The Perfect Storm

by Zoe

I remember in the beginning thinking I would never survive this, thing, this grief. There was no air in my world, there was only pain a screaming clawing soul searing ripping pain from the loss of my beloved John. There was no end to this pain, I ended when he ended. I was not sure how I could go forward; I had my moment with the sleeping pills in my hand. I still cannot tell you why I put them down, but I did. For those of you who have thought it, yes there have been several times I have come very close to joining him. I will say this; just think what that will do to those you leave behind. Our loved ones did not leave us willingly, we should not do that to those that we love. Eventually, I went back to work and would cry hysterically, I am not sure I functioned at work for a very long time the way I am supposed to. Thank goodness for a very kind boss. I read now all of the comments and I see people where I was, so I wanted to share how the road has taken me, maybe to give some hope, or comfort.

I do not and have not moved from my own free will since John died. Even now fifteen months after his death, each day past the date he was taken from me scares me that it takes me further away from him. Nevertheless, the fact is time moves you. You do not realize it at first. Trust me I am president of the one breath one-step club. That is how I lived for most of the first year. There are interesting ebbs and tides in that year. After about four or five months I started to be able to work, I mean concentrate on what I was doing for more that oh thirty seconds before crying. Still cried, but my mind allowed me to start to function outside of the pain I felt. Trust me the pain never left, it did not subside, but I started to be able to work despite of it. Also, what I think happens is you realize those around you, do not want to deal with a widow’s pain, and we quite frankly do not want to deal with them. So you start being able to marshal up a good front, nothing deep but a nod or just starting to move. Six months is wicked bad, probably because it is a true milestone, and we will not go over birthdays and anniversaries, those will always slam me into a wall.

You will see that a lot here, about this being a rollercoaster ride, or a ship in the storm. That is what grief is, the perfect storm, it throws you first one way then another until you are redefined by the pain, and the sheer enormity of the loss. That is one of those things that is the same yet different for each of us. I can give you no advice other than it is part of grief.

Then one day, and I cannot tell you when, it is sooner for others, for me it was a very very long time. You smile. Someone says something or you see a picture and you feel your lips curling into a very uncharacteristic position, a smile. You will realize it and feel.. what do you feel. For me, I almost felt a sense of betrayal, like my smiling somehow diminished my love or my loss. It does not; it is your mind trying to make what life you have left, livable.

Does the pain stop? I can only speak for myself and I can say no. I cried today looking at John’s picture. I miss him with every breath in my body. But the pain has changed, from the searing soul ripping pain when I first lost him to now, a constant reminder, but I can function, do things with my granddaughter, even smile. But he is always with me, always. My deepest hope is that with my last breath the first thing I will see is my John.

How you deal with and survive your grief is personal. Be selfish with it. There is no wrong way to grieve. Some people move away from the person they were to a new person, built upon the pain and self-discovery. Some people find new love. For me, personally, the way I survive is by living my life with John. My house decisions are made with him in mind, I talk to him, he was the best part of me, and I will never let that go. For me, this is how I survive.

How does it end. I do not know. I just wanted those of you who are just starting on this journey; when every breath feels like it is ripping you apart, when everything you see and everything you touch slams you into your own personal hell, that there does come a time when the pain … changes, not better, not worse.. but changes so that you do move and live. Maybe not well, but you do.

I will never be all right without John. I do not want this life that I am being forced to live. So I walk this path, for me, with John, the best I can. But I am still walking.

Even now, I have times that I am overwhelmed. And then I go back to what is basic to us all

One breath, one step, one day at a time

Comments for The Perfect Storm

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Jun 22, 2011
thank you
by: Panni Anna

you made me feel's only been 5 weeks and i was beginning to feel so sad needed to read what you wrote i don't feel only with this crazy pain thank you

Jun 11, 2011
Re: The Perfect Storm
by: Kim

Zoe, you address your story and your journey to those who are finding themselves at the beginning, to those wondering if they will ever find themselves on the other end of surviving. I have to tell you that what you've said here is also very affirming for those of us, at least for me, who have traveled a bit further down the road of grief. I am coming on nine months since my husband died. I am amazed I survived winter, and now spring, and into summer. I have counted this time in terms of how many days, weeks, months without him, and like you, the further away from the day he died, the more anxious I become about moving farther away from him. The six-month mark was the absolute pinnacle of the pain and grief and sense of loss. It turned around a bit after that, I had made a conscious choice to move forward, to figure out how to be "me" without "us". It got better, only to find myself falling again. With warmer days and sunshine, getting outside and into the garage and finding what I needed to take care of the yard, a new challenge refocused my energies and helped me to appreciate the distraction.

