Being a widow sucks. Aside from the actual grief and loss, there are a million things that come up that can catch you unexpectedly at all hours of the day or night, things you never saw coming. These are the things nobody tells you about and that you are unprepared for, like losing the ability to remember anything or think clearly for more than five minutes.
There is a lot of learning that comes from grief and trying to cope. I just wanted to share a few of the things I have learned with all of you. Hopefully someone else will find it helpful or at least a little bit humorous.
Things I have learned since becoming a widow:
1. You need to know how to do handy things like replace light bulbs, hang pictures, and change the air pressure on your tires. Boys are useful for this but so is Google and the right tool.
2. No matter how long you sit and wait for your toast to toast, it’s not going to get any darker unless the toaster is plugged in.
3. A prepared meal in a crock pot that you set in the morning is a great way to ensure you come home to a decent meal. It is also especially helpful when you turn the crock pot on before you leave for the day.
4. If you can’t find the keys, they are in the fridge. If you can’t find the mail, it’s in the fridge. If you can’t fine the socks you were just about to put on, they are in the fridge! If you can’t find the milk, it’s in the cupboard behind the cereal.
5. If you want your clothes to dry you have to put them in the dryer. Starting the dryer without the clothes in it results in wet clothes still in the washer. Go figure.
6. Try not to point Hate Face at unsuspecting coworkers who blurt out inappropriate comments or loiter too long in your office. They probably don’t mean to. And you are going to scare the bujeepers out of New Guy.
7. If you are wondering why the ground beef just doesn’t seem to be defrosting after 8 minutes of microwaving, try placing it IN the microwave to speed things up.
8. Nothing is handier than a friend who can show you how to operate a grill.
9. Sticky notes are man’s greatest invention. Use them on the front door to remind you not to leave your keys in it. Use them on the fridge to remind you to buy food. Use them in the bathroom to remind you that you are out of toilet paper.
10. Stock up, stock up, stock up. You never know when you might be functional enough to go to Walmart again and nothing sucks worse than running out of toilet paper with nobody in the house to shout to who can bring you some.
11. Before wasting an entire morning scrubbing out your fridge and taking out the garbage in an attempt to eliminate that rotting food smell, try taking a shower. Especially since it’s been 2 days since your last one.
12. A good friend will bring you dinner and talk with you all evening. A great friend will bring you McDonalds and sob with you all night.
13. Tragedy rewrites your address book. Old friends will disappear, as will some of the new ones. These secondary losses will cut like a knife but the friends who really matter will always be there no matter what.
14. Shoveling walkways or stairs is a waste of time. It’s Calgary. Sunny weather is surely on its way, and that sh*t will melt within a day or two anyhow.
15. When it feels like you are forgetting something you probably are. Don’t be afraid of forgetting Craig though. You won’t.
16. Always check to make sure you shaved BOTH legs while still in the shower.
17. Give your best friend a house key. This will alleviate your constant fear of locking yourself out and will also ensure someone can barge their way in at any time, thus eliminating the possibility of you giving up on life and lying on the floor in a cesspool of your own misery for three days.
18. Vanity is a wonderful thing. It ensures you keep those teeth brushed, that hair washed, and those clothes facing the right way.
19. Check to ensure you put both earrings in and that they match. Calling it International Pirate Day only works so many times before your coworkers start to worry about you. Also try to put makeup on both eyes. Same reason.
20. Don’t forget to ask for help.
21. Always say yes to help when it is offered.
22. Don’t ever, ever forget who you are and what you are capable of. Everything in your life has prepared you for this moment and no matter how much it feels otherwise right now, you ARE still capable.
23. Fix your eyes on what is unseen. What is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal.
24. Be honest with those around you. Open up, tell them how you feel. Except your mother. That will just unnecessarily scare her.
25. Do what your best friend tells you to do. She is the must trustworthy person you know. Ignore everybody else.
26. Stupidity is an epidemic. At some point or another, those around you will become infected. Have mercy on them. At some point or another you will become infected too.
27. Home videos and an entire bottle of wine do not mix, no matter how good an idea you think it is at the time.
28. Yes, at some point, you will lose somebody else. And someone else and someone else and someone else. Do not let this dictate the rest of your life. If you made it through this one, you will survive the next one.
