Monday, September 26, 2011

The Anniversary I Never Wanted to Celebrate

by Kate Collins

This week marks the one year anniversary of the death of my husband. Now that is a sentence I never expected to have to write. 

I know many of you have had a similar experience. Everyone suffers the death of a loved one at some point. I’ve lost both my parents and other beloved family members, but this was by far the most devastating, the most life-altering loss I’ve ever gone through. One cannot lose a husband/best friend/soulmate/counselor without devastation. 

I’ve done both group and private grief counseling and had the support of my family and close friends, and even though all of that was unbelievably helpful, grief is still a path that must be traveled alone. No one grieves in the same way or to the same degree. No one can feel the intensity of your pain but you. No one can force you to keep putting one foot in front of the other but you, either, but that’s what you do. 

I’ve learned a lot about myself this year. I’m stronger than I thought possible. I’ve grown more spiritual. I’ve experienced a number of small miracles, several of those documented in earlier blogs. I’ve discovered new ways to do things. I’ve made new routines and new friends. I try to live in the moment, not knowing what the next may bring. I've learned that love is eternal. And I’ve learned that I’m not really walking this path alone. Not only has God been with me, providing those small miracles I mentioned earlier, but also my husband has let me know daily that he’s here, too. That may sound crazy to people who haven’t experienced any signs from departed loved ones, but those of you who have, understand.  From a light that blinks at me when I walk into a room, to whiffs of my husband’s cologne when I talk to him, he lets me know he’s with me. We always said our love was so strong that it was eternal, and now I believe it.

The most important thing I’ve learned is to be happy again. After last September 29th, I didn’t think that would ever be possible, but then I met a woman at my grief group session who was so paralyzed by her husband’s death that all she could do was sit in her chair, stare out the window, and cry. That’s how she spent her days, for months on end. And all I could think of was that if she loved her husband that much, surely she knew he would hate to see her waste away mourning him. To honor him, she needed to find her happiness.

Looking back at the wonderful life I shared with my husband is extremely bittersweet. I still rail at times at the unfairness of losing him and cry so hard my chest aches, but then I look at all the blessings I do have – my beloved children, stepchildren, close family and dear friends, my fellow Cozy Chicks and other author buddies, my “New Chapel” family of Abby, Marco, and the gang at Bloomers, and all the friends I’ve made through the Flower Shop mysteries – and my heart expands with joy.

I have come to believe we are here on this earth to learn lessons we will take with us when we depart, and that loving and helping others is what life is all about. You have helped me a lot and I hope in a small way I’ve helped you by providing some entertainment and possibly inspiration. So please accept my gratitude.  

I hope you have a great week.