Katie Strumpf
"Helping kids with cancer.......a cancer survivor's story"  

Navigating

It is a strange and fickle beast.

Sometimes it lies dormant, yet always watching, waiting to pounce. Other times it rears its ugly head at full force. 

It is my grief.

I have also compared my grief to a coat that I always wear, and can never take off. Sometimes it is light, sometimes it is heavy, but nonetheless, it always cloaks me. 

Luckily lately it has been more like a windbreaker, light and manageable. Which is convenient given the 100+ temps in Charleston recently. 

But then briefly it wasn't light anymore. 

In my last entry, I wrote about Nadine, who penned the article Shimmy! about saying "yes!" to life after the death of a loved one at age 30 to a brain tumor. I found Nadine's blog and commented to her how much I appreciated the article, how much it resonated with me. 

She then emailed me, and we corresponded back and forth, connected in this sad, yet hopeful way. 

Turns out she lives in Adam's hometown, Media, PA.  

We emailed about navigating this uncertain path, writing, grief, moving, not moving, and she thanked me profusely for contacting her, because until now she hadn't had any contact with a young widow. 

She told me how the Media Court Diner (a favorite breakfast spot of Adam and I's) had been renovated, but had lost some of its gritty, classic diner charm.

She told me how she hesitates to seek support, since David wasn’t her husband, or even her boyfriend anymore, because she is afraid of other’s reactions.

This made me sad, and I told her that grief is grief, and she is entitled to it. She loved David and he was still very much a part of her life at the time of his diagnosis, and subsequent death. The love doesn’t die just because the person did.

You just find a way to live with the loss of that person, and deal with your grief.

I am reading a novel called The Kitchen Daughter, about a 26-year old woman with Asperger’s syndrome that has just lost both of her parents in an untimely accident. Sheltered, socially-awkward, and struggling to channel emotions, she turns to cooking as a source of solace and comfort. A character in the novel talks about grief, and although the book is fiction, it struck a chord with me:

No one grief is worse than another. They are all terrible. They all destroy. But you need to find the way to use yours. I put mine in the bucket and toss it out at the end of every day. Maybe you put yours in your cooking. There are ways to use grief, we all have to find our own.

I thought this was so well-written, and so true. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is only your way, and it is right for you.

I have embraced my new life, and live it with gusto. I see the shock and disbelief in other’s faces and eyes when they discover I am a young widow. Because I am a happy, upbeat person, and try to live each day to the fullest.

Am I devastated that Adam passed away and the life we had together and would have had is gone?

Yes.

Am I grateful for the loved we shared, for a wonderful relationship and connection that many don’t have the privilege of knowing in a lifetime, and I was lucky enough to experience so young in life? Am I grateful for this fresh start in my life, for my strength and determination to rebuild after such a loss?

Yes.

People often comment to me how strong I am, that I inspire them, and they don’t know how I do it. I appreciate their kind words, their encouragement, their sincerity. The truth is, I know I am strong, I know I am unique (Not to sound cocky or conceited.) But, at the end of the day, I am just me, using the tools and life experiences I have to navigate these waters.

There are times when I don’t feel so strong, when my coat of grief is heavy.

Like the other day, I was in yoga and thought to myself, Adam is dead. No, I cannot go into Tree pose, because Adam is dead. I sat there on my mat, unable to move. I wasn’t crying, I just could not move pass that moment of disbelief, as happens from time to time. So I let my grief be, didn’t try to fight it, and succumbed to it in that moment.

 Then, suddenly, I could move, and folded neatly into Tree pose.

After all, it is one of my favorites. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Katie Strumpf at 6:25 AM on June 24, 2011 | Comments (0)



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