The Aftermath

The Aftermath


After my husband died the next decade of my life was nothing like I would expect it to be.

Yes it was tragic, sad and difficult.

But there were other difficult things that took place alongside devastation.

Nobody has ever been able to describe the aftermath in words that capture the reality of it.

It has been close to 9 years since his passing and I am still finding out what happened to me.

To be honest with you, I stopped picking up the phone after he died and I have yet to pick it up. I also can’t open emails from people who I know might have some harsh words to say.

I can’t handle bad news of any kind.

I can’t watch movies based on true stories where we see someone suffer physical and emotional pain.

I don’t have the capacity to work on a relationship.

I don’t have the ability to participate in an argument and come out of it ok.

I would rather let a relationship go than fight for it.

You can say I am running away, you can say whatever you want, but now I know why. Something happened after he died that disabled my relationship skills in some ways.

I don’t have the energy, the ability or the drive to fix something that is broken.

Yes, we need to boldly go forward, but we also have to talk about the aftermath of loss.

I am no longer the social butterfly or beloved friend I used to be.

I would rather sit here and talk to you all, than go out there and make new relationships.

Today, I just want to say if you are feeling like you would rather not risk a new relationship or you would rather abandon someone than try to work at it.

I get it. I get you.

And it’s ok to be as you are and feel as you do.

You are not a bad friend.

You are not a bad person.

You are someone who went through something really traumatic and lost a big part of who you were.

I am sharing this with you today, so you can put all the pieces together, and see and understand your own aftermath.

It might look different for you.

It might not be the phone you are not picking up, but it might be that you stopped cooking, or baking, or gardening or whatever thing was special to you.

I am here to tell you that this is part of the journey after loss.

I don’t know if something positive can come out of this.

Sugar coating everything doesn’t appeal to me.

What appeals to me is understanding ourselves and respecting our new needs after loss.

We cannot re-enter life after loss if we don’t find out who we now are. (Click to Tweet!)

What is the one thing that changed about your character after your divorce, after the death of your spouse or a traumatic life experience?

With love,

Christina

Comments

  1. I get this! I am this! I like you no longer have the energy or drive to fix what is broken. I just look ahead and leave anything that can breach me in any way that is sad or depressing.

  2. After the tragic loss of my husband 20 months ago, I feel that there’s no need to fix what is broken if it’s not worth fixing. I learned to prioritize what’s important in my life, and let no man (or woman) step in my way. I’m gradually re-defining and embracing what is important to me and my life. Selfish? Maybe. But it’s wonderful as well. It’s not easy, but I do think it’s worth it in the long run. Much love for all that you do Christina.

  3. Wow, these words are exactly how I feel but have not been able to express them. I thought maybe I was abnormal or had some major personal issues after losing my husband 2 1/2 yrs. ago. Life has been tough and I feel I’ve become a stronger, more independent person recently but I have these same relationship issues.

  4. Thanks so much for this post. When my loss happened, which wasn’t a death but a very difficult situation where I had to break up with someone even though we loved each other and wanted to be together, I had no idea what a massive effect it would have on me. I didn’t realise it would put a barrier between me and nearly all my friends. That it would make me stop doing the hobbies I loved. That it would put my relationship with my parents at risk. That it would mean I’d stop listening to music. That I wouldn’t be able to read or watch sad movies or books. I feel like a different person since it happened, and I miss the old me so much. But what you’ve written at least makes me feel like this isn’t my fault, and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me. Thanks 🙂

    • I feel the same way and Long for that engagement to come back – engagement to do things that I used to love whereas now everything looks so gray and without purpose. I find my only release and hope to be in Jesus, though that was a long struggle of doubt itself but I reemerged a much stronger Christian through all of this pain. When I look around at life all I see is God and I have to believe that he cares for me and is seeing me through this difficult time so that I may be a better person when it’s all said and done. I think the next step for me, and is key for us all, would be to embrace or except my reality and then spring from there, not looking back but reaching forward to the prize – because we all know that the prize is waiting for us, deep down in the hearts we do know that!

  5. My newborn past away 3 weeks ago. I found out my husband had been cheating. My whole world has been crushed. I don’t feel alive anymore. I find it hard to share my feeling and emotions. Days I wish I could just be alone but, I’m too scared to be alone. I miss the old me. What before use to be a pleasure now seems like a chore. I guess I’m not the only one who doesn’t enjoy doing things they love. I hate living day by day but, that’s all I can do now.

