Thoughts from Writing Chapter 3 of Suddenly Widowed: A Memoir of Survival
This excerpt was taken from the chapter where I describe arriving at the hospital and learning that my husband had been killed.
My knees began to buckle. I felt all the strength and structure that held my body upright escape. I was going to fall. “I have to sit down.” I told my mother-in-law. She released her grip on me and I sank, nearly lifeless, into the dark leather sofa that sat along one side of the private waiting room.
A feeling of numbness came over my body and my mind went completely blank. My entire physical, mental, and spiritual being was in a trauma induced, state of shock. I didn’t have a single thought in my head. I didn’t have a question to ask. I didn’t even have a tear to shed in that moment. My world went dark.
While writing these words, the physical pain of grief came creeping back in. I was transported back to that scene and the crippling grief of having my husband taken from me. I cried, but kept writing through the blurry vision of my tear-filled eyes. This surprised me. After 15 years I thought I was past the tears. I’m a strong, thriving, independent, and happy woman now. But writing my story has had a number of unexpected consequences, one being new tears. Another was the physical symptoms grief can cause. I felt, very literally, a huge hole in the center of my torso, pain in my chest, and shortness of breath.
Thank God, these feelings did not last long this time. I was able to regain my composure in short order by simply getting up from my writing spot and changing my focus. But at the time my story took place, those feelings didn’t go away. They stayed with me day and night, day after day, week after week, month after month. I pleaded with God to make me feel better. I went to a grief counselor and attended a grief support group. I took an antidepressant and I drank, trying to drown out the pain. Nothing worked. I was locked into a suit of armor that constricted every breath I took and locked in the physical and emotional pain.
It took a lot of work, trial and error, but I eventually learned the only way to ‘move forward’ was to feel the pain. I had to acknowledge it, allow myself to feel it, and believe it would get better…and it did, in time.