I still have moments of despair, especially when my kids are home for a backyard barbecue and my grandson wants to play in the sandbox his grandpa made for his birthday last year. I become so sad that he isn't here to spend this glorious sunshine and happiness with us, and I can only imagine that he is, that he is guiding my plan for how to arrange the day, because I too, still go about the house making decisions with him on my mind and how it would be done.

Thank you for being able to share your progress so that the rest of us who are getting "there" can feel a camaraderie in healing, as well as in grieving.

Jun 11, 2011
the perfect storm
by: Judy


Thank you for this insightful posting. You perfectly captured the out of control feeling I lived with for a very long time. Even now I still have moments where the edge of panic sets in and I wonder how I'm going to make it through my current uphill battle. You mentioned that you hope John is the first thing you see when you take your last breath. The last thing I said to Barry before they took him away for the final time was "come back for me when it's my time to go". I know he heard me and I know that day will come.

As for work, I pick up files now that I worked on immediately after Barry's death and I can hardly believe I did them. I know I did because my initials are there but the work is incredibly bad. Some of my co-workers mention this to me and my only explanation was that I was crazy. In fact I hardly remember those months at all now. They're lost in the haze of grief.

We must all just hang on because there is no other choice. For me times are better now, 20 months later, and most days are good and I am functioning ok. An endurance contest which I am determined to win.

Blessings to you.


Jun 10, 2011
So sorry
by: Anonymous

Thank you for posting your beautiful, painful story for others to read and understand. We all know the pain of loss who come to this site. We come to make friends with other hearts who hurt. It's been 5 years since my son died by suicide. Nothing about that day is ever forgotten, but, like you, I can move about in a new normal. I have an acceptance of what has happened. I don't like it, but "it is what it is" as others in my life, say. But God is taking this new normal and giving it life, hope, peace. He has turned the journal He asked me to write into a book which He has published, "Shattered by Suicide" for anyone who is interested. I have learned that the Author of life knows about death and He knows about our pain. He is the only Constant in my life and for Him, I am truly grateful. May God keep you in the palm of His hand. GT

Jun 10, 2011
Oh Zoe,
by: Julia

I cried all the while I was reading your letter. My husband's name was John too. I felt each and every line you wrote deeply because it is all so very true. I have surrounded myself with photos of him and the things le loved. I am reading his memoirs. I cannot be separated from him. I fear this too very much - that he may slip away. I talk with him all the time. Nights and weekends are the worst. You are right- people only stay with widows for a while and we don't care to be with them either. They just can't imagine how we feel . I say good morning and kiss him every night. I ask him what I should do about things that have to be done and I have no clue. I ask for his help. The lonliness is unbearable. Sometimes Ii can't even move. I have been heartbroken for 6 months now. I cannot see what life there is for me. I arise each morning trusting in God and asking for his guidance. If only I could see my John and hold his hand that was always reaching for mine. One breath, one step Y ou are not alone.

Jun 10, 2011
The perfect storm
by: M Mack


Thank you for the words of encouragement. I'm really having a horrible time and hate this life without him. It's only 11 months and I have a long road. I will persevere one way or another and pray I get to where you are in one piece. God bless you as you continue to weather the storm.

Jun 10, 2011
Perfect description A+


The way that people deal with grief is very personal. Your description is soooo very perfect I would say articuate but I can not spell it. I really think that you have a gift of writing. When you describe what you are and have gone through, it speaks from all of our souls. You should write a book and I want the 2nd copy (the first should be yours) My words and descriptions get stuck somewhere between my mind and the hands that rest on the keyboard.

Today I had a genuine ear to ear grin. Oh it's hot and miserable it was 100* yesterday yet, I myself. It has been a long time since I had a genuine good feeling that was not fleeting. His Birthday and the Year and a half mark were brutal so I welcomed it. Feeling something that resembled ? Joy ? My face did not crack with this phenominon (sp).

Everyone will work through grief in their own way as you say. I do not know what the future holds for me but I am no longer scared of it. Not embracing it exactly but managing/maneuvering trying to find the me that was we. My best to you always...

Jun 10, 2011
The Perfect Storm
by: Donna

Zoe, thank you so much for posting this. I am at the 6-month mark now. I never really thought I would make it this far without Bobby; I certainly didn't want to. I totally understand what you said about the pills and just wanting to join your love but not being able to do that to the ones you would leave behind. I won't do anything to make it happen but I would welcome death anytime just so I could be with Bobby again. It does do some good to read of other's journeys & that it does get somewhat better with time. Like everyone else there are a few good days mixed in with several bad days wondering how can I go on without him. One of the hardest things for me is to ask anyone for help. I hate not being able to handle everything myself and feeling like such a helpless woman. I think if it had been me to go first that Bobby would have handled everything so much better as he was amazing in every aspect of his life. I have to learn to do what I can & to accept that there are people who want to help in anyway they can. Thanks again, Zoe, for the encouragement to us who have just started in "The Perfect Storm".

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