    • My prayers are with you. I understand that need to be alone but afraid at the same time. If you have the ability to pick a safe person and just Nap or somehow recent hurt yourself maybe that might help? I am sorry for your loss.
      Living day by day is necessary for quite some time. Overtime you’ll be able to look out a few days in advance. I will pray that God sends all my blessings your way

      • Praying for you to Mitzy . Praying that the rain does not overcome the sunshine and that you’re able to look up and wait and find peace and know that God hears you, sees you and feels everything you feel. He longs to hold you if you’ll just crawl up into his lap and cry out to papa. Losing a child has to be the worst thing on this planet to happen to anybody. I wish I could be there with you right now so I could give you a big hug and let you cry on my shoulder. It does help to know you’re not alone, and I thank Christina for that.

  6. I’m not the same person I was 7 months ago. I don’t pick up the phone, I don’t feel responsible for everyone else anymore. I stay to myself more. I don’t feel the need to engage people who do not put forth the effort to be a part of my life. I feel stronger, if that makes sense. I’m no longer a people pleaser, a Ms. Fix-It. For right now it’s all I can do to breathe, get through a workday and sleep. If someone in my life doesn’t like the new me…..oh well, I’m not willing to pretend to be someone I’m not. Tears come, and they go, and then they come again and sometimes last for days. That’s ok too. The people who can’t understand my grief don’t have to. I get out of the waiting room once in awhile. Step by step, day by day, breath by breath. The rest of my life is what I make of it. I can choose to live or die. I am choosing life, but on my terms, and my terms only. Christina you inspire me everyday. Thanks for your good work and caring heart.

  7. WOW! This resonates with me….and I’m sure with all the grieving hearts out there!!
    With gratitude and appreciation for all that you do…Christina.
    Roshnee

  8. Thank you for getting me. Bless you for getting us. For validating these feelings. I feel 95%, nay 100℅ as you masterfully put it here after the loss of my health. I live with MS and this babe is not going anywhere. So continual loss of ‘identity’ is a constant and an inevitable reality I wake up to everyday. Your getting it, is beyond relief. I’m not a social oddity for behaving like this! Yippee :)))

  9. It’s been 12 years since my husband of 18 years left my daughter and I. Looking back on it now, I can see that it took me way to long to let it go and move on. I have learned that I don’t have to erase my past, I can be OK with all of it as just being both the good and bad of who I have been. It took me every bit of 8 to 9 years to get over losing him and the life I had, but the important thing is that I have moved on now, and have learned to be happy with me. I know now that I will always be OK, that being by my self is just another part of learning to love myself.
    I’m not the same women he left so long ago, I have scars that are now a part of who I am, and I’m good with that part of me. I no longer wish to hide from that part of myself, but to embrace it.
    I have learned to be a more compassionate and loving person, and that forgiveness is the only thing will will truly set me free. I’ve learned that it is never about us, but about the pain in others that causes them to be the way they are.
    I have learned to love without expectation, because love is all there really is. You are either living your life in love or in fear and I choose love. Love is always the answer, no matter the problem.
    Christina, you are an Angel sent from above, thank you for all you do, you are appreciated and loved so much <3

  10. All of this resonates. I avoid everyone. I hide behind the computer laptop when I have to be in the room with people. I hide in books when it’s just Ma and me hanging around.
    I tweeted the message from this post. It felt so great to have you assure me I am not a bad person.

  11. Ugh! I lost my husband of 30 years, 5 years ago to leukemia. I have had a very supportive family and friends I am thankful for them every day . I do know they are there if I need them. Its a choice we make weather we want to accept their time and ears . I have made a few bad decisions afterward and I don’t feel strong enough to correct them . I realized that things just don’t really matter anymore anyway . So its easier to just go with it. I feel my future is behind me now and really don’t have anything to look forward to EVER… I love my children and grandchildren immensely and am only in this world for them. I would not want to traumatize them any more. So I just plug long and do what I have to do to survive. Though things might look ok on the outside. Only if you’ve been there do you get it. I feel for you and hope that maybe someday you can find at least the strength to accept a friend to keep you company.

  12. I lost my husband to a sudden heart attack at the age of 39. I long for a new relationship but I’m scared to get in one only because I don’t want to lose again. It’s a terrible fate because we had a very good marriage and a very good relationship.

    I can totally relate to the not wanting to fix certain things. I just equated it to understanding and figuring out what I thought was important and what I thought was not. I try to only focus on the things that will help my family now.

  13. I can’t imagine what my life would be without my wife, kids or grandkids. I have lost both my parents, which was hard enough. Just this weekend I was thinking about my grandkids and how much they mean to me. We have such a special bond that is priceless. I got to thinking, how would I like to be remembered. In short, “I want to be remembered as a loving grandfather who built unbreakable bonds with my grandkids while creating lasting memories by telling and sharing stories with them that will be told for generations to come.” If the time comes when I have to face the loss of those special in my life, I know God will will give me courage to face it and His strength to carry on. But even in this knowledge, I know it will be hard.

