In my experience, I can not think or reason my way out... I simply have to go through... Surrender. To step alone into the underworld, watching for dragons while always seeking treasures.
I have what I call 'Love Traumatic Stress'...
My husband died 8 months after a cancer diagnosis. His last breath was taken in our home, in my arms. I was 47 years old. My Beloved Joe and I were both in our second marriage. It was a remarkable relationship… Passionate, kind, respectful and calm. With him I was continually grateful, the simplest statement about my sense of our relationship was: No doubt. I knew we would be together for a lifetime.
While we were different we complimented each other well. We shared a clear vision of how we planned to live the rest of our lives together and had worked hard to get to the next expression of that vision. My daughter was off in college, we were literally 3 days away from closing on the property of our dreams, the home of our lifetime. When a sore shoulder and an X-ray revealed a tumor… And a walk through the underworld began. We backed out of the property to focus on his journey.
At a certain point, we knew he was not going to recover from the cancer. He made the choice to end conventional treatment to increase the quality of his life. It was a slow decline to last breath. I will say that it was a gentle decline, he remained mostly comfortable and engaged in being alive. Amazing Grace occurred during this time… Moments of transcendence and even joy.
Yet walking a cancer Journey with my Beloved meant I passed so much time being with him while he was sick from treatment, after surgery and a three week hospital stay, being his strength as he declined. And then the final months, when I knew that last breath was nearing.
I spent countless… Endless hours, watching him sleep. Knowing I could not…
The horrible anticipation…
I would try to close my eyes and imagine what it was going to feel like when he was gone...
At times I would wish for him to die more quickly, just to be out of the agony of the unknown... And in the next moment, the anguish of this thought would fling me the opposite direction and into a discordant cognition... That if I loved him strong enough, my sheer will would save him from death.
The ultimate push pull.
Last breath did arrive and then began the Journey of living with a shadow. Not a shadow of what is there… A shadow of what is not. With the death of a life partner, you lose the daily witness to your life. You lose a central expression of an imagined future.
I am a strong, independent woman, quite capable of taking care of myself. I have creative insight and am able to self reflect. Joe died 10 years ago, I have created a life I love. It is a different life yet I am so grateful for how the last 10 years have unfolded. My ‘active’ grieving is long past me. Yet I am recognizing that something deep inside my being has changed. It is my relationship to love:
‘There be dragons there’... ‘Love Traumatic Stress’.
A relationship I cherished... Just ended abruptly and not by my choice. In this moment I can feel every bit of pain that was present after Joe died. Somehow that trauma deep in my soul, does not know the difference between the end of a 6 month relationship or the death of a life partner. I ‘understand’ this... Yet I can not convince my being, that it is different. So I am doing what I always do with the difficult places... I surrender to the Journey... And I know I will learn things. I know I will gain insight. Grief and loss is a lifelong path.
I have the clear intent to walk through this fire keeping my Heart Wide Open. I will always, always, always… Risk for love.
Love is wonderful, difficult, challenging and so magnificent. I remain profoundly Grateful for every moment of love I have shared.... Every moment of love I have been given. So. Be. It.
Next, I will begin to share about 'Love Traumatic Stress'… What it looks/feels like. Awareness is the first step.