Friday, February 19, 2010


I think I am mourning the loss of my home. I say "I think" because I don't know anymore where the hell I am on this grief continuum. All the losses of the past six years are all bunched up into one big ball anyway. They all connect back to the death of my husband. I can't seem to separate one from the other.

It has only been five months since we sold the house and moved. Just five months that now feel like an eternity. The whole summer was spent cleaning and selling the home. Then, when it was sold, I literally on my own moved from a five-bedroom home into a two-bedroom space. I am down to one and a half storage units now housing the overflow which includes stuff I never had the time to get through when my mom died and my parent's house was sold, in 10/2007!

I was way too busy to think, much less grieve or process what moving would mean back in the summer. Now that I have some perspective with the passing of time, I look back with amazement that I was able to accomplish the feat of moving largely on my own. Sam was there during the actual 2-day move with the movers and he helped me a little with cleaning out the garage which ended up taking two long weeks. But there I was, a widowed overwrought mom, being forced to sell her home, working odd hours at the big box store, making sure teen boys got to their summer baseball games and accomplishing a major move on my own. The people in my world shrugged their shoulders and matter-of-factly went on with their lives, while mine was falling apart at the seams - literally.

And now here I am trying to cope with the aftermath. From this view I have tremendous admiration for what I accomplished over the summer. This was a big house and it had been pretty disorganized and messy from the years of my husband's illness and then my stint as an only parent. But there is also pent-up anger for this crazy world I inhabit that is so lacking in support, be it emotional or with helping with physical tasks. I can't quite put my finger on it to describe it properly. But it is this sense I get from others that my losses aren't really such a big deal, that they don't matter or count.

Well, let me set the record straight - losing my home was a tremendous loss and I am reeling from it five months later. But I don't know how to grieve this or where to go from here. Even Sam gives me that pat answer when I try and relate to him how much of a loss this is to me. You know the one - "You lost your home, it is over, now you have to get over it and move on..." I've asked him to stop reading this blog because he gets upset with me for getting too down, or feeling low and grieving too much. You know the drill. I'm sure you have heard all of that before too.

The thing is though, that this is a new loss. It is one slamming into me after a slew of others. Am I really supposed to be jumping cartwheels down the street and gleefully shouting, "I just lost my house five months ago!" Really, what do people expect? This is a major loss, although it is secondary to the death of my husband six years ago. That passage of time just keeps biting me in the backside. People think that because it has been awhile for me that I shouldn't be grieving at all, and I guess that includes the other losses that accumulated after my husband died.

There doesn't seem to be that much out there about handling and getting through secondary grief losses. Just that we need to acknowledge and grieve them individually. I think that some people view my ongoing grief as that for my husband and they think I am grieving too long. They don't know that the secondary losses along the way are part of the mix. And I've said this before, but in my case the pain I've experienced from these seemingly lesser losses has actually been harder for me to endure. Maybe it is because I'm more weary, have fewer resources, or am facing them without a spouse by my side. But these secondary challenges have been a chore to stare down in the eye.

Getting back to Sam, I just have felt that he has been critical and even holds what I post about against me. For example, he will remark that I seem more down when I am on the phone with him than how I seemed when I posted. Of course, none of our moods are stable. Maybe I was more upbeat or positive earlier in the day. And maybe my enthusiasm waned as the sun went down. I have felt I have had to defend myself and that is not what I want out of blogging. I surely do not want to say that my blog got between us!

I just read yesterday that the success of keeping a grief journal and I suppose blogging could fall under this category, is that it allows us to release toxic emotions. That then enables us to go on and face our days more productively. I will add that when I blog I take extreme care to be entirely honest and forthright. I present myself and whatever I feel at the time as it is for me. There is no hiding or sugarcoating.

So right now I am feeling some frustration with the pain that is haunting me based on losing my home. It is definitely not helping me to have excess time on my hands not working. I am going to reinvigorate my job-hunting focus - to step it up a notch. I am also going to devote more time and energy into clearing out the storage sheds. I need to keep busy and focused right now. And I am going to be kind to myself - really kind. And nurturing too. Maybe try and do some fun things just for me.

