A Facebook friend posted today in memory of the anniversary of her first husband’s death. As I was skimming through the replies, another widow commented that you never forget.
That’s not true.
The anniversary of my first husband’s death was a month ago. I completely forgot about it until I say my friend’s post today.
Oh, I didn’t forget that he died. In fact, last night I was thinking quite a bit about his illness because of news I received about the spouse of a young woman who is like a niece to me. The similarities took me back a bit. But I didn’t remember the anniversary until today.
I didn’t know how to feel about this. I suppose I should feel terrible, but that’s not really how I feel. Not guilty either because going on with your life, and really being present in it is, in my opinion, the only healthy option.
But I have a lot of widowed friends, and I am privy to some of the ongoing grief they share online. Years and years after the fact, and even being enmeshed in new realities, they never let anniversaries roll on by.
I checked the calendar to see what was going on that week. Husband was away. Teen had first semester finals. My mother was struggling a bit because one of my younger siblings moved back in with her after their life fell apart. I suppose these are reasons for forgetting the day I had a husband die on me. It was quite a while ago.
Does it count that he pops up in my thoughts at other times?
I will guess that some of you would say no. Anniversaries are extremely important mile-markers for most bereaved. Like the memorials they set up virtually and in real life. Like the graves they visit. But, I don’t do any of those things either, so I suppose this is just one more thing to chalk up to me just being me.
People still read my old posts on grief. The dating ones more than others, but one of the questions that comes up early after a loss is “how long?” How long will this misery dog me? Will I ever be happy? Or even just feel okay and not relive the agony multiple times a year for the rest of my life?
I still don’t know how to answer beyond assurance that for the majority of people, grief ends. Missing probably never ends for most people. Missing and sadness are not grief. And for some people, new chapters in life can offer as good or better lives.
I am okay with having forgotten. It’s a first. There’s always firsts with widowhood. So many firsts. This one I wasn’t expecting however.