Tuesday, May 25, 2021


 " Blessed are those who do not fear solitude, who are not afraid of their own company, who are not always desperately looking for something to do, something to amuse themselves with, something to judge. If you are never alone, you cannot know yourself."  -Paulo Coelho

A friend sent this quote to me this morning and I smiled.  I believe in synchronicity.  I have been thinking for the past couple of weeks how being alone during the pandemic with my grief has been a gift.

It's been ten months now since Rick died.   Three, almost four seasons have passed and each has brought endings, beginnings, darkness and light.  Those first few weeks after that horrible night were hot and oppressive.  The shock and knowledge of tasks that had to be done, completions of projects he had started, moved me forward in a weird slow motion .  It was mid-July, all around the pandemic was hitting its stride and other than phone calls, emails, cards and messages the outside world had disappeared for me.  My brother and his wife, their daughter and grandson who lived with them became the only humans that I saw on a regular basis and even that was social distanced.

There were some projects on the farm he had started that I couldn't do by myself, but with the help of a couple of friends,  and my nephew they were  completed.  I spent most days on the phone those first couple of blistering hot months taking care of the business that a spouse gone suddenly left  behind. 

I was beginning to understand grief.  I had buried my parents and an older brother, but I pushed my grief far  down into the recesses of my heart, went back to work and tried to understand when unexplained tears came.  But this isolation,  taking care of business, maintaining the farm and the hours of being alone day after day made me face my grief for Rick, made me acknowledge how I dealt with pain, sadness, exhaustion and who I was.

Fall brought comfort yet  deep grief as well.  The blue skies, the changing of the leaves and cooler temps brought with them memories of how much Rick loved fall, but how much I loved it as well.  Walking through the crunch of brown leaves,  the geese arriving at a nearby pond and deer walking by my front windows triggered sobbing and wailing that I had never experienced before.  Being alone,  I made myself find gratitude even when my face was buried in a pillow wet with tears.

Winter and its starkness and grey skies gave me a different perspective on holidays.  Not being with friends and family, not pushing through  each holiday trying to hold on to old traditions,  I began to understand what was important to me.  It was not being in a house full of people, opening gifts, and yet never really connecting with anyone, what did matter was wishing peace to all those I loved, blessings of good health and joy and how wonderful a fire was on cold winter night or the sweetness of a cup of hot tea or cocoa.  Those surprises of handmade gifts that appeared in the mail, roses that appeared out of the blue, a painting that sits on my mantle. The bare trees gave me a strange connection to grief.  I felt the loss of all those leaves that  had fallen and yet I knew the trees would see leaves again in the spring.  Nature brought me memories of Rick, and all that time alone gave me the gift of fully grieving my loss.

Spring brought a cruelness I did not expect.  I had anticipated new beginnings, the excitement of renewal.  The clear blue skies and the explosion of new growth made me angry and sad.  I had spent the holidays and his birthday alone, for some reason I had not given much thought to being alone for my birthday and when it arrived in March, along with forsythia and violets and honeysuckle and green leaves it hit hard.  I realized the grief still lurked in every cell of my body, waiting for each opportunity to stab a bit more.

My fellow widow friends tell me this year of firsts is the worst.  The firsts are not always the big ones you expect either.  It's the first cup of coffee without him, the first meal you cook, the first hummingbird you see, the first snowflake, the first ripe blueberry, the first time you get sick and realize you are alone and the dogs are not very sympathetic.

I made it through what would have been our 47th anniversary on May 5th.  On July 16th I will face the anniversary of his death.

So here is what I have learned about myself during all this time alone.  I have faced grief head on, and though there were times I wish it had killed me, it didn't.  Other cultures deal with grief differently, I think most of us deal with it as I had in the past.   We were sad, we cried some tears and hurt, yet we forced ourselves to continue life as usual.  For me, grief in the pandemic has been a sacred ritual, a cleansing of my mind, and spirit.  I know what is important to me and what isn't, that working to the point of exhaustion  brings sleep when nothing else will,   I have learned to let tears flow freely, that it's ok to experience anger and fear and that breathing always helps.  Being alone has made me much less tolerant of BS, much less tolerant of hate, and very much aware of how loss and suffering have come to so many since 2019.   

My wish for myself and all of you continues to be peace and good health.

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