Monday, July 27, 2015

Some Time Away

Pearson's Falls - Tryon, North Carolina
July 24, 2015

There’s no way to sugar coat the fact that grief is indescribable to those who are in the midst of it.  It is incomprehensible to those who are trying to understand it.  The most frustrating part in both circumstances is the sheer unpredictability of it.  My family and friends, although patient to the utmost, have to believe that I am losing my mind.  One minute I am clear, calm and focused.  The next, I am practically unable to function.  Trying to anticipate either circumstance is a waste of time, yet it would be so helpful if I knew which day was going to be calm and peaceful as there is so much I could accomplish on those days. 
The thought of traveling even to a “safe” place for a few days has been overwhelming as even getting my mind to focus on packing a travel bag seems impossible.  I know you find that hard to believe since travel, hike or just get in the car and GO has been my mantra since the beginning of this blog in 2010. But the time came to try and the “safe” place was the home of dear friends from college days.  We’ve shared joys, sorrow, trials, grief and every other life event for more than 40 years.  We graduated from college together, the guys went through grad school together, we married within three weeks of each other and have lived 2 ½ hours apart since 1981.

January, 2014 - The last picture we have of a 40 year friendship!
It was a wonderful day.
(Sadly, no one thought to take a picture at our last time together in February)
The four of us spent an afternoon together at The Sweet Onion, in Waynesville, North Carolina, on February 9.  Bill felt good and it was a day of shared friendship that NONE of us suspected would be the last we would ever have on this earth.  They were in my driveway within hours after Bill’s death and knowing their jobs well, I have yet to be given an adequate explanation of how they both managed to get three days off from work to be here, but they did.

Although Tony likes taking care of me, it is difficult and emotional for him to comprehend being around me without Bill, so it seemed natural that it was to their house I would go on a week when he was out of town.  It was just us girls and was a salve to my weary, aching, grieving heart. 

They call it their mid-life “toy,” but Becky and I meandered around the foothills of North Carolina in their convertible, enjoyed some delicious meals, shed a lot of tears, walked a lot of miles, spent some comfortably quiet hours on their screened in back porch and simply relaxed in the comfort of friendship.

My "ride" for the week! - Forest City, North Carolina
I wish I could tell you that I came home better than I left, but I can’t.  Those crazy mixed-up emotions won’t let me.  When I was packing to go, I kept thinking I didn’t want to do this.  It was just too hard.  At times while there, I yearned to be at home.  At other times, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.  As I approached home last Friday afternoon, the sadness and dread returned with a vengeance making me wonder before I ever got home if I’d made a mistake in going. 

I can tell you that it was NOT a mistake.  I can also tell you that I write this to try and help those reading who might be grieving know they ARE NOT ALONE in their fears they might be going crazy.  I also write it to tell those of you who love someone who is grieving and want to help that the most loving thing you can do is LISTEN.  Or simply be present. 

Nothing feels right.  Nothing feels natural.  Nothing feels normal.  I am told this will become gentler over time and the most important thing for me to do is acknowledge that this is awful, take it one day at a time (sometimes one breath at a time) and trust that I am doing everything I can to work through the pain.

All of the pictures in this post were taken at Pearson’s Falls in Tryon, North Carolina.  It is a privately owned, but beautiful waterfall requiring only a short walk through a picturesque area.  For those who might be traveling I-26 toward Myrtle Beach, Charleston or Savannah, it is an excellent leg stretcher just off the interstate with an amazing payoff and a lovely picnic area.  I highly recommend it.

Thanks so much for your kind thoughts and comments.  They do encourage me and I am grateful.


  1. I grew up in SC and somehow have always missed this when we headed north. I'll have to check it out. You're not losing your mind; You're coping. Keeping you in my thoughts.

  2. {{{hugs}}} I thought of you a few days ago when I read something attributed to Anne Lamott: "[Grieving] is like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” Keep dancing and learning, Sharon.

  3. Love you, just like everyone else does.

  4. Know that all your blog friends are with you, sending healing thoughts.

  5. Boy, did this blog bring back the emotions. Keep on keeping on and it will be less raw and easier to bear.

  6. I LOVE that waterfall! It reminds me of Burney Falls in Oregon, which reminds me that I would like to visit there again sometime.

    I read "A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis, after the spouse of a good friend died, and his grief was just overwhelming. It helped me to understand grief in others and myself a little bit more. I'm glad you are sharing.

  7. My heart hurts for you. I am sorry that you are having to live through this time. You will make it.

  8. I understand everything you said. You struggle on, alternating between ok and suffering beyond comprehension, but never actually happy. How can we ever be happy again? I don't know, even though we have two other children, a grandson, and a grand-daughter on the way. But you're right, listening, or just being there helps a lot. Thinking of you.

  9. This is beautiful Sharon and so raw and real. I admire you for being able to put words to this agonizing experience. You are always in my heart. I just can't imagine it even as I know my turn is just around the corner.

  10. I am so sorry for your loss - you put it perfectly. One day I am fine going about my business, and the next minute something will trigger my grief and all I want to do is cry for days on end. My husband passed away last December, and it's been the most difficult thing I've ever gone through - you are right, nothing feels the same. It just sucks.

  11. Sharon, you are a writer and this just reminded me of something that helped me tremendously. I wrote to my husband every day. I told him little accomplishments I had made without him. I told him my feelings, my fears, how much I still loved him and missed him. I asked him questions. I did this for a year. Then I did it less often, but always on our special occasions.

    I hope you're keeping some kind of journal. Going back and reading it helps me understand some feelings. And helps me remember some things I have already forgotten.

  12. I know. Good gracious, I know and wish with all my heart that I didn't. I've had friends completely walk away because it makes them feel easier. Okay, folks. Have a nice rest of your life and don't expect me to be around when your spouse dies. What we are going through is hard, hard work. As widows, we keep trying to find a pause, rewind, of fast-forward button for our brains. And the simplest little things can trigger a downward slide into cold grief. I experience wild swings within a 24 hour period, no sweat. It is so unpredictable. Life as we knew it has disappeared, and we have to start over. And you are so right about listening. People can help a widow or widower best by simply listening.

    I would encourage you to force yourself to do more trips. Yes, they will be hard. I was in a Nashville motel a couple of weeks ago, wondering why in the world I was there. The answer was because I needed to be, and there were some moments of grace between the heartaches. As you know, I am doing multiple trips this year, some long distance. I am already starting to plan 2016 trips, including an international one. I don't want to travel alone. But that's the only way I am going to be able to travel. So I have to either suck it up or else stare at four walls for the rest of my days. And God is urging me to get "out there."

    It is your life now. Your time on earth is not over. And you will find a new purpose for the time that remains for you. God bless you, sweetie.