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Day 178 - Dear Grandpoohbag

Updated: May 8, 2020


I received this message the other day in response to my "All The Lonely People" post. I am re-printing here so that you can all see this man’s kind words, his pain and his recovery. I would also like to share with everyone my response.


Erin,


Google brought me to your blog by accident; I have no idea what I was actually searching for that caused the algorithm to send me here. I don't really do the whole social media thing, so it was very serendipitous that I ended up here tonight. I have read several of your entries but the idea of going back through 170 or so daily posts is a little daunting right now. However, Day 172 in particular touched me in an unexpected way. I have been a widower for six years now after 34 years of marriage. It took about two years to get past the shock of my wife's passing -- to get to that point where I was compelled to recognize that the life we had planned was not going to happen, and the life I now have was going to be my new reality. Initially, the 'business' aspect of bereavement (selling our house, moving into smaller quarters, disposing of her personal belongings and finding new homes for her treasures, etc.) kept me busy on a quotidian basis so that I was not constantly faced with the question "What am I going to do now?" I just did what had to be done that day. Tomorrow's fires could wait until tomorrow.


Over the past two years or so, as the worst of the pain has receded, it is harder and harder to avoid facing "What am I going to do now?"


I miss my wife every day, and I still cry occasionally when some particularly poignant memory breaks through my defenses. More recently I've realized that, beyond the loss of the person, I miss what you called 'the feeling of being connected.' I miss having someone to bring flowers home to. I miss having someone to buy things for. I miss having someone to call out to when I see something particularly interesting or funny on TV or the computer. Valentine's Day is no fun. However, after reading your post, I realized that I needed to, as you wrote, 'separate the feeling from the person.' Even though I have come to terms with the loss of the person, I still have the feelings that living with her engendered; they are just not tethered to anyone specific.


I'm not a religious or spiritual person. I am too detached, analytical and skeptical and I struggle to keep my cynicism under control. These characteristics have not served me well lately because my struggle was (and is) metaphysical rather than physical. However, reading your blog gives me a perspective that I could not access on my own, and for that I am grateful.


Dear Grandpoohbag:


Thank you so much for your comments. Thank you for sharing your heart and pain. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to me and to allow me entrance to this most private and personal world. I am so very sorry for your loss. Your wife sounds like a wonderful woman that was worth all of the grief you have felt since she passed. From your words, I get an image in my mind of a happy couple enjoying their lives, laughing, loving and sharing in all of life’s mundanity. I am sure that living without her now, life seems more hollow and empty. I applaud your courage and fortitude in moving on and forward. I am sure there were many times you thought about giving up. Perhaps still do...


I do not know what it is like to love someone that much for that long. I marvel at how people do what you have done: met, fallen in love, committed your life to each other, lived every single day within a marriage, weathered the years of change and the years of no change, loved each other through it all. I can’t even fathom the loss you have suffered. How much her absence costs you still. How much you might stop at nothing for one more moment in her presence. I can literally feel your pain in the words you shared. The fact that you still cry sometimes is, to me, evidence of the depth of feeling you enjoyed that belies your assessment that you are “too detached, analytical, skeptical and struggle to keep your cynicism under control.” Seems to me, that your ongoing grief is evidence of how very much you are not detached, too analytical or skeptical. Cynics do not love like that my friend. Perhaps the cynicism is just a needed cover for a vulnerable soul?

The heart is a magnificent place. The heart is the place where all reason, logic and sound decisions are abandoned. The heart doesn’t care about those things. It has no use for them. They are not helpful in matters of the heart. Regardless of the people who share their hearts, there is always a place left open for love, passion and intimacy to grow despite all the reasons and logic that might tell you something different about the person you love. That might tell you something different about yourself.


The pain that you feel now, the pain that you will always feel evinces how very deeply you loved and were loved. Pain is the other side of pleasure, the two are inseparable. You cannot have one without the other. They are opposites that require the presence of the other to make themselves felt by definition. The fact that you grieve so deeply is proof of how deeply you loved. I don’t know why this helps me but it does. Somehow it puts all the pain in context for me. Gives the pain and aguish a path that doesn’t just feel like a punishment. Whenever I grieve, I can see and feel, in real time, that this is the other side of loving. That it is the price I agreed to pay the moment I cared, loved and shared myself with another. It isn’t a deal that I really liked or wanted to sign up for, but it is the deal we all make.

Seems to me that you are in a beautiful place now. A tender place. A place where you are ready to begin again. Maybe you don’t fall in love again, maybe you do. But it seems, my friend, that you are ready to give all that the love inside you to someone. Perhaps, for now, you start with you. Buy yourself flowers or some small gift. Treat yourself to a dinner out or a movie in. For whatever reason, you are still here. And worthy of your own attention and love. Hers, you have forever even though perhaps she is not physically present anymore to remind you how very much she loved you back. I think from your description of your marriage that she would want you to be happy, to grow, to laugh and love again. If even, coming to love you more.


And I would disagree that you are not a spiritual person...google delivered you to my blog...but you were the one that took the time to read. You were the one that felt moved to write me back. You were the one that reached out and shared your heart. Your words are your faith, your temple and your worship. For me, any gratitude experienced is evidence of my spiritual nature. Even a mustard seed is enough faith to begin and that my friend you have.


I once felt as you did. I was not religious or spiritual. I felt those things and the people that needed them were weak and kind of stupid. However, I have come to believe in something greater than myself. For me that something greater than me is loving kindness. It is really no more complicated than that. I just believe in the spirit that lives in all of us. In people just like you who are hurting and looking for some relief for their broken, tattered hearts. For people like you who are willing to take the time to reach out and share their pain. For people whose hearts are so full of grief that once was love that they read just one post on some random blog by some crazy lady. That, to me, is faith and trust and God.


Grandpoohbag, you seem like an intelligent man who has the greatest asset one can ever have: to have loved deeply. This is your wealth. You know how to do it. Perhaps, for now, you can turn that love towards yourself and give yourself exactly what you need. You are worthy of your own attention and love and care. I am pretty sure your wife would agree with me. Perhaps you have another great love story that is coming your way. Perhaps that love story is with yourself, a child, a pet, a cause or another lover. What I do know for sure, is that you have allowed the grief to enter you and occupy you because you loved so greatly. Not all of us are capable of that, not all of us are that brave. If you were brave enough once, you can do it again. For now, perhaps start with you? Allow yourself to become the object of your affection.


Thank you for sharing yourself with me. For taking the time to reach out. Thank you for making me laugh about my hundreds of post that would, in fact, be completely daunting to anyone that stumbles upon my blog...still, I hope you read another and I hope it makes you smile and cry. Those are the two best things I can do in a day of my life: laugh and cry. For me, the struggle is finding a balancing point between the two. Seems that is our shared struggle. My wish for you is that you begin anew in this day, emboldened by the love you feel and take that with you wherever you go and allow it to humble you as much as empower you. My wish is that you use it to enjoy and relish all the days to come as the object of your own affection. Namaste.




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