My thoughts after, After Life

“Tony had a perfect life — until his wife Lisa died. After that tragic event, the formerly nice guy changed. After contemplating taking his life, Tony decides he would rather live long enough to punish the world by saying and doing whatever he likes. He thinks of it as a superpower — not caring about himself or anybody else — but it ends up being trickier than he envisioned when his friends and family try to save the nice guy that they used to know. “

after life

If you have Netflix (who doesn’t) and/or you’re a fan of British comedian Ricky Gervais, you might have heard of this new series, After Life. I was made aware of it by a friend, and I initially avoided it thinking it was a little too close to home.  Well I’m happy (?) to admit my preconceived notions were not affirmed.  This show gave me ALL them feels.  I laughed (a lot), I cried (also a lot), I got annoyed, angry, amused and felt peaceful towards the end of the show.  Perhaps what stood out to me the most was the authenticity with which Gervais wrote about spousal grief without having experienced it firsthand.  He tells a story that’s so perfect a mixture of the mundane daily life, the profound sense of loss, the internal struggle and isolation one feels, and finally those fleeting moments of joy or levity that don’t happen nearly enough.

 

My “grief journey” such as it is, has been a messier one.  As I settled into life as a widow and the “obligatory period of everyone feeling sorry for you and giving everything you say or do a total pass” ended, it was obvious that my journey was going to be a rough and dark ride.  I haven’t turned to Jesus. I haven’t spent my days being nothing but “grateful” for the time Bryan and I had together. I haven’t thrown myself into my work, or taken on some great life goal like running a marathon or starting a foundation, or going on a speaking tour, or any of the other myriad of “acceptable” grief rituals propagated throughout media and society. Instead, I’ve owned my general “zero fucks left to give-ness” with gusto! As I’ve said before, I just don’t have the mental bandwidth to be polite and and listen to your stupid story about your new gluten-free diet, or let assholic people’s behavior go unchecked. The tagline of the show “hell is other people” could have been written about me.  If my circumstances have taught me anything, it’s there’s so much wrong and injustice in the world and I won’t have it! And by that I mean, I won’t let it happen without first providing a pithy and cynical comment for the record.  So I feel like this is why After Life resonated so deeply with me.  Dr. F pointed out just the other day that perhaps it’s because watching a show that mirrored back a grief experience more similar to my own made me feel less alone on this journey.  And I think she’s right. Tony’s “superpower” is one I was also intimately familiar with. For a period of time I too thought it was suddenly so freeing not to sweat the small stuff and not give a fuck about what I said or did.  I had no fear of death and knew that was always an option in my back pocket.  While it didn’t end up being my superpower per se, I considered it my silver lining or consolation prize if you will, to the state I found myself in.  [Side Bar: Bryan HATED the phrase “per se” so I just cringed when I wrote it. Sorry B! RIP. much love] Tony’s also got that one thing that keeps him from completely going off the proverbial ledge: a dog named Brandy.  His wife loved that dog and Brandy’s a loyal companion, so the least he can do is take care of the dog in honor of his wife’s wishes (which you see periodically throughout the show).  I think that’s such an important aspect of grief too.  While you’re “in it” you’ve got to have someone or something that keeps you grounded in reality and keeps you going. It’s nearly impossible if you don’t.  It can be anything, a hobby you’ve always loved, a pet, a person (but that can be tricky), an event you’re looking forward to, or maybe just the will to see it through.  For me, I think it was a Katy Perry concert I’d planned months in advance–we can unpack at another time–and maybe the stubborn desire to not accept that my life would end on such an unceremonious fart.  Even when I was at peace with being done, something would just say “yeah, but fuck that. that would be so lame to let this beat you.”

after life headstone

Good Dog

Ricky Gervais has commented publicly that nothing he’s ever done in his years-long career has had this much of a reaction or positive and intense response. Not even The Office (crazy I know! But I think the American one is better, oops)! He’s been reading comments on social media and is writing a second season. I don’t usually tweet, @, or comment on the LinkedIn profiles (that’s still a thing right?) of celebrities, but in the last week since finishing the show, I let him know what this show has meant to me and to thank him for “getting it”.  It’s one thing to find a movie, show, book, album etc. that resonates with you and inspires you to be great; it’s a much rarer feat to find that same connection when you’re at your lowest and some piece of mainstream media is willing to get in the trenches with you.

