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We're friends, not doctors, financial or legal professionals, and we're not "grief experts." But we are here, and we've been "there."

Today, I had to deliver a "certificate of death" for my husband to an agency for a matter this is not important to mention here. As I sat in the parking lot, reviewing the form - it's facts and figures and names of those involved.  I've had to look at it many times before for other reasons that all of us here experience, so this time it was not as "surreal", "shocking" and traumatic for me as it was in the first days of this journey. I kind of mulled it over a bit, not sure why maybe just wondering why now I am not having the same violent reaction to it as I had before. For reasons unknown to me my eyes rested upon my name on the form. Yep, that's me, that's my name, in black and white. Then I realized that where my name is, above that it says SURVIVING SPOUSES NAME (If wife, give name prior to first marriage). Well no, that is not my maiden name in the box it is most certainly not. First I am irritated (because this isn't the first screw up that the funeral director made) and then I chuckle knowing that anyone reading this form who believes it is accurate is going to think that  a) I married my first cousin   or b) worse, I married my brother   or c) this is truly one of the biggest coincidences there is that you marry someone with the same last name as you.  Although being part Cajun, that is probably not as big a stretch as it might seem on my mom's side of the family. I've seen her geneology records and there are a lot of "Landry's" and "Boudreaux's" that are not technically related to each other.  But I digress.

This "certification" I understand as a necessary thing, and looking at it now, just 8 months past the worst day of my life I feel more a sense of formality about it, rather than the huge wave of heart twisting, gut stabbing pain I have been enduring these past 8 months. This formal, state sealed and certified document with its intricately swirled blue pattern around the edges is simply, a record of what happened.  It doesn't contain the details of what happened, over which I still have a significant amount of anger and unresolved feelings. No, this "formality" is just that. A form for all those unconcerned with my life to reference simple facts about his death, and to prove that indeed, it really did happen. My husband died that day on Feb.13th 2012 at 10:35pm. 

But I did not. And this is the crux of it.

He is gone, and I am here. So I am wondering now to myself, where is my "Certificate of Life"? Where is the form that gives me the permission, the courage, the energy and the will to keep on living through such pain and fear and guilt and worry and second guessing and longing and regret and remembering and losing and struggling?  Where is MY certificate?  I think it might be a good idea to have those. I think I will make one for myself. And it will say something like this:

Certificate of Life:

This certificate is hereby given to you in recognition of the continuance of your life without your husband. It happened this day, this hour, this minute, this place, etc.  You did not die with him although at times you will feel you have. You are certified as living. This means that you will most likely endure a great deal of pain from this loss, because, you are alive. You are certified as living, and therefore, you will have to find a way to accept this state of life, and to continue on living, because, you are indeed, alive.

This certificate of life also entitles you to treat yourself as living, meaning to participate in life (to the best of your ability) as much as possible given the circumstances surrounding your present state of living. It also certifies that since you are living, you deserve all the good things that life has to offer (as soon as you are ready to accept them) because, you are in fact, alive. You are entitled breathe, cry, scream, sulk, yell, work, eat, play, sing, dance, sleep, smile, laugh and dream. You may participate in anything you wish that life has to offer because, you are alive.

Be sure to show this certificate to anyone who questions your behavior, and be sure to look at it yourself as well - to remind yourself that you are ALIVE.

I think I will print my certificate on some very fancy paper, and frame it and put it up on the wall next to the pictures of Paul and I - because I need reminding. 

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Comment by judy on November 21, 2012 at 6:20am

I want a Certificate of Life Too Ali! What a wonderfully perfect idea!

Comment by Soaring Spirits on October 17, 2012 at 7:46am

I LOVE THIS!!!! What a great idea for us all. Thank you!

Comment by Blue Snow on October 17, 2012 at 7:39am

The certificate of life sounds like a great plan to me. Do it!

Comment by kimkirt (KK) on October 16, 2012 at 5:02am

Oh I need one printed too for my wall at work. What a wonderful idea and a great blog post, Ali!

Comment by Dianne in Nevada on October 16, 2012 at 4:00am

This is really wonderful, Ali. Thank you.

Comment by hendrixx2 on October 16, 2012 at 3:49am

hi AED,

Mercy, as I try to assemble those things and ideas about ''living'' this different life, this has to go in; Thank you so much for presenting an insight into your approach and the idea of a ''Living Certificate"...I'm sure somewhere deep inside, we all know we have one, but seeing it printed, may well be the tangible reminder we need....thanx (printing mine now)...

Comment by Suz on October 15, 2012 at 11:12pm


Wonderful job. I want one, too!


Comment by AuntT (Steph) on October 15, 2012 at 9:55pm

This is really good. perfect


Comment by Lori on October 15, 2012 at 6:57pm

love this ali, think i should print it up an post it

Comment by MissingRKK on October 15, 2012 at 5:58pm

Thank you, Ali. Yes, A Certificate of Life. That makes complete sense. Hugs to you.

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