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.


Sara said...

So beautifully written...and I'm sure he's proud at how you've dealt with the last year. I firmly believe in those "signs" and know he IS letting you know he's with you. Sending you strength as the memories flood back this week, as they will...along with the beautiful memories you made together.

Sue said...

Loss of a loved one is indeed something personal for each of us. I can't say that I know what you are going through because everyone grieves in different ways and each loss is different. Mine came 2 days before I graduated from high school when I lost my fiance to a drunk driver. That was many years ago, but he is still here with me helping me raise my 2 girls. I was told at the time that God doesn't close a window without opening another door. Go through that door and see what HE has for you waiting on the other side. God Bless

Anonymous said...

This was a very inspiring post. I am and have been very sorry for your loss. Grief is a tricky thing isn't it? I have not lost my husband, but both my parents are gone. I completely believe that loved ones stay near or visit from time to time. My Mom seems very close at times. Bless you and I hope you have a good week.

Mardel said...

I think you're right about the signals from your husband. I haven't lost anyone close, unless you count my brother in law. And we didn't always see him, but I remember he did used to come around and visit when we were young - and even if my husband wasn't around, he would stick around and just talk. Always treated me way better than any of the women in his life. And after he left us, I would have strange dreams, some of them extremely disturbing, some of them funny. Bur for some reason, I always thought of him when I woke up. The disturbing ones stopped after I said out loud that he didn't have to be so gross, he could just be around and not try to gross me out. Weird.And why me? why not his own brother? Then I think that my husband doesn't really believe in ghosts or things like that, yet I've always been open to things that can't be proven.

I'm glad you can take some confort after your husband's death. It's got to be hard, but knowing little signals are there for you must be a confort also.

Jennifer | Mrs Q Book Addict said...

This post gave me the chills. Beautifully written. I can only imagine what you went through and are still going through. *hugs*

Debra said...

I feel like I have learned so much from your journey. Thank you.

Aurian said...

Thanks for your post. I am happy that you are not alone and crying in your chair like that other woman you mentioned, but are going on with your life. And you really know your husband is still with you. If I ever will be left behind, I hope to know and feel the same thing.

Candace said...

Kate, God isn't finished writing your journey many more chapters and adventures still to come. I think of you and pray for you most every day.

Heaven and earth are better places for having Jim and you here :)

Dru said...

Thank you for sharing your journey. There's so much waiting for you and it will be good.

Shay Connelly said...

What a marvelous media this Facebook blog has been. We are able to share in your grief and in your amazing articulate expressions of love for your husband. Your words
will stay with me long after Facebook has ceased. Thank you so much. And please know I love your books and now I know why --- you have a heart that makes your readers sad when the story "ends". Keep writing and keep the blog going!
Shay Connelly

Kate Collins said...

Thank you all very much. Your comments warm my heart.

Anne said...

Anniversaries are so hard, aren't they? I lost my dad seven years ago this past April and it's still hard.
I especially miss him around this time of year, when football season is full swing. (He loved his NY Giants).
That said, I am so, so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine how it must feel to lose your other half.
When it comes to signs, I firmly believe in that. My dad is always with me.
My faith helps me very much, as well as my wonderful friends.
Stay strong. I love all your books!

Maggie Sefton said...

What a beautiful post, Kate. You've done wonderfully. Bless you.

Sarita said...

Heartwarming post, Kate. Your love shines through in every word.

I've followed your journey closely. We walk the same sad path, so your courage and fortitude have lifted me up so many times. Thank you for that.

I am so sorry for your loss.

Barbara said...

This post shows both your heartache and your strength. It also shows how wonderful this world of blogging is - we make such good "virtual" friends who are always there to help us get through tough times.