  14. My husband died in a freak accident 13 months ago. My daughter and I were thrown into a world that doesn’t make sense anymore. I hate the sound of the phone ringing, I hate checking my mail box, I hate checking my email. I only feel safe leaving the home when I’m with my daughter. Leaving her makes me very anxious. I sometimes wish I could just crawl under my bed and not come out. Everything requires so much effort. All of this makes me feel so guilty because I so adore my daughter. I’m tired of answering, “how are you?” because most people don’t want to hear the answer. I’m also tired of people who feel like they have the solution to my grief. I just don’t have room for any of those Pollyannas. I wish I could have my old life back.

  15. I don’t even have the words to say how perfectly this describes what I’ve been falling down into now, for more than a decade. I felt like I must be a bad person, since the few “acquaintances” I’ve made with women over the last few years I have made no real effort to maintain. I met Terry, got engaged, and tried a friendship with an artist guy, and later with a really cool lady, and both eventually disintegrated. Both were strong, dominant personalities, and tried to get way to involved in “fixing” me. That was it. I felt really bad that I’d gotten like this, and that I’m sort of the same way with my mother… having given up on ever having a “Civil” relationship. She wants to change me. I won’t. I don’t want to change her, and I know I can’t anyway. I just want to be left ALONE.
    Reading this was VERY helpful and reassuring that I haven’t turned “BAD” or something. The stress thing…. The relationship issues…. This whole message is right on target!!!

  16. This journal of yours Christina was super helpful to me. It explains a lot as to reasons why working on relationships doesn’t really work right now. I have found a way to be happy and move forward with my life and for that I am grateful. But the history and relationship factor around the “aftermath” is something I have had to let go of because it is not helpful and does not serve me in my recovery. I am rebuilding my life for myself, no one is here to do it for me and the invitation hasn’t been extended. I have the ability through no choice of my own to find my way to happiness. I’m getting there. Thanks for your honesty, Christina.

  17. My beautiful 33 year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver in March 2012 and I sat here and thought about your question, what has changed about my character is I live life within my heart now. I have become very aware of the enemies of my heart and have a faith and trust and peace. After the searing pain of years and spiritual warfare, I believe I will be with here again on the other side of the veil. Hugs to all who suffer.

  18. I stumbled upon your site and then your blog. This one in particular resonated with me. I lost my husband over 5 years ago, wrote a book about it (haven’t published it yet – stuck between the what the heck, that was just me getting it out and oh yeah people would want to read this). I’ve spoken at hospice memorials, am naturally drawn to those who are grieving – I liked your comment “I’d rather be here with you”. But what I really loved was your two statements about not having the capacity of working on a relationship and about choosing to let it go rather than working on it.
    It helped me understanding someone else who I met after my husband died – I get them now. But, it also helped me just sit down with relief and say “yeah, ok I don’t have to “do” anything.
    I’d like to tell people that I’m done grieving, but I’d also like to tell myself and the world that it didn’t happen. I think it’s hard to interact with others who haven’t experienced a significant loss. (I pray they never do!), but I think it’s lonely sometimes being in this space because who could understand it except for someone who went through it, right? My best friend was diagnosed with cancer – I told her – “I can’t imagine what it feels like to have cancer, but I know what it feels like to lose someone to cancer”. It helped us relate through this process – seeing it through different eyes.
    I remember people telling me – “You know there are worse things that happen to people” to which I always responded “But this was the worse thing that ever happened to me”. It’s hard being in that space and monitoring yourself to ensure you allow enough of the feelings to process so you are real and also not getting stuck there. Sometimes it takes more energy than I feel we have and then we have to take a break. Thank you for those words, they took the pressure off of me from feeling like I was stuck because I hadn’t moved beyond them all yet….it helped me take a big sigh of relief and say “Yeah – what if all of these things are just ok”. Thanks!

  19. As always, Christina you provide clarity. I couldn’t listen to music of any kind for 3 years after the separation. Music had been such a big part of our lives together. And I didn’t have the energy or the know how to fix relationships, especially toxic or ones charged with negative ones. I felt exhausted each time. I left my job because I couldn’t figure out how to handle bullying and my heart was in so much pain. How could I heal in that environment. I realized I didn’t have a social life and still haven’t created that. But fortunately I have good friendships. I did found a spiritual community, I sold my house, because living alone in so much space didn’t make sense anymore. I can listen to music again…just not reggae! And it’s hard knowing he slipped into a new relationship as easily as he slipped out of a lifelong marriage. I can’t find an incentive to do the same. I wonder if I ever will feel love or be loved again.

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Christina Rasmussen

Welcome to the Message in a Bottle page, here you will find wisdom, truth and tools for you to start over. Make sure you sign up at the top to be sure to receive it in your inbox every Friday.