My Life Does Not Spark Joy

As many of you probably have also done recently, I stumbled upon that pixie-esque Japanese delight that is Marie Kondo via her ubiquitous Netflix series, Tidying Up with Mario Kondo.  I had a vague notion of who she was via my layman’s knowledge of the cultural zeitgeist, but I was woefully uninformed on the truly life changing art that can come from purging your shit.  Anyhoo, after watching a few episodes, I decided to think about just what does and does not spark joy in my life…truth not much.  All touchy-feely thanking your clothes as you chuck them in a trash bag aside, Mrs. Kondo makes some goods points with her patented KonMarie method.

marie kondo joy

I’ve never been that happy about anything, including Bryan, as Marie Kondo is about a stranger’s black t-shirt.

I’ve noticed over the last 716 days that I’ve been husband-less that I’ve started to fill the void in my life with “things”.  It started slowly at first, perhaps out of boredom, that I might go to Ulta just to browse; or open the Amazon app just to see what they recommended for me.  Now, almost 2 years later, (ugh the dreaded deathiversary is fast approaching) I’m Diamond status at Ulta, and have a whole 3rd bedroom full of still-packed boxes of my former married life, as well as Amazon boxes full of crap I don’t need.   Who buys a bedazzled dickie or marble-look bathroom cups just because Amazon suggests them? I do.

dickie

If I’m being truly honest, this dickie has totally sparked some mutha fuckin’ joy.

When I first bought and moved into my post-marital home last year, there was a lot to do and a lot to buy, and I have to admit, I was kind of getting a rush from buying a new comfy couch, selecting the perfect quartz counter top, and going all in on a fancy front loader washer and dryer.  So many paint color choices!  Is the thread count on these sheets high enough? Never mind that I had like 4 sets of perfectly fine sheets somewhere in a box.  I needed to buy these new ones. My former self would have been ashamed.  Who succumbs to basic domesticity so easily? Oh. That’s right.  A widow who has already had to succumb to playing the game of life with a 2-7 offsuit hand.  It’s starting to make sense now!

So after folding my underwear in thirds and letting my socks “rest” as Marie suggests, I started to get inspired.  What else could I start storing vertically so it’s viewable in my life?  Better yet, what could I just say “Arigato” and  “Sayonara” to and start to remove some of the weight off this emotional yolk I’ve been bearing? (Sidenote: the yolk is a very deep emotional metaphor for how I feel burdened daily that I came up with in therapy. Continuously evolving y’all.)  Since I’m finally starting to learn that the tiny rush I get from ordering stuff and seeing the box on my doorstep, or grabbing the latest mascara and earning more points, is fleeting, and that I generally feel just the same or worse later, it’s time to think of all the good the purge does.  I’ve started to avoid and purge negative influences as well.  It’s not just my stuff I need out of my house; it’s some of the dark emotions and feelings that rumble around in my head that need to go. It’s letting go of the hurt I feel towards people who let me down.  It’s starting to remove the “stuckness” I have and opening myself up to moving forward…in whatever fashion that may be.  It is also totally about thanking my Camp Horizons ’97 t-shirt and tossing it because it no longer sparks joy for me.  Until I;m a totally self-actualized human being, I’ll just be breaking down a bunch of cardboard in my guest room.

Yo, this post is Fyre.

OMG you guys. Puhleeeze tell me you’ve seen the documentaries about the music festival that never was, Fyre Fest. Not going to lie, I subscribed to Hulu just so I could watch its documentary, Fyre Fraud, only AFTER I devoured the Netflix documentary aptly titled Fyre.  For an emotionally unstable widow, these docs are my kryponite.  I vaguely remember when this shit show all went down (April 2017) but to be fair, I was barely showering back then.  Well after watching the downfall of over indulged millennials, I went down an internet rabbit hole that took me days to get out of.  When I did finally emerge 48 hours later, I knew I had a mission in life. Everyone I know should walk, nay RUN to their nearest streaming device and check these hot messes out. Maybe all the shit that’s happened in my life has led me to this point?  Wait. that’s dark.  So maybe not.

fyre

 

I’ll still keep spreading the good word of the Book of Fyre though.  This is a cautionary tale of what can happen when Ja Rule (R-U-L-E!) becomes friends with this dork ass Jersey Boy named Billy, and their social media personas take over their cognitive decision making skills, or lack thereof.  Aside from the juicy factor, I feel like this is really a social commentary on the FOMO culture of the 21st century.  All the hype and build up and buzz around this music festival was just a facade, and ultimately led to its downfall.

