Last Updated on April 23, 2022 by Sarah Gallagher
I Dread This Time of Year
My husband’s death anniversary comes at the end of April. Just at that point in springtime when the rain is slowing down after coaxing the little flowers to grow. The buds on the trees are sprouting. The birds are chirping like crazy. The new spring smell permeates the air, seeping into my nose, into the space where my memories are kept.
And all of those terrible memories of being back in the hospital keeping vigil over my husbands’ body, hearing the beeps of the heart monitor, not knowing whether he was alive or dead come flooding back.
There is a terrible paradox when springtime reminds you of the death of your spouse. When the aliveness of the world waking up is mixed with the traumatizing memories of watching your loved one slipping away.
Do you too feel this paradox?
When Spring is a Reminder of Loss and Grief
The smell of spring is so sweet. The taste of fresh air after rain is like a cool drink after coming in from the desert. The beauty of the flowers pushing up through their winter shells reminds us that even though we have been frozen by grief, we too have potential to grow and bloom again.
Maybe on some level you do feel this paradox, this conflict between the heaviness of death and the lightness of spring but don’t know what to do with it. You may not even be aware that this has been sitting in your body every spring since your loved one died.
If you are feeling this agony in your gut right now, or at some point in your life as winter turns into spring, I want you to know there is something you can do with it that will make all the difference for yourself and those around you.
This April 26th will be the 8th Deathiversary of my Husband
Every year, I’m brought back to where I was before – just different. I’m watching myself watch myself.
Every year, I feel the same feelings – just they’re a little less potent.
I miss my husband every day, but in the springtime, as the earth slowly warms, the veil between this world and the other gets thinner and thinner.
As April 26th comes closer, I get pulled back into time and become the girl I used to be, while still being the woman I have become since his death. Being a widow means balancing between having one foot in the past, while the other foot is in the present.
The future echoes the death of once-promised goals, and the blank slate promise of the unknown.
Life and Death Are Companions
When life seems to happen all around you, it can make you even more aware that your loved one is still dead.
There’s nothing in the world more traumatic than losing a spouse. You’ve lost the person who you made promises to have future adventures together, which means you’ve lost those promises too.
Babies and bunnies and newly hatched chicks. Easter and new beginnings and promises of everlasting life. It’s so complicated and unfair when all of these promises seem to feel like shams.
What happened to YOUR promises? Why didn’t they work out for you?
Life happened. Death happened.
The paradox that all life will always have death.
That hope and trust can be compromised when the world doesn’t work out the way we wanted it to.
But we preserve.
We live, while they stay still dead. We find ways to find our new life, making promises that are made out of hope, but also knowing that we can’t predict what can happen.
We can only trust that there IS purpose, and love, and life, and death. And the promise of life on the other side, where they’re waiting for us.
Springtime is Also a Prodding to Get Going in Your Own Life
After a winter of grief, of hiding under the covers and letting sorrow cover you, take the cue from the tulips and peek out into the sunshine. Life still continues, even if it feels that you’re world has stopped. One cycle has ended – now your new life beckons.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Who are you now?
- What did you want to be when you were young?
- What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?
- What haven’t you yet explored?
- How can you intentionally live from this moment on?
Take this opportunity to stretch and grow, become more than you ever have been.
Now that you’ve been touched by death, you know how important it is to live life as fully as possible.
Now that you’ve been touched by death, you’ve been given a very unique perspective of life
You realize how important it is to live life as fully as possible, because you are now aware of the reality of it all ending.
You’re always living with this paradox of having death and life always intermingled. Knowing your husband so dead, but having to go on with living. It’s a paradox.
You need to know that you can go forward, just as spring encourages us by example. To learn how to live with grief, you need to learn that there is more to you than you’ve ever been aware of before.
Now that you’ve completed one life cycle, it’s almost like you are beginning new a new one.
You are that new chick who just cracked out of your shell, and you don’t know what to do next. You need to build and know how to trust yourself, how to move forward.
Death aside, you still here.
What’s your motivation? At first, it could be that you keep going for your kids, because you want to make sure that they’re okay.
Eventually, that changes when you know that you need to stand up on their own two feet, you need to learn how to move forward so they can follow your example.
One of the most difficult seasons in a person’s life is losing someone you loved.
It’s tragic, like being caught in a terrible flood. It feels like the end of the world. Yet there’s life after this tragedy.
If you live consciously during the transition, there’s an opportunity to transcend your loss and to find meaning in something deeply, deeply meaningful.
The funny thing about life is that it continues on but it has many turns like a river. It’s hard to explain how the loss of a spouse can leave you feeling both empty and full at the same time. The days become chaotic and unpredictable and yet they somehow are also filled with emotion: pain, happiness, love, loss, and some other things I haven’t even been able to do express even after the years of experience.
It helps you remember that seasonal changes are a part of life. Death will always be on the other side of life. You can’t change that.
It is absolutely horrible that your husband died, but you’re still here to kick butt and you can still do more.
If you feel that you need more support, or if you feel that you’re stuck, you need to reach out.
You need to contact people who understand what you’re going through.
To find someone who understands what you’ve been going through, who identify with who you are, who actually understands what you need when you’re talking about living this dual life.
I’m a widow, but am so much more than that. As are you.
Stop Clinging To Your Past
Before becoming one, I used to think that being a widow was most romantic thing ever. To hang on to the love of my life meant sacrificing my happiness. How dare anyone do otherwise.
So when I became an unexpected widow, I clung onto that belief. I focused on my kids because they were life, but I lost sight of myself. I clung onto this identity of the forever mourning widow.
It took five years for me to realize that that’s not what life is about.
That life isn’t here just for me to look at the past. Life is here to take it and go for it and trust myself, and know that there is more out there.
That I CAN allow myself to love again. To learn love this new life, and my role in it. My changed identity. My new life goals.
When I look myself eight years ago, I’m a completely different person now than it was then, for the better.
I’m living more intentionally. I’m helping other widows like you live again and providing you with the resources and support that I never had.
That’s why I pour myself into grief coaching. Why I offer both 1:1 and group coach to support whatever needs your grief needs.
I’m here to give you that hand up to help you learn how to live intentionally, how to find yourself and how to be in love with life again.
To know that no matter where you’re going, you’re never going to leave them. They’re a part of you forever.
There’s more to you than you can ever imagine, and you’re radiating with possibility.
You’re always going to live a balancing act between one foot in the past and one foot in the present.
You can carry them forward with you and the lives of your children.
That you can learn and live and become better and more fulfilled than ever before.
Because, unfortunately, you’ve been given that the perspective that mortality gives. You will never be the same person you will be.
The question is, who is that going to be?