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Feeling Better is Better Than Feeling Worse (For Me, Right Now)

I feel so fearless in these post grieving days. I feel taller, stronger, more self-contained. The intense sadness left me in this past year, left me alone with what's left of my life, left me alone with a whole new not improved but stripped back life, and amazingly, incredibly, I'm finding that it is enough. It's good. I'm happy to be here. I'm so happy to be here to be able to be a mother and a writer and a friend and a homeowner and a gardener and a traveller and a whole list of other words that describe experiences that I can have and roles I can play. 

Five years ago, four years ago, three years ago, two years ago, I couldn't imagine feeling this way, I COULD NOT IMAGINE ever feeling good about life again back when I lost Ken, but one year ago the pain lifted and under it was a more grateful, less anxious, happier me who finds that I need less to be satisfied. I don't know...there's not much to fear anymore after the worst has happened and you've survived. I don't feel sorry for myself anymore. I feel sorry for my husband who died way too young and misses what goes on around here everyday. I feel sorry for people who are sick and struggling and in pain. But me? I'm happy to be alive.

In the back of my mind, I know that this pleasing state I'm in can change in an instant, but until it does, I'm enjoying myself. 

So I decided a year ago when the despair miraculously (or should I say, after a whole lot of the hardest work I've ever done to swim through the muck of pain) lifted, I decided that I would just enjoy a year of feeling good. I'd revel in it. Embrace it. Treasure it. I took my kids to New Zealand, continued writing, started a new relationship, embarked on a major home renovation. It's been a very good year.

And OK, you can shoot me, you can call me a Pollyanna or a freak or some kind of deluded chick on happy pills, but I think my life is going to get ever better in this next year and here's why:

I am finding work that I love to do, work that doesn't feel like work, that I believe can really cause positive change in the world. It's nothing huge and impressive, but in this last year I've found three different volunteer gigs that I believe in completely.  And what this tells me is that even though a part of me died when Ken died, (perhaps it was the part that believed in safety and security and fairytale endings) there is a new part of me growing today. It's reaching and extending into new worlds. I don't know where I'd be today if Ken were still alive, I don't know what I'd be doing or how satisfied I'd be feeling with my life. But I know that even though he left me cut and broken or maybe even because he did, from that place a flower is growing. It's just a flower. But it's pretty and I like it.

He was such a good man. I wish he could see me feeling better again. 


Before I felt better, I went through a stage of feeling guilty about feeling better. Better is better without the guilt.

Are you lucky enough or have you travelled far enough to feel better after loss? Or do you feel like you'll never feel good again? Do you feel better but have a hard time admitting it because it feels disloyal to the one who died?

Take 5 minutes and write on the topic of feeling better...whether you do or not.

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Comment by Jill on May 18, 2011 at 7:10pm
Thank you all for your support. Being willing to admit finally that I am happy in a new and more full way is a huge step for me.
Comment by Eileen on May 18, 2011 at 4:26pm
Better is great.  I think we need to embrace all the happiness we can.  In some ways it is a choice that we will survive and we are all survivors.  It is not easy but it does soften and new joys and opportunities arise.  And our beloved spouses would want no less for us.
Comment by danny's girl on May 17, 2011 at 11:19am

I am only 5 months out, so the word "happy" is not in my vocabulary these days.  I do find your words offer encouragement that there is a future...though right now that is hard to see. Thank you for sharing with us.  

Comment by NMWidower on May 17, 2011 at 10:12am

Jill you are awesome.  Thanks for sharing with us your joy!  Yea for you!  Finding life again and freedom form the pin in grief is my goal.  I dont know how long it will take me but I know I will get there. 


I am just over 18 months out and definitely feel better.  I still have bad days and sad days but they are less that before.  I certainly feel better although I know I'm not fully back yet.  I am still in that phase of learning to treasure the past but also balancing that with letting it go.  I still cant help but feel "shattered" on many days even though I know my life is so much more than that.  But its part of what i think grief feels like for me.  I certainly feel better I know that and honestly I am very thankful for that.


I'm just currently still in the persevere and endure phase that while it does not hurt as much is also certainly no rose garden either.  I think for me in the last month I have been coming to grips with that and it was like grieving again just this time for me.  But I know I am at a crossroads and each day is a brand new day to live again.  I may have some hard ones but I know I am choosing to live again here! I'm looking forward to the day when I can look back and see how far I have come.  I know this process has completely changed me and I am learning to embrace it rather than rage against it, even though right now I still don't "like" it but that's ok!


Here is to keeping walking and reaching that place of newness like you have found Jill!

Smiling with you!


Comment by Jill on May 17, 2011 at 9:50am
It's good to be happy and to know it and to embrace it. Congrats to you for your amazing resilience and for the new happiness you've found. I love hearing about it!
Comment by Momtofour on May 17, 2011 at 7:45am
Jill, though I am only 19  months out and you are 5 years out, I feel the same way as you.  Barry's death in many ways was a catalyst for me, and pushed me in ways I never thought possible.  I obviously haven't reached the point  you're at, but I know I will be there one day. All the things Barry wanted for us happened after he died.  I took the kids on a two week trip to Florida, I lost a ton of weight, I met a wonderful loving man (i know barry didnt want that to happen while he was alive LOL) who I cant wait to marry, we got a house, and I got the gift of writing.  I know he gave that to me.  And things will only get better.  I am happy right now and not afraid to say so either.

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