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The “dream team”

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There isn’t an insta filter strong enough for this wasteland.

That’s just me getting all deep and cerebral about a juicy gossip story.  Maybe this resonated with me so much because my grief and subsequent depression makes me feel like people’s shiny happy social media lives have been turned up to 11, and I constantly have to remind myself that I’m not the only one with a less than an American Dream reality.  So when the curtain is pulled back, and the private yacht-luxury villa-sushi-Pablo Escobar island-fantasy was just that, a fantasy, it was more than just a little satisfying.  I honestly feel like Josh is all of us when watching these documentaries.

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Chicken soup for the middle-class soul is right! You know everyone grieves in their own way, and I’ve been told over and over by “experts” that there’s no wrong to grieve.  So I guess I can add smug realness to my box of therapy tools! Any moments of the day not spent thinking about my life or doing the “hard work” of moving foward, or “being strong” are moments I cherish.  So these collective 3 hours was time well spent in my book.  I would love, love love to discuss all the amazingness that was Fyre Fest in the comments. Until then, I’m going to go look for my glamping villa, I mean FEMA tent now.

2019: Same Shit, Different Year

Hola fellow widowinos.  It’s 2019 and you know that that means!!!…Absolutely nothing.  The new year has never really meant more to me than the passage of  time, but as a lonely woman it only serves to highlight the status quo of my less than awesome life.  Apologies for my MIA status the past few months. The final quarter of every year is a bit rough for me as I forge through the emotional minefields of my late father’s birthday, Bryan’s birthday, my dad’s death day (on Thanksgiving!), my would-be wedding anniversary that I’ve never actually celebrated with my husband, and of course Christmas.  Ah, the holidays! As of I’ve said before, now fraught with melancholy!  But I digress. So for as much of a resolution as I plan to make, I resolve to post on a more regular basis, as I know you all are itching with anticipation at every thought (not really).

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Since we last spoke, I can’t say anything totally radical has changed.  I go to therapy, take my meds, try to get out and be social, work the steps and go to meetings — oh, wait that’s a different program isn’t it.  Maybe that’s my problem! But in all seriousness, while I don’t always feel like I’m progressing in my grief day-to-day, when I make periodic check-ins from this day a year ago, I do see some progress (I think, I hope).  For example, Christmas 2017 I just pretended wasn’t happening.  So much so, that I flew over an ocean to get away from it.  I spent the actual day of Christmas in rainy London catching up on sleep from jet lag from my Christmas Eve flight across the pond (side note, how does Santa do it?! amiright?).  Then I spent the subsequent days sightseeing and drinking tea and being around friendly strangers who had no idea what my story was and I LOVED it. Also, Christmas in general is far less commercialized and in your face in Britain than it is here, so it was a welcome relief.  This year I decided to face the music and acknowledge the day and the time with the family I have left. It wasn’t…horrible.  Maybe next year I can say it wasn’t too bad. I even willed myself to put a tree up in the home I  bought completely after Bryan that he has no connection to.  Opening those Christmas ornaments was like a firing squad of emotion as I unwrapped newspaper only to be hit upside the head with “Remember your engagement???” or “LOOK! Your honeymoon!”.  Needless to say, decorating the tree took a few hours as I had to take to my bed frequently and revive myself with loads of smelling salts.  BUT I did it. And I guess I’m proud?

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I’ve also been more cognizant of the fact that time is moving forward for those around me, whether I feel like it has for me or not.  Within my friend group in just the last few months, there’s been a birth, 3 new pregnancies, a couple moves, a cancer diagnosis in remission, and quite a few new furry friends.  Oh and also this girl I know announced her THIRD ENGAGEMENT! I mean kudos to her. I’d love to know her secret. Anyway, all this to say that while I’ve spent the past few months trying out makeup tutorials on Youtube and watching really obscure crime documentaries on Netflix, the world has kept on spinning.  I hope, with cautious optimism of course, that 2019 brings me something more exciting than just the final season of Game of Thrones, but if that’s all, it wouldn’t be that surprising.  Until next time, here’s to whatever kind of 2019 you want to have, and dear God I hope the House impeaches Trump.

