need someone to understand how I feel today. So here I am and to my widowed friends I say:
My youngest child started first grade today.
I know you hear me, and I am so thankful that you are listening.