Friday, January 7, 2011

A Widow's Work Is Never Done

I know I've whined about this before, but I'm going to do do it again... death is so much work!

There are lawyers and insurance companies and criminal charges and courts and banks and paperwork and funeral homes and credit card companies and the list goes on and on and on...

Just when you think you have conquered the Mt. Everest of Crappy Paperwork, you see you are just in the middle of a mountain range, and that you have many more piles to go.

The day before yesterday I tackled some of these 'piles'. I keep going through Craig's stuff in phases - to try to do it all at once would leave me buried and I'm pretty sure it would take days for anyone to dig me out.

So far I have gone through his clothes five or six different times and given away as much as I could each time. This is key. Never try to give it all away at once. Just make two piles - the 'shirts I hated every time he wore them' pile and the 'clothes you will have to pry out of my cold, dead hands' pile. Obviously the latter being the ones you want to keep. Then it doesn't feel like you are throwing away everything - just the stuff you didn't like or don't have a particularly strong memory attached to.

Eventually, though, you get to the last few boxes and it's time to make some tough decisions.

This go around was that time.

I had to say goodbye to many things I actually really did care about. You see, the closet full of clothes is just one burden. There is also Craig's books, his paperwork, his toys, his shoes, his sports equipment, his workout set, his music, his movies, his jackets, his jewellery, his ashes, his notebooks and letters, etc. So to maintain sanity, I have to work on all these things. I have to give away what I can, because there is just. So. Much. Stuff.

Anyway, this time around I made myself give away all but 10 things. That sounds like alot but if you knew Craig, you'd know he had a wardrobe bigger than mine.

This time around I gave away all his business shirts, include the four he still had in the drycleaning bag from the day before he died.

This time around I gave away his flannel shirts, so soft and comfy, that he wore when we went camping and when he went on his friend's bachelor party campout the summer before.

This time around I gave away his brand new tailored pinstriped suit he had just bought the week before for a job interview. He looked so good in it dammit.

And this time around I finally parted with my wedding dress. I never cared about my wedding dress, not really. It was nice, it was pretty. But I never had that sobbing-in-the-store reaction other people seemed to have. Every time I tried to sell it on ebay or give it away Craig would get super pissed. I used to tease him that it was more sentimental to him than it was to me. Ever since he died I couldn't stand to let it go.

I also gave his parents a box of all his report cards and little projects from when he was in elementary/junior high. Damn, he was one cute kid.

It took me the better part of a day to sort through this stuff.

And then it took me an entire day to recover.

I literally did not get out of bed yesterday until late in the evening (outside of a few pee and food breaks of course). And I probably wouldn't have gotten out of bed except that I was forced by an irritatingly well-meaning and persistent friend.

But this is the toll grief takes on you.

It saps your strength, your energy, and every last spark of happiness. It took an entire day for the sadness, the guilt, and the general misery to wear off from just getting rid of those few things.

It has been 10 months and it still catches me off guard. One little task like this can set you back months in the grieving process.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that a widow's work is never quite done. I will be dealing with Craig's things for years to come.

And unlike the rest of the world, the burden feels like it is all mine.

I am the one who needs to let him go. I am the one who has to fight the guilt for every little piece of him I let go of. I am the one who swallows that anxiety that each little piece is a memory I will no longer have.

I look forward to the day when I can open one or two boxes and see the things that mean the most and remember him with a smile instead of all these tears.

Please let that day be soon.


  1. It's only been 3-1/2 months for me and I haven't yet gotten rid of a thing. I know it's something I must do and your post will serve as a guide ... I like your way of doing it in 'go rounds'. Thank you, Emily.

  2. I am chinese, this is my first time come to this blog.
    I feel sorry about your loss of your beloved, and I hope that day will come to you soon.