I received an e-mail from someone who nine months after a very long marriage had found someone else. He said that even though his wife was much loved he wanted to have romance and affection and had sought it out. He wished the same for me. Finding a new partner is not one of my priorities. I'm not against it but most men my age are married, gay or interested in someone younger. Artie was special in such a way that it would be difficult for someone to step in. Am I against folks finding someone new? Of course not. I'm glad for anyone who finds what they are looking for. That's the drum I keep banging. There aren't really stages of grief that apply to everyone. There is no wrong or right way to grieve. Even if the pain is overwhelming and you are not functioning it's not wrong. What it is, in that case, is something to be gentle with and then examined to see how - since you are still alive - you can let life begin to flow through you again instead of around you. I believe our loved ones would want us all to live our lives fully. How we get there and what our goals are - that's as individual as we are.
When I look for support I look for folks who accept me for the way I am. My friends allow me to be in pain - to be snarky - to be joyful. They - as Artie used to say - buy the whole package. My husband was a recovering alcoholic and there is a saying, "Find someone who has what you want and ask them how they got it." In NLP they call it modelling. You can look, for example, at someone who is a champion golfer and model what they do. For some people the model for grief is to put on a happy face and deny their feelings. That's not a good model for me. For some people the model of grief is that it should end in six months or year. That's not a good model for me. For some people the model of grief is that they need to quickly replace the person who has died. That's not a good model for me. However, I don't have any problem with the way those people are dealing with their grief. I expect them to give me the same respect I give them.
This is what Barbara Sinatra says in her book about her feelings after her husband Frank Sinatra died: "I had more than I could possibly need, yet I would have traded it all in a heartbeat for just one more day with my dearest love...Life had to go on and I was busier than ever with charitable causes...A hummingbird suddenly appeared on the terrace of my Los Angeles apartment...Living in the penthouse, I had never before seen a hummingbird that high up, and I was astounded. Now, whenever I think of Frank and want some sign from him...to know that he loves me, he sends a hummingbird or two to lift my heart. Not that I'm unhappy---far from it. Fortunately I like being alone and have always enjoyed my own company...It has never once occured to me to get married again. Anyway, where would I go after Sinatra?"
The book was published in 2011. I don't know anything about Barbara Sinatra now - but her model is my model. Artie is my Sinatra. He was a force of nature. With all the imperfections in our marriage - the fights - the misunderstanding - we were lovers true and solid. We understood each other perfectly. Once I said (in a lovely little self pity mood) "I want someone to love me." Artie said, "Someone?" My reply had to be what is still the truth, "I want you to love me." He looked at me, "I couldn't not love you. It's like breathing." He's not breathing any more but I feel his love as if he were.
When a person or a pet dies (some people don't like to compare pets to people but I know from my daughter and others that losing a pet can be incredibly painful and the grief is the same) you have the right to grieve however you choose without being categorized as having "complicated grief" or "morbid grief". It's a whole topic of its own but grief is not depression. Grief can cause depression. Last week I was depressed. I could barely move. I didn't care about anything. Now - I'm back to grieving. I'm willing to accept sadness and loneliness as part of my life. I'm on my way back to Seattle to see my daughter and grandbaby again. I'm excited about that. Grandpa Artie will be with us in spirit. He loves Gwendy too. I know he does.
I'm still working on ways to be more active, to have less paralyzing days. I'm spending Valentine's Day with my best woman friend. Who knows if we will laugh or cry. Probably both.
For me it's about keeping it real. Who am I if I'm not willing to be myself? How will I know if you really like me if I don't let you know who I am? You might not like me. There have been people who have fallen away. However, their leaving has made room for new people to come in.
Give yourselves a big hug for me. I'm off to the airport in a couple of hours and of course I haven't finished packing. Life keeps moving forward - jump in and join when you wish - step out and be an observer for a while if that is what you need to do. The person who knows what you need and where you want to go is YOU. xo
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