Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Photo from here....

I'm struggling. Mentally, emotionally, financially. So I sit and don't write...Actually, I sit and play tetris hoping to forget all the other obligations that continue to flow into our home and spill onto my already overflowing "to-do" whiteboard.

I hate writing about it. I loathe talking about it. But it bubbles forth from my mouth amid tears of frustration and sadness when someone offers the seemingly innocuous platitude, "How are you?". So I try to stay away from others in an effort to not infect them with my black mood. I wear my "happy mask" at work. I attempt to tire myself to the point of unconciousness at night or else I lay and marinate myself in the pathetic thoughts that fill my head.

When I do sleep, I repeatedly dream of Jeff dying in a variety of ways. Always, though, he dies. And always, I fail to save him though I try frantically.

It's been almost three years. I thought I'd be well-immersed into a new life by now. A new page. A fresh start...But I think I am possibly worse off than I was a year into this bloody journey.

I remember receiving an email from a widow who was farther down the path than I was. I was at about ten months post-Jeff. She was at three years. She told me that she was doing worse at three years than she had been that first year. I had sworn that this would not happen to me. I was horrified at the thought. The idea that my grief would not subside in a linear and concrete fashion was absurd.

But now...Now I find myself stuck in this place. Alone. Broke. Overwhelmed.

I was at ten months as well. But somehow, the fresh tragedy and trauma of it had my naive little mind searching for all the hope it could muster. I sussed out any amount of beauty through photography, silence and my children.

Now, life is so busy I can barely focus. "Real life" has fallen into the void that was made and filled it with gusto. I have more to do, accomplish and defeat than I have ever before. I am doing three people's amount of work - raising children, keeping a home filled with a dog, cat and chickens, work to pay for all the necessities....and not managing to make those ends meet. In fact, the ends are often so far apart that I begin to wonder if they are from the same cord.

To supply wood for our woodstove, I have worked out a deal with guy who sells wood - I will go after work on the weekends and chop wood for him. The kids will have to come as I can't afford childcare. All areas of my life seem to be inundated with all these extra obligations in order to creatively patch together some form of relatively rudimentary existence.

I miss Jeff and all he represents so fucking terribly that I am sure I am exhausting my "talk-about-it-whenever-you-need-to card" with my friends. I know that I should be at the point where I am no longer comparing my life "before" to my life "after". But when I am down....It is so hard to forget the fact that life was once so different.

I need to work on smiling. Remembering to see the silver linings. I attempt to drill it into my head and even write crap about how it's not so bad....But it's just hot air. It is bad. It sucks. And I am fucking sick of it. I want to lay down and give up.

**I just want to clear something up as I worry that I didn't explain how thankful I am/was that the firewood guy had accepted my offer of chopping wood in exchange for "free" firewood. He has a family to provide for as well and I don't want it ever to seem that I feel that because I am a widow with two little ones I am exempt from having to pay my way though life. It was so very kind that he accepted my offer. As it turns out, my father paid for a cord of firewood for me saving me the time and effort of having to spend the weekend chopping. I felt truly supported by my small community when I asked if "firewood guy" would let me work for wood.


Suddenwidow said...

My sweet Jackie,

I appreciate your honesty. I'm sorry that things are so shitty for you right now. I wish I could wave a wand and make it better for you, or win the lottery to send you a big fat cheque (but I will go buy a ticket today!) or just bring you and your kiddos supper with a bottle of wine (for the grown ups:). For now, I send you a big virtual hug and lots of love. And please take this with the love and concern I'm sending it with: have you considered that you may be depressed and should perhaps talk to a doctor? I know grief and financial concerns and emotional and physical exhaustion don't necessarily mean depression, but depression does often feel like heavy blackness. Just throwing that out there as food for thought. And if you ever need to talk, you can call me anytime.

Love Deb

matt said...

i want you to come to los angeles so we can have a lot of drinks together.

Danielle said...

Big hugs. That's all.

Shannon said...

Just some virtual support coming your way, from a total stranger. I have loved reading your blog for several years...

I have to comment on the wood supply guy....what kind of man lets a young widow with children chop wood as payment? I know business is business, but damn.

Boo said...

thanks Jackie so much for being honest about this. Recently, I've found myself not coping with the house, with housework, worrying about bills and possible big bills for car and dentist ... etc. It's doing it all without a safety net - psychologically, financially, physically, mentally having to figure it all out alone. Each day is a battle literally. So fucking tiring. I'd like to lay down beside you out in the Canadian countryside and SCREAM at the sky together <3 Reading this post (although it makes me feel uncomfortable to admit it) has given me comfort ... in that I am not alone in feeling that it's worse than it was. It's wearing, frightening and relentless at times ... and I wish we lived closer :-(

I'm guessing that you're as proficient as I am at asking for help ... but perhaps, MAYBE, you could ask one of your friends (muscly hairy male friends) if they'd do the honours? Or perhaps not ... the thought makes me freak too - I HATE HATE HATE asking for help :-(

But if you lived closer I sure as hell would insist that one of C's friends did this chore for you <3

Kim said...

