Posted by: thewoobdog | October 27, 2009

Love and Loss and Turmoil

I am numb and angry and frustrated and guilty by turns.  I am the least affected by this tragedy – my husband has lost his father, my sister-in-law her father and best friend, my mother-in-law her husband of 48 years. 

It has been 10 days.  For the first three I busied myself with handling the minutiae of funeral and burial details and care of the living – those things that those more heavily weighted by grief should not have to contemplate.  That helped mask the sorrow of losing this wonderful, encouraging man, and pushed aside the loneliness of no longer being first in my husband’s mind as he struggled to come to terms with his loss, simultaneously supporting his mother and sister as their hearts wept. 

The day before the funeral, with nothing left to arrange, I coped by searching for something ‘appropriate’ to wear to the service.  For the first, brief time I felt almost normal as I disengaged from the grieving for a few brief hours.

The day of, I felt adrift.  I ached for my husband, who had been strong for so many people but who himself had had no time to come to terms with events and emotions.  My focus these several days had been trying to be his support as he supported so many, and I steadfastly refused to add to his burden by ‘needing’ him myself, choosing instead to cope on my own and be strong for him.  (In retrospect, this may have led to more severe emotional outbursts later…)  My husband’s sole concern was for his mother and I struggled with feeling terribly alone, as I and my brother-in-law (my SIL’s husband) trailed behind the ‘family’ car bearing my husband, his sisters, and his mother.  At graveside, I sat alone in the second row, as an oversight had shorted the family row by one seat.  I watched my husband hold his mother’s hand on one side and his estranged sister’s on the other and I swallowed my tears and sternly reminded myself that the focus here was on the laying to rest of a great man.  I grieved as full military honors were given and I ached myself for someone’s hand to hold to share that grief. 

The next day – Friday – was spent handling post-funeral things like cleaning and receiving the flower deliveries and bidding out-of-state family members safe travel.  Saturday, back at our house for the first time in a week but alone, as my husband had gone to take care of maintenance things at his mother’s house, I was overwhelmed with the sadness and loss and frustration of the prior week and broke down.  I couldn’t handle being left alone yet again.  I know my emotional collapse shocked him and bewildered him in its suddenness, and he rushed home to be with me.  I have struggled to explain to him what I’m feeling but can’t find the words.  For days since then I have swung from anger to hurt to grief and back again so many times I can’t tell which way is up.  I feel constant guilt for even thinking of myself during this time of loss – I am the least affected, having known my father-in-law only four years, and I have absolutely no idea what it must be like to lose a father or husband.  I wept for his passing but know – know – he is in a far, far better place and I will see him again.  I have come through mourning and exchanged heaviness for praise, but not so those closer to him whose lives suddenly contain empty holes where his presence used to be.

Am I a horrible person?  I was glad and willing to give over everything last week to take care of those with the most grief, but suddenly now I selfishly want my husband back.  I want to scream and cry and rage and beat walls because my world has been turned upside down – how must the others feel?  How dare I resent my husband’s solicitousness toward his mother, who is suddenly alone for the first time since she was sixteen?  As his thoughts and conversations turn constantly to her I want to scream, “He is MINE!!!!” but with the rage comes shame so deep that my anger turns in on itself and suddenly my eyes well up and I loathe my carnality.  When my turmoil leaps to the surface and flashes through my defenses and I am sharp with my husband or begin to cry in loss or anger or frustration I’m ashamed – he is not at fault.  Am I?  My anger has no focus – is this the anger of the bereaved or is this shameful carnal selfishness rearing its ugly head?  How do I cope with this without heaping demands on him he cannot possibly cope with?  I know he loves me and I know his heart would break if he thought he ‘failed’ me in any way, and he hasn’t, but every time I try to verbalize this pain and turmoil I feel the words come poorly and he feels at fault.  His heart has broken enough.  How do I smother this resentment that brews in me at the thought of yet another evening at his mother’s, yet more uncertainties as to what the next night’s schedule brings, yet more things I cannot control and cannot change? 

God has given me the grace to say the right things at the right times and hold up under pressure like I’ve never known, but I fear I feel the cracking of my tightly-held composure and am terrified of saying things I don’t mean and meaning things I can’t say.

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