Not Guilty, but a “Griefy” Pleasure

So a funny (is that the right word?) thing happens when someone close to you dies.  My theory is, in an attempt to take a mental break from the 24/7 pit of despair that is your brain, you tend to become obsessed with random and often obscure hobbies, habits, or tasks.  For me, it’s MURDER PODCASTS.  I can’t explain it but in the months since Bryan 86’ed this living thing, I’ve become a subscriber, longtime listener, and no-time caller to not one, not two, not three (sensing a pattern?) but 12 murder-themed podcasts!  In my current state, I enjoy few things more than taking my lunch break in my car, blasting the air conditioning and listening to Karen and Georgia rehash their newest favorite murder.  I live a wild and crazy life right?

Some people find podcasts of this topic disturbing and/or morbid, and I can’t say I disagree, but I guess I’m going through a “Blue period” or something.  Although I highly doubt my blue period will yield anything as profound as what came out of Picasso’s (one semester of art history and I am impressive AF!).  I have to say though, I think we were on the same page when he painted Femme aux Bras Croisés (Woman with Folded Arms) because that’s me pretty much any time I’m in public. At work? sitting in a meeting freezing with a BRF and “folded arms”.  Waiting in line at Target? Switching from one foot to the other because I most definitely have to pee, with “folded arms”.  Laying on the table getting my eyebrows waxed? Pursing my lips in agony with “folded arms”.  You get the idea.

pablo picasso blue period femme

She’s slaying #notimpressed

But I digress.  What was I talking about? Oh right, muuurrrrddddeeeeerrrr! Or redrum if you’re dyslexic.  [This blog is certified compliant Section 508 of the ADA].  Anyhoo, I can’t explain it totally, but the things that help me forget about my current life circumstances even for a brief moment tend to be dark; unless it’s “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix, but that’s really universal.  Perhaps I feel less hopeless about the future seeing resilience that comes from others who’ve been through some shit and come out on the other side.  Maybe it’s the comfort of knowing, “well damn, at least my life is not as fucked up as that one!”.  Or it could be the lessons learned.  It’s a sick, sad world out there and I believe knowledge is power.  How was the Golden State Killer finally identified? Does Iceland have the death penalty?  Why was my sorority so crazy about security in our college town?  All of these questions and more can be answered, in the wonderful world of murder podcasts!  [Answers: 1) familial DNA match from ancestry.com subscriber 2) no 3) because Ted Bundy murdered 2 women in my sorority’s chapter house at FSU 40 years ago]

I know some people, including my mother especially, would rather I not dwell on the dark arts (only Harry Potter you’ll ever get here), but until I see the world as a place worth living in, I doubt my satisfaction from these stories will lessen.  If nothing else, it provides an escapism that I’m yet to find in anything else.  And for the record, plenty of “happy” well-adjusted people listen to them everyday. So maybe check out some of my faves, in no particular order:

  • My Favorite Murder where I learn how to stay sexy and not get murdered.  It’s hilarious and educational!
  • Dirty John This took the world by storm and had a crazy twist.  Bonus points for the sense of superiority you’ll feel knowing this would NEVER happen to you.  Even my mom liked this one!
  • Serial Killers I mean yeah, the title is pretty much a dead (get it?) giveaway
  • Up and Vanished The case of the disappearance of Tara Grinstead starts out “colder than Alaska” but the story of the people in this small Georgia town sucks you in.  Aside from the ridiculously annoying millennial host, they actually solved a murder case in real time and that’s pretty awesome.
  • Sword and Scale  Likely the darkest of the bunch but also the most factual and in-depth.  I never understood the doll baby on the logo though…

 

That’s all I got for you, fellow or future murderinos (that’s an industry term).  Until next time, I’ll just be widowing out listening to stuff about murder.

My Life in an Alternate Universe

I often think about what I’d be doing at that moment if my life hadn’t decided to Thelma and Louise itself off a cliff, and I didn’t have to now live in a world I don’t recognize.  I like to think that the Emily living in an alternate universe (AU) truly is killing it (oops) and everything’s just coming up roses for her.  Bryan and I had big plans for our future, and we couldn’t wait to get started! And by big plans I mean getting excited for a domestic DINK life resembling a lot of stuff white people like.  But you know that’s cool, because I was fine being basic, and I’m pretty sure AU Emily is too!

