After my husband died in the motorcycle accident, life was unbearable. One second he had been alive and well. The next second he was GONE. Even though I grieved, my brain did not initially register the finality of it. I just felt he was gone somewhere to work or for a meeting for a few days. He would be back soon.
It took me time to process that this is REAL and he is NEVER coming back. There would be no one to snuggle with, no one to have quiet talks with late at night, no one to get up with early in the morning and have a cup of tea. There was no need to look at the clock a million times for 5:30 p.m. in eagerness to welcome my husband back from work with a hug. There was no reason to say, “Kids, Dad is home. Come on, time for dinner.” There was nothing to look forward to. There was no light at the end of the tunnel.
After the reality set in, there seemed no reason to get out of bed anymore. I just wanted to lie in bed, wrapped in my blankets, in a dark room, never talk to anyone and never get up. I wanted to be left alone. I wanted nothing more to do with the world—no external stimulation. If I could have lived forever in a cocoon, that would have been ideal for me.
Even my brain and thoughts went into nothingness. For all the time I had spent the first few days, thinking of the what ifs, what if he had not gone that day on his motorcycle, what if I had stopped him, what if, what if, now it seemed my brain was frozen on ice. If there were any thoughts, they were going in slow motion. I did not even want to think. It was too much of an effort. Wow, I realized, this is what depression is.
But I HAD to get up. I had NO choice. I had three kids, who were as devastated as I was. I had a brave 17-year-old son with widespread bone cancer who was trying so hard to be the man of the family overnight, was in excruciating pain, had to be taken care of, given pain medications, driven for his appointments. I had two young daughters who were in high school who had to go on with their routines of going to school, doing homework, keeping up their grades.
These three children were watching MY every move. How was I behaving with all this? How was I dealing with the loss? I realized if they saw me aloof and depressed, how were THEY to handle all this? If they saw me hiding in my room, how could they face the world? You know that saying, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have?” Well, I got it.
I had no other choice. I had to drag myself out of bed. I did not want to. Then I would see my kids’ faces looming in front of me and that would propel me out of bed. My body felt like a ton of bricks. Every little act took a lot of effort. I would brush my teeth, comb my hair, go downstairs, check on my son, make the kids’ breakfasts. The rest of the day would be spent making sure my son was okay, taking him for hospital visits, talking to family and friends who came by, waiting for the girls to come home, grocery shopping, eating dinner, making sure the kids were all okay, sleeping, etc. I had a smile plastered on my face inside a hollow, empty shell of a body. Every day was rote, a mechanical mindless day going through the same actions. And it was at this point I was either going to explode with grief or I was going to do better.
I knew without a doubt what the answer was. But I also realized for me to live fully and go on positively, I had to strengthen myself from the inside—heart, mind, soul. As within, so without. So far I was just going on for my kids’ sakes. It was not good enough. I had to find a way to be happy in my soul for MYSELF. I had to be joyful for myself to be joyful for others.
I realized then that when you know from the inside that you want to start doing better in every way, you have already started the baby steps towards healing.