Thanks for the honesty. I've not been in your shoes, but someday I may be and I may remember this. That if I am having a horrible time and am thinking I "shouldn't be" and that something must be wrong with me if I am... maybe I'll remember that others have felt that way, too.

Poppy and Mei said...


Crash Course Widow said...

Oh, dear. Was I the one telling you how my worst point was 3 years out, 2 years ago? I know I felt the exact same way as you described--naively secure that I'd NEVER still be grieving so hard at 3 years out--when I'd see the women at my support group who were 2 1/2, 3 years out and still needing so much help and support. I stubbornly insisted that I'd do it right, grieve intentionally and mindfully and not run from it, so that I wouldn't still be grieving at 2 or 3 years out. Imagine my shock--same as you're finding, Jackie--that it wasn't simply some defect in them, that I'd still be grieving that far out too…and that I'd be doing so much worse out at 2 1/2, almost 3 years out than I was that first year. I think some of it's because the shock and numbness protect us in that first year or two so that we can't even conceive of it being worse until it is.

Talk about a nasty secret of grief. I think it should get more airtime, so that we might not form such inaccurate preconceived notions and expectations about grief. It takes a long, long time to get past the worst of it, and unfortunately it's different for everyone.

Hang in there, Jackie. I don't know when you'll feel better, but eventually you WILL feel better. And in the meantime, continue to find friends who'll support and listen to you, as long as it takes. I know I always felt ten times worse when I stuffed the grief and kept it as a dark, dirty secret.

Hugs, my friend.

Jodi G said...

I agree...the third year is worst than the first. I'm at the point where I realize my life is all work and no rewards and no play and nothing to look forward to. When I was married, I split all the jobs and shared in the rewards. There are no vacations to look forward to, no one to lift me up when I am down, no one to share in the joy when I do something well. It's just the same, day in, day out. Yes, someone loved me for me at one time, would do anything for me and now he's gone. Loneliness is not my friend and I am surrounded by it. It's everywhere...even present through the chaos with the kids. I went out to eat with a bunch of friends and the server kept asking me, "are you alone", "are you alone"...thanks for the reminder because I forgot for those few minutes while I was conversing with my friends.

Wish we all lived closer so we could help each other out and enjoy hearing our voices again.

Crash Course Widow said...

And as awful as it might be to contemplate, Deb might be right about considering if you might be clinically depressed. I know when I fell apart repeatedly--in the 3rd year, 4th year, and even last year around this time, at 4.5 years out--if I was actually depressed. And I was adamant, too, that I did NOT want meds and that I wasn't depressed…but I did find that they did help some once I stopped being stupid and miserable and realized I couldn't continue to live that way. (Then again, I surrendered and took the antidepressant just after the 1st death anniversary, not later on…but I was only a phone call away from making an appointment with a psychiatrist to see about getting on another one a year ago. And lordy, did I hate that I was considering it again.) I'm definitely not trying to push pills or a label on you, though…just another hand raised across the miles saying that they HAVE helped me…and that it was my widows sharing their funny drug stories at funerals at Camp 2 summers ago that helped me to see there was no shame in calling and asking for meds after the stupid dog died. I didn't have any reserves to help me get through another senseless death, so I accepted help where I could ask for it…and damn, those pills were great for the first 24 hours. ;o)

Much love and hugs, my friend….

Jen said...

Jackie, I'm so glad you wrote, and I'm so sorry you're in a bad place. I too am going on 3 years out, and there is just no sense in how we feel. We just feel. Hang in there -- I hope you are able to find some comfort and peace.

Anonymous said...

I want to come visit you! And like Matt we can have lots of drinks. I am never tired of listening. Anytime you need me I am just a short drive away. Call anytime!!
XO Danielle

Sue said...

Jackie, a *stranger friend* lurker from up-island :) Any chance you could email me direct? I don't see any way of contacting you through the blog although it could be my tiredness tonight :)
Talk soon,

Janine (txmomx6) said...

Jackie .... I'm right there with Deb and Candice .... waving my hand in agreement. I'm not pushing the pills, either, but hell ..... it's worth looking in to. Trust me .... as one who knows. I never suffered from depression before Jim died. And then .... well, you know.
I need meds to balance the chemicals in my brain now, because grief is much more than a mental impact. It's so very physical. It changed me forever, in more ways than one. I need these meds in the same way that I need meds to keep my insanely, inherited high cholesterol in check. Or the way a diabetic needs insulin. I know there are many people who would disagree, but once they've lived my life .... in my body ..... I'll listen to them. Until then, they can keep their opinions to themselves.
ANYWAY, please talk to your doctor .... just to get an opinion. I would not have survived the second year if I hadn't gone to see mine.
Then after you go ..... we'll all meet up at Matt's and drink. Lots and lots and lots.
Love to you, my friend.
Praying for you .....

Victoria said...

