When my wife died it felt as though my world had stopped, just completely, utterly stopped moving. Folks here at WV know far too well what that feeling is like. The loss, the quiet (it got really, really quiet for me), the deep sobbing, all of it is far too familiar to us by now. And after a time, that combination of loss, quiet & deep sorrow made me extremely tired. I can remember feeling exhausted and bone-tired, on top of all of the grief that I had been experiencing.
I realized recently that, for me, this loss was an on-going issue for many months prior to Bunny’s actual passing. I could almost say it was a year and a half long process of grieving and dreading the inevitable, unfortunate end. It was clear that she was never going to get better, she was never going to recover, she was no longer going to be deemed “cancer free”.
The minor victories over the past 18 months (“the last PetScan showed real improvement” or “we have the bleeding under control for now”) just added to the ultimate weight of the reality that she was gone. Those small victories, so optimistically received, were always quickly dashed with a heavy dose of reality and further deterioration of Bunny’s health, and in their wake additional heaviness weighed in on my spirit.
Bunny’s ultimate passing was not any type of relief for me, with the exception of the sense of calm in knowing she no longer had any pain. But I was exhausted from trying to be the positive one, trying to be uplifting, working hard at keeping the severity of her illness from family and friends (Bunny never wanted folks to know how seriously ill she was).
A very close friend in a similar position told me that we have been grieving for much longer than the past few months since our respective spouses died. And while I hadn’t thought of it that way, it actually makes perfect sense that our married lives essentially ceased to exist in a traditional sense once the illness became prevalent. Bunny’s death was the end of the fight, the day hope for recovery disappeared, but it was not the day grief set in. My grieving had begun long before that.
Now, a bit down the road from Bunny’s passing, I feel less tired. I don’t go home at the end of the day and just crumble on the sofa anymore; I have more enthusiasm than I’ve had in the last year or so, I function better each day, I frequently have plans that I’ve made that don’t involve health care, hospitals or funeral homes. That is not to say that I don’t cry anymore … far from it, I still have many moments every day where I miss Bunny so bad that my soul aches. But I’m letting the sadness flow through me, not trapping it inside like I was while she walked her way towards death.
I’m tired of being tired, I don’t want exhaustion to be in my life any longer. I am still 100% grieving my life partner and I wish every single moment she was still here with me, but I also know that I’m powerless to control the past and I’m working on leaving the negative part of Bunny’s demise behind. I’m also letting her guide me to a new life, and the only way that is happening is by letting my exhaustion fall to the wayside. She wouldn’t want me to curl up in a ball and throw my life away, and as hard as that is to accept without guilt, I feel her strength from all of those years right beside me, letting me know it’s okay to move on.