I am grateful:

1. For the return of McDonald's Shamrock Shakes.
2. That I have extra items to be able to donate to Goodwill.
3. For the great purse I bought some years back for $8.00 on sale, that I've used all winter. And I really was in need of one. It is a hand-knitted cable pattern design!
4. That I was able to get career counseling appts. on Tue. and Wed. I will get help with navigating the cyberworld which I am now floundering in.
5. For microwave popcorn.


  1. I get what you're saying about Sam and your blog. I, too, have asked the man in my life to not read my blog. He's made the same comments about me seeming more "down" on the blog. It's always been a safe place for me to vomit up my grief and all of my emotions that are hidden (even to me) beneath the surface. I now feel that it's not as safe as it once was because I need to be careful and I hate that.
    Fortunately I'm at a point in my life where the waves of grief slam into me less now, but I still want to know that I can "vent" when one hits.
    You're doing a great job .... putting one foot forward at a time. You deserve a pat on the back for all you've done ... pretty much single-handedly.
    You're not alone.
    : )

  2. Janine - I appreciate your commenting because I felt a little bad about wanting Sam to stop reading. But on the other hand I felt as though he was invading my personal and private space. If I don't have a safe place to vent and be true to myself about this grief, I think I will explode. It's funny, but I thought that reading my blog would help him understand where I am coming from. But to be honest, I think it created distance between us and increased his lack of tolerance and understanding. Go figure.

  3. Janine, I like that...."vomiting up grief". Boy doesn't that really sum it up.

    Widow, when I lost our house a year after Joe died I wasn't so upset about the 'house' per se but what it represented. My life with Joe. I moved into an IDENTICAL rental home and put everything back in it's exact same place. It wasn't until 2 years later, just this past summer, that I was able to move again to a different home, different layout, different everything and not feel lost. I was really nervous at first but then I realized that Joe, all my memories and most of my stuff came with me. I immediately starting referring to the new house as 'our house' and that has helped. I have tried to adopt the 'home is where the heart is' attitude and it has helped. I have been lucky enough that the market down here is the WORST in the nation so I have been able to rent homes for the price of an apartment. I know the day may come that I will have to go to an apartment and I hope that I will be able to handle that. I have never been comfortable in an apartment setting. For now I count my blessings and hope the market here stays down for a while.
    I can see where reading this blog would be hard for Sam. For any guy brave enough to enter our lives. We put on these brave fronts for everyone all the time but here, we can let down the facades and be ourselves. Uncensored and raw.

  4. You forgot to mention your divorce--there is grief attached to that too. I think you have done an admirable job. I remember when I had to give up my home because I could not afford it. I have never felt "at home" since and it has been 20 years!!! Somehow we just get through each day, but in our mind is the grief which I don't think ever leaves. The first year is so filled with shock at what happened and then we are "supposed to get over it and get on with life"? How is that possible. The next few years are when the reality of it all sets in...that is when the real grieving begins--in my opinion. You have stood up to what had to be done and inch by inch you are making it. Pat yourself on the back--you've had a hard time of it, but you've made it--enormous gains!!

  5. Kelly - Moving into and having to live in an apartment were my greatest fears. But it's funny - when you have to face what you truly fear it turns out not to be what you anticipated. The world didn't end because I had to move into an apartment. My ego is bruised and I still hope to someday live in a home again, but until that time we'll survive. And I think you will too if you have to move. It is very fortunate, however, that you've been able to stay in a house. But now that I've downsized I realize just how daunting it was for me to try and maintain a home on my own - next to impossible. I should have moved sooner!

    Personally, I think the guys who enter our lives are winding up with the better deal. We are such compassionate, insightful, grateful, loyal people having survived our losses. I guess I think that dealing with our dark moods is a fair trade-off for the gifts they receive from being in relationships with us.

    Jude - Your words are a perfect and honest description of the process. I love everything you say here. Thank you for the kind comments and motivation.