I still wear my wedding band because in many ways I still feel very much married to Matthew. I still have most of his clothing, some of it in boxes and some of it I wear to bed. I still have his Facebook page open and I post pictures and updates on his wall. I find myself still talking about him in present tense and laugh at myself for doing so. To me talking about him as if he is gone feels strange. Yes, Matthew is physically gone but sometimes in my mind when I tell Kaden that his Daddy loves Pearl Jam, when it comes on the radio, is me acknowledging that I know Matthew is right there with us. I still cling tightly to his possessions because many of them hold memories for me and when I look at them or touch them I am transported to a different time and place, one where he is still alive.
I know the day will come when I am able to let go and no longer feel the need to sleep in his shirts or switch my wedding band to my other hand. I am the only one who will know when the timing is right. I say this because it is far to often I see other widows writing about the pain they experience from the judgements of others, most often from loved ones or dear friends. Too often do I hear widows question themselves on whether their grieving process is the right way. I know this too well, I judged myself.
In my early days of grieving, I would hear stories about women who took off their rings after 6 months, or started dating before the illustrious “one year mark;” or women who donated their husbands clothes shortly after he passed as a way to possibly prevent any more pain. So many different paths, so many different perspectives and not one of theirs fit me and I wondered what am I supposed to be doing? Am I crazy for holding onto Matthew’s work awards? He always wanted to use them as target practice so why am I lugging them around with me when I move? Too many times I doubted myself and my journey. Until I told myself no more.
No more would I let my personal journey take the shape of someone else’s. If I want to wear my rings for another year from now, I will. If I want to have pieces of Matt’s personal belongings placed around my room, I will. If I want to sleep in his comfy shirts, I will. I know there will come a day when people may look at a Facebook post where I tag Matt and roll their eyes and wonder if I will ever stop. I know some people may start to think that I am holding tightly on to this widow thing and possibly using it for attention. Lucky for me, I will always be one step ahead of their judgments because that is all it is, their perspective on MY LIFE. I am not a victim and I will never live my life that way. I will not succumb to the pity others may place on me.
I can only hope that other widow(er)s can move forward with their lives how they see fit. Sure some family members and friends may say hurtful things to you and sometimes its initial starting point comes from love, but what we have control over is how we discern their comments and how we let them affect us. Don’t feel pressured to change your life because someone else thinks it for the best. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, so wait for the right time. Using our intuition and following our hearts will always be our best compass in life. So be kind to yourself, love yourself and trust yourself to know what you need to do to be happy.
**Thankfully for me I have yet to experience any form of negativity on journey and I am truly grateful.