Life Happens

I get so much positive inspiration when reading other’s blogs – the positive attitude when facing an illness; the ability to see the silver lining in the crisis. (You guys know who you are – thank you!) This post is unfortunately not going to be positive inspiration. I discovered that when “life happens”, I reverted to old habits – the selfish ego focus, the negative emotional swirl, and the escapism eating.

Retirement is not always days and weeks filled with happiness and joy.

My husband’s sister died unexpectedly last week. She was only 61. She retired just 4 years ago. She was not sick, did not have cancer, wasn’t overweight, didn’t smoke. In fact, she had a post-retirement identity she loved, multiple passions/hobbies, and a huge set of social support connections from long term friendships to a loving family. She dearly loved her grandkids and spent tons of time with them; she was planning her only daughter’s wedding. She was doing all the things the research/books say to have a long, successful retirement. And then, she died in her sleep on a Wednesday night. She was only 61.

At the visitation and funeral there were so many of her friends and family there – second cousins, childhood friends, old co-workers, new volunteer co-workers. Her visitation spread out over 4 rooms at the funeral home; she filled the church for the funeral mass.

And my egocentric negativity kicked in – If she was doing it all right, what’s my shot at “making it”? I don’t have my post-retirement identity figured out nor do I have a strong social connection network. Who would show up for me? Would I have enough people to even fill the slots at a mass of Christian burial – the readers, Eucharistic ministers, and pallbearers? Will I wake up tomorrow without a husband? Will he wake up tomorrow without a wife? Will I regret not having done things on my bucket list with him if he’s gone tomorrow? Will he know how to manage things if I’m gone? Who will stand by him in his grief?

All that inner mind questioning means I’m not sleeping well, and have no energy for things. So, I’m not moving and short tempered and escaping into food – a 5-pound weight gain in a week. And the negativity spirals – I’m angry and afraid and fat and not very proud of how I so quickly reverted to bad habits.

I know I need to process through the grief.
I know I need to not compare myself to others (and come up short).
I know I need to get back to living everyday, joyfully. We obviously are not promised a tomorrow – today is all we have.
I know I need a kick in the butt (from some of you) and a big hug (from others) – so thanks in advance for that!

Life happened… and it threw me for a huge loop.

Picture Credit: Pixabay

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19 thoughts on “Life Happens

  1. Your post hits close to home for me. I will be 61 at the end of August and my dad passed away when he was only 63, so while I think I am in pretty good health, I am always casting an eye over my shoulder, so to speak. I am very sorry for the loss suffered by you and your husband and his family. Please realize that you need to take care of yourself, despite the trauma. Best wishes to both of you.

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    1. Thanks Bob. We have consciously reengaged in normal activities this week and it has helped. I know at first our brains where just is shock mode, so stopping things felt right. Now, it feels good to be back to living. And we are aware it will re-hit at family gatherings (one this weekend in fact) and holidays. And yes, I do still wake up in the middle of the night to make sure my husband is still alive – my casting an eye over the shoulder. Not sure how long that will last….

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  2. I would love to offer the big hug and not the kick! I am so sorry to hear about the loss of such an obviously special woman. I have had attended a variety of funerals in the last year, fortunately most of them not people I was especially close to, but more as hospitality in the church we belong too. As I have listened to the eulogies and comments about these people, I too have wondered who, besides family, would show up for mine and would my ‘legacy’ seem so small. Some of these people have done great things while I struggle with learning to make a decent pie crust. They have run companies or have been missionaries while I don’t even have a passport anymore. I feel your pain and questioning but in time I have come to realize that these things matter not. It is the inner joy (and for me faith in God) that matter. It is the small things we do on a daily basis and how we can touch lives in seemingly small ways that matter. It is the time with family and friends-even if just a few that matter. Who knew retirement would be such a personal growth journey? I continue to learn more about myself as I grow older and have more time to reflect. We are in this together. Thank you for your heartfelt post! May your continued journey be blessed with more sunny days than not!

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    1. Just so you know, even with my cooking boot camp, I cannot make a pie…. not an edible one anyway. If fact, I cannot recreate anything I learned in those cooking classes at home. My husband has re-taken over the kitchen. Sigh. (Or maybe not.)

      Thank you for your virtual hug and inspiring words. “the small things we do on a daily basis” is something I need to remember and focus on. The small act of kindness, keeping a smile in place even when stressed, a positive attitude. That is where I am getting back to, after this negative spiral. And yeah, it is a growth journey. I’m glad we’re on the journey together.