I’m pretty sure Bryan will be making tacos for dinner with his homemade pico de gallo and we’ll Netflix and chill® (for real, we’re boring and married) with our mini pig Jean Ralphio Saperstein aka “Raffi”.  I look over and see something like this:

You know, the usual.  We’re also busy decorating our recently purchased starter home that we bought in [insert east coast city here] because you know we be about that HGTV lyfe son!  Also, our jobs are totes fulfilling and we are each other’s biggest cheerleaders, natch.  Anyhoo, oh it’s the weekend in the AU! Must be time for date night.  Look, here we are now just enjoying cocktails and wedded bliss at our local farm to table watering hole! No bigs, just AU Emily and Bryan living their best lives.
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Man, we love getting up early on the weekends…but only because we choose to! We’re DINKs remember? No kids to dictate our sleeping schedule here!  On this particular day, we’re going for a hike.  Lots of #selfie opps to let people know we care about nature and shit.  Also, look how cute we are!

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Man, I just love us!  Always finding ways to just be happy being together.  I’m so lucky to have met the love of my life, and so lucky he’s ALIVE and well here beside me! I’m so #blessed.  This year has flown by I tell ya.  It’s time to get the Christmas card ready.  Can you believe we’ve been married a whole year?  Well one down, a lifetime to go!  Nothing could EVER change that plan!  Oh wait.

I don’t know guys. What do you think? Matching sweaters too much?  You’re right, of course they aren’t!

mebryanchristmas

Great! Nailed it!  Now it’s time to settle in to a relaxing holiday season, just the two of us doing whatever we want…just like we planned it.  Life is perfect!  But man, all this relaxing is making me tired.  Bryan and I def need a vacay STAT.  Let’s see, someplace warm and sandy obvi.  We just really need to unwind and escape the cold weather.  This Seasonal Affective Disorder is really getting to me this year.  “Alexa, make me an appointment with my therapist for January 5th when I’m back from St. Lucia”.  Sorry, just a little multi-tasking for this modern wifey.

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Sigh. St. Lucia was great.  I really wish we could have stayed a full two weeks instead of just 10 days though, you know?  I think I need a vacation from my vacation amiright??? I’ll go take a long hot bath, while the old ball and chain makes his famous white chicken chili.  I don’t know what it is, he just NEVER lets me in kitchen!  He’s a quirky one that Bryan, teehee!

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So, yeah, sorry I think I just blacked out for a minute.  I was too busy daydreaming about my AU self and what she’s up to.  Oh, I wrote it all down? Great.  But in all seriousness, can you tell I’m just a teensy bit jelly about AU Emily and her totally awesome totally normal life?  In reality, I’m sitting here in a hotel room in Radford, Virginia (don’t bother looking it up) with Doritos dust on my shirt, a wicked case of late onset chin acne, and Day 1 period cramps.  You know, every girl’s dream! Wishing I could FaceTime Bryan from my business trip so he could “kiss me through the phone” (remember that song?!) and make fake fart noises that he blamed on Raffi.  That, my friends, was really my best life.  Hopefully once this chin acne clears up, I can finally get that modeling contract I’ve been vying for.  I sent an email to becomeamodel@model.model so I’ve got a good feeling! In the mean time, send some Proactiv. K thanks, bye.

 

A Listicle of Things I Learned in Year One!

Hey Guys,

Wittiest Widow here, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from all the great online publications of the highest journalistic integrity (I’m looking at you Buzzfeed!), it’s that people LOVE listicles! As I enter my sophomore year of widowhood, I’ve tried to reflect on the lessons I’ve been forced to learn.  I won’t say there’s any meaning to what’s happened, and if one more person says “everything happens for a reason” I will promptly ask them to jump off a bridge, but I’d like to hope I’ve made some progress.  So here’s a nifty list of some tidbits I’ve learned as a widow of 395 days.