29. No, you are not going crazy. You already WERE crazy. Relieved? Us too.
30. Always carry cash. The debit card PIN you have had for 11 years will slip from your mind in the middle of the rush hour lineup at Starbucks while 18 people are watching in caffeine deprived rage, waiting for their grande-extra-hot-no-foam-double-shot-skinny-vanilla-lattes.
31. Do not cancel your caller ID to save a few bucks. You will need it! Movie Channel? That you can live without.
32. No matter how many times you stick that house key into the mailbox, it won’t work. And sitting there staring at it, puzzling over why it isn’t working for 10 minutes, will only cause your neighbours to grow concerned.
33. Dads are great for the most painful parts when you need someone who will help you not to cry. Just know that one day, when you do see him tear up from watching your pain, it will shock you to your core and hurt like hell.
34. You have a much bigger capacity to forgive than you could have imagined. You will find that spot in your heart where empathy takes over for the rage and you realize that preventing any more suffering matters a lot more than revenge.
35. When preparing to take a relaxing bubble bath complete with candles, a warm cup of tea, and a really good novel, make sure you haven’t left anything on in the kitchen. The nudie dash through the house, trailing bubbles, when the smoke alarm goes off kind of negates the soothing effect you were hoping to achieve. It also scares the neighbours’ kids.
36. Remember how fortunate you are – tell the friends who saved you in the aftermath just how grateful you are. Although they probably know anyway.
37. Staying up for 3 days straight watching episodes of the Office is totally acceptable. Previously mentioned best friends will sit and watch with you, pretending it’s the funniest sh*t they have ever seen too.
38. Don’t spend 2 hours in a mad panic, sobbing like a lunatic while tearing the house apart because you have lost Craig’s ring. Check the chain around your neck first. Saves a lot of stress.
39. Massages = good. Enough said.
40. God promises us joy, not happiness. Happiness comes from what happens to you, joy does not. Don’t feel guilty you still have your joy.
41. When you hear banging all through the night it is not your imagination playing tricks on you, telling you there are ghosts wandering about your home. Next time try closing the screen door when there is going to be a storm. Or just every day, really.
42. Don’t beat yourself up with guilt every time you laugh. Craig’s sense of humor was just as morbid. He wouldn’t have been able to help himself either.
43. If you take a cookie sheet out of a 350 degree oven, it will still be hot and require oven mitts 30 seconds later. On a totally unrelated note, stock up on Aloe Vera gel and Band-Aids.
44. If you drive to work, remember that it’s important to drive back home as well instead of walking down to the train station, getting on said train, riding it all the way back to Franklin, frantically searching for your car with mounting fear that it was stolen, before remembering you are a dumbass and left it parked in a downtown parkade.
45. You will hear the following inappropriate comments at some point or another. Try not to Hate Face the person saying them. Laugh instead.
a.“I understand how you feel, my husband just divorced me.”
b.“Maybe Craig faked his own death.”
c. “I wish my husband was the one who died.”
d.“Maybe when my husband dies I’ll finally be able to lose a bunch of weight.”
e.“Are you going to become a lesbian now?”
f.“You look terrible.”
g.“So… are you ok now?”
h.“Well, since you’re single now…”
i.“You have your whole life ahead of you.”
j.“It must be so hard being all alone and having nobody.”
k.“It was his time to go.”
l.“This is part of God’s Plan.”
m.“My dog just died so I know how you feel.”
46. When you feel like visiting, visit. When you feel like laughing, laugh. When you feel like singing, sing. It could be another few days before you stop hating the world again.
47. People’s ability to care will amaze you. They will come from all over, many of them total strangers. Some people’s ability to not care will also amaze you. Ignore them and focus on those that do.
48. Feel it, lean into it, embrace every agonizing minute. Do not run from it, it will catch you. This grief is the price we pay for loving someone.
49. Don’t ever, ever let yourself forget how much he loved you. More than anyone or anything else in the world. You were his whole world and the only thing that brought him peace and joy in his life. The people who do not understand this did not understand him.
50. The human body has a shockingly strong ability to keep going. Sometimes you will be relieved by this. Other times you will hate it.
51. Do the things you have always wanted to do. A lifetime of playing it safe, never breaking the rules, and constantly worrying will protect you from nothing. So go live.
52. He will be the first one you see, the head of your welcoming committee, when you are finally called back home. Remember this with joy, because he will be just as excited to see you as you are to see him.