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      1. Me too. ♡♡ My son taught me to make a pie crust using canola oil. So easy! He is a great cook. I consider myself a “one hit wonder. ” I cannot seem to duplicate a recipe after trying it once!

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  3. Pat – I am so sorry to read of your sister-in law’s unexpected death. I can understand how it could throw you for a loop. Your thoughts, reactions and questions all seem normal to me, though that does not make them easier or less painful. You also seem clear about the things that will, with time, bring you through to a more peaceful tomorrow. Thanks, as always, for being genuine and open in both the ups and downs and joys and sorrows or your journey. I’m a much more natural hugger, so I’ll entrust the butt-kicking to others. May you, and all of us still in our earthly pilgrimage, find peace in the never-failing love that embraced your sister-in-law in this life and, we trust, embracing her, us and those we love into the life yet-to-come.

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    1. Having others say “it’s normal” and allowing others to say, “hey, I’m normal if I’m feeling this way” is one of the reasons I blog. Thanks for the virtual hug and I love your final words… they brought a tear to my eye, but I will re-read them often. I do hope she is finding peace embracing her.

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  4. Pat, I am so sorry to hear about your sister-in-law’s passing. The passing of a family member is difficult at any time but when it is unexpected and someone so young and vibrant, it is particularly difficult. There is a grieving process and you must let yourself experience the grief in order to move on with your life. The grieving can take quite a long time and will most likely take longer for your husband since she was his sibling. We all have thoughts as you are having. After all, we are human beings and we wonder about our own demise, who will be there to watch over our loved ones, etc. We also feel a twinge of survivor’s guilt — why her and not me? Do not beat up on yourself. Stay physically active and mentally engaged in activities you enjoy. This may take some effort on your part to pull yourself into that mode each day as you go through the grieving stages and support your husband as well. Some of what you are experiencing may make good future posts and help others as well as helping you through this. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. K

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    1. Kathy, one of the reasons (of many) that I have come to love blogging – both writing and reading – is to realize I’m not alone in what I am feeling. The connections that tell me it’s OK to feel this way are so helpful, and hopefully someone else will also find that connection in my words as well. So, yeah, the post was a bit of the anger release that is part of grieving.

      After the first few days, we have consciously gone back to our regular activities. If some guilt comes in that we’re having fun at them, I am pushing it aside. I know the upcoming family events (my niece’s wedding this fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas) will be challenging. Activity and awareness – that sums up where I’m at today!

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  5. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. For all our planning, preparation, and well-wishes, life can just be cruel sometimes. You’ll get back to joy and living for today, no doubt. In the meantime, I wish you and your husband and family the best.

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    1. Thank you. It does put all the planning into perspective. And the idea to not put thing off. I wrote a post awhile back out “what am I waiting for?” This event made that even more poignant.

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  6. Oh my, what a tragedy. I can’t imagine how horrible it would be to lose someone so unexpectedly who was so young. Life doesn’t offer any guarantees, I know, but I think we all have certain expectations that we cling to. I offer you both virtual hugs and a kick in the butt. Your life today will not be enhanced by worrying and self-sabotage (I know you know this). It will be enhance by treating yourself well and getting on with building the retirement life you want. My sincere condolences to you and your husband.

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    1. Thank you. You’re right about knowing about self-sabotage. It’s one of the reasons it shocked me how quickly I went negative. I am, however, already pulling myself up and getting on. Writing this post was part of my healing…it has so helped to hear the comments here and on Facebook. This event was also quite the wake-up call to not put off things, so I actually did two things this week that I had not gotten the activation energy for until now. See, finding the silver lining, like you always do!

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  7. For a thoughtful, logical person there is no way to make sense out of what has happened. Tomorrow will be better than today, next week better than tomorrow. You just have to make it there, one step at a time. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  8. Thanks for being so real and honest about something so personal and difficult. I hope that you begin to find room for your grief soon (I don’t think grief ever goes away when you lose someone, but I think we find room for it as we progress through life.)

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    1. One of the things I love about blogging (reading and writing) is finding the connection on real-ness. Sharing real feelings and letting others know they are not alone in those real feelings. I love your insight about fining room for the grief as we progress through life – it really captures it! I’ve lost others before and that is how it feels – they are in a room in my heart, with both the grief of the loss and the joy that remembering them brings.

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