  1. Apparently I’m “really strong”.  I wish this meant that when your hubby dies, you suddenly gain hulk-like strength and can bench press 300 pounds (is that a lot? I clearly don’t work out), but in actuality it’s the “emotional strength” you gain. Bor-ing.  Apparently adrenaline-car-lifting-strength is only reserved for mama bears, or tiger mothers, or whatever other maternal animal analogy people use these days.  Anyhoo, not going to lie, the first days and weeks after Bryan kicked the bucket were a total blur.  I didn’t know how I’d survive, and I sure as hell had no desire to.  That’s just a fact. (Disclaimer: Not being on this earthly plane is something I fantasize a lot about these days, so if that makes you uncomfortable, sorry. K thanks bye).  I was told just the other day by a dear friend who stayed with me that first week, that I didn’t even have the strength to eat a grape. A single grape.  I mean WTF?! First, I love grapes! And second, man that’s weak.  I think it was just an overall lack of will.  Everything, and I mean everything seemed pointless.  Why do people shower? Why do people eat? Conversation? It’s for the birds! Going to a job, who needs it?! All this to say, life was totally unbearable.  I still don’t know how I progressed, except that time is the only constant and it just kept moving forward.  And, I think, because I just had to.  I had people counting on me, even if I wasn’t counting on myself.  I still find that grating to me in my weaker moments, but for now I’m faking this whole living thing until I make it!
  2. My Ride or Die (get it?) Crew is different.  As you can imagine, I totally go to therapy (can’t you tell how well adjusted I am?), and “Dr. F” has taught me a lot about what they in the biz call “secondary losses”.  Basically, not only do you lose the love of your life, but you can lose a lot of other awesome stuff you never even imagined! For me, it was my house, my pet, my future, my sense of self worth, and some of my inner circle, just to name a few.  I had heard it before and can certainly attest to it after experiencing it first hand, but you’re filled with gratitude and surprise by the people who come out of the woodwork to be supportive; and totally hurt by those you thought you could count on who come up short.  Overall, I’m lucky to have such a wide and supportive network of friends, especially my sorority sisters, high school friends, Rotaractors, and great coworkers.  I can never thank them enough for the notes, messages, flowers, funny care packages, offers for happy hours or manicures, and persistent phone calls I’ve received over the last year.  Whenever I’m feeling particularly alone or hopeless, I’ll get a “Happy Galentine’s Day” card in the mail from a friend who I haven’t actually seen in years.  The reverse of that also happens however.  Sometimes those closest to you can hurt you the most.  Obtuse is a word I’ve come to use a lot.  I know that people’s emotional intelligence runs the gamut, but it’s still surprising when your bff would rather go to an Orange Theory class than sit with you 3 days after the funeral when you can barely eat that aforementioned grape.  Or when you talk about your sudden and great pain and someone compares it to the death of their cat (insert eye roll emoji here).  My goal throughout this grieving process is to be honest and let the emotions come as they come.  I’m not fine, so I shouldn’t say I am, right?  Well you’d be surprised (or maybe not) just how many people would prefer I say I’m fine.  I can tell my grief is uncomfortable for some, and I know it’s distanced me from some friendships–these friendships being the ones you think will step up when something like this happens but in reality the exact opposite happened.  I try not to feel jealous and post a nasty comment when on the 1 year anniversary of Bryan’s death, you don’t acknowledge it and instead post pictures of your latest vacation.  But I digress.  We’re all just out there trying to live our lives, and I know everyone else’s lives move forward, even when mine stands still.  But I can’t pretend it doesn’t sting.  #Truthiness
  3. That shitty, heart-stopping, emotional pain doesn’t really lessen.  Although I shower regularly (okay semi-regularly), and only think about dying 5 times a day as opposed to constantly, the pain hasn’t really lessened.  I would say it’s different, perhaps more familiar.  Obviously a year has helped me get harder, better, faster, stronger, but I’m not hard AF yet.  I cry less, but things still regularly set me off.  Example: I partake in a unique form of emotional cutting on a daily basis by checking out my Time Hop app.  I get to look at all the awesome things I was doing 1, 2, 3 etc. years ago and compare it to the hellscape that is me now.  I don’t know why I do it, but I just can’t stop.  The first step is admitting you have a problem right???  Things I “look forward” to are always disappointing.  I used to see commercials of a woman looking sad in a board meeting and then staring sadly at her unused pottery wheel as a way to illustrate her depression.  Then she got the right pills and was back to banging out bowls and mugs!  While I’d never make pottery, and I’ve always looked sad in meetings, I can relate to the loss of the interest and overall apathetic attitude.  On my best day, my mantra is “blerg”.  On my worst days, I can’t even think of one that’s bad enough.  I miss Bryan so much it hurts–yes physically hurts.  In the first months my hair fell out, my skin was crazy, my body ached all over, I had heart palpations, and I felt and looked like I aged 10 years over night.  I guess in a lot of ways did. Blerg.