Oh Jackie, I'm with Shannon on the wood chop. I am in awe of all you're doing for your family, what you have to do, but gosh, I would chop along with you if only I could. I won't compare the details of my own recent situation to yours, but after feeling at the depths of a situation I could not longer handle I decided to see a pyschologist. I am the type of person who has always managed myself and felt I should be able to, but this time I admitted I wasn't coping. I went three times to see her, I can't tell you anything she really said to be honest, but the sheer process of it, the sharing perhaps with a stranger (like here), something about it changed the way I thought. I don't know that it would change the way you feel, but for me at least the slight change in mindset was enough to change everything. I feel so much better for it, it helped me.

As for being further along after this period of time, a friend said to me that you don't get over it, the grief, you just learn to manage it and it stays with you always. I don't mean to sound negative in that comment,just that you don't be too harsh on yourself, you are doing an amazing job managing all you are, even if you feel so crabby.

Michele Neff Hernandez said...

You will never run out of listening ears friend. And I think three years is so hard because you have been treading water for that long, its exhausting. I just want to send you a blow up lounger so you can float on top for ahwile without having to hold yourself (and everything else!) up. Thoughts and prayers are with you today, and I am so glad that there are so many people out here sending virtual love and their words of comfort and advice. I am wondering what your high score on tetris is right now? ;)

Annie said...

Mega love from up here. I wish there was something I could say or do that would help. Please know that if there is ever anything I can do, I am more than willing.


Heather said...


Thank you so much for sharing your heat with us. I want you to know that I think and pray for you often. If there is anything I can ever do please let me know. I realize I am a stranger, but please don't suffer alone.

You are loved and cared for even if you may not be able to feel or see it right now.


Karen Bannan said...

I was in your kids' shoes. My dad died when I was almost six. My sister was 2 1/2; my brother 15. My mom struggled just like you are struggling. It was horrific for everyone involved.

How much do you need to get back on your feet? Are we talking a few hundred or several thousands or tens of thousands? Are you getting Social Security for you and the kids? Are you making use of all the different programs that are out there to help?

I am so very sorry for your loss. How are the kids holding up? They know that you're struggling. I knew, and it shaped who I have become. (Not in a bad way.)

I wish you peace and relief -- and soon.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I dont know how to get in touch with you and as of yesterday neither did Grampy. If you havent heard from him can you call him please.


indybarb said...

Oh, Jackie. Even though I never lost a husband, I have done it on my own for a very long time and I can feel your pain and anxiety through your words as if they were my own. Life can be so overwhelming when there are kiddos and critters to care for, a full-time job, and the never ending chores. I know how very tired you must be and there must be something we can all do to help you out. I cannot stand the thought of you doing so very much on your own. My e-mail address is Please send me your mailing address, okay?

Hugs to you, your stranger/friend,

Jenn said...

I think about all of you, all the time. I think of you guys at night, when I can't sleep, wondering how you are. And I've never even met you. I hope that somewhere, somehow, you start to feel better. Because I care about you and your children. I want you and them to be happy and have a good life. I feel silly writing all this and I don't want to make it worse. Just know you are loved. By many.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jackie,

I'm treading water over here too. Sometimes I think more people should use a bartering system, although chopping wood must be pretty tough! You gotta do what you gotta do and I admire you for continuing and putting one foot in front of the other.
I say we both buy lotto ticktes, cause luck has to be on our side at some point, right?

Kathryn in Berlin

Joan said...

Jackie, do you still have a paypal account where money can be sent? Can you repeat how that is done in case others want to help? I don't have millions but I sure as hell can help a tiny bit which, added to others' tiny bits, may make a dent in some of the money stress. Or maybe it'll get you enough to go to LA and have those drinks with Matt.

Andrea Renee said...

I'd be more than happy to chip in as well... either to help with buying wood (so you don't have to chop it - my god), or to get you a ticket to get to LA so we can all have drinks together. I've even got an extra bed for you to sleep in - my house is always open to you - and the kiddos if you'd want to bring them with. I know that murky place you're in... Even in the best of circumstances (which I feel like I'm pretty "lucky" considering the hand I was dealt), I still tread (took at 2 1/2 hour nap today while the kids trashed the house, and i don't have the energy to clean up the aftermath). I also was gonna say something similar to Janine about the meds thing... grief is more than emotional - it has a physical toll as well. I know it's another expense... Oodles and oodles of love and hugs to you, my sweet friend. xoxo

Jill said...

Sending you a hug, which isn't really worth much, but it's all I can do.

Ginger said...


It sure does suck sometimes. I'm nearing 8 months and seem to be regressing these days. You are not alone. Take Care of yourself. Ginger

The Jagow Family said...

Thinking of you! I'd like to help too. Please let me know how. Like one friend said, it wouldn't me millions, but it would be one person's tiny dent with other peoples' tiny dent...that will hopefully help you for a while.

Take care!!!!

Joan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joan said...

For anyone interested, the way to send money to Jackie through secure paypal is to go to, click on "send money" and fill out the info requested. Jackie's email address for paypal is

In case you didn't know she lives in Canada so if you select Canadian dollars she won't lose out on converting from US dollars to Canadian. Or vise versa. I can't remember whose dollar is stronger :)

leigh in the sav said...

sending love. lots of it. so many still care and will always listen. lean on us/them.