  4. It’s Emily 2.0 Now.  So suffering a massive and traumatic loss changes you man.  It just does. Kind of like prison, or so I’ve been told.  The Emily that was here for 31 1/2 years peaced out the day Bryan did.  I can’t totally explain it, except to say I feel different and look at the world differently, and Dr. F has totes validated my feelings so I know it’s for real.  There was a time I was angry about this.  I liked who I was!  I didn’t want to be different!  I may not have been totally self actualized, but I generally got up every morning and felt okay about me and the decisions I made.  Now I feel like I’m stumbling through life and failing left and right, or I just don’t care at all.  Not a great way to be, and just like Stella, I need to get my groove back.  I’ll just have to accept that it will be a different groove.
  5. I miss Bryan MORE now.  Can you believe it?!  After some of the initial shock fades and your constant babysitters are around less, you have to get down to the business of living solo. Ugh.  The reality of life without him has set in.  And what is life really but a long, lonely march towards death?? Maybe not for you, but I mean at least for me it is.  I’m sure in a hilarious ironic twist I’ll live to be like 90 years old.  That’s a looooong time without your bestie and loooong time not living the life you guys had planned together.  I struggle with the “one day at a time” thing, given that I’m a planner by nature and trade.  I take in the totality of life without Bryan and it gets overwhelming to think about.  I think about all the inside jokes we’ll never share again.  All the stupid, hilarious conversations we’ll never have. All the road trips we’ll never take.  All the houses we’ll never buy and fix up.  All the TV we’ll never watch together.  My God, the television might really be the worst.  I love Netflix. That is all.
  6. Misty water colored memories.  I’m scared sometimes, by just how fast the memories fadeI’m sure it doesn’t help that I have widow brain (that’s real thing, Google it).  I want to remember all the things that made Bryan my hubby all at once, and it’s just impossible.  Sometimes I watch videos of Bryan, just to keep his voice on my mind.  This summer, my stupid phone deleted all my saved voicemails one day and I had a meltdown at a Firehouse Subs.  That was fun.  But when a random memory does pop in my head, I’m diligent about writing it down.  These are things I hope stay in my head when I no longer remember who I am or how to go to the bathroom on my own.  I could just drift off to the memory of Bryan singing Amy Grant’s “Baby Baby” just because.
  7. I’m Like the Most Empathetic Person Ever Now.  Experiencing Bryan’s death and the shit storm that’s followed has caused me to see the world in a new lens.  When I hear of someone who’s lost a parent, spouse, child etc.,  I don’t just feel sad for them, I’m shattered all over again.  My pre-widow self just wasn’t capable of this higher level of sympathy and empathy, but now it’s like a super power y’all.  Not that it’s a super power I particularly wanted, but I actually feel useful sometimes when these new, raw grievers talk to me and I can honestly relate or just be there to listen.  I’m acutely aware of the “well what the hell do I do now?” feeling that comes after the funeral, cards, and casseroles stop coming.  So I try to keep those grieving on my mind and reach out.  You’ll never know what it’s truly like unless you’re a part of this club that nobody ever wanted to join, but if you do, I hope you support the other members.
  8. Just cut the bullshit.  Ain’t nobody got time for that! When you’re all exposed in the pit of despair, you get skilled at prioritizing what’s worth emotional energy and what’s not.  Just call me Imperator Furiosa because I’m a woman on a mission and I’ve got very little patience! Since I have so little energy to begin with, I can’t waste it on the bitchy woman at the grocery store, or the dick head that cuts me off on my commute home.  I just tell them to have a #blessed day and be on my way.  Okay maybe I still flip the bird, but I’m not still thinking about it 10 minutes later.  Baby steps. I’m still grieving!  One day I”ll get there.  I also put less credence into what I see on social media in terms of comparing my life and goals to other people’s highlight reel.  Everybody has got shit they’re going through, and it would be nice if we could just acknowledge it and be cool with it.

So that’s that.  These are just some knowledge nuggets I’ve accumulated these last 395 days.  I know I’ve got more to learn, and maybe I’ll update as I stay buckled in to this vomit-inducing carnival ride of widowhood that I just can’t seem to get off of.  Any of you have pearls of wisdom to share?  Ideas for